The demo was nice, even though i did not understand any of the crypto. Although, to be fair, i didn't even try :-)
One important take away for me was that this project aims to replace paypal, not bitcoin. Its target is to establish an open source payment infrastructure that is better than paying with credit cards, paypal, etc...
The banking sector in the US is a mosaic of banks and credit unions running a wide variety of debit networks, with ACH vaguely tying them all together. I wish it was easier to move money between banks here, seems like the quickest way is to write a check!
My friend took a withdrawal in cash. He handed me the money. I walked over to the machine and deposited it.
Makes sense if you look at it sideways.
I arrived in Seattle and at the BoA branch there they said they didn't recognize BoA of New York. I couldn't deposit into the WA branch. I could write myself a check and it would be processed with the reduced speed of a check from an out of state bank.
I'd have thought it simple without even walking into the bank...
Usually it'd be faster if it was within the same bank, but even then there was often no guarantee it'd be same day.
If you wanted a fast transfer, withdrawing and depositing the cash again was the fastest option for many combinations of accounts until just a few years ago.
I log on their site, i see both accounts under my login, i just transfer money from one to another. Two. Business. Days.
It is probably the maximum amount of time they can get away with. Because there is an obvious benefit for the bank to delay. They can use your money as their security longer. They can charge you late fees. etc.
If the US gov would put some weight behind it, the US could easily catch up.
My SEPA transfer to a UK account always takes 2-3 days according to the service provider (can't vouch for that, maybe it's the provider who's slow but they are a small IT company so ...).
(I think Finland is +0. Germany and France probably not, for various cultural differences ️)
Once I tested that I was able to do a zero day transfer from a German bank to the Netherlands and then to another German bank. The same without the Dutch intermediary was a day slower.
The fact that there is an arbitrary money amount shows it's more of a fraud cutoff than a real limit.
In the mean time the credit on your account is debited a 'float' account that accumulates any debt to other banks or third party payment system. Each fast payment system also typically have a reserved amount deposited as a guarantee in the event that a bank runs out of money.
It's a real cost to reserve money so there is a restriction on the sums.
Can the central banks speed up the settlement? Yes probably, but it's a lot of work to do.
Bitcoin blocks will always be ~10 minutes, if you pay the fee to get into the next block, it'll be 10 minutes until your payment is confirmed, before that, all the nodes will announce it anyway so 0 conf is much faster.
On top of that, if you want to pay less than a certain transaction fee (right now it's $1.62) you probably won't get into the next block, see https://bitcoinfees.github.io. Recall that 1 block = 20 minutes and add that on top of the confirmation time.
 https://blockchain.info/block/0000000000000000005f0e639f66af... look at the Timestamps of this block and the Previous Block
 https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf page 8
 https://bitcoinfees.21.co/ (a satoshi is 0.00000001 BTC, 10,000 satoshi is 40 cents right now)
Users don't want to play a complicated expensive, impossible to win game in order to get their payments processed in a known timeframe.
It's taken forever, but I'm hopeful with the big banks getting onboard Zele for person-to-person payments we may see something similar to the push-based systems other countries have for making everyday transactions online someday.
If you don't have a participating bank, things get a little more annoying since you can still use the service on its own by registering an account and tying your checking account to it - then the classic 3rd-party intermediary problem comes in. On that note though, Zelle is owned by big banks, Bank of America, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, etc., so even as sleazy as the banks are I have a lot more faith in them not screwing it up (they don't like fraud, and they want you to keep your money with them - even as greedy as they are).
In all honesty, it's probably the best setup we have for Person-to-Person transfers in the US - as more banks and credit unions adopt it you'll hopefully just open the app for your bank of choice on your phone and initiate a payment, no third party trying to take a cut, you call the bank you (hopefully) already trust for support, and as a result you remove one more account tied to your banking information that can be compromised to steal your money.
With Zelle, everything is done through your participating bank. So customer service is managed through your bank, and fraud is probably the same way.
You register with Zelle through your bank, which means your bank associates your email and / or phone number with your account within the Zelle system. After being associated, other people with a participating bank can send you money using that email or phone number. The money is instantly deducted from the sender's account, and is typically in the receiver's account within minutes or hours. Since you can only initiate payments through Zelle and not withdraws, fraud is likely managed the same as wires or bill pay.
(I closed my account with them soon thereafter. Citizens' is awful for other reasons.)
But yes, we never really got on the 'pay via bank' train like was done in much of europe in the postwar period, this has impact of how things transitioned to digital payments..
Conversely, we have much more established credit issuing infrastructure, it is not uncommon for even teenagers to have a credit card (not just debit)..
Cash is popular here too, many of the grocers I work with see 40% to 60% of their revenue in cash, though that market segment has discouraged check use (with the exception of Costco).
Digital payments have replaced the majority of checks.
EMV was also much more rapidly and properly deployed as compared to the US, where some javacard applets just give a static code instead of a rolling code. We have literally hundreds of banks and credit unions, plus a few thousand payment processing resellers all fighting to hold back progress in the payments industry here.
Plus, inside the Eurozone+Friends, you can use SEPA payments across borders, and it is very cheap or even free.
I guess it isn't even limited to national retailers, the independent grocer here does it too, I guess because it is worthwhile for them to pay for it.
I mean, it really just saves the headache of taking the checks to the bank to be deposited. These machines scan the account information on the check, initiate an ACH debit and print the details on the check for the customer's reference.
We do something similar when patients remit payment to us by mailing a check, we have a third-party service that provides us with check scanners that do a similar job - but instead they scan the payment amount off the check and then initiate the ACH debit, they keep an image of the check and we destroy the original copies. Makes life a lot easier, especially since we have dozens of bank accounts these checks get posted to based on what legal entity the money needs to be allocated to.
From a UK POV, this is completely alien to me as a concept.
Bill Pay services will try to convert the transaction to an ACH push if the service you are paying is set up for it, saves the bank money and lets them keep it in your account (earning them money) for longer. They will always fail back to cutting a check though.
Also, almost every Chinese restaurant or Ramen place had Cash Only signs.
Its no wonder so many businesses don't take credit cards or debit.
Electronic transfers enjoy a certain priority also, direct deposit, wire transfer, cash or check deposit at atm or branch are all different for different banks. In other words, it is a vague description when things clear. Some banks are better to their customers some are not so much. I live in the US.
An improvement is most certainly welcome and appreciated.
Well actually if you read the initial paper from Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin was invented as a replacement for paypal, not money :
> Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payment 
But bitcoin became really popular among the libertarian movement which hated the Fed and other central banks because they saw them as threats to freedom, and now people mostly think about bitcoin as a replacement for money.
 : https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
However, as far as i can see there is no bank offering a backend yet. Hopefully that will change soon.
It would have been great if the taler system had been usable at SHA 2017. We had to use weird, cheap and easily falsifiable plastic coins at the food court. Using taler instead would have been a really great tech demo...
(Sadly, with most traffic coming from mobile these days, I'm not sure how well the wallet concept would play with iOS's closed ecosystem. Is it against the App Store guidelines to release a wallet-type extension? Sigh, I miss the days when hacky tech like Napster and BitTorrent would set the world on fire without anyone having to gatekeep...)
If you're okay with customers choosing to make piece-work payments after consuming the material, the problem becomes much easier because micro-payments don't have to be instantaneous or binding.
All you need is a not-terribly-insecure ledger that the consumer has full read/write access to, and approves of every month (perhaps implicitly for bills under $X). This removes a lot of the security/trust/coordination issues -- an 90% solution is good enough if you just double-check with the consumer before doing anything actually important. Similar to the proposal here: https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/17/the-learned-helplessness-o... Micro-payments made by browser software (sim. SSNs) become spam-reducing mechanisms rather than trusted tokens.
Of course, this doesn't work if you want true micro-payments; i.e., where the consumer pays for access to the material, instead of making a piece-work contribution after having already consumed the material.
Most people will choose free with ads, but a significant amount will chose premium if it is compelling enough and that can represent a lot of money.
Ultimately, I think people are very charitable when it comes to trivial transactions, but not when they're inconvenienced, and so I think it would be best for everyone to make that usability gap as tiny as possible. Even better if you could actually get something for your quarter: stats showing your tip% compared to peers or friends? Different site styles for high tippers? Personal stats tracking your interests over time? Monetized, unskeezy, free-as-in-freedom "likes": lots of possibilities here.
Many people? I don't think it's a lot. Look at the subscriber numbers for Netflix. Or consider how many are willing to sign a contract for their cell phone. People will pay if the value is high.
I think the truth is most people don't care very much about the news. Time is scarce and people have a lot of choices about how to spend their time.
And yet, people are more than happy to tip a busker or leave a few bucks for the waiter or bartender. (Even outside the US, where tipping isn't expected.)
Netflix and Spotify are giving people something they want without a lot of friction. I can get everything on those services for free other places but the experience is worse.
People are tipping buskers because they are sharing a physical location with that person. Put the video of the street performance on YouTube with a tip button and the dollars per view number is going to drop drastically.
Bartenders and waiters are tipped well because they are providing personal service.
I haven't heard a subscription news model which doesn't feel like its also trying to sunk-cost me into being less critical of the reporting.
Subscribing to multiple services isn't that unusual. There just has to be some value to it.
Edit: btw, we really need a public and free payment system, why are we giving to paypal and credit cards this incredible privilege? Paying with digital cash should be as inexpensive as paying with real cash.
Think about time spent counting, ensuring that there are no falsified notes, bringing excess notes to the bank and making sure there is change, etc.
I think it is quite feasible to create an electronic payment system that has comparable overhead.
Consider that there are existing electronic payment systems, e.g. electronic cash in europe, that already work and are quite secure (being smartcard-based)
The only way besides having centralized for-profit organizations maintaining the payments infrastructure is to use cryptocurrencies.
> The exact details of the underlying contract that was signed between customer and merchant. However, this information would typically not include the identity of the customer.
IRS: The term “money laundering” refers to the activities and financial transactions that are undertaken specifically to hide the true source of the money.
Am I missing something?
[I see by the downvotes this is an unpopular perspective, but I can't see how Taler's claims "Taler is not suitable for illegal activities" and "Taler prevents tax evasion and money laundering" are justifiable. It seems ideally designed for money laundering as defined by the IRS - "hiding the source of the money". Please explain it to me (ELI5)]
Second of all, Taler improves upon cash for combatting money laundering. Money laundering by its very nature creates a dishonest paper trail to hide the real source. When laundering cash, the paper trail and the cash are separate, and because the serial numbers of bills are rarely recorded, there is no proof that the paperwork presented to regulators explaining the cash income actually resulted in said cash income.
For example, imagine a cash-rich business being audited by the IRS. The business shows daily bank deposits of $10,000 per day, with approximately 100 daily receipts for 100 daily transactions worth about $100 each. The money launderers were actually trying to hide large single transfers of $300,000 monthly that were being buffered into daily deposits, but because the dishonest paperwork shows 3,000 separate transactions, that's what's "real" until proven otherwise.
With Taler, the cash transfer and the contract are cryptographically bound. Which means that money launderers can't just draw up some fake paperwork after one large transaction, they need to make 3,000 real transactions actually happen, from real Taler wallets, which themselves must appear reputable since all Taler wallets are independently auditable (what good is having a money laundering business to hide your dishonest Taler wallets if your dishonest Taler wallets are in danger of being randomly audited themselves at some other point in time?) This drastically increases the cost of establishing an apparently honest paper trail, which in turn makes money laundering using Taler less appealing.
But by hiding the source of funds, it seems eminently suitable for illegal activities. Putting a (partially) legitimate business as front to process illegal profits is a textbook money laundering structure.
Yes, but how does Taler equate to doing this? Again, how is it any different than cash? Money Laundering is about intent, not instrument.
I can't tell you how Taler differs from cash with respect to money laundering. That's why I asked the question.
Can you tell me why Taler cannot be used for money laundering?
I guess what they're saying is, "we don't want you to doing anything illegal on our service, but we can't really stop you easily if you were to do that".
Can you tell me why cash can't be? My point is that money laundering is a crime of intention, not instrument.
Money laundering is a crime of intent ("transactions... undertaken specifically to hide the true source of the money.") Cash is one mechanism that can be used for money laundering.
(Are we good? Violent agreement so far, right?)
The Taler web site claims "Taler prevents tax evasion and money laundering." https://taler.net/en/merchants.html
I just don't see how they can claim that and claim to hide the payer identity.
Users of those commerces wouldn't be too hostile to the alternative payment option I'd imagine, and maybe with the combination of INRIA & GNU pedigree, backend relations would be less risky for the "real finance" interface.
They show an example micro payment system as browser plugin, where you pay for reading articles.
Back to your point: Even in the EU paypal has still users, because it is still easier to use than SEPA - transactions.
The value for users comes from the ubiquity of the payment system. Nobody wants to transfer money into the wallet for infrequent or one time buys.
They seem to have the right idea and might get the implementation just right, but if they can't get the momentum, it's all for nothing. I really hope this takes off.
I just wish a bunch of well-known publishers would get together and agree on _one_ solution that they'd all add to their site.
It's just a matter of adding a widget on their article pages. They already have large readership. It could kick things off and maybe get over that network effect cold-start issue.
They could add a nice bounty like "make a first payment and don't see ads on our site for a month". Or similar.
A solution like this could be a good candidate because it's neutral. With Flattr or similar you're encouraging that particular middleman. However I think to inspire confidence in publishers they'd need to prove that this solution will have strong support for years to come (which is always unsure with open source projects).
EDIT: To be clear I'm mostly thinking of micropayments to news sites. The strategy is less clear when talking about electronic commerce in general.
Pretty bold claims. Anyone can give ELI5 how it works? Merchant needs a bank account, customer needs to load funds to the wallet... Sounds quite traditional to me. Either these people are geniuses or they don't know what they are doing.
PS: I am a programmer, not a designer.
Compare two implementations of OStatus-compatible social networks: GNU-Social and Mastodon.
Mastodon is a lot better for the average joe, but the important piece from this is that its predecessors, GNU-social and StatusNet, helped show that this sort of application can work--and I'm sure the development of Mastodon was easier because many of its challenges were solved already by other free software projects.
The neat thing about all these social networks is that they're federated, which means a user on mastodon can send a message to someone using gnu-social or pump.io and vice versa.
That's the magic of free software!
The problem is that when you do something as a hobby, you usually want full control. This puts the developer/designer duo at odds. I think this is why we have many non-functional pretty designs and functional ugly applications/sites.
GNU Taler, however, is a payment method. It federates with other financial institutions to allow you to make online purchases without using credit cards. In the SHA2017 demo, they keep saying "it's like cash" and that's very close to accurate. The one difference is that payment recipients are forced to keep a paper trail of what money they've received (not from whom, but just that it was received). So in that sense it's almost better than cash in that it's more transparent for tax purposes, but maintains the anonymity of cash for the buyer.
with extremely low transaction costs
Ripple captured my attention for years, but its backing company has taken it in a direction of commercial adoption which is good for them, but antithetical to the applications I was excited about.
If GNU Taler is going to revive that vision, then that's really exciting!
It isn't immediately clear to me why I'd want to use it. They could advertise it as: 'Pay online, without Paypal!' and a big 'Sign Up' button, and it would do more for me than anything their current page does.
Having GNU in the name doesn't really help either, as I associate it with nobody adopting the thing whatsoever.
Taler requires banks to cooperate, so "signing up" doesn't make any sense in this context. Taler support would have to be offered by the bank; a user doesn't sign up for Taler --- they just need to use the Taler wallet extension.
> Having GNU in the name doesn't really help either, as I associate it with nobody adopting the thing whatsoever.
Now you're just insulting. (I'm also a GNU hacker.)
I see how it can be taken that way. But I can't really help my impression of the name.
I sincerely doubt you can draw an accurate line for what's editorialising and what isn't though and I think I'd prefer the mods to continue to err on the side of "nope" simply because I think the failure modes are less annoying overall. But it's always going to be a trade-off.
I wonder if this was written by someone from Central Europe. This use of the word charge is no good in English because it's a heteronym - it can mean to add money or take it!
Why did GNU accept this state surveillance system as a project?