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Tag Archives: anonymity

The ECB’s digital euro: anonymous or not?

 The European Central Bank (ECB) recently published a report that explores the idea of introducing a digital euro for use by the general public. This project is known as a central bank digital currency, or CBDC, and many other countries are exploring the same idea. John Kiff has a useful database here showing how far these projects have progressed.Will the ECB's new euros-for-all be relatively open and anonymous like cash? Or will they require ID and permission like a bank account? In short,...

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How the pandemic has clogged the global economy with paper currency

The outbreak of Covid-19 has caused a global increase in the amount of cash in the economy. I think I've got a pretty neat explanation for why.But before I tell you what it is, let me show what the cash build-up looks like. Here's what has happened to banknotes in circulation in Canada so far in 2020: The quantity of Canadian banknotes in circulation keeps rising. 19 consecutive weeks without a decline. Unprecedented.Any theories? I have one—will write a blog post soon.(In a...

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Why Fedcoin

Six years ago I wrote a blog post about Fedcoin. Fedcoin is a type of central bank digital currency, or CBDC. (I called it Fedcoin at the time, but it could be any central bank that issues it, not just the Federal Reserve.)So why Fedcoin?The rough idea was that it might make sense for the Federal Reserve to create a digital version of the banknotes it issues. To do so it would use a blockchain, much like the blockchains that power Ethereum or Bitcoin. Anonymous users all over the world...

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What happens when a 96 bitcoin ransom payment ends up on Bitfinex?

"Hello, to get your data back you have to pay for the decryption tool, the price is $1,200,000... You have to make the payment in Bitcoins."This is a snippet from a recent court case concerning ransomware that just crossed my desk. Companies that fall victim to ransom attacks fear the publicity it might attract, so the details of these attacks are usually swept under the table. But in this case, the ransom payer—a British insurer that traced the bitcoins to Bitfinex, a major bitcoin...

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The Watergate banknotes

Cash isn't quite anonymous, it's anonymous-ish. To illustrate this, a few years ago I wrote about the 1932 Lindbergh kidnapping case. The ransom was paid in gold certificates, not Federal Reserve notes. By coincidence, the U.S. went off the gold standard the next year, and all gold certificates were called in. So when the kidnapper spent some of his gold certificates in 1934 to buy gas, his purchase was odd enough to out him to the authorities. I recently stumbled on a more recent example...

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A way to make anonymous online donations

Paying for things online usually means giving up plenty of privacy. But this needn't always be the case. Last night I donated to a local charity via their website and didn't have to give up any of my personal information. The trick for achieving a degree of online payments anonymity? Not bitcoin, Zcash, or Monero. I used a product created by old fashioned bankers: a non-reloadable prepaid debit card. (I wrote about these cards here and here). Had I used a credit card or PayPal, all sorts...

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“Controllable anonymity”

Reuters and Coindesk report that that the People's Bank of China's imminent central bank digital currency (CBDC) is going to have a feature called controllable anonymity. Perhaps some wires have been crossed in the translation, but it'd be hard to come up with a more Orwellian piece of double speak than this. Plenty of people on Twitter are sneering. But in this post I'm going to take China's side, if only tepidly. None of the news articles have made much of an effort to explain...

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From unknown wallet to unknown wallet

Antony Lewis recently published a useful article on stablecoins. In it he describes something called "permissioned pseudonymity". In traditional payments systems, people only get to access to payments services after opening an account. This requires that they provide suitable identification. So these systems are not pseudonymous. Usage and personal identity are linked.Stablecoins operators, on the other hand, sever this link. Users can transfer stablecoins to other users without providing...

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A fifty-year history of Facebook’s Libra

Last week, we finally got some information about what Libra's currency basket would look like. A Libra currency basket will reportedly include... -no Chinese yuan -50% dollar -18% euro -14% yen -11% pound -7% Singapore dollarhttps://t.co/YNbRY9Q02xLibra could have automated the decision by adopting an established unit of account, say the IMF's SDR... — John Paul Koning (@jp_koning) September 20, 2019 If you haven't heard, Libra is a proposed global blockchain-based payments network. It...

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Prepaid debit cards. The other anonymous payments method

When it comes to financial privacy, good old fashioned banknotes and privacy cryptocurrencies like Zcash & Monero get all the attention. But as I recently wrote for the Sound Money Project, let's not forget about prepaid debit cards.Having written a bunch of posts over the last two years about financial privacy, I recently decided that it was time to step up my own personal financial privacy game. A few months ago I walked into my local pharmacy and bought my first non-reloadable...

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