Thursday, 29 June 2017

Rise in online and mobile shopping drives card fraud transactions t...

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The nine percent rise in UK card fraud over 2015, topped the previous peak set in 2008 after the introduction of chip and PIN.

From Rise in online and mobile shopping drives card fraud transactions t...

CNP fraud is now almost three-quarters of total card fraud, which is what you’d expect given the use of the chip and PIN.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Square gets green light to take on banks with 'PIN on glass' mobile technology

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The PCI Security Standards Council, which comprises the five largest global credit card companies, is expected to green light the way Square captures PIN numbers through smartphones.

From Square gets green light to take on banks with 'PIN on glass' mobile technology

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Friday, 23 June 2017

Central banks, cryptocurrencies and complexity

Well, that was fun. I was invited along to take part in the CSFI roundtable on “'Formal' digital cash: The currencies of the future?” along with Ben Dyson from the Bank of England and Hugh Halford-Thompson of BTL Group. The event, held at the London Capital Club, was hugely oversubscribed, which I took to be evidence of renewed City interest in the general topic of digital cash and the specific topic of digital currency.

My good friend Andrew Hilton, long-stanfing captain of the good ship CSFI, framed the discussion in his invitation ask the basic “what if”. "What if some central bank issued a digital coin that was as widely accepted as a bank note? Or, if not a central bank, what if a group of banks or payments operators issued a similar digital coin?”.

For me, the roundtable was both an opportunity to plug my new book (did I mention that I have a new book out by the way?) “Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin” and an opportunity to learn in the best possible way: by answering hard questions from smart people.

 

 

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"Such risks could be reduced if central banks offer digital national currencies, which the IMF defines as a 'widely available DLT-based representation of fiat money'."

IMF urges central banks to study digital currencies | afr.com

Now, why the IMF would define digital national currencies is unclear. A national digital currency, or e-fiat for short, may be implemented in any number of different ways. A “widely-available DLT-based representation” would be only one such option and even then it is not entirely clear what “DLT-based” actually means in this context. For that matter, it is not entirely clear what “DLT” means in this context either.

 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

"The Blockchain Is Going to Revolutionize Central Banking and Monetary Policy" -

David L. Yermack, the Albert Fingerhut Professor of Finance and Business Transformation at New York University Stern School of Business, wrote recently that:

"Rather than printing greenbacks and circulating bills and notes, why doesn’t the Federal Reserve just put everything on a national blockchain and make all of the money electronic?   This is something that I think is probably going to happen. "

"The Blockchain Is Going to Revolutionize Central Banking and Monetary Policy" -

Well, I think it's probably going to happen too, but it depends what you mean by "national blockchain".

Adyen: the new bank is not a bank any more

As my old friend Simon Leleiveldt points out...

"One big difference between banks and payment institutions is that payment institutions are barred access from the RTGS-system of the ECB. The reasons is that the Settlement Finality Directive does not allow for PIs to become a direct member of designated systems. Even though already 5 years ago, the Dutch Ministry of Finance has made it clear that from a policy perspective the Settlement Finality Directive should change in this respect, no further action can be seen on the EU-level."

Adyen: the new bank is not a bank any more

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

It was 20 years ago today, as they say

20 years ago in June 1997 the Centre for the study of financial innovation published a report called the Internet and financial services.

This report was the result of a series of working groups that had been set up to look at retail banking, personal finance, insurance, equity trading, regulation, payments, security and crime at the dawn of the Internet era. I was part of the team that created the input to the report (I was also part of the retail banking working group) and I’m eternally grateful to Andrew Hilton, the director of the centre, for having kicked off the process all the way back in 1996. I learned a lot from taking part in the working groups and from distilling input from a lot of different people in order to create input to the report. When I look at the things I wrote around that time, two things stand out to me. First of all, I was right about the likely impact of mobile phones because even in those far-off days with the first rudimentary SMS services in place, you could see that the mobile could be a very powerful new channel for financial services (although not even I could have imagined just how central it would become to the modern financial services industry)

Once each of the unremarkable acts we undertake in the course of the day—opening the front door, buying the groceries, hopping onto the bus—has been reconceived as a digital transaction, it tends to dematerialize.

From A Sociology of the Smartphone

Secondly I was wrong about digital television! I’d worked on a couple of digital television projects back in those days, including projects for delivering financial services and other information using digital television and I was sure that for many people the digital TV will become the easiest way to access rich financial services. But I did share the feeling of many people at those early roundtables that something unusual was happening and that the Internet would turn out to be a major and unpredictable driver of change. The executive summary of the report picked out for ways that the Internet might disrupt the financial services landscape as it stood then. More competition (and more transparency) to the benefit of new entrants, privileging suppliers with technology and digital marketing know-how and incumbents lacked, empowering customers by giving them direct access and removing geography as a constraint to financial services businesses. Remember this was long before the iPhone, WAP and the great financial crisis stop

The report correctly predicted that banking would move from branches to screens, that the personal finance market would sprout many direct suppliers, that equity markets will give retail investors access to prices and suchlike and that while the insurance industry might be slow to adopt new technology the elimination of geography would be a particular benefits to both wholesale and retail providers.

I note, interestingly, the report also said that the Internet might eventually provides a means for settling equity trades, a discussion researching since the arrival of bit coin and the block chain.

One other thing I found rather interesting about report is that it was confident about the ability of the technology to deliver security and clearly did not anticipate the failure of the market to implement it. Finally the report says that “regulation may be the key obstacle” and as time goes by it is becoming steadily more clear that it is regulation that will shape strategy over the coming years.

I was the chairman of the retail banking working group along with Paul Taylor from the financial Times, and a variety of well-informed and expert members including my old friend Thomas Carruthers who went on to launch X, Keith Gold from IBM who was very influential in helping me to think about the big picture relationship between technology and banking, representatives from both a few banks, lawyers, the BBC and something called Anderson consulting which no longer exists as far as I can tell from a quick Google.. I noticed that one of the conclusions of the retail banking working group was that there was an opportunity for banks to provide risk management services that “could eventually become a core business of Internet-based banks” and although I don’t remember who made that point most vigorously, whoever did at the beginning had a big influence on my thinking. The working group was right to say that “it is hard to overstate the potential impact of the Internet on retail banking in the UK” and I think, unless I’m misreading some of the comments, seen quite bullish on the ability of the existing banks to extend and embrace the digital revolution. I think at the time there was probably a lot of talk of new Internet only banks coming along and overthrowing the establish order, which really didn’t happen, so I imagine that sober voices must have steered the working group around my youthful enthusiasm for all things digital.

Privacy concerns as Chinese cities use facial recognition software to shame jaywalkers | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

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Efforts by some Chinese cities to use facial recognition software to shame jaywalkers have been met with concerns that the practice may violate pedestrians’ privacy.

From Privacy concerns as Chinese cities use facial recognition software to shame jaywalkers | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

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Chinese store uses gait biometrics for payment | Planet Biometrics News

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The futuristic store collects a shopper’s biometrics—most notably walking gait—as he or she scans the QR code and uses sensors on the shelves to detect removal of items.

From Chinese store uses gait biometrics for payment | Planet Biometrics News

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Monday, 19 June 2017

A Sociology of the Smartphone

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Most obviously, in using them to navigate, we become reliant on access to the network to accomplish ordinary goals.

From A Sociology of the Smartphone

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A Sociology of the Smartphone

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The smartphone as we know it is a complicated tangle of negotiations, compromises, hacks and forced fits, swaddled in a sleekly minimal envelope a few millimeters thick.

From A Sociology of the Smartphone

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A Sociology of the Smartphone

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Most of the artifacts we once used to convey identity are not long for this world, including among other things name cards, calling cards and business cards. Though more formal identity-authentication documents, notably driver’s licenses and passports, are among the few personal effects to have successfully resisted assimilation to the smartphone, it remains to be seen how much longer this is the case.

From A Sociology of the Smartphone

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A Sociology of the Smartphone

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Once each of the unremarkable acts we undertake in the course of the day—opening the front door, buying the groceries, hopping onto the bus—has been reconceived as a digital transaction, it tends to dematerialize.

From A Sociology of the Smartphone

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A Sociology of the Smartphone

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The smartphone is the signature artifact of our age.

From A Sociology of the Smartphone

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Two Protesters Disrupt ‘Julius Caesar’ in Central Park - The New York Times

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"The assassination of Caesar is part of the script of the play, which was written 418 years ago by William Shakespeare; the choice to depict the title character as akin to President Trump is part of a long history of productions of the play that have used the text to explore contemporary politics."

(Via. Two Protesters Disrupt ‘Julius Caesar’ in Central Park - The New York Times)

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As usual, the Guildford Shakespeare Company have produced a mind-blowing production.

From Review: Guildford Shakespeare Company's Julius Caesar - Essential Surrey

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To be in the audience for this production is to be very much part of the proceedings;

From Review of Julius Caesar - Guildford Shakespeare Company

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The audience are given placards and encouraged to chant their support for the dictator Caesar in a stage-managed rally where protestors are violently ejected.

From Julius Caesar review at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford

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casar - 3

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casar - 2

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Jack Wharrier as Mark Anthony is magnificent; he delivers the speech that turns the mob against the conspirators with such passion that “Brutus is an honourable man”, at first a compliment, becomes spitting irony and rabble-rousing rhetoric.

From Review: Guildford Shakespeare Company's Julius Caesar - Essential Surrey

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casar - 4

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Brutus, played by Johanne Murdock in this gender-neutral production, is powerful in the second half as the commander of the conspirators’ army


Sunday, 18 June 2017

POST The war on cash, terrorism special

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"Most attacks require very little money, and terrorists tend to use a wide range of money-transfer and fundraising methods, many of which avoid the international financial system. Instead of continuing to look for needles in a haystack, governments should overhaul their approach to countering terrorist funding, shifting their focus"

The Problem With the War on Terrorist Financing | Foreign Affairs

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"Most attacks require very little money, and terrorists tend to use a wide range of money-transfer and fundraising methods, many of which avoid the international financial system. Instead of continuing to look for needles in a haystack, governments should overhaul their approach to countering terrorist funding, shifting their focus"

The Problem With the War on Terrorist Financing | Foreign Affairs

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The Problem With the War on Terrorist Financing | Foreign Affairs

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President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13224 September 23, 2001… ‘Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations,’ Bush said at the time. ‘We’re asking the world to stop payment.’ More than 15 years later, the war on terrorist financing has failed. Today, there are more terrorist organizations, with more money, than ever before"

The Problem With the War on Terrorist Financing | Foreign Affairs

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The economics of self-service checkouts

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"A study of 1 million transactions in the United Kingdom found losses incurred through self-service technology payment systems totalled 3.97% of stock, compared to just 1.47% otherwise. "

The economics of self-service checkouts

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Bank of Ireland to have 100 branches ‘cash free’

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"According to a spokesman for Bank of Ireland, which operates the largest branch network in Ireland, just 3 per cent of customers’ total transactions are conducted over the counter today, with the rest taking place on mobile app, online banking and contact centres."

Bank of Ireland to have 100 branches ‘cash free’

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Checking e-fraud in Nigerian banks - Nigeria Today

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"The Central Bank of Nigeria underscored the seriousness of this matter recently when it reported a N2.19 billion loss by the country’s commercial banks to e-fraud in the 2016 fiscal year. There were 19,531 recorded cases in 2016, compared with 10,743 in 2015. This is an 82 percent increase in e-fraud cases between 2015 and 2016. The figure may even be higher. The figure contained in the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum Annual Report unveiled last week by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, during a stakeholders’ workshop on cybercrime, showed different segments of the banks where the frauds were committed, and the value of losses recorded. A breakdown revealed that across the counter transactions accounted for the highest with a total value of N511.07 million. This was followed by Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transactions with N464.5m; Internet banking N320.66m and mobile banking transactions, N235.17m. Other losses came from e-commerce transactions, N132.25m; web transactions, N83.77m; cheques, N4.55m; kiosks, N10.19m; and others, N190.97m. The report noted that, ‘based on trend and human perception, it is believed that fraud rates increase towards the end of the year due to festivities…and the need for people to get more money.’ Nonetheless, the report stated that fraud can happen at any time, and therefore, called for ‘preventive and detective strategies’. From all indications, the extant preventive and detective strategies were not sufficient to prevent the e-fraud cases. For instance, between 2000 and 2014, Nigerian banks lost a hefty N199bn, largely due to inappropriate and reckless management of customers’ data"

Checking e-fraud in Nigerian banks - Nigeria Today

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Woman sues casino that offered her steak dinner instead of $43 million jackpot - Jun. 15, 2017

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"'You can't claim a machine is broken because you want it to be broken. Does that mean it wasn't inspected? Does it mean it wasn't maintained?,' Ripka told CNNMoney. 'And if so, does that mean that people that played there before [Bookman] had zero chance of winning?'"

Woman sues casino that offered her steak dinner instead of $43 million jackpot - Jun. 15, 2017

This might actually be a genuine shared ledger use case. Think about it: the state of a gambling machine (the result of each “roll”) needs to be recorded. It needs to be recorded somewhere that is not under the control of the machine operator and it needs to be recorded somewhere that gambling regulators can access and than lawyers can discover. You could have every machine send its results into a big database somewhere, but then rival casinos would see how each others machines are doing.

Consider an alternative scenario. After each roll, the machine state is encrypted using the regulators public key 

Sorting out sorting

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“Almost 1 million UK bank customers will be forced to have to use new six-digit sort codes as the high street lenders implement rules intended to make the financial system safer, a Bank of England official has said… The change has been caused by the Vickers rules, which force banks to ringfence their high street operations from other banking activities.”

Almost 1m UK bank customers will be forced to use new sort codes | Business | The Guardian

It's time to put a stop to this yonks old nonsense about sort codes and account numbers and I think I know just the woman to do it: Andrea Leadsom, now Leader of the House of Commons, but formerly City Minister. I have to admit to had a very soft spot for her when she was Minister. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph back in September 2013, she noted that -- just as I had predicted -- the Current Account Switching Service (CASS) which launched that month was (I paraphrase) a bit of a waste of time and money. She then went on to say that customers should have account number portability and be able to switch banks as easily as they can switch mobile phone operators. This was not new thinking. Six years ago the Independent Commission on Banking published an interim report on their Consultation on Reform Options. This report raised the subject of bank account number portability. Section 5.17, to be specific, says that:

Beyond improvements to the existing system, full account number portability would enable customers to change banking service providers without changing their bank account number. This would remove the need to transfer direct debits and standing orders, which remains the main area where problems may arise. In the past, portability has been rejected as overly costly, but if no other solutions appear effective and practicable, it should be reconsidered to see if this remains the case given improvements in IT and the payments system infrastructure.

It seemed reasonable for the Commission to wonder why customers cannot port their account number from one bank to another the way that they can port their mobile phone number from one network to another. That seems a plausible request for 2011, but phone numbers and account numbers aren’t quite the same thing. A phone number is an indirect reference to your phone (well, your SIM card actually) whereas the account number is the “target”. Thus, we shouldn’t really compare the account number to the phone number, but think of it more as the SIM. Each SIM card has a unique identifier, just as each bank account has an international bank account number (IBAN). When you turn on your phone, essentially, your SIM tells your mobile operator which phone it is in and then “registers” with a network. I am writing this in Singapore, where I just turned on my iPhone, so now my O2 SIM card is registered with Singtel. When you call my number, O2 will route the call to Singtel, who will then route it to my phone. But how does the call get to O2 in the first place?

In most developed nations there is what is called an “All Call Query” or ACQ system: there is a big database of mobile phone numbers that tells the operators which mobile network each number is routed by. In order to make call connections as fast as possible, each operator has their own copy of this database that is regularly updated. Note that for reasons that are too complicated (and boring) to go into there, in the UK there is a different scheme, known as indirect routing, whereby when you dial my phone number 07973 XXXXXX it is routed to Orange (because that’s where all 07973 numbers originated from) and then Orange looks XXXXXX number up in its own database to see where to route the call to (in this case to O2). This is why calls to ported numbers in the UK take longer to connect than they do in other countries.

It’s entirely possible to envisage a similar system working for banks, whereby we separate the equivalent of the mobile phone number — let’s call it the Current Account Number (CAN) — from the underlying bank account and have an industy database that maps CANs to IBANs. This database would be the equivalent of the ACQ database. (I rather like the branding too: if the banks decided to operate this cross-border, they could label it the international current account number, or iCan.) So the bank sends your salary via FPS to the iCan, and the database tells FPS which actual IBAN to route it to. No matter which bank accounts you use or change to throughout your employment, the employer always sends the salary to the iCan and thus reduces their own costs.

 

Thus I am not against the principle that the Minister espoused. On the contrary, I am very much in favour of making it easier for customers to move accounts. It’s the implementation that is the problem.  She formulated the problem as:

Ever since I was first elected I have been campaigning to ensure customers can change their bank accounts as easily as a customer can change their mobile phone provider.

Andrea Leadsom | Home

So what implementation should we have then? Well, in my opinion we should treat the bank account number as the SIM number (its conceptual equivalent) and find something else to be the equivalent of the mobile phone number. One option is to have virtual account numbers. I’ve previously put forward the “7-0” solution around this.

The 70 code is unused, so we can issue people with VANs of the form 70-ZX-XX 99999999. These would be compatible with all existing systems and with the IBAN scheme.

A suggestion for doing something about account switching in the UK

The idea here is that the customer gives billers, employers, counterparties the “70” account number that never changes but then chooses which bank account to map it to. They can change this at any time, there’s no need to go back to the billers, employers, counterparties and get them to change anything. The other way to approach it (and the better way in the long run) is to stopping messing about with 1960s sort codes and account numbers and just use names instead. I used to have a CompuServe number (100017,3342 if memory serves) but now I have a Facebook id, a Twitter id and a LinkedIn id. Why can’t I have an Account ID? As I said at the Payment Innovation conference a couple of years ago

This all links to the discussions about the idea of a financial service passport (or a “pay name”) at techUK last year. I really think that the idea of pseudonymous, strongly-authenticated CDD-inside identities is an idea whose time has come. 

Payment system regulation as barrier to payment system innovation

I think that what is need is a simple, portable, pointer to a person that can be used to index into their KYC’d persona. The easiest way to do this would be to assign a unique financial services identifier (FSI) to a persona or other legal entity the first time that they go through a KYC process. I might have the FSI “citizendave!barclays.co.uk”, for example. One someone has one of these FSIs, then there would be no need to drag them through “know your customer” (KYC) again. This would greatly reduce industry costs and make the process of obtaining a new financial service — a new bank account, a new credit card, a new insurance policy, a new accountant — much simpler. Imagine the simplicity of applying for in-store credit for that new sofa by just giving them your FSI and watching the application form magically populate by itself on screen. <p >It doesn’t matter if a person has multiple FSIs, because each FSI will have been obtained as the result of a KYC process. If the FSI Directory ends up with two “Dave Birch” entries, so what? It’s not an ID card scheme, it’s a “save money for the financial services sector and make life easier for consumers” scheme. And it wouldn’t matter either if both of my FSIs point to different iCans: I might, for example, have a personal persona and a small business persona—lets say citizendave!barclays.co.uk and citizendave!rbs.co.uk and that point to my personal and my small business accounts—and I want to use them for different purposes. <p >Picture this. You are fed up with the appalling service you get from your bank, so you walk into a branch of New Bank. You ask to open an account, and are directed to the ATM in the lobby and asked to request a balance from your existing current account. You put in the card and enter the PIN. While the ATM is carrying out the balance enquiry, the FSI (obtained from your card) is sent to the Directory and within a couple of seconds both your account balance (from your bank) and your picture (from the FSI Directory) are on the screen. The New Bank agent presses a button and a pre-filled application form is printed out for you to sign and, once you have, the existing system for transferring accounts is triggered. <p >There might be another useful spin-off from the FSI as well. Suppose you could designate a default account against the FSI: generally speaking, your iCan, but it could also be a prepaid account somewhere, or your PayPal account or whatever. Then someone could send you money by giving your FSI: no need to type in names, sort codes, account numbers. Anyone could pay anyone by entering the FSI into the ATM, or their internet banking screen, or (most likely) their mobile. Simple.

The concept of the corporation - John Kay

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" There are people for whom money is an overwhelmingly dominant motivation, and who are primarily self-interested and opportunistic, but they are defective as human beings, and generally not suitable for employment in senior positions in complex organisations."

The concept of the corporation - John Kay

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The concept of the corporation - John Kay

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"Analogous to the claims of Soviet leaders to represent the dictatorship of the proletariat, the rhetoric of shareholder value served to paper over the limited degree of executive accountability to anyone at all."

The concept of the corporation - John Kay

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The concept of the corporation - John Kay

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"The development of corporations like GM as the dominant forces in a modern economy changed fundamentally the nature of power in society. "

The concept of the corporation - John Kay

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Gambling is a feature of capitalism—not a bug | Prospect Magazine

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" Paulson used ‘synthetic collateralised debt obligations’—securities whose value depended on a package of subprime mortgages he had identified as particularly likely to fail. He then bought credit default swaps linked to these obligations."

Gambling is a feature of capitalism—not a bug | Prospect Magazine

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Gambling is a feature of capitalism—not a bug | Prospect Magazine

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"The case of Carlill vs Carbolic Smoke Ball Company and the concept of insurable interest became important again when the Credit Default Swap was invented in the 1990s. This is a security which commits the institution underwriting the ‘swap’ to make a payment in the event of default on a specified loan. If you, as the purchaser of a CDS, had made the loan yourself, you were buying insurance. If you hadn’t—a ‘naked’ swap—you were simply betting that the borrower would fail to repay. "

Gambling is a feature of capitalism—not a bug | Prospect Magazine

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Gambling is a feature of capitalism—not a bug | Prospect Magazine

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" insurance contracts were legally binding, but wagers were not. An English gambling debt was a debt in honour only, enforceable only by social convention—or private force. Such provision remained part of English law until 2005—only then did bets at William Hill become legally binding."

Gambling is a feature of capitalism—not a bug | Prospect Magazine

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Gambling is a feature of capitalism - not a bug - John Kay

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"when regulators perceive insurance when they should see wagering, their actions magnify a crisis rather than minimise it. Such destabilising speculation, mischaracterised by regulatory authorities as prudent risk assessment, is what caused the global financial crisis of 2008."

Gambling is a feature of capitalism - not a bug - John Kay

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Saturday, 17 June 2017

A Sociology of the Smartphone

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Once each of the unremarkable acts we undertake in the course of the day—opening the front door, buying the groceries, hopping onto the bus—has been reconceived as a digital transaction, it tends to dematerialize.

From A Sociology of the Smartphone

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A Sociology of the Smartphone

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It found a striking degree of consistency in what Londoners, Angelenos and Tokyoites thought of as being necessary to the successful negotiation of the day’s challenges… Things we used to gain access of one sort or another: keys, identity cards, farecards and transit passes. Generally, a mobile phone, which at the time the research was conducted was just that, something used for voice communication and perhaps text messaging. And invariably, money in one or more of its various forms.

From A Sociology of the Smartphone

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Revealed: Facebook exposed identities of moderators to suspected terrorists | Technology | The Guardian

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Facebook put the safety of its content moderators at risk after inadvertently exposing their personal details to suspected terrorist users of the social network

From Revealed: Facebook exposed identities of moderators to suspected terrorists | Technology | The Guardian

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Friday, 16 June 2017

Porting and portability

I have to admit to having a soft spot for the Minister. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph back in September 2013, she noted that (just as I had predicted) that the Current Account Switching Service that launched that month was (I paraphrase) a bit of a waste of time and money. She then went on to say that customers should have account number portability and be able to switch banks as easily as they can switch mobile phone operators. As I have pointed out before, this is not the solution, because bank account numbers and mobile phone numbers are not the same thing at all.

A phone number is an indirect reference to your phone (well, your SIM card actually) whereas the account number is the “target”. Thus, we shouldn’t really compare the account number to the phone number, but think of it more as the SIM

[From Could bank account numbers be portable like mobile numbers?]

I am not against the principle that the Minister espouses but the implementation. She formulates the problem as:

Ever since I was first elected I have been campaigning to ensure customers can change their bank accounts as easily as a customer can change their mobile phone provider.

[From Andrea Leadsom | Home]

So what implementation should we have then? Well, if we treat the bank account number as the SIM number (its conceptual equivalent) and find something else to be the equivalent of the mobile phone numbers. There are two possibilities in my opinion. One is to have virtual account numbers. I’ve previously put forward the “7-0” solution around this.

The 70 code is unused, so we can issue people with VANs of the form 70-ZX-XX 99999999. These would be compatible with all existing systems and with the IBAN scheme.

[From A suggestion for doing something about account switching in the UK]

The idea here is that the customer gives billers, employers, counterparties the “70” account number that never changes but then chooses which bank account to map it to. They can change this at any time, there’s no need to go back to the billers, employers, counterparties and get them to change anything.

The other way to approach it (and the better way in the long run) is to stopping messing about with 1960s sort codes and account number and use names instead. I used to have a CompuServe number (100017,3342 if memory serves) but now I have a Facebook id, a Twitter id and a LinkedIn id. Why can’t I have an Account ID? As I said at last year’s Payment Innovation conference,

this all links to the discussions about the idea of a financial service passport (or a “pay name”) at techUK last year. I really think that the idea of pseudonymous, strongly-authenticated CDD-inside identities is an idea whose time has come.

[From Payment system regulation as barrier to payment system innovation]

Account numbers! Goodness me! The Minister should be dragging us into 2015 not 1965. I shall mention this to her at the techUK dinner on 24th February where I shall be putting on a suit and tie and using the cutlery in the correct order as the chair of the techUK Payments Group. See you there.

 

 

The Independent Commission on Banking recently published an interim report on their Consultation on Reform Options. This interim report raises the subject of bank account number portability. Section 5.17, to be specific, says that:

Beyond improvements to the existing system, full account number portability would enable customers to change banking service providers without changing their bank account number. This would remove the need to transfer direct debits and standing orders, which remains the main area where problems may arise. In the past, portability has been rejected as overly costly, but if no other solutions appear effective and practicable, it should be reconsidered to see if this remains the case given improvements in IT and the payments system infrastructure.

It seems reasonable for the Commission to wonder why customers cannot port their account number from one bank to another the way that they can port their mobile phone number from one network to another. That seems a plausible request for 2011, but phone numbers and account numbers aren’t quite the same thing. A phone number is an indirect reference to your phone (well, your SIM card actually) whereas the account number is the “target”. Thus, we shouldn’t really compare the account number to the phone number, but think of it more as the SIM. Each SIM card has a unique identifier, just as each bank account has an international bank account number (IBAN). When you turn on your phone, essentially, your SIM tells your mobile operator which phone it is in and then “registers” with a network. I am writing this in Singapore, where I just turned on my iPhone, so now my O2 SIM card is registered with Singtel. When you call my number, O2 will route the call to Singtel, who will then route it to my phone. But how does the call get to O2 in the first place?

In most developed nations there is what is called an “All Call Query” or ACQ system: there is a big database of mobile phone numbers that tells the operators which mobile network each number is routed by. In order to make call connections as fast as possible, each operator has their own copy of this database that is regularly updated. Note that for reasons that are too complicated (and boring) to go into there, in the UK there is a different scheme, known as indirect routing, whereby when you dial my phone number 07973 XXXXXX it is routed to Orange (because that’s where all 07973 numbers originated from) and then Orange looks XXXXXX number up in its own database to see where to route the call to (in this case to O2). This is why calls to ported numbers in the UK take longer to connect than they do in other countries.

It’s entirely possible to envisage a similar system working for banks, whereby we separate the equivalent of the mobile phone number — let’s call it the Current Account Number (CAN) — from the underlying bank account and have an industy database that maps CANs to IBANs. This database would be the equivalent of the ACQ database. (I rather like the branding too: if the banks decided to operate this cross-border, they could label it the international current account number, or iCan.) So the bank sends your salary via FPS to the iCan, and the database tells FPS which actual IBAN to route it to. No matter which bank accounts you use or change to throughout your employment, the employer always sends the salary to the iCan and thus reduces their own costs.

 

 

We just want a simple, portable, pointer to a person that can be used to index into their KYC’d persona.

The easiest way to do this would be to assign a unique financial services identifier (FSI) to a person or other legal entity the first time that they go through a KYC process. I might have the FSI “citizendave!barclays.co.uk”, for example. One someone has one of these FSIs, then there would be no need to drag them through “know your customer” (KYC) again. This would greatly reduce industry costs and make the process of obtaining a new financial service — a new bank account, a new credit card, a new insurance policy, a new accountant — much simpler. Imagine the simplicity of applying for in-store credit for that new sofa by just giving them your FSI and watching the application form magically populate by itself on screen.

It doesn’t matter if a person has multiple FSIs, because each FSI will have been obtained as the result of a KYC process. If the FSI Directory ends up with two “Dave Birch” entries, so what? It’s not an ID card scheme, it’s a “save money for the financial services sector and make life easier for consumers” scheme. And it wouldn’t matter either if both of my FSIs point to different iCans: I might, for example, have a personal persona and a small business persona—lets say citizendave!barclays.co.uk and citizendave!rbs.co.uk and that point to my personal and my small business accounts—and I want to use them for different purposes.

Picture this. You are fed up with the appalling service you get from your bank, so you walk into a branch of New Bank. You ask to open an account, and are directed to the ATM in the lobby and asked to request a balance from your existing current account. You put in the card and enter the PIN. While the ATM is carrying out the balance enquiry, the FSI (obtained from your card) is sent to the Directory and within a couple of seconds both your account balance (from your bank) and your picture (from the FSI Directory) are on the screen. The New Bank agent presses a button and a pre-filled application form is printed out for you to sign and, once you have, the existing system for transferring accounts is triggered.

There might be another useful spin-off from the FSI as well. Suppose you could designate a default account against the FSI: generally speaking, your iCan, but it could also be a prepaid account somewhere, or your PayPal account or whatever. Then someone could send you money by giving your FSI: no need to type in names, sort codes, account numbers. Anyone could pay anyone by entering the FSI into the ATM, or their internet banking screen, or (most likely) their mobile. Simple.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Cash is still king despite rise of contactless payment

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"Two years ago, the bank’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, proposed getting rid of cash in favour of a government-backed digital currency. But"

via Cash is still king despite rise of contactless payment

Now, Andy Haldane, who is a scholar, a gentleman and a man of exceeding wisdom (and, coincidentally, who wrote a foreword for my new book “Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin) did indeed write in favour of a government digital currency, an e£. I wonder, though, if we should make it emulate cash. In other words, should we allow anonymous holding of amounts up to £10,000. 

Cash is still king despite rise of contactless payment

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"The value of Bank of England notes in circulation rose by 10 per cent last year, the fastest pace in a decade. The total value reached £70bn for the first time"

via Cash is still king despite rise of contactless payment

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Amazon identity is the new Amazon money

The wonderful people at Gemalto invited me along to their Digital Banking Summit in Paris on a lovely June day to talk about the opportunities for banks in the burgeoning digital identity space. Perhaps it was psychological only, but I thought I detected more urgency in the air. If I were to hazard a guess, based on animal spirits and conversations over coffee, I’d say that it was because of the realisation that new kinds of competition around the corner.

Let me explain by beginning with a presentation that I unfortunately missed, because I arrived late at night. Patrick Gauthier from Amazon, someone I always take very seriously, was talking about the shift from wallets to identities. I took this to mean that whereas we currently thinking about loading payment products into wallets and then using them to purchase, in the future we will select our identity (e.g., work Dave, home Dave, hobby Dave) to interact with a service provider and then when it comes time for the payment, it will take place invisibly and seamlessly in the background. If you know who the counterparts are, payments are trivial.

By coincidence, on the same day as Patrick’s Paris talk, Amazon in the USA announced their new assault on the payments space.

"Through a new rewards program called Amazon Prime Reload, Prime members can receive 2 percent back on purchases when they first load funds into their Amazon Balance using a debit card attached to their bank’s checking account."

Amazon launches Prime Reload, offering 2% back on purchases funded through debit cards | TechCrunch

Now you can see why this bothers banks. I wrote before how banks in China are upset with Alipay not because they lose transaction fees, since these are heading towards zero anyway, but because they lose data. Under Amazon’s new scheme, all the bank will see is that you are loading your Amazon balance, in essence turning US dollars into Amazon dollars. The bank won’t see what you spend the money on or when you spend it.

I’m sure it is only a matter of time before those Amazon dollars are accepted by other merchants. Thus your “Amazon identity” is “Amazon money”.

Now, were I an Amazon Prime member in the USA then I would never use this, because I would continue to use the Amazon Visa card with 5% cashback. But you can see how it will be attractive to people who are uncomfortable with credit cards (or who don’t have one). But I can also see another use case

The FCA Fourth Money Laundering Directive and Fund Transfer Regulation Implementation (DEPP and EG)

  • This risk-based approach requires firms:

    • low value e-money products, but also allows them to apply such measures in other cases that they assess as low risk; and

    • o apply enhanced due diligence measures in higher risk cases 

  • <

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    Berlin Group to publish single API standard for PSD2

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    "The Berlin Group, a-European payments interoperability coalition of banks and payment processors, is pushing a single standard for API access to bank accounts to comply with new regulations on freeing up customer data under PSD2."

    Berlin Group to publish single API standard for PSD2

    They plan to publish their framework around the end of the year.

    Fintech, Central Banking and Digital Currency — Money, Banking and Financial Markets

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    "A central bank that provides deposits will not supply this full set of services, but it will have to offer accounting, payments system access, liquidity, and the tracking of information. As a consequence, the central bank will need to have compliance and risk management functions—including systems that prevent money laundering, tax evasion and other illegal activities potentially aided by finance. Like banks, they must know their customer.

    This brings us to the first conclusion: the cost of providing these services is significant, averaging between 2 and 3 percent of assets for U.S. banks"

    Fintech, Central Banking and Digital Currency — Money, Banking and Financial Markets

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    Monday, 12 June 2017

    Banks. central banks and blockchains oh my

    Why would a central bank be messing around with a blockchain? Not for creating a cryptocurrency, that’s for sure. As I have written at exhausting length before, it makes absolutely no sense for a central bank to create a cryptocurrency. However, that is an entirely different topic as to whether a central bank might want to create a “blockchain” (i.e., some for of shared ledge) in order to manage transactions in a central bank digital currency (CBDC, as as I call it, e£). This is restated in the latest Bank of England blog.

    "I explain that it may not be necessary to use DLT for a CBDC, but I also consider some of the reasons why it could still be desirable."

    Central Bank Digital Currency: DLT, or not DLT? That is the question | Bank Underground

    The precisely echoes my thoughts on the same topic. It makes sense to have a BritPESA rather than a BritCoin, but it make well make sense to implement BritPESA using a shared ledger rather than a central database as M-PESA does. And one of the obvious reasons why is that if there is a central database, then it can go down. As M-PESA has done. 

    Let use another example to make the point. Suppose an airline reservation system contains a million reservations. Suppose each reservation is as big as a megabyte. That’s a terabyte of data, or about $10 worth of storage in a rack somewhere. Now, suppose that instead of a central reservation system, each entity that interfaces to the airline (e.g., travel agents) has a complete copy of that data and when a reservation is made or changed, it propagates across all of these copies. Now there’s no central system for some wally to unplug. If one of the travel agent’s gateways goes down… so what. 

    RTGS

     

    However, as I explain in my book “Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin”, there are other reasons why both banks and central banks want to put digital currency on a shared ledger rather than run everything through a central system as they do now. When I gave a talk about this a couple of years ago, I fixed on resilience, flexibility and innovation as more important than trustlessness in this context.

    This is precisely what the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) decided to do. They have created a permissioned shared ledger (implemented on an Ethereum blockchain) to connect

     

    Saturday, 10 June 2017

    Central Bank Digital Currency: DLT, or not DLT? That is the question | Bank Underground

    xxx

    "I explain that it may not be necessary to use DLT for a CBDC, but I also consider some of the reasons why it could still be desirable."

    Central Bank Digital Currency: DLT, or not DLT? That is the question | Bank Underground

    The precisely echoes my thoughts on the same topic. It makes sense to have a BritPESA rather than a BritCoin, but it make well make sense to implement BritPESA using a shared ledger rather than a central database as M-PESA does. And one of the obvious reasons why is that if there is a central database, then it can go down. As M-PESA has done. 

     

    British Airways

     

    RTGS

    86 PERCENT OF UK SHOPPERS HAVE MADE A MOBILE PURCHASE - Payments Cards & Mobile

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    The number of people making a mobile purchase in the UK increased by 39 percent in 2016, comprising 86 percent of UK digital shoppers. Retail m-commerce sales will total £31.42 billion in 2017.

    From 86 PERCENT OF UK SHOPPERS HAVE MADE A MOBILE PURCHASE - Payments Cards & Mobile

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    86 PERCENT OF UK SHOPPERS HAVE MADE A MOBILE PURCHASE - Payments Cards & Mobile

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    Office for National Statistics figures show that e-commerce accounted for 15.5 percent of total UK retail spending in March 2017.

    From 86 PERCENT OF UK SHOPPERS HAVE MADE A MOBILE PURCHASE - Payments Cards & Mobile

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    British democracy

    Guardian politics tweeted this lovely picture from last Thursday’s general election under “British democracy” with the comment “not sure how to explain this to our non-British followers”.

     

     

    Indeed. This brought back some happy memories for me, starting with the 1983 general election. At that time, 

     

    because the first time that I came across Lord Buckethead was shortly after 

    Thursday, 8 June 2017

    DIGITAL IDENTITY: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES? - Payments Cards & Mobile

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    "Banks face a raft of new regulation over the next 2-3 years with identification and verification at their heart. This includes the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2), the fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and provisions around open banking."

    via DIGITAL IDENTITY: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES? - Payments Cards & Mobile

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    DIGITAL IDENTITY: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES? - Payments Cards & Mobile

    xxx

    "Banks are well-placed to capitalise on the identity opportunity. They are regulated institutions and established, trusted intermediaries. They already verify identities for commercial and regulatory purposes. "

    via DIGITAL IDENTITY: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES? - Payments Cards & Mobile

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    Cryptocurrency Might be a Path to Authoritarianism - The Atlantic

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    Why tout a private, distributed-ledger currency as an agent of liberation when it amounts to a complicated, software-backed, company-town store?

    From Cryptocurrency Might be a Path to Authoritarianism - The Atlantic

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    Tuesday, 6 June 2017

    At last, NDEF with pics

    A decade ago I remember writing that one of the problems with QR codes is that there is no security. Some years later I wrote an article pointing out that NFC ought to be safer than QR codes because NFC included a standard for digitally-signing tags (although I did also note that no-one used it) whereas anyone could easily create bogus QR codes.

    Well, I might not go so far as to call [QR codes] evil, but they certainly have the potential to enable person or persons unknown to act with evil intent.

    From A quick response to the problem | Consult Hyperion

    I suggested, in connection with a couple of projects we were working on at the time, that the mobile operators do something about this by creating a digital signature standard for QR codes so that phones could be set by default to ignore unsigned codes. None of this happened, as I’m sure you are aware and QR codes became popular precisely because any app could read any code anywhere.

    The security problem never went away though. I notice in the South China Morning Post that in March 2017 some 90m Yuan was stolen via QR code scams in Guangdong alone (a suspect in the case replaced merchants' legitimate bar codes with fake ones that embedded a virus to steal personal information) and that in China as a whole, a quarter of viruses and trojans come in via QR. Despite the incredible success of QR there, we need to do better.

    Even the man who invented QR codes says that they are an interim technology.

    From Never mind the last mile, what about the last millimetre? | Consult Hyperion

    Now, also back in the day, I had originally assumed that Apple would add NFC to the iPhone. I was wrong about this for years, so eventually I assumed that they were going to bypass the technology and go to Bluetooth. Yet what I said at the time still holds: NFC is undeniably convenient.

    NFC is a convenience technology, and Apple loves convenience

    From Quick response | Consult Hyperion

    I was drawing on Consult Hyperion’s early experiences with NFC (remember the Nokia 6131?) of tag reading and writing. I also noted surveys that showed that NFC generated better results for merchants, but only once consumers could get it working. As my good friend Osama Bedier, then head of Google Wallet, pointed out, this is was some barrier because of the amount of “futz” it took to get NFC working.

    But there was another reason that I was so interested in NFC as QR alternative back in this days. Let’s go back to that standard for adding digital signatures to NDEFs (the “NFC Signature RTD Technical Specification”) to build a safe tag infrastructure. After hawking this around a few different projects, to general disinterest, I figured that the telcos weren’t interested in using it to deliver secure infrastructure, so I said...

    "Someone else will build this business (Apple? They seem to be getting all sorts of NFC-related patents at the moment) and then the operators will once again complain about being pipes. Is Tom Noyes right to say that “...Apple and Google will be further ahead in coordinating value in new networks"

    You don’t know ‘jack | Consult Hyperion

    Well, well. Tom was right as usual, even if it took a few years for the hand to play out. At WWDC, Apple announced that IOS11 will indeed include the ability to read NDEF data from tags.

    "Using Core NFC, you can read Near Field Communication (NFC) tags of types 1 through 5 that contain data in the NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF)."

    via Apple adds support for NFC tags to iPhone 7 and Apple Watch • NFC World

    So now both IOS and Android can read standard tags and action them. I want to make a couple of quick points about this before I head off down to our Hyperlab and see what our developers make of the new toolkit...

    First of all, this technology will inevitable be used for triggering in-app payments that work in a very convenient way for consumers. Instead of having to open your Tesco Payqwiq app and then scan a code from the POS, the POS will write a dynamic tag on the fly: then you just tap the phone on the POS and the operating system will automatically open the Payqwiq app and route the data to it.

    Secondly, since tags are inexpensive, they will be used for a wide variety of different applications. Tickets for pop concerts, information about products, name badges, all sorts of things that can be read by a phone rather than by a specialist reader, Therefore I expect new standards for NDEF content to spring up. One of our favourite apps, back in the day, was the phone number tag that men could put in their back pocket at a nightclub: admirers could wave their phone in an appropriate area to get the number and send a text message.

     

    Lastly, note that NFC tags can be read through packaging. Unlike QR codes that need to be printed on the outside of a box, tags can be inside. Where would this matter? Well, take a current UK example. Cigarettes now have to be in plain packaging. Tobacco companies don’t like this - for obvious brand reasons - but they do have a point: plain packaging makes like easier for counterfeiters. So suppose packs had a cheap tag inside: then your phone could tell you whether you’ve got real Marlboro or a knock off. You download the Marlboro app, then from then on when you tap a pack if the app doesn’t pop up with a big green tick you know you’ve been done.

    Note, however, that IOS11 also includes ARKit to add augmented reality. So, when you look at your pack of plain cigarettes through your app (after you’ve tapped, so the phone reads the tag and knows that they are real Marlboro) you don’t see plain packaging any more you see… well whatever.

    Real marlboro trimmed

    All in all, Apple’s announcement - whether the culmination of a clever plan or a response to Android market share - is a big deal. I found a whole bunch of blank NFC tags in my desk drawer so I’m off to start programming them now.

    Apple Pay Cash - Get A+ - Noyes Payments Blog

    xxx

    "Apple Pay Cash will be slow to take off for next 5 yrs (under $20M TPV 2018). The REAL Apple Pay future will be in app, and in browser."

    Apple Pay Cash - Get A+ - Noyes Payments Blog

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    Guangdong police release nation's first ID authentication app

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    "On April 19, Guangzhou police unveiled an identity authentication app that enables citizens to prove their identities via their mobile phones. To date, the city has authorized 20 offices to help citizens register for the service. Once they register, they can use facial recognition technology, available via the app, to prove their identities whenever and wherever necessary."

    Guangdong police release nation's first ID authentication app

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    Who Was Ponzi & What Was His Scheme? | Mental Floss

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    "Clarence Barron, owner of the Wall Street Journal and founder of the financial magazine that bears his name, realized Ponzi must have been a huckster and went on the offensive. While Barron conceded that there probably was a way for a person to make a small amount of quick cash on the postal reply coupon scheme, he figured that Ponzi would have to be moving 160 million coupons around to raise the cash he needed to support the business. Since there were only 27,000 postal reply coupons circulating in the world, Ponzi's story didn't check out."

    Who Was Ponzi & What Was His Scheme? | Mental Floss

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    Monday, 5 June 2017

    Cods and chips

    banning cryptography didn't stop the bad guys (i.e., us) when they had cod, it’s not going to stop them now they have chips

    British Trawler Coventry City passes Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Albert off the Westfjords in 1958 during the 1st Cod War.

    Given British Prime Minister Theresa May’s remarks about the “internet giants” allowing safe harbour for terrorists and the British Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s remarks about needing the ability to access terrorist communications, there is a debate raging between technologists who understand encryption and politicians who don’t. So I thought I’d try to help both of them to communicate more effectively by updating something I wrote back in 2008 to explain the issue.

    I used the “Cod Wars” between Britain and Iceland as a backdrop. It is diverting to remember those Cod Wars and the key contribution of the Icelandic people to the story of cryptography. I was reminded of that story when I read a splendid book by Mark Kurlansky called “Cod: Biography of the fish that changed the world“. Within its pages it a lovely story of the neverending struggle between security and new technology.

    The Anglo-Danish Convention of 1901 gave the British permission to fish up to three miles from the coast of Iceland, a state of affairs that the volcanic colony was most unhappy about. By the late 1920s, the Icelandic Coast Guard had started to arrest British (and German) trawlers found within what it saw as its territorial waters. However, the British trawlers got smart and got harder to catch because from 1928, they were equipped with radio and started passing coded messages between themselves to alert each other when Coast Guard vessels were in and out of harbour. “Grandmother is well” meant that the Coast Guard were in port, for example.

    In an early example of governments attempting to legislate new communications technology, the plucky Icelanders made it illegal send coded wireless messages. This had no impact whatsoever, of course: British seafood companies simply devised new code systems for the trawlers to use. Think about it: how on Earth would an Icelandic wireless operator know whether “Tottenham Hotspur are the pride of North London” was a coded message or gibberish?

    Then came World War II. Iceland got independence from Denmark in 1944, by which time the British trawlers had been requisitioned for the war effort, so Iceland found itself with the only fishing fleet in Northern Europe and Britain’s “sole” supplier (tee hee).

    Things were quiet for a while, until the First Cod War in 1958 when the might of the Royal Navy was deployed against the Icelanders. Then, in 1972, the Second Cod War started. Iceland extended its territorial waters to 50 miles and the British once again sent the fleet. But in the intervening period, the Icelanders had developed and deployed a secret weapon (literally: it was a closely-guarded secret until first use). The Icelandic Navy could never outgun the British Navy (and in any case didn’t want to actually shoot at us) so they assembled a fiendish alternative: a net cutter. When they found a British trawler, they would sail behind dragging a net cutter and the trawler’s net (worth a lot of money) would head for Davy Jones locker while the fish made for the underwater hills.

    (Things did turn nasty — with ships getting rammed and live shells being fired, the Icelandic government refused to allow injured British seamen treatment — until eventually NATO made Britain back down.)

    The moral of the story is that, as they used to say over at the EFF, when cryptography is outlawed, only outlaws use cryptography. The Icelandic ships couldn’t use coded wireless transmissions, but the bad guys (in this instance, us) ignored the law and were able to operate successfully beyond it. What defeated us was intelligence and economics, not the ban on coded wireless transmissions.

    Making our messages open to access by the government, however well-meaning the protagonists, makes our messages open to terrorists as well. When the secret key code or backdoor code or whatever is eventally leaked on the Internet then we’re all screwed. It’s a difficult issue, I’ll admit, but on balance it’s better that the terrorists can’t read police e-mails even if that mean the police can’t read the terrorists e-mails. Of course, if I start sending a lot of WhatsApp messages to a cave in the Bora Bora mountains, then I would have thought that that might engender additional scrutiny from the security services whether they can read the messages or not.

    Sunday, 4 June 2017

    ‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It - The New York Times

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    "Say you’re driving down the road and see a car crash. Of course you look. Everyone looks. The internet interprets behavior like this to mean everyone is asking for car crashes, so it tries to supply them."

    ‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It - The New York Times

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    Bitcoin vs Venmo: Lessons Learned from ‘Craigslist Jeff’ | Bank Innovation

    xxx

    "Scams of this type are becoming fairly common on [Venmo], leading others on Twitter to question its reliability as a payment method, especially when other online transaction routes exist—like cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, for instance."

    Bitcoin vs Venmo: Lessons Learned from ‘Craigslist Jeff’ | Bank Innovation

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    Land grab: Governments may be big backers of the blockchain | The Economist

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    "While the blockchain originally sought a foothold in financial services, and digital currencies attracted early attention from investors, now interest in using the technology in the public sector is growing."

    Land grab: Governments may be big backers of the blockchain | The Economist

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    Saturday, 3 June 2017

    Ant Financial seen becoming world's top consumer bank- Nikkei Asian Review

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    "I really wish that PayPal had been bought by Amazon instead of eBay, otherwise we could have had an Ant Financial version in the U.S"

    Ant Financial seen becoming world's top consumer bank- Nikkei Asian Review

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    Ant Financial seen becoming world's top consumer bank- Nikkei Asian Review

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    "Alipay now controls 70% of China's mobile payment market, while Yu'e Bao, which serves as a repository for cash leftover from online spending, emerged as the world's largest money market fund this year with $165.6 billion of assets under management."

    Ant Financial seen becoming world's top consumer bank- Nikkei Asian Review

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    Friday, 2 June 2017

    Trump administration rolls out social media vetting of visa applicants | Ars Technica

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    "In all, applicants that the government deems suspicious would be required to disclose (PDF) their previous passport numbers, five years of social media handles, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses."

    Trump administration rolls out social media vetting of visa applicants | Ars Technica

    How will the US government know that the Lord Tantamount Horseposture who kept posting abuse about the Chancellor of the Exchequer in The Daily Telegraph is actually me? Conversely, how will they know I was joking when I told Watson that I wanted overthrow the US government and replace it with a workers and peasants’ collective? Surely any sane terrorist will maintain a social media account with pictures that will go down well at US immigration?

    If they ask to disclose social media handles,