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Tag Archives: payments

The unbanked, the post office, and fintech in the 1880s

"A large population of people are excluded from the financial system because they don't have bank accounts. Fintechs compete to connect them and parallel plans emanate from the government to reach the unbanked, including postal banking." What year am I describing in the above paragraph? It could be 2021. But it also describes 1870s. It's 2021 and the U.S. still has a large population of unbanked, those who have so little money that banks would rather not serve them. An astonishing 5.4% of...

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Programmable money isn’t new, we’ve had it for ages

I often hear that modern money just isn't up to snuff because it isn't programmable. That's why we need Ethereum, stablecoins, and other exotica like central bank digital currencies. These platforms will provide the world with much needed programmability.Stablecoin issuer Circle is one of the bigger marketers of this idea, but it's far from being the only one: "While value exchange may be the initial killer app, it’s the programmability of digital money that will ultimately usher in...

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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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18 things about Tether stablecoins

Before I start my list, a bit of introduction.Tether is a stablecoin. It happens to be the most popular stablecoin in the world.A stablecoin is a digital IOU that is implemented on a blockchain. In Tether's case, it takes the form of a U.S. dollar-denominated IOU implemented on the Ethereum blockchain. Tether holds U.S. dollars in a traditional bank account. It issues digital blockchain-based Tethers that are convertible into those bank account dollars at a 1:1 rate. This promise is what...

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Bitcoin is an account, not a token

When economists talk about payments, they often make a distinction between token-based and account-based payment systems. In a recent post at the New York Fed's Liberty Street blog, Rodney Garratt & cowriters argue that new payments technologies like bitcoin and central bank digital currency may not fit into these traditional categories. Perhaps it's time for a reorg? In an account-based system, some sort of database stores account information. For a payment to occur across this...

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The bitcoin-to-salvia divinorum trade route

I am now writing editorial articles for Coindesk. In my first piece I explored Strike, a new app that intends to bring bitcoin payments to a mainstream audience. Coindesk allows me to repost articles after a delay. Rather than putting up the whole thing, I'm just going to take a few bits from it and try to create something new.We've been discussing bitcoin-as-money on this blog for almost eight years now. Since then the stuff has always been just one design flaw away from taking off as a...

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Transferwise, why so fast?

This post explores some of the technological advancements that have allowed remittances to be completed in seconds rather than days.If you follow me on Twitter, you'll often see me retweeting folks who have just made really fast remittances using Transferwise, a company that specializes in cross-border payments. Like this one: Australia to Thailand, less than a minute.Remittance providers can achieve speeds like this by stitching together domestic 24x7 real-time payment systems, in this...

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Cutting Martin Sellner off from the payments system

I few weeks back I learned who Martin Sellner is. If you haven't heard of him, Sellner is a prominent Austrian populizer of remigration, the idea that non-whites living in Western nations should be sent back to where they come from.In a recent tweet from his wife, Brittany Sellner, we find out that Sellner has been kicked off of by a long list of banks and payments platforms. List of all the banks/platforms Martin has been banned from. pic.twitter.com/FDNqjp7J21 — Brittany Sellner...

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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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