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Re: [Taler] your opinion on article: The cashless society is a con – an

From: RIEMANN Robert
Subject: Re: [Taler] your opinion on article: The cashless society is a con – and big finance is behind it | Brett Scott | Opinion | The Guardian
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2018 07:40:01 +0000

Hello Christian,

thank you for your reply. Let me address few points.

1) Dependency on electricity and connectivity for e-money

I also have thought of this. However, many shops such as supermarkets (Edeka), 
Mediamarkt etc. would probably not be able to operate their business without 
electricity due to their pay desk infrastructure. Of course, cash contributes 
to become more independent of electricity.

2) Central Banks

I agree.

3) Degree of centralisation as regards Taler

This sounds a bit as you would think of Taler just being a more 
privacy-friendly alternative to replace Visa. I wonder if the existence of 
multiple payment providers improves the availability of the service. Consumers 
could also choose a service operating in their own jurisdiction. Note that also 
encrypted bank transactions are subject to the GDPR and compliance may be 
easier to accomplish with no data transfers to third countries.


-----Original Message-----
From: Christian Grothoff [mailto:address@hidden 
Sent: 25 July 2018 07:46
To: Taler <address@hidden>; RIEMANN Robert <address@hidden>
Subject: Re: [Taler] your opinion on article: The cashless society is a con – 
and big finance is behind it | Brett Scott | Opinion | The Guardian

Dear Robert,

It depends a bit on what you mean by "centralization". The duopoly of
credit cards (Mastercard/Visacard) is a type of centralization, as is
having a European Central Bank or a global ledger. Some centralization
is even necessary, as pure peer-to-peer (aka disintermediated)
transactions would be virtually impossible to regulate.

However, the privacy issue itself does not arise from centralization.
Even with a single Taler payment provider we could provide consumers
with privacy for expenditures, while also ensuring accountability for
anyone receiving payments.

Naturally, our design does allow for many payment providers to exist,
but if there are too many, this may even hurt privacy: if the payment
clears via a payment provider that has a tiny customer base, I know the
payment was made from a customer within that tiny anonymity set. But I
don't predict this to be a major issue, as economies of scale will make
it difficult to sustain tiny payment provider operations.

The one big issue with paper-less (which Taler cannot solve) is that we
rely on the Internet (and thus also power grids) to operate. This will
be an issue in disaster scenarios, so ensuring that the population
retains the habit of having,  using and accepting some paper-based cash
would be good policy, not only from a privacy perspective but from a
survival perspective ;-).

My 2 cents


On 07/24/2018 12:01 PM, RIEMANN Robert wrote:
> Dear Taler Team, dear Jeff and Christian,
> we have met at the CCC and I am following from distance your project.
> Data Protection Authorities have these days a closer look on blockchain
> to assess privacy implications.
> The following Guardian article from last week reminded me again on a
> potential alternative to Bitcoin.
> https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/19/cashless-society-con-big-finance-banks-closing-atms
> If you can spare some minutes, I would be interesting in your opinion on
> how GNU Taler may contribute to the problem of tracking due to today's
> electronic payment schemes. Isn't the problem much more the
> centralisation inherent in our infrastructure and much less the fact
> that payment is paper-less (cashless)?
> Kind regards,
> Robert

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