Friday, 29 September 2017

The 'internet of things' is sending us back to the Middle Ages

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Take, for example, Roomba, the adorable robotic vacuum cleaner. Since 2015, the high-end models have created maps of its users’ homes, to more efficiently navigate through them while cleaning. But as Reuters and Gizmodo reported recently, Roomba’s manufacturer, iRobot, may plan to share those maps of the layouts of people’s private homes with its commercial partners.

From The 'internet of things' is sending us back to the Middle Ages

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German central bank flags DLT weaknesses

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when it comes to the big three areas covered in the research - payments, securities settlement, and central bank-issued digital currency - the Bundesbank experts are wary.

The authors "see little prospect of DLT being put to widespread use in the field of individual and retail payments given the current state of the art".

From German central bank flags DLT weaknesses

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Equifax’s Maddening Unaccountability - The New York Times

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There are technical factors that explain why cybersecurity is so weak, but the underlying reason is political, and it’s pretty simple: Big corporations have poured large amounts of money into our political system, helping to create a regulatory environment in which consumers shoulder more and more of the risk, and companies less and less.

From Equifax’s Maddening Unaccountability - The New York Times

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Monax | Blog | Smart securitisation, or: why it's time to stop talking tokens and start talking smart contracts

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blockchains are not super-computers or AI machines - neither Freenet nor Skynet - they’re databases

From Monax | Blog | Smart securitisation, or: why it's time to stop talking tokens and start talking smart contracts

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Monax | Blog | Smart securitisation, or: why it's time to stop talking tokens and start talking smart contracts

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This “trustless” stuff is a bunch of bunk - what it means in practice is that you’re trusting a bunch of anonymous “miners” whose interests may be very different from your own

From Monax | Blog | Smart securitisation, or: why it's time to stop talking tokens and start talking smart contracts

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Adam Vaziri: Blockchain is the future regulator

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What these naysayers don’t understand is the fact that the lack of cryptocurrency regulator has already been addressed by the blockchain technology.

From Adam Vaziri: Blockchain is the future regulator

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POST Think global act local, currency edition

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Three of the country’s four largest parties – the Five Star Movement, the Northern League and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia – have proposed introducing a new currency following an election scheduled for next year.

From Three Of Italy's Top Four Political Parties Seek A New Parallel Currency | Zero Hedge

A couple of years ago, I had lunch with the Northern League to discuss digital currencies and the potential for local and community currencies to spring up because of the decentralising nature of new technology. I was in Rome to take part in a hearing about Bitcoin in the Italian Parliament organised by my good friend Geronimo Emili from No Cash Day and was invited to the lunch as part of the day. As Geronimo is a PR wizard, there is of course a photo album of the day online.

Naturally I told them that the era of fiat currencies was coming to an end, that in the future economies would be city-centric and that communities would develop currencies that embedded their own values. The usual stuff, discussed at greater length in Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin (available at all good bookstores).

I wasn’t there to reflect on their politics, of course. But I must note that new technology makes the potential for community currencies widely available and therefore it will inevitability impact politics. Suppose the people of Catalonia decide to start using their own currency and ignore the euro? What if Milan and its hinterland switches to its own currency and you have to have it in order to pay taxes?

Monax | Blog | Smart securitisation, or: why it's time to stop talking tokens and start talking smart contracts

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fully-decentralised networks such as Bitcoin - being completely open - don’t actually provide you with a facility to verify that the thing someone is trading is actually that thing.

From Monax | Blog | Smart securitisation, or: why it's time to stop talking tokens and start talking smart contracts

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A Start-Up Slump Is a Drag on the Economy. Big Business May Be to Blame. - The New York Times

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A recent working paper from economists at Princeton and University College London found that American companies are increasingly able to demand prices well above their costs — which… suggests that the market is not truly competitive — that existing companies have found ways to block competitors.

From A Start-Up Slump Is a Drag on the Economy. Big Business May Be to Blame. - The New York Times

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Facebook’s war on free will | Technology | The Guardian

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Facebook would never put it this way, but algorithms are meant to erode free will, to relieve humans of the burden of choosing, to nudge them in the right direction.

From Facebook’s war on free will | Technology | The Guardian

Extracted from World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer

Hong Kong prepares for a new era of 'smart banking'

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In retail payments, the introduction of a new faster payments system in September 2018 will provide the necessary infrastructure for full person-to-person and person-to-business connectivity… The HKMA is also currently consulting the banking industry to formulate a framework for the development of Open API.

From Hong Kong prepares for a new era of 'smart banking'

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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Japan’s big banks plan digital currency launch

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A consortium of banks, led by Mizuho Financial Group and Japan Post Bank, has won support from the country’s central bank and financial regulator to launch the J Coin, an electronic currency to pay for goods and transfer money using smartphones.

From Japan’s big banks plan digital currency launch

A better name might have been J-PESA (or perhaps even J-Dex) but no matter. The point is that a couple of weeks ago I gave a speech to a group of payments people saying that why I thought central bank digital currencies were unlikely (because of the impact on commercial banks) and that a central bank digital currency managed by commercial banks was more likely.

(I joked, of course, that we’d done that two decades ago with Mondex.)

Accenture Awarded Patent for 'Editable Blockchain' Tech - CoinDesk

Now we all know what the bitcoin blockchain is, don’t we? It’s just one particular version of the general class of blockchains, which share the characteristics that data is stored in blocks and because of some cryptographic jiggery-pokery the blocks are chained together, so that you can’t go back and change the contents of a block without having to then change the contents of every subsequent block. And depending on the consensus protocol that is used, you can’t change the blocks without everyone else agreeing to let you do it. Thus it is, as my former colleague Salome Parulava describes it, “mutable by consensus”.

The reason that this kind of structure is called immutable, even though it is mutable by consensus, is that it is computationally infeasible to go back post-consensus and make a change. Even if you obtain consensus and co-ordinate more than half of the “hashing power” in the case of bitcoin, and could in theory go back to the very first block, change it to send the bitcoins in it to yourself, and then go forward rewriting all of the subsequent blocks, it would take years and years of massive computing power. Someone could, in theory, treat all of the bitcoin transactions from the last checkpoint up until now as the wrong side of a fork. (For all we know, secret mining pools are As my good friend Gideon Greenspan pointed out to me, just because you could see that corrupt agents were rewriting history in this way it doesn’t mean that you could stop them. But it’s not a realistic attack. We can live with the description “immutable” to mean “theoretically mutable but not mutable under any practical circumstances that we can envisage”.

Accenture has been awarded a patent tied to its work on an "editable blockchain."

From Accenture Awarded Patent for 'Editable Blockchain' Tech - CoinDesk

If you had a different kind of blockchain, however, you could design it work in a different way. It could be mutable by consensus, or mutable by a dictator, and it could be mutable in a computationally feasible way. This is what some researchers in the US and Italy put forward in the paper “Redactable Blockchain, or Rewriting History in Bitcoin and Friends” (5th August 2016) describing the idea that has now been patented by the outsourcing company Accenture. In this paper, the researchers (Giuseppe Ateniese, Bernado Magri, Daniele Venturi and Ewerton Andrade) said there are several reasons to prefer an editable blockchain, spanning from the necessity to remove improper content and the possibility to support applications requiring re-writable storage, to “the right to be forgotten” but the patent filing was met with widespread derision on social media, and I can understand why. One of the key reasons for considering a blockchain to implement certain kinds of financial services is that the state of the blockchain, the shared world view, is locked down and the end of each block. If the shared world view can be changed, it wouldn’t be useful for these services any more. Now, I can see why some people might want an accounting system that works this way (see, for example, the case of Kingfisher Airlines in India) but I wouldn’t have thought that society wants accounting systems that work this way at all.

Why would you want a ledger that can be edited either by some group or subgroup of the consensus forming stakeholders or by some central authority? I can think of a few reasons, but none of them make any sense. The New York Times reported on this saying that “some things simply need to be struck from the records”. Records maybe. Ledgers? Never. If a bank makes a mistake — let’s say it accidentally opens a couple of million bogus accounts — then it can’t just go back and scrub the backup tapes and pretend it never happened. David Treat, MD in Accenture’s blockchain practice, said that the work “[focused] on the challenge of how to ‘fix things when they go wrong’”. . This issue was also raised by Richard Lumb, global head of financial services at Accenture, told the Financial Times last year that financial institutions and regulators would need a means to quickly correct errors on the blockchain before using it in securities markets. He gave the example of a “fat finger” trading error, or a trade assigned to the wrong counterparty, but that’s not how you correct errors, by just rubbing out mistakes. These are regulated financial institutions, not the mafia. No-one is going to build a financial services market on top of a mutable blockchain. Since the invention of double-entry bookkeeping, the whole point of keeping a ledger has been that you have a record of all of the credits and debits that contribute to the current world view. Companies do not delete old transactions every few months to save space or provide immunity from prosecution. In fact the law requires them to maintain the transaction records for years.

(Here’s one example: in the UK, the “direct debit guarantee” has no time limit at all, so all records relating to direct debits need to be kept forever. If there is something about this use case that I haven’t understood, I would be genuinely interested to be corrected.)

If I have misunderstood the benefits of this new technology then I apologise and I would genuinely curious to hear about viable use cases.

Fraud Prevention Costs Merchants 8% of Annual Revenue: Report – CardNotPresent.com

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As e-commerce merchants continue to invest in fraud prevention, those efforts cost, on average, 8 percent of their annual revenue, up from 7.6 percent last year, according to a new report… undertaken by Javelin Strategy & Research

From Fraud Prevention Costs Merchants 8% of Annual Revenue: Report – CardNotPresent.com

It’s actually nearer 10% for online-only merchants. This seems unsustainable to me, but remember I don’t understand the dynamics in the retail sector. If a lot of those online-only merchants are (just as an example) adult services then they may consider that losing a tenth of the revenue is perfectly acceptable. Nevertheless, you do have to wonder just how long the cost of fraud can continue to rise, considering that the report also says the merchants are already devoting a fifth of their budgets to fraud prevention.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

I asked Tinder for my data. It sent me 800 pages of my deepest, darkest secrets | Technology | The Guardian

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“You are lured into giving away all this information,” says Luke Stark, a digital technology sociologist at Dartmouth University. “Apps such as Tinder are taking advantage of a simple emotional phenomenon; we can’t feel data

From I asked Tinder for my data. It sent me 800 pages of my deepest, darkest secrets | Technology | The Guardian

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An island of artificial intelligence

As I’ve written many times (e.g., here), it is difficult to overestimate the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the financial services industry. As Wired magazine said, "it is no surprise that AI tops the list of potentially disruptive technologies”. With Forrester further forecasting that a quarter of financial sector jobs will be “impacted” by AI before 2020, there’s an urgent need to develop strategies in this. It is because the need is so urgent that I was delighted to be asked to give a keynote at the Digital Jersey AI Retreat in September. (Which began with a beach barbecue, something I recommend to conference producers everywhere.)

Beach BBQ

A beach barbecue is always a good idea at a conference.

The event was put together by my good friends at Digital Jersey (where I am advisor to the board) working with Cognitive Finance and they did a great job of bringing together a spectrum of both subject matter experts and informed commentators to cover a wide variety of issues and provide a great platform for learning.

On the first day of the event, political economist Will Hutton emphasised that financial services will be at the “cutting edge” of the big data revolution, pointing out that not only does the sector hold highly personal, highly valuable data about individuals, but that it has more complex oversight requirements than most other sectors.

Will Hutton  

Will Hutton addressed the audience by video link

The point about oversight was central to my keynote. In “Radical Technologies”, Adam Greenfield wrote of the advance of automation that many of us (me included, by the way) cling to the hope that “there are some creative tasks that computers will simply never be able to peform”. I have no evidence that financial services regulation will be on of those tasks, so in my talk I suggested AI will be the most important “regtech” of all and made a few suggestions as to how regulators can plan to use the technology to create a better (that is faster, cheaper and more transparent) financial services sector. The strategic core of my suggestion was that jurisdictional competition to create a more cost-effective financial services market might be a competition that Jersey could do well in.

AI as Regtech

Regulation, however, was only one the topics discussed in a fascinating couple of days of talks, discussions and case studies. The surprise for me was that there was a lot of discussion about ethics, and how to incorporate ethics into the decision-making processes of AI systems so that they can be audible and accountable. I hadn’t spent too much time thinking about this before, but I was certainly left with the impression that this might be one of the more difficult problems to address and talking with very well-informed experts. Although I must say that the most surprising discussion of the event that I was personally involved in took a very different tack: whether AIs employed in the service of financial institutions should come under the HR department or the IT department!

I fly away from the event secure in my conviction that AI is an event horizon for the financial services industry. With our current knowledge, we simply cannot see (or perhaps even imagine) the other side of the introduction of true AI into our business. But we can see that our traditional “laws” of cost-benefit analysis, compliance and competition will not hold in that new financial services space, which is why it is important to start thinking about what the new “laws” might be and how the financial services can take advantage of them.

[An edited version of this post first appeared on LinkedIn for Digital Jersey, September 2017]

Monday, 25 September 2017

POST Remember when "cashless" was science fiction?

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Whether we achieve a mostly cashless society sooner or later should be left to technological advancement.

From Should We Move to a Mostly Cashless Society? - WSJ

No, it shouldn’t. This is a matter of great importance and with significant implications for society. The strategy should be set by society, not by technologists. And we need to make some big decisions about it fairly soon, otherwise we will allow technology (that is, technology companies) to create an environment that we may not be comfortable with. What might that environment be? Well, it won’t be like 1984 (for one thing, we didn’t need the government to come around an install screens to watch us all the time, we bought them ourselves from Apple and Samsung and Google). I don’t think it will be like Star Trek either, partly because of the physics and partly because of the money-free utopianism. I think it will be more like the future set out a few decades ago by the “cypherpunk” writers who predate the internet and social media but saw which way the wind was blowing. I’m not the only one.

We are, roughly, living in the world the cyberpunks envisioned.

From Noahpinion: What we didn't get

There’s a nostalgia around the world cypherpunk for me, because it’s a while back that I saw these visions and was captivated by them. A quarter of a century ago, I co-wrote an article for that august journal of record, the “Computer Law and Security Report” (Volume 8, Issue 2, March–April 1992, Pages 74-76), saying…

In a recent issue of CLSR, Bernard Zajac suggested that readers might want to pursue some of the ‘cyberpunk’ novels — in particular the works of William Gibson — in order to gain an insight into the organization and behaviour of hackers… Is it possible that, like Arthur C. Clarke's much vaunted prediction of the communication satellite, Gibson has produced works which are not so much science fiction as informed prediction?

From What is cyberspace?

This article (called “What is Cyberspace” [Ref] [PDF]) tried to explain the idea of cyberspace to a lay audience (this was before Netscape, the year zero of the modern age, so most lawyers had never been online) turned out to be rather popular. I like to think that one of the reasons was the conviction that we were exploring the actual future, not a hypothetical future. I can’t remember where the idea of the paper came from, but I do remember that we chose extracts from Gibson’s brilliant writing to illustrate the concepts rather than trying to paraphrase, and I still get a thrill from reading them now.

That’s king hell ice, Case, black as the grave and slick as glass. Fry your brains as soon as look at you

[From “What is Cyberspace?”]

I loved the idea of the “black ice” then and I love it now. In the Gibson world, Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics (ICE) refers to security programs that protect data form unauthorised access, and black ice is ICE so deadly that it can kill a hacker. Wonderful. It came back to me a couple of years ago when I turned on BBC radio at random while driving home, only to discover that someone was reading one of my all-time favourite books, Gibson’s “Burning Chrome”, and the mention of the black ice gave a chill all over again. I can still remember the shock of reading Gibson’s “Neuromancer” for the first time. (Gibson calls this an optimistic view of the near future, since it involves only limited nuclear exchanges between countries - let’s ope he’s right.) Why a shock? Well, since leaving university I’d found myself specialising in secure data communications. I worked on one of the first secure LANs for the UK government, on secure satellite communications for banking, on secure military networks for NATO, that sort of thing. I was immersed in networking, but I didn’t grok it. I didn’t feel what it meant, where it was taking us. Reading Gibson was like lifting a veil from parts of my own brain. I took an artist to give me vision and vocabulary.

And what a vocabulary it was. My very favourite William Gibson quote, right after “the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed” is about money. It comes from his novel "Count Zero" and it's about the cashless society: "He had his cash money, but you couldn’t pay for food with that. It wasn’t actually illegal to have the stuff, it was just that nobody ever did anything legitimate with it.”

As I’ve written before, we are heading toward a cashless society, cashless in this Count Zero sense where, cash will still be around and it will still be legal tender (although I don’t think people understand what a limited concept that is), but it will disappear from polite society and from the daily lives of most people. This vision of a cashless society, not a society where there is no cash but a society where it is irrelevant, may have seemed outlandish twenty five years ago, but it’s a pretty accurate description of Sweden now (where only a tiny fraction of retail payments are cash)  and China soon.

Should We Move to a Mostly Cashless Society? - WSJ

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Whether we achieve a mostly cashless society sooner or later should be left to technological advancement.

From Should We Move to a Mostly Cashless Society? - WSJ

No, it shouldn’t. This is a matter of great importance and with significant implications for society. The strategy should be set by society, not by technologist.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Researchers seek to mimic digital identities by analyzing email, online interactions - One World Identity

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"Research being done at the MIT Media Lab is working on ‘swappable identities’ for AI bots, based on data taken from a person’s digital identity, as detailed by VentureBeat. Personal information is culled from emails, transcribed videos and any other published statements, allowing the system to give expert advice based on human opinions."

Researchers seek to mimic digital identities by analyzing email, online interactions - One World Identity

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Bitcoin accepted here: The tiny family restaurant in India that's embraced virtual currency — Quartz

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"‘There were a lot of people who came and clicked photos (of the sign) but apart from that no transactions,’"

Bitcoin accepted here: The tiny family restaurant in India that's embraced virtual currency — Quartz

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

POST They are where the money isn't

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Violent bank crime has become increasingly less common in the past decade, but the rate of robberies has ticked back up in recent years.

From Why are more people trying to rob banks? | American Banker

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I remember getting into an interesting discussion about bank robbery this at a lunch a while back. We were talking about risk and risk analysis. I was trying to make some points about why proper risk analysis like this is a more cost-effective way to proceed than (for example) panicking about newspaper stories on hacking, and that led to a train of thought around cost-benefit analysis for the robber, not the bank. Are robbers put off by thick doors and barred windows and such like? Are robbers deterred by visible, physical symbols of security?

The security of physical buildings is no longer as important for financial services.

[From CYBER SECURITY WITHIN FINANCIAL SYSTEMS NEEDS TO BE FRONT-OF-MIND | GlobalBankingAndFinance.com]

This is a fair point. So it set me thinking: if you are an amoral sociopath desperate for money, are you better off robbing a bank or working for it? As a responsible father, I want to help my sons chart the best course for life. Right now, they are at University studying socially useful subjects in science and engineering, whereas I am trying to persuade them to become Somali pirates or Wolves of Wall Street. Having myself studied science only to become trapped in mortgage serfdom and forced to work until I drop, I understand that side of the equation, but am less certain of the other. Remember that old paper “The Decision-Making Practices of Armed Robbers” by Morrison and O’Donnell. It’s a study of armed robbery in London and one of my favourite papers. It is based on first-hand research (viz, the analysis of over 1,000 police reports and interviews with 88 incarcerated armed robbers).

(One of the interesting snippets it contains is that a great many of the armed robbers in the UK use imitation firearms even though they have ready access to real ones. I imagine that in the US the use of imitations is vastly less prevalent, since it’s presumably harder to buy an imitation gun than a real one there.)

While it’s about the UK rather than the US, I’m sure the thought processes of the perpetrators must have some similarities. Crucially, the paper notes that “almost all of these robbers evaluated the offence as having been financially worthwhile (aside from the fact that they were eventually caught and punished for their crime)”. So robbing a bank seems like good idea, if you exclude the possibility (in fact, the likelihood) of being caught. I suppose this is standard “Wolf of Wall Street” thinking though isn’t it? Unless people believe they will be caught (and these people don’t) then they only consider the upside.

So, what to do? While glancing back over the paper I note that the authors say that it doesn’t seem practical to “expect financial institutions and commercial properties to reduce counter cash much more than they already have”. That may have been true a few years ago, but it clearly isn’t true now, since both bank branches and businesses in many countries are becoming cash free. And this is a good thing, because as we all know there is a direct and measurable relationship between the amount of cash out there (more on this later) and the amount of crime.

Even when the amount of money obtained was quite small (an element often touted in support of the irrationality of economic criminals), it must be recognised that even apparently small sums may be adequate for the offender’s immediate needs. Hence, gains may be subjectively much larger than they appear

The rewards of armed robbery seem to me, then as an educated middle-class professional, to be rather low. Yet they are still sufficient to attract the robbers, because their needs are immediate and limited. I want a holiday home in the South of France but the guy in the Nixon mask isn’t robbing a bank to pay his way through college or to obtain seed finance for a start up, he just needs to buy a car or some drugs or whatever. This paper seems, then, to indicate that so long as there is some cash in the till, there will be robberies. This is not an observation confined to banking. A study of the American Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program 

Our results indicate that the EBT program had a negative and significant effect on the overall crime rate as well as burglary, assault, and larceny.

[From Less Cash, Less Crime: Evidence from the Electronic Benefit Transfer Program]

What they are talking about here is the use of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) programmes in the US, whereby benefit recipients are paid electronically and given cards that they can use in shops instead of being given cash. The authors found a 10% drop in crime correlated with the switch to EBT. It seems pretty overwhelming evidence, and even more so if you read the paper, which notes no impact on crimes that do not involve the acquisition of cash. If we can to stop armed robberies, that would surely be an excellent social benefit to the move to cashlessness and would help us to explain the nature of appropriate regulation to legislators.

But back to the specific point about the relationship between bank cash and robberies. With the rewards from robbing banks and businesses falling  armed robbers, like everyone else, follow the money – literally – and so cash-in-transit (CIT) robberies are now the preferred option. We see the same in Europe where countries that have much higher usage of ATMs have much higher CIT robbery rates than countries that have lower ATM usage (see, for example, Sweden and Denmark).

Overall, then, we see another early indication of the emerging post-cash era: Spending on physical bank security is being reduced and spending on virtual bank security is being increased. We do, indeed, live in interesting times.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Adults

One of my all time favourite television shows is “Greg the Bunny”, which ran for only one season in the Unites States many years ago. One of my favourite jokes is when a female character called Dottie tells the eponymous lead that she has been caught on camera in an adult situation. “Sexual situation?” he asks. “No," she replies sarcastically, “it’s a picture of me voting”.

You’ll see why I started with that joke a little later on, but first I must tell you why my home town of Woking is in the news. It is at the forefront of the UK’s non-existent identity non-strategy to not introduce digital identity, because it is one of the five areas in England where voters will be asked to take identification to polling stations at local elections next year as part of a pilot scheme. The BBC report on the pilot scheme that I saw didn't mention just how the entitlement to vote is to be established but we already know what array of high technology machine-learning AI super-robot world-brain systems are to be deployed since, when the pilot was originally announced, we were told that local authorities would be invited to apply to trial different types of identification, including forms of photo ID such as driving licences and passports, or formal correspondence such as a utilities bill

Wait, what? A utilities bill? It’s pointless enough showing a trivially counterfeitable physical identity document like a driving license to someone who can’t verify it anyway, such as a volunteer at a polling station, but come on… a utilities bill? That’s where we are in 2017 in the fifth richest country in the world? Shouldn’t we be just a little more ambitious and set the bar just a little bit higher?

In Scott Corfe’s recent report for the Social Market Foundation (called A Verifiable Success—The future of identity in the UK) he highlights what he calls the “democratic opportunity” for electronic identity verification to facilitate internet voting thereby increasing civic engagement. I am very much in favour of electronic voting of some kind, although I must say that I’m very much against internet voting, because I think that in a functioning democracy voting must remain a public act. If voting is allowed in certain remote conditions then we cannot be sure that a voter’s ballot is either secret or uncoerced. I think it is possible to imagine services where trusted third parties or electoral observers of some kind use mobile phones to go out and allow the infirm or otherwise housebound to vote, but that’s not the same thing as just allowing people to vote using mobile phones.

While I think internet voting is therefore a bad idea, I take Scott’s point about the need for electronic identity. However, since we don’t have one and I don’t see any prospect of Government producing a robust one in the foreseeable future, we’re stuck with gas bills until someone gets to grip with issue. I should explain here for any baffled overseas readers that the United Kingdom has no national identification scheme or identity card or any other such symbol of continental tyranny, so our gold standard identity document is the gas bill. The gas bill is a uniquely trusted document, and the obvious choice for a government concerned about fraud. As an aside, if for some reason you do not have a gas bill to attest to your suitability for some purpose or other, you can buy one here for theatrical or novelty use only.

Woking Polling Station 

Why is it that the government never ask me about this sort of thing? Since they don’t have an identity infrastructure (local authorities were invited to use the national “Gov.UK Verify” scheme but didn’t) why don’t they use other people’s? I would have thought that for a great majority of the population, especially the more transient and younger portion of the electorate (e.g., my sons) social media would provide a far better means to manage this entitlement. I judge it to be far harder to forge a plausible Facebook profile than a plausible gas bill  so if I turn up at the polling station and log in to the Facebook profile for David Birch (if there is a Facebook profile for a David Birch, incidentally, I can assure you that it isn’t me) then they may as well let me vote.

None of this will make the slightest different to the central problem, of course, because the main source of electoral fraud in the UK is not personation at the polling station but fraudulently-completed postal ballots, a situation that led one British judge to call it “a system that would disgrace a banana republic”. Indeed, this is precisely what has been going on in my own dear Woking, where four people were jailed recently for electoral fraud. As far as I can understand it from reading the various reports, including the source reports on electoral fraud in the UK, the main problem is that postal votes are being completed by third parties, sometimes in bulk. No proof of identity is going to make any difference to this and so long as we allow people to continue voting by post I can’t see how the situation will improve because while it is not beyond the wit of man to come up with alternatives to the postal vote, that’s not what is being proposed in the pilot schemes. The government is not currently proposing an app or any other kind of electronic voting here, it is merely proposing to add a rudimentary test of entitlement at the polling station.

When this scheme was originally announced, the minister in charge of voting (Chris Skidmore) was quoted by the BBC as saying that “in many transactions you need a proof of ID” which is not, strictly speaking, true. In almost all transactions that we  take part in on a daily basis we are not proving our identity, we are proving that we are authorised to do something whether it is to charge money to a line of credit in a shop, ride a bus or open the door to an office. In these cases we are using ID as a proxy because we don’t have a proper infrastructure in place for allowing us to keep our identities safely under lock and key while we go about our business by presenting credentials where necessary.

What you should really be presenting at the polling station is an anonymised entitlement to vote that you can authenticate to demonstrate your right to use it. It is nobody at the polling station’s business who you are and, in common with many other circumstances, if you are required to present your identity to enable a transaction then we have created another place where identity can be stolen from. So: you turn up in the polling polling station with your smartphone and scan a QR code, an app pops up and asks you for your fingerprint, PIN, face or whatever. Sorted. A list of candidates appears on your screen and you choose and hit “Vote Now”. Your vote is then cast in a cryptographically secure form and you go home happy. You can come back and vote again later on if you change your mind, by the way, because only the last choice will count.

The real solution is not about using gas bills or indeed special-purpose election ID cards, but about introducing a general-purpose National Entitlement Scheme (NES), which I wrote about before (“A Better Class of ID Card” in Prospect, 17th March 2005), but that requires some knowledge of technology and some vision for the future, both of which seem in short supply. We need to obtain some parasitic vitality for such a vital improvement to our national infrastructure and I don’t think voting (or doing taxes, the other usual case study) will cut it. What we need to do is to find some mass market, everyday application of credentials and use that to get the NES underway.

We need to find something that people want to do, where privacy is important, where we need good authentication of individuals, where people will willingly sign up for something that we can then use for other purposes (such as improving the quality of our democracy). The answer is staring us in the face, hence the joke at the beginning: adult services. If we can fix the identity problem for adult services we are simultaneously fixing it for voting and many other things. Now is the time, because the government has passed a law requiring age verification for access to adult services (which I’m sure we would all agree is a good idea) without any idea of how this might happen.

Ofcom’s guidance on age checks for online video content suggest a range of options including confirmation of credit card ownership and cross-checking a user’s details with information on the electoral register, both of which a terrible ideas that will inevitably lead to disaster because both of them require the adult service provider to know who you are. This means that when they get hacked, as they inevitably will be, the personal details of the customers will be available to all. And, as actually happened in the case of the Ashley Madison hack, people will die. It’s not funny. Whether it is adult web sites, or counselling services, or gay dating, or drug addiction helplines or whatever, where I go online is my business. We need a better solution than some dumb mandate to accelerate identity theft and foist its consequences on everybody.

Now, we already know what to do (that is, to have a functional identity privacy-enhancing infrastructure implemented as a NES) but as yet there’s no sign of it coming into being. Therefore in the shorter term we have to come up with some workable alternative. It seems to me that a rather obvious way forward would be for banks, who have invested zillions in tokenisation services, to issue “John Doe" tokens to customers over 18. So, I can load my Barclays debit card into my Apple / Samsung / Android (* delete where applicable) wallet for free, but for £5 per annum I get an additional Privacy-Enhancing Token (a PET name). This stealth token would have the name of “John Barleycorn” and the address (for AVS purposes) of “Nowhere”.

Now, I can go online to the UK Adult Gateway Service or whatever it ends up being called and use the PET name to obtain an adult passport and pay for services. Suppose I can use this adult passport to go and log in to “Lovelies in Leather Trousers" (which I only read for the gardening tips). Now:

  1. “Lovelies in Leather Trousers” know that I have an adult passport “John Barleycorn" and that they can charge to that passport (when they do, Apple Pay pops up on my phone and asks for authorisation).
  2. When “Lovelies in Leather Trousers" gets hacked, the hackers find the adult passport John Barleycorn but they can’t use it to find out who I am. Even if they could log in to the Adult Gateway Service, it only knows that I am John Barleycorn and that the token comes from Barclays. Since there are tens of thousands of Barclays PETs with the name John Barleycorn, who cares.
  3. If the hackers get into Barclays and discover that the particular PET name belongs to me, then Barclays have a far more to worry about than the £1,000,000 compensation they will be paying me for breaching my privacy.
  4. Meanwhile, if the adult passport John Barleycorn is used in some criminal activity, the police can simply go to Barclays with a warrant and Barclays will tell them it is me.

Simple. Incidentally, there’s another aspect to all which means that the networks and the banks might want to invest in this kind of infrastructure. Since adult payments are lucrative, and since an effective privacy-enhancing age check would increase the use of such services, and since a tokenised approach would also reduce fraud and chargebacks, there are real incentives for the stakeholders to get out their and put something in place.

I really don’t like the idea of using the payment system as a policeman, but it makes sense as an interim solution until such time as we actually have a working identity infrastructure with pseudonymous virtual identities that can be used for adult transactions, just as they will be used for all other transactions. Once there are a few million people using the NES for adult services, then it becomes much easier to begin using the NES for other purposes, such as voting. I can go to the UK Adult Gateway to obtain a porn identity, a gambling identity, a Dungeons & Dragons identity, a comments in the MaiL Online identity and, of course, a voting identity.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

The gold standard for voting OLD DRAFT

Electoral fraud isn’t a huge problem in the United Kingdom but it does happen, and it looks as if it’s been happening with increasing frequency in certain areas. So the government has decided to do something about it and they are going to introduce an “voter ID” scheme that will require people to provide some evidence of their identity when they go to vote, initially in local elections but presumably in general elections downstream.

The voter ID scheme will be trialed in 18 areas which have been identified by police and the Electoral Commission as being "vulnerable" to voting fraud, including Bradford, Birmingham.

From Voters will have to show passports to combat voter fraud in 'vulnerable' areas with large Muslim populations

And, as it happens, in my own dear Woking. But that is not the reason for my interest in the topic. My particular interest in electronic voting because it is one of the hard cases for digital identity. If we can figure out how digital identity can support something as complicated as electronic voting (complicated because of the requirements for secrecy, privacy, auditability) that shows it can be used for a wide variety of other applications. I’ve written before that I am in favour of electronic voting of some kind but I’m very much against remote voting, because I think that in a functioning democracy voting must remain a public act and if it is allowed in certain remote conditions then we cannot be sure that a voter’s ballot is either secret or uncoerced.

I think it is possible to imagine services where trusted third parties or electoral observers of some kind use mobile phones to go out and allow the infirm or otherwise housebound to vote, but that’s not the same thing as just allowing people to vote using mobile phones, which is a really bad idea as I’ve pointed before.

We live in a Venmo world now, so if the under-30s want to vote using an app that tells their friends that they voted, or perhaps even how they voted, or perhaps allows them to add a funny picture or an acute comment, well so be it. But make it secure, and make them go down to the polling station to use it.

From Yes, we should make voting social, mobile and local | Consult Hyperion

So: it is not beyond the wit of man to come up with alternatives to the postal vote. But that’s not what is being proposed. The UK government is not currently proposing an app or any other kind of electronic voting here, it is merely proposing to add a basic test of entitlement at the ballot box. How will this identity be established and the entitlement authenticated? Well…

Local authorities will be invited to apply to trial different types of identification, including forms of photo ID such as driving licences and passports, or formal correspondence such as a utilities bill

From Voters in local elections will be required to show ID in anti-fraud trials | Politics | The Guardian

Wait, what? A utilities bill?

I should explain here for any baffled overseas readers of this blog that the United Kingdom has no national identification scheme or identity card or any other such symbol of continental tyranny, so our gold standard identity document is the gas bill. The gas bill is a uniquely trusted document, and the obvious choice for a government concerned about fraud.

(By the way, if for some reason you do not have a gas bill to attest to your suitability for some purpose or other, you can buy one here, for theatrical or novelty use only).

Why is it that the government never ask me about this sort of thing? Since they don’t have an identity infrastructure, why don’t they use other people’s? I would have thought that for a great majority of the population, especially the more transient and younger portion of the electorate (e.g., my sons) social media would provide a far better means to manage this entitlement.

I judge it to be far harder to forge a plausible Facebook profile than a plausible gas bill, so if I turn up at the polling station and log in to the Facebook profile for David Birch (if there is a Facebook profile for a David Birch, incidentally, I can assure you it isn’t me) then they may as well let me vote.

From Special Feature: Electronic voting, electronic identity and electronic entitlement | Consult Hyperion

None of this will help, of course, because the main source of electoral fraud in the UK is not personation at the polling station but fraudulently-completed postal ballots. Indeed, this is precisely what has been going on in my own dear Woking, where four people were jailed for electoral fraud last year. As far as I can understand it from reading the various reports, including the source reports on electoral fraud in the UK, the main problem is that postal votes are being completed by third parties, sometimes in bulk. No proof of identity is going to make any difference to this and so long as we allow people to continue voting by post I can’t see how the situation will improve. I notice that the minister in charge of voting was quoted on the BBC today:

Constitution minister Chris Skidmore said  “…In many transactions you need a proof of ID."

From Electoral fraud: Voters will have to show ID in pilot scheme - BBC News

This is not, strictly speaking, true. In almost all transactions that we  take part in on a daily basis we are not proving our identity, we are proving that we are authorised to do something whether it is to charge money to a line of credit in a shop, ride a bus or open the door to an office. In these cases we are using ID as a proxy because we don’t have a proper infrastructure in place for allowing us to keep our identities safely under lock and key while we go about our business. What you should really be presenting at the polling station is an anonymised entitlement to vote that you can authenticate your right to use. It is nobody at the polling station's business who you are and, in common with many other circumstances, if you are required to present your identity to enable a transaction then we have created another place where identity can be stolen from.

The real solution is, of course, not using Railcards or football supporter’s cards, or indeed special-purpose election ID cards, but a general-purpose National Entitlement Scheme (NES).

From Special Feature: Electronic voting, electronic identity and electronic entitlement | Consult Hyperion

If memory serves, I think this is what my colleagues at consult Hyperion and I first proposed in response to a government consultation paper on a national identity scheme around 15 years ago. Oh well.

Cornell Researchers Highlight Ethical Lapses in Recent Cybersecurity Failures | The Cornell Daily Sun

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Wicker acknowledges that it is obviously important to continue security surveillance, for example, to prevent terror attacks, but the tradeoffs need to be properly considered.

“There are other ways to do police work, in my opinion,” Wicker said.

From Cornell Researchers Highlight Ethical Lapses in Recent Cybersecurity Failures | The Cornell Daily Sun

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Saturday, 16 September 2017

Consumers spend £57.8bn on cards - Credit cards - News | moneyfacts.co.uk

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consumers spent a whopping £57.8bn on cards in July, an increase of 7.4% from July 2016, when £54.2bn was spent.

From Consumers spend £57.8bn on cards - Credit cards - News | moneyfacts.co.uk

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POST Voter ID is back, and this time it's in Woking

Well, Woking is in the news. It is going to be part of a pilot scheme at the forefront of the UK’s non-existent identity non-strategy to not introduce digital identity.

Voters in five areas in England will be asked to take identification to polling stations at local elections next year as part of a pilot scheme.

From Five areas in England to pilot voter ID checks - BBC News

This BBC report doesn’t mention just how the entitlement to vote is to be established but we already know what array of high technology machine learning AI super robot world brain systems are to be deployed…

Local authorities will be invited to apply to trial different types of identification, including forms of photo ID such as driving licences and passports, or formal correspondence such as a utilities bill

From Voters in local elections will be required to show ID in anti-fraud trials | Politics | The Guardian

Wait, what? It’s pointless enough showing a trivially counterfeitable physical identity document to someone who can’t verify it anyway, but come on… a utilities bill? That’s where we are in 2017 in the fifth richest country in the world? In Scott Corfe’s recent Social Market Foundation report A Verifiable Success—The future of identity in the UK he highlighted what he calls the "democratic opportunity" for electronic identity verification to facilitate internet voting thereby increasing civic engagement. Well, I agree. But that’s a long way from showing a gas bill to a polling station volunteer.

(And what does ‘local authorities will be invited to apply’ really mean anyway?  They’ve already been ‘invited’ to adopt the national Gov.UK Verify identity service. Very few did, and fewer still continue, so five might be ambitious. And where they do, are we disenfranchising voters who don’t feel like forging documents if they don’t come from the mainstream demographic — a point also made in the SMF report — thus distorting the outcomes).  

Now, I’ve written before that I am in favour of electronic voting of some kind but I’m very much against internet voting, because I think that in a functioning democracy voting must remain a public act and if it is allowed in certain remote conditions then we cannot be sure that a voter’s ballot is either secret or uncoerced. I think it is possible to imagine services where trusted third parties or electoral observers of some kind use mobile phones to go out and allow the infirm or otherwise housebound to vote, but that’s not the same thing as just allowing people to vote using mobile phones. I think internet voting is a really bad idea, but I take Scott's point about the need for digital identity. However, since we don’t have one and I don’t see any prospect of Government producing a robust one in the foreseeable future, we’re stuck with gas bills until someone gets to grip with issue.

(I should explain here for any baffled overseas readers of this blog that the United Kingdom has no national identification scheme or identity card or any other such symbol of continental tyranny, so our gold standard identity document is the gas bill. The gas bill is a uniquely trusted document, and the obvious choice for a government concerned about fraud. By the way, if for some reason you do not have a gas bill to attest to your suitability for some purpose or other, you can buy one here for theatrical or novelty use only.)

Woking Polling Station

Why is it that the government never ask me about this sort of thing? Since they don’t have an identity infrastructure, why don’t they use other people’s? I would have thought that for a great majority of the population, especially the more transient and younger portion of the electorate (e.g., my sons) social media would provide a far better means to manage this entitlement.

I judge it to be far harder to forge a plausible Facebook profile than a plausible gas bill, so if I turn up at the polling station and log in to the Facebook profile for David Birch (if there is a Facebook profile for a David Birch, incidentally, I can assure you that it isn’t me) then they may as well let me vote.

From Special Feature: Electronic voting, electronic identity and electronic entitlement | Consult Hyperion

None of this will make the slightest different to the central problem, of course, because the main source of electoral fraud in the UK is not personation at the polling station but fraudulently-completed postal ballots, a situation that led one British judge to call it “a system that would disgrace a banana republic”. Indeed, this is precisely what has been going on in my own dear Woking, where four people were jailed recently for electoral fraud. As far as I can understand it from reading the various reports, including the source reports on electoral fraud in the UK, the main problem is that postal votes are being completed by third parties, sometimes in bulk. No proof of identity is going to make any difference to this and so long as we allow people to continue voting by post I can’t see how the situation will improve. So: it is not beyond the wit of man to come up with alternatives to the postal vote. But that’s not what is being proposed. The UK government is not currently proposing an app or any other kind of electronic voting here, it is merely proposing to add a basic test of entitlement at the ballot box.

When this scheme was originally announced, the minister in charge of voting (Chris Skidmore) was quoted by the BBC as saying that “in many transactions you need a proof of ID” which is not, strictly speaking, true. In almost all transactions that we  take part in on a daily basis we are not proving our identity, we are proving that we are authorised to do something whether it is to charge money to a line of credit in a shop, ride a bus or open the door to an office. In these cases we are using ID as a proxy because we don’t have a proper infrastructure in place for allowing us to keep our identities safely under lock and key while we go about our business.

If we are to implement the kind of electronic identity verification envisaged by the Social Market Foundation, then what you should really be presenting at the polling station is an anonymised entitlement to vote that you can authenticate your right to use. It is nobody at the polling station’s business who you are and, in common with many other circumstances, if you are required to present your identity to enable a transaction then we have created another place where identity can be stolen from. The real solution is, of course, not about using gas bills or indeed special-purpose election ID cards, but about introducing a general-purpose National Entitlement Scheme (NES). If memory serves, I think this is what my colleagues at Consult Hyperion and I first proposed in response to a government consultation paper on a national identity scheme a couple of decades ago. Oh well.

Less than half of Canadians expected to use cash by 2020, says research

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51 percent of Canadian consumers are expected to do away with using cash entirely by 2020.

Paysafe also found that 56 percent of Canadian consumers visit an ATM only once a month, while 19 percent said they rarely carry cash at all.

From Less than half of Canadians expected to use cash by 2020, says research

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Beyond blockchain: what are the technology requirements for a Central Bank Digital Currency? – Bank Underground

Writing in the Bank of England’s “Bank Underground” blog, Simon Scorer from the Digital Currencies Division, makes a number of very interesting points about the requirement for some form of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). He remarks on the transition from dumb money to smart money, and the consequent potential for the implementation of digital fiat to become a platform for innovation (something I strongly agree with), saying that:

Other possible areas of innovation relate to the potential programmability of payments; for instance, it might be possible to automate some tax payments (e.g. when buying a coffee, the net amount could be paid directly to the coffee shop, with a 20% VAT payment routed directly to HMRC), or parents may be able to set limits on their children’s spending or restrict them to trusted stores or websites.

From Beyond blockchain: what are the technology requirements for a Central Bank Digital Currency? – Bank Underground

If digital fiat were to be managed via some form of shared ledger, then Simon’s insight here suggests that it is not the shared ledger but the shared ledger applications (what some people still, annoyingly, insist on calling “smart contracts”) that will become the nexus for radical innovation.

Friday, 15 September 2017

BBC - Future - The surprising place where cash is going extinct

We’ve been in mobile payments from the earliest days. We worked on the UK’s first prepaid scheme, first WAP “walled garden”, first NFC trials and, I’m proud to say, M-PESA in Kenya. Success has many fathers, of course, but carrying out the original feasibility study for M-PESA is one of the bigger feathers in the CHYP cap. We also work for customers all around the world (I mean it: in the last year we have consultants working in China, India, the Americas, Australia, the Far East. Leeds, even. We have a pretty realistic picture of what is happening at the forefront of the payments industry. Hence it was no surprise to us to read that:

Payments through mobile she says have rocketed from 5% two years ago to more than 40% now.

From BBC - Future - The surprising place where cash is going extinct

Yes, the BBC points to Somaliland rather than powered-by-Swish Sweden as the place where cash will first vanish into memory. And if your memory is good, you may recall that you read it all here first, five years ago.

Somaliland might well become the world’s first cashless country. Not Iceland or the Netherlands, Korea or Kenya, but Somaliland

From The world’s first cashless country | Consult Hyperion

As I have often said at conferences, in seminars and when interviewed, it is the mobile phone (not the payment card) that is the nail in cash’s coffin, because a mobile phone is a means to get paid as well as a means to pay. It’s both a “card” and "a terminal" in the world of Visa and PayPal, Faster Payments and Venmo.

If you go to China or Kenya, you’ll see people paying with phones. In fact when I was in China last month, I was in a near-permanent state of shock watching people for everything, everywhere with ubiquitous bar codes. And almost all of those payments went through third-party providers (WeChat and AliPay) rather than through bank services.

So why don’t we pay for everything using our mobile phones in the UK? Or USA? 

New interfaces (voice), new security (face), new authentication techniques (continuous passive authentication)

It’s more security, but more convenience that wins out.

BBC - Future - The surprising place where cash is going extinct

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There are not many things tiny Somaliland can claim to be a world leader in, but cashless payments might be one.

From BBC - Future - The surprising place where cash is going extinct

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Monday, 11 September 2017

Myhrvold

Look, it’s not just nobodies like me who say this. Nathan Myrvold is XXX and a pretty smart (and pretty rich) guy. Here’s what he said about this a couple of decades ago when the first attempts at electronic cash were beginning [Levy, S. E-money in "Wired", December 1994)].

"There's a role for untraceable transactions. But it's not a panacea. Some people get very worked up about it. But there's been a very steady trend away from untraceable cash. There are cases where explicit traceability is a good thing. Like in my business expenses. I want them to trace it! All these things are there for a reason. They're not there as part of a plan by nefarious Big Brother. Look, I understand Chaum's concern to a certain degree. There's a lot of concern for privacy today. But I do worry about the idea of saving people from themselves. Just because I sign up for a traceable form of money doesn't mean I want my next-door neighbor to see my transactions."

Right. This is all about privacy.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Barbarians at the Gates: Consumer tech companies will eat banks' lunch - The Economic Times

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"The banking customer today is being wooed by the richest men in top four economies of the world - USA (Jeff Bezos - Amazon Pay), China (Jack Ma - PayTM), India (Mukesh Ambani - Jio Money), and Japan (Masayoshi Son - Flipkart/PhonePe). "

Barbarians at the Gates: Consumer tech companies will eat banks' lunch - The Economic Times

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Identity Thieves Hijack Cellphone Accounts to Go After Virtual Currency - NYTimes.com

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In a growing number of online attacks, hackers have been calling up Verizon, T-Mobile U.S., Sprint and AT&T and asking them to transfer control of a victim’s phone number to a device under the control of the hackers.

From Identity Thieves Hijack Cellphone Accounts to Go After Virtual Currency - NYTimes.com

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Saturday, 2 September 2017

POST Age verifcation and intelligence verification

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"'Age verification could lead to porn companies building databases of the UK's porn habits, which could be vulnerable to Ashley Madison style hacks,' argued Open Rights Group director Jim Killock."

UK to implement age-verification system for porn sites | Ars Technica

This is indeed the case, and the inevitable outcome of the government’s “plan” as it stands. But it may not be the porn companies building the database of who prefers spanking to and prefers foot fetishism (hint: MPs). It may be the government. I heard the “Digital Minister” Matt Hancock interviewed on the BBC’s Today programme about his half-baked ideas. He said that people visiting porn sites could show their passports to gain access. This is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard a Minister say (and that’s against some pretty stiff competition) for two reasons: first off all it would lead to a massive increase in crime (identity theft, blackmail and so on) and it would also give the Home Office a treasure trove of personal data that they would find irresistible.

Suppose I decide to visit “The Honourable Members”. The web site operator, let’s call them “Filthy Fun” (registered in Mozambique), asks for my passport. Now, the only organisation that can verify whether a passport is valid or not is the Home Office. So, Filthy Fun sends my passport details to the Home Office and the Home Office checks them and tells Filthy Fun that the passport is valid. I’m logged. (Of course, Filthy Fun have no idea whether it’s me at the keyboard or not, but whatever.)

Note though that the Home Office now knows which porn sites I’m visiting.

I’ve written so many times 

HSBC, Barclays Join Settlement Coin as Bank Blockchain Test Enters Final Phase - CoinDesk

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"The head of fintech partnerships and strategy at HSBC, Kaushalya Somasundaram, reiterated Jaffrey's belief that USC could help delineate a path forward for central bank digital currencies, one of the reasons HSBC  joined to begin with.

Explaining how she sees the the token eventually working, Somasundaram told CoinDesk:

'The settlement coin will be a collateralized digital currency, backed by cash assets at a central bank, which allows us to transfer ownership easily through the exchange of USCs, thus reducing process complexity and the time taken for settlement.'"

HSBC, Barclays Join Settlement Coin as Bank Blockchain Test Enters Final Phase - CoinDesk

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Inside the black market where people pay thousands of dollars for Instagram verification

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This is a guy who knows a guy, a middleman in the black market for Instagram verification, where anyone from a seasoned publicist to a 22-year-old digital marketer will offer to verify an account—for a price. The fee is anywhere from a bottle of wine to $15,000

From Inside the black market where people pay thousands of dollars for Instagram verification

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Friday, 1 September 2017

Wells Fargo fake bank account scam gets bigger » Banking Technology

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The expanded analysis reviewed more than 165 million retail banking accounts opened over a nearly eight-year period – from January 2009 through September 2016 – and identified a new total of approximately 3.5 million potentially unauthorised consumer and small business accounts.

From Wells Fargo fake bank account scam gets bigger » Banking Technology

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