Crypto

I learned it in school then again at the hand of David Chaum

He taught me that if I kept the key length long the work hard and the hardware self defeating then a digital signature is absolute proof of presence under and agree set of conditions.

We then spoke of operating systems, payments, smart cards, cryptography: asymmetrical and symmetric. Rooted in PKI and the need to assume a trust less world.

Then there is money. We knew, time ago, we could use electrons to replicate notes and coins on ledgers and within balances.

Electronic Passports, National Identity Cards, and Drivers Licenses will have or have had a digital form.

Now we create Digital Assets.

Valued by a market.

Dreaming of unimaginable wealth or food on the table in the morning.

What is a DAO and how do we govern tomorrow

Distributed autonomous organizations, a DAO.

When we think of governance and how we control society, we immediately must consider the realities of people in the tribes they belong to.

Recently the emergence of bitcoin, the understanding of the power of a distributed ledger, the use of a hash chain, the power of cryptographic processes, and the security of the devices we carry establishes a foundation for a brave new world.

What is governance? It is the method processes and mechanisms a society puts in place to establish order and ensure harmony?

The ancient Turks, Greeks, slave spoke of democracy, the idea that each member of the tribe, the town, the city, or the state could assemble and determine new laws, regulations, and best practices. We then evolved into Republican governments the concept of a group of people representing a larger number of citizens.

Influence and power define what shall evolve. In my lifetime, the idea of being able to plug the handset of your telephone into the back of a terminal and establish a connection to a computer somewhere out there was a novelty. For my father it is Time in Geneva when Aryanism stood out as a challenge, opportunity or threat. Telephones were just emerging and radios were available. TV was still not present. Paper books and libraries surrounded the environment we will call Geneva.

City on the Lake, what is this thing place in his history his is as relevant as your or mine.

One question why anonymity at the profound process of engagement. When you are something called anonymous I am not sure I want to play. If your anonymous is mandatory; I don’t want to play.

The innovative spiritual and the. Nurturing essence of life.. How this evolves involves countless engagements.

Each sublime note to the fabric of the virtual environment we present to the public is.

And, all of us form the fabric of the public.

He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said,* ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’* then that person need not honor the father.* 6 So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word* of God. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said:

8 ‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me;

9 in vain do they worship me,

teaching human precepts as doctrines

“Listen and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”

What shall we do? Simple honor the one Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31

You commit to what you believe in with a robust desire to adhere to the moral imperatives. The one God is the same God written about in so many different ancient lore.

The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32

32

Who is your neighbor?

Anyone you engage in an event. An event is is anything we all seek to record. By the way any unit of one can record as long as all parties are aware. It is our contracts and promises. Those such as payment, voting, identity and influence.

See you next time.

God’s Golden Rule Is Universal

I must begin with an apology to the person who caused me to start this post. I am sorry about how things evolved.  I was looking forward to exploring what could be.

I also appreciate how my spiritual foundation differs from many.  In this post, I will attempt to share what I believe.  

There are four great teachers Lao Tzu, Siddhattha Gotama, Confucius, and Jesus. To these four, we must add the Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, and the other great scholars whose words graced the libraries of Alexandra and other great centers of ancient learning.

Their thoughts and ways of looking at life and our surroundings transcend time.

Jesus easily sailed these waters and beyond

Jesus, between age twelve and thirty, I suspect, walked the northern silk route and traveled home along the southern maritime route, searched, and explored all of their thinking.  He probably voyages around Europe with the Phoenicians.  When he emerged, he taught.  He was a truly enlightened man.  He taught a new way.

Maybe he simply merged all the thoughts many civilizations had of the single creator into one homily. 

The Golden Rule Is How We Should Live

Stories told of Jesus caused the common people to establish a deep feeling for Jesus son of Mary and Joseph a martyr who died on the cross preaching peace and harmony. 

If only those in power had embraced the love, he shared.  Instead, they took control of the image of Jesus and God.

Instead, those in power use his name and their version of his teaching to assure their GREEDY, that one sin, need for wealth and power.  To this challenge, we must remember what Lord Acton said – “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (1887).

Western civilization has claimed superiority and justified its claim using The Bible.  The hubris of the Bible Authors to claim their Book was better than any other book is where the sins of our global culture emanate.

That arrogant better than thou feeling is our greatest sin.

Look at the tower of Babel. We once were one. The people who wrote that passage wrote of our inability to work together.  They blamed God for our human failures.  The story is of us. 

We could not create a society

Capable of standing up and saying to God.

Father, you can be proud of us

We are one together on earth
Bound together peace and harmony 
In the spirit of the Creator

Is that not what Jesus told us was our task? 

I was taught that he died on the cross so in his name we would come together as one, both Gentile and Jew?  Instead!

My return from a world where chaos ultimately came to order 》 Happened in 2005 while living in Canada.  19 year abroad thinking of coming home.  I stopped drinking; we joined the three-week-old community church in Markham, Ontario. There, I began to study the bible. When I came back to the United States in 2008 and settled for a time on St Simons Island, Georgia, I joined the local community church.  Moving up to Atlanta, I joined with my sister and attending Johnson Ferry Baptist Church

Supposedly reborn I tried to learn and listen for God’s words.

What happened next resulted from several evangelical better than thou experiences. 

Their demand – I see things their way. 

This better-than-thou attitude caused me to run back to the Episcopal church.

Tribalism:

Party, nationalist, MAGA, slave owner, racist, sexist, cults, schools, churches, temples … whatever holds one group together divides us. This is our failing.

We did not listen to those four great teachers

I don’t think the evangelist understands the red words

We are not listening to Jesus. 
He knew and had learned from
All the many before him 

With this ancient depth, even he has not convinced those now living and those who came before to come together as one family.  He asked us, in the name of the creator, to be the stewards of this planet and friends to any who enters our space. 

This is who we are expected to be

Look at us today.   We have not been true to his teaching. Unfortunately, much of the New Testament is John, who was Saul.   Only the red words in the Gospels and Acts are the truth.

Those that follow, including Mohammed, Luther, Calvin, Joseph Smith, Guru Nanak, and so many others, sought to promote their unique way of thinking.  Instead, they ended up creating even more division. 

In 2017 my mother died.  It was late February.  We had just elected a racist President.  Two priests Robert and Tom stood talking as friends.  Of two different disciplines, these men told me the local spiritual leaders met for Lunch – Dinner – Musical … whatever. 

Years later Tom and Allan along with the local rabbi took a group to Palestine. 

They told me who did not

The Imam did

At the beginning of 2020, living once again in the Golden Isles, I attended three of the churches here on St. Simons.  I listen with great respect to Alan & Tom as they tended to their Presbyterian and Episcopalian flocks.  I also had a chance to experience Catholics sharing their faith.

I have stayed away from most people since COVID, especially those rude people who would not wear a mask and do not want to accept the free vaccine and become part of the herd immune society.

May 2021 

A lovely woman asked the question of my spiritual beliefs. 

before she adamantly professed her beliefs
I was at peace with My spiritual foundation

This student’s essay tells it well.

https://www.albany.edu/faculty/miesing/teaching/assess/hell.html

In my many reading, this essay has caused me to want everyone to remember one thing.  

The question the student causes me to ask each of you. 

Is it true? 

Because I don’t believe as you, I am destined to hell?

Each time I reread the student’s essay, I find the humor and feel the deeply thought words.  I then wish all could accept this simple thought. 

When it comes to spirituality, everyone is right. No one is wrong.  None of us can truly understand the mysteries of the unknown. 

None of us has the ability to understand and see the creator

 

Power and Intellect so Immense
Capable of Creating Universes

In my search, I found the Tao, The Way!

While cycling one beautiful afternoon along the Chattahoochee, I listened to one particular way of interpreting the Tao.

After listening to the full series, the Trinity became nothing more than an element of the mythology used to help people find a common purpose.

For me, our purpose should be to find union with all.  People should not insist we all believe in the Jesus described in the Nicene Creed.  Instead,

We could all agree

Jesus Is

He is a Great Spiritual Teacher

Many tell me I must give God my full and undivided attention.  They tell me he will fill my mind with heavenly wisdom and knowledge. 

They tell me – he has plans for me.

They tell me they see and hear greatness in my ideas. Can it be true?

Is God calling and asking me to step up

Reach higher and prepare to do more than I can imagine?

My therapist believes I have a calling.   Others cause me to fear the burden God wants to place on my shoulders. The woman who caused me to write told me she heard greatness in my ideas. 

Then they pray that I will experience the outrageous love of Christ. 
This one idea reminds me of the division and hubris of the Christian.

Sometimes even I wonder if I am destined and here for a reason

In 1976 I learned software & telecommunication with the equivalent of a 4-year master’s in computer services. 1982, while replacing the back pages of the WSJ with computer screens, I saw how marginal satisfaction is not a human instinct and was confronted with the flaws of socialism and capitalism.  1986 off to Europe for 15 years.

1991, I moving into senior management and saw the world through the eyes of Mastercard and Visa. I helped them grow and focused on securing the world of payments and heralding in eCommerce.

Big data, identity, and cryptography take me into today.

The fourth industrial revolution is underway; it calls us to embrace machine learning, natural language interfaces, 3D printing, and the internet of things.

How God fits in begs the question of why God would put Putin and Trump in power. Why would income inequality be so raw and health a profit center?  Those waving the Trump and MAGA flags worry me. Their supremacist attitude solidifies for me one thing.  Tribalism is our greatest sin.

Has he put me here to address the real issue!

Stop believing in the absolute truth of One book. Instead, we need to collectively believe in the one creator who taught the four or more ancient scholars the truth. They all have one common message.

It is time to listen and embrace
The Golden Rule.

If this is my destiny, I need help. I need the OMI cheerleader.  Moreover, I need to meet men and women of faith who have experienced a truth and have grown to see the truth. 

Together we can build and promote
We need to embrace The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule

Click Me
Click Me

Voter suppression cannot be what the political parties seek

I am confused. I thought the goal of a democratic society was to ensure each citizen of age had the ability and the right to vote. In 2020 there was and still is a pandemic often in history there have been natural disasters these challenges create issues voters have to consider when attempting to voice their intent on who shall represent them at a city, municipal, county, state, or federal level.

Many legislatures, Secretaries of State, or Lieut. Governors decided to expand the ability for voters to vote by mail. Our previous president argued mail-in voting was subject to fraud and built a case or better-said conspiracy theory that would allow him to contest the election of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. Now the GOP is busy attempting to rewrite the law that will remove the ability of those unable to attend the voting place to use mail-in ballots. Why one should ask! To restrict the number and class of people who can vote in a democracy is unacceptable. Our political class should wish and work and make sure our democratic process of voting enables each of us the ability and the right to vote. Any attempt to limit someone’s ability to vote should be classed as a criminal act. By making this statement one could easily argue the GOP are criminals.

Often in history, those who seek power seek to suppress those who wish to also participate. We can only hope the good people of this country will decide that we are a free nation built upon laws that engender respect and seek to include everyone.

Social Media and the Threat of Mis or is it Dis Information

A long time ago, while installing Voice, Video, and Digital services on Trading Rooms in London and on Wall Street, stories of dis-information and the ability to manipulate the market were often told around the Bar at Harry’s on Hanover Square. Today we see manipulation in the political and economic spheres capable of alternating world order and drives nations into Civil war.

We must find a way of removing the risk of misinformation and restore truth and fair play into everything we hear and do.

Gamestop_mess

Identity – A Most Complex Thought

The idea of my identity, your identity, and our identity took me on a journey into social norms, physical realities, spiritual considerations, psychological consideration, and philosophy.  Starting with the classic approach of learning the definition of a word takes us to the dictionary.  What then assured the complexity of my quest is each of several definitions is similar, but, not the same.

I then found an interesting quote:

G.K. Chesterton once observed that the “special mark of the modern world is not that it is skeptical, but that it is dogmatic without knowing it.” His point was that moderns have forgotten that they are assuming what they believe to be a given. “In short,” he concludes, “they always have an unconscious dogma; and an unconscious dogma is the definition of a prejudice.”

With this thinking in mind on definition stood out:

identity n.

          1. an individual’s sense of self defined by (a) a set of physical, psychological, and interpersonal characteristics that is not wholly shared with any other person and (b) a range of affiliations (e.g., ethnicity) and social roles. Identity involves a sense of continuity, or the feeling that one is the same person today that one was yesterday or last year (despite physical or other changes). Such a sense is derived from one’s body sensations; one’s body image; and the feeling that one’s memories, goals, values, expectations, and beliefs belong to the self. Also called personal identity.
          2. in cognitive development, awareness that an object is the same even though it may undergo transformations. For example, a coffee cup remains the same object despite differences in distance, size, color, lighting, orientation, and even shape. Also called object identity.

I then thought of the various ways people expand on this word Identity and began to build a list.

        • Brand Identity
        • Cultural Identity
        • Digital Identity
        • Ego Identity
        • Emotional Identity
        • Ethnic Identity
        • Family Identity
        • Gender Identity
        • intellectual Identity
        • Material Identity
        • Moral Identity
        • National Identity
        • National Identity
        • Official Identity
        • Organizational Identity
        • Personal Identity
        • Physical identity
        • Political Identity
        • Psychology Identity
        • Racial Identity
        • Sexual Identity
        • Social Identity
        • Spatial Identity
        • Visual Identity

I am convinced my list is not complete.  What I can say is each item can be found in an article, definition or other written material produced by others.

As a final thought
Understand our identity leads one to wonder
“Who am I”
an Existential question
we each must answer for ourselves

It is time to move to Multi-Factor Authentication built on a Restricted Operating Environment

Passwords should become a thing of the past. Here’s why

This morning one of my Google alerts found a blog coming from the World Economic Forum.  It reminds us of the inventor of the password Fernando Corbato.  In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said passwords have become “a nightmare”.

The open question is how do we solve for the nightmare of password management we have created that is both effortless and secure.

This article calls for private enterprise and our governments to find answers.  I hope in finding these answers capitalism and profit do not become the reason to act.  I hope social responsibility and community action drive all to find answers that are affordable, convenient, secure and more importantly consumer-friendly.

What is a Cryptocurrency or better yet why do we want them

As a member of a committee responsible to develop the agenda for Payment Summit this February in St Lake City, we’ve been discussing a panel on Cryptocurrency.  The initial conversation spoke of blockchain and cryptocurrencies and how these two topics, while related, need to be independent of each other.

With an agreement to focus on Cryptocurrency, I began to ask myself, “What is a cryptocurrency”?

Off to the Internet.  My computer instantly offered a definition.

A digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank

        • ‘decentralized cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin now provide an outlet for personal wealth that is beyond restriction and confiscation.’
        • ‘States will undoubtedly resist the spread of cryptocurrencies.’
        • ‘Bitcoin was the first widely used cryptocurrency, but few people know it is not the only one.’
        • ‘What does your cryptocurrency allow people to do that they could not do otherwise, and how does it help them do existing tasks more quickly or cheaply?’
        • ‘If cryptocurrencies are like other speculative activities, the early players and the big players benefit to the detriment of the late entrants and the small players.’
        • ‘As with all cryptocurrencies, price is based on supply and demand.’‘Even with recent fluctuations, the total value of the cryptocurrency is still over eight billion USD.’
        • ‘The majority of cryptocurrency activity still appears to be speculative.’
        • ‘A cryptocurrency may be hackable, but it can also be really, really, really hard to hack—harder than robbing a bank.’

The interesting challenge in this definition is the words operating independently of a central bank”.

In September 2017 the Bank of International Settlement BIS published a report on Cryptocurrencies.  This report spoke to the idea of CBCC or Central Bank Cryptocurrency.  The authors offered a diagram known as the Money Flower.  The flower positions this idea of CBCC within the world of money and argues a Central Bank could easily create a sovereign cryptocurrency. 
The article then goes on to describe a series of examples.  As I moved through the document I was drawn to the idea of Digital Currency and once again was compelled to search for clarity.  At the same time I noted the recent announcement by China and how the
European Union recently suggested the European Central Bank consider just such an investment.

During my research, I was reminded of the work of David Chaum and remembered how early in the growth of Bitcoin someone suggested David could be Satoshi Nakamoto.  I am also reminded of my time at Europay and how we explored the use of Chip Cards, given their hardware and cryptographic capabilities, to create a Cash Replacement, Mondex.  In parallel with our efforts Visa Cash emerged, Proton, Chip Knip, Chipper and, others emerged.  This led me to a BIS report on Electronic Money.

Looking back in history to the early discussions of Electronic Money and read the early views of the European Union and the US Treasury, it reminded me of some of the original concepts and issues.  I’m reminded of words like anonymity, traceability, origination, and sovereignty.

Anonymity and the lack of traceability are what criminals and Silk Road Market Place saw as the benefit of Bitcoin.  The concepts of origination and sovereignty clearly are key to the thinking of Governments and Central Bankers and critical elements of the origin of Bitcoin, as expressed in the original white paper.

What these cryptographers have created is amazing, yet one worries about who is responsible for and benefits from the origination of Bitcoins, forks of Bitcoins and the multiple cryptocurrencies now in existence.

If we look inside Bitcoin its architecture promotes the idea of mining and allows the successful miner to originate new bitcoins.  They argue this is the incentive driving participation.  I then wonder about the cost of Bitcoin mining or the cost of Ethereum mining.  Does the cost of supporting Bitcoin justify its continued existence?  Does the supposed benefit of cryptocurrencies justify the profit earned by the miners who support the work to assure consensus?

As my research progressed  I ran into a speech given at a conference and the Bundesbank Money in the digital age: what role for central banks? The article attempts to address three questions:

      • What is money?
      • What constitutes good money, and where do cryptocurrencies fit in?
      • And, finally, what role should central banks play?

The author’s arguments are worthy of consideration.  Especially the questions of efficiency and trust.

The question we all must consider
What is money?
Especially in the global and emerging digital market place.

In the end, I remain confused and concerned.  Digital Money, Electronic Money, Digital Currencies, Cryptocurrencies, Feit Money, stablecoins and the potential of the distributed ledger clearly are set to disrupt much.

 

Where are we

Today.

How many passwords are you trying to manage!  Does your LinkedIn contact list connecting you to more than  4,000 individuals?  Does Facebook, Instagram, and other social media websites inundating you with news and stories about your friends, colleagues and interesting people?

How many cookies have your computers accumulated?  How many databases have more information about you than they need?  If we search the dark web, how valuable is your data?

Cando seeks to help you manage your data, identity, assets, and relationships.

Philip lives on Sea Island with his 93-year-old father, the Doctor.  They pursue travel and Philip keeps his head into what is happening in financial services, blockchain, authentication, digital identity, and, whatever else people seeking to understand the transformation; particularly those in the identity and payments space.

What is happening means we can unlock our hotel rooms, cars, and homes from our phones. Our security system iwill be another app we have to find on our phone.

Instead, we need an intuitive assistant seeking to simplify our lives by taking on repetitive tasks like driving, working inside a data table or simply opening up the house for the season.

Normalizing data and performing the analysis capable of earning value is the name of the game.  Management is about stimulating a team to work in the mutual interest of the organization.  Executives define the strategy and articulate the vision in a manner conducive to success.

Cando seeks to help you manage your assets and relationships.  Assets those places and things you use doing your daily life and those interactions you have with people and entities seeking to serve, sell and partner with you.

Then there are friends who we expect to be part of our lives and therefore have privileges and access capabilities.

All of this with a target of selling integration services to the top million and simply assuring each person has an identity thus serving the bottom billion.  ultimately earning $1 per year per user to simply be there when it all breaks and you wish to restore your digital life.

At the core, your digital security will be based on the use of cryptography and sophisticated matching algorithms designed to assure anyone that you are that one individual in the populatations of the universe.

What You possess, What You Are, What You Claim … Your Certificates

NCCOE NIST Multi-Factor Authentication

What you Possess — The Thing

What you Are — You

Your Relationships

Responsibilities

Authority

Advice

— Secrets

My Certificates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Words

World Wide Web Consortium

FIDO Alliance

Global Platform

The Trusted Computing Group

Future interests

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine Learning
  • Nature Language Interface
  • Predictive Analytics

Review of the IMF The rise of Digital Money

While reading the recent document produced by the IMF I am compelled to wonder.

What is the difference between what they call Bank Deposits and e-money.  My first question, ignoring the words bank deposit.  Both are electronic accounts of value, recorded in someone’s ledger.  These two diagrams extracted from a BIS paper offer a perspective.  

They then speak to four attributed to the “means of payment”

  1. The Type, be it a claim or an object.
  2. The value, be it fixed or variable.
  3. If it is a claim who is liable?
  4. The technology, be it centralized or decentralized


They then speak to the five ‘Means of payment”.

Object-Based

  1. Central Bank Money (cash)
  2. Crypto-currency (non-Bank Issued)

As we think of the evolution of these object-based means of payment, we need to reflect on a new term “Central Bank Digital Currency” CBDC.

As a historian, I then wonder where things like Digi-cash and Mondex fit into the classification.  The value was originated and then distributed into a personal and secure storage device (Wallet).  Redemption or better said the guarantee, was provided by a party.  Maybe not a bank or the central bank, yet, easily embraced by such an institution.  Somehow history seems to lose sight of the origins of money and assumes the existence of a central bank.  Here in the USA, the formation of a Central bank was one of many areas of political discourse.

Claim-Based

  1. b-money (Bank issued)
  2. e-money (Privately issued)
  3. i-money (Investment funds)

The magic word behind all of these discussions is “Liquidity”.  The bottom line does the receiver of the money appreciate the value of the unit of measure and is the receiver confident they will be able to convert that money into another form, of their preference

 

 

Blockchain made simple

Let’s start at the beginning, the transaction, the distributed ledger entry. Think about the content of the transaction as the payload. Next think of the payload as the land deed, cryptocurrency value, record of ownership, journal entry, smart contract … marriage contract.  Whatever two or more people seek to exchange and record. Another way to think about all of this is as a block of data, code or other digital representation of something duplicated in every participant’s copy of the current ledger.

A governance model is required

What is essential, before anyone can do anything.

The parties seeking to exploit a distributed ledger must define how it will work.

It is what the community or parties seek to represent and manage, using distributed ledger technology, agree.

The whole process of defining the payload begins when the community agrees to and sets off to publish the processes, procedures, rules, functions, and purpose of their application. It is this act of governance we use to define how and what will be conveyed in the payload to be stored and recorded on a blockchain. Which blockchain, protocol, and cryptographic processes; obviously is a decision of the community.

We should be clear before we can do anything with the payload.  Ourselves and ultimately others will have initially and subsequently defined the mechanics and processes designed to assure the integrity of the blockchain, itself.

A Transaction is appended to the chain

There are two parties to each event recorded within these transactions. The agreed events, transactions and smart contracts are ultimately included in a block and properly extended onto the chain for everyone to see and read.  More about Confidentiality in another post.

Once governance is established
People can now interact

Each party has an address and then addresses unique to each asset e.g. coin. The address, in most cases, is simply an asymmetric cryptographic public key.

    • The individual, as is always the case with cryptography, has their own private key(s); they must retain, never lose and keep secret.

When the two parties decide to record an event; the sale or transfer of the title to a car.

    • A formal record of a property, a transaction, ledger entry is created.
    • The basic data.
      • The seller’s public key
      • the buyers public key
      • the payload
      • a hash
      • the signature created by the seller using their private key.

The transactions are broadcast to the network. The nodes or miners continuously work to assemble a defined number of transactions and create the next block.

The chain’s role is to record the providence of an asset and the immutability of all the associated transactions.

These records and blocks of data include content: of, by and following the rules of the consensus process.

    • Each active node or miner is attempting to create the next block.
    • The mathematics involved and the use of hashes to bind this new block to the existing blocks in the chain is beyond the scope of this blog.
    • Let us simply assume the mathematicians and cryptographers define as part of the original design of each chain an infallible solution to the issues of economics, security, integrity, and immutability.
    • These specifications will define the hash game and how one adds the next block to the chain retaining the immutability of the present and the past

By being the first to calculate the cryptographic nonce

The winner receives a reward.

    • Hopefully proportional to the cost of work or other discernable and agreed method of reward.
    • The other active nodes then test to see if they agree the first got it right.
    • If consensus is reached the new block is appended to the chain.
    • This all assumes 51% or more of the miners or nodes reach consensus on the winner’s answer.  And no one can control 51% or anything closer than 33%.

Around and around the game continues, as transactions are added and immutably recorded on the chain.

This whole process fundamentally assures history cannot be altered.

Chains split and fun things happen

If the process is not elegantly managed in full sight of all the participants.

Going Cashless

For some twenty plus years, I can remember hearing people speak of the dream of an economy without coin and paper money.  A dream, driven by the desire to promote the use of electronic payments.

Over the last months, a number of articles focus on promoting the idea of a cashless society.  They all speak to the advantages and attempt to promote the concept, arguing we can:

  • Eliminate the concern of thugs insisting at gunpoint for the cash
  • Reduce the risk of employee theft
  • Stop paying people to count all those dirty coins
  • Remove the need for an expensive safes
  • Stop paying to have a specialist truck take the money to the bank
  • Eliminate the grey market

The business case for a merchant to eliminate cash seems to be beneficial.   Many have tried and succeeded to no longer accept cash.

At the same time articles report on the new regulations; various cities and states are implementing and considering.  These regulations are intent on outlawing merchants from going cashless.  The argument often focuses on how eliminating cash disadvantage the underbanked.

Then there is a reality! As a consumer, I recently have been surprised at the need to carry cash and the unsettling pleasure of finding out I still had cash in my leather wallet.

The first wake up to this reality took place while driving from St Simons, GA to the Orlando International Airport. In the trusting hands of Google Maps, I traveled down I-95, across I-4 and was directed to the FL-417. Suddenly a road sign informed me that I was on one of the various Florida toll roads.  Above my head was a road sign indicating which lane, based on my preferred method of payment, to move into. Driving a car that was not mine and knowing it did not possess a PeachPass, my only option was cash.

Fortunately, I had cash and was able to continue my journey.

The following Friday my father and I went to The Lodge to play Sniff, a dominoes game. The game was competitive and cash was the only method to settle. With a bit of cash in my pocket, I was able to pay the few dollars I lost.

One Saturday a street vendor in front of the local Harris Teeter was selling spare ribs. When I went to pay they informed me, they only accepted cash. Once again I was fortunate, I had enough cash and was able to buy those delicious ribs for dinner.

On various Sundays, when the collection plate came around, I’ve had a check or a bit of cash and was able to leave my tithing.

On a number of occasions, the valet, tour guide or other service individual deserved a tip and I’ve had a few dollars in my wallet.

Two more events brought the reality of how society does not want cash to disappear.

One morning, I wanted to enjoy a pastry. Not having $2.75 to pay for the Danish, Sweet Mama’s, a local baker, charged me $0.50, an eighteen percent surcharge, simply to use a credit card

Finally, yesterday as a guest for lunch at the local Rotary Club, I was confronted with a series of cash only events. This time I did not have any cash and was not in a position to contribute to various worthy causes.

We dream of a cashless society. Yet churches, valets, toll booths, street vendors and the Rotary all continue to desire or require cash. Some are not even willing to accept anything but cash.

Looking at our society from two different angles, we must accept the continuing need for cash.  Be it the underbanked, unable to acquire a credit or debit card; or those who carry many credit cards, both need to use cash simply to eat or enjoy life.

Later today I will have to visit the ATM and make sure I have a bit of cash in my wallet.

 

https://www.paymentssource.com/news/target-outages-show-the-failings-of-cash-as-backup

A world between yeaterday and tomorrow

The week of March 25, 2019 I had the opportunity to visit with a room full of community banks with assets in the 100 million to billion range. Organization with 25 to maybe 300 staff.

The presentations taught me more about the difference between what large International Organizations worry about and what these small community banks need to learn. Faster Payments, Zelle, same day ACH all new services these organizations must integrate into their organization, both technically and procedurally.

Things I have been exposed to are new challenges for these small town banks.

Words like liquidity risk clearly top of mind. Yet, as we move from over night settlement to real time settlement.

Phone fraud, risk mitigation all greater challenges not necessarily appreciated yet alone understood.

In the end what is clear these community banks exist because of the small towns they understand and work within. Do those of us exposed to a larger world understand what drives these communities banks, at least not I.

Biometrics carry risks.

Hacking Our Identity: The Emerging Threats from Biometric Technology

As I skimmed through this article I was reminded of the reality of biometrics.  It is a statistical algorithm designed to compare what was registered to that was just sensed.  It is an imprecise process.  The author reminds us of the importance of our identity in each and every interaction we engage in.  She further ponders the question, of the potential threats to the biometric solutions that countries, people and enterprises are embracing, as we work to address the questions of Authentication and Identification in our complex digital and physical world.

The article asks the questions:

      • Do the countries and enterprises understand the technology and processes used to support biometrics as a means of authentication.
      • Do they appreciate the need to secure and protect this most sensitive of data?
      • Is the data they store able to be used to compromise the individual of the integrity of that which it seeks to protect?
      • Are we at risk of creating a surveillance society?

Finally there is the question of the accuracy of biometric matching.  It is interesting to observe the comparison of the accuracy of biometric matching to PIN or password matching.  We all recognize the challenges of PIN and password.  It is not the concept it is the question of how many complex PIN or passwords is the human mind capable of retaining without writing them down or storing them someplace that can be compromised.

As I have argued in other blogs, the answer must be in the possess of something unique which has a False Reject Rate FRR and a False Accept FAR Rate, both approaching zero.  Clearly the PIN or password has such a characteristic the challenge is in remembering so many.  An object or a thing “Something You Have”, be it a card, phone, watch or bracelet with a Restricted Operating Environment inside e.g. secure element, TEE or TPM, secured using strong cryptography, paired with a biometric makes the most sense.

Distributed Ledger and Things

As I sat to write, I was drawn to the Wikipedia’ Bitcoin article. As I read the story of how it all happened memories and concerns once again flowed through the neurons of my mind. Silk Road and their involvement and the evolution of the value of a Bitcoin, struck me as a magical mystery tour through a world of mathematicians, anarchists, profiteers and speculators.

I then remember reading

an element of a report from the Bank of International Settlement on crypto currency. The picture above is intriguing for those of us who appreciate the complexity of payments. The article gets ever so intriguing when one continues to read and finds this interesting illustration of

the difference between what we all are familiar with and what those who understand DLT and Bitcoin appreciate. The central focus of this new technology is to address one and only one concern. Trust in the intermediary.

I must admit this particular article is not the one I originally intended to speak to. I do though recommend reading it.

The article I had intended to reflect on is Central Bank Cryptocurrencies. In this document they speak to the possibility of the banks issuing a stablecoin. The recent announcement of JPMorgan Chase is one example of such.

This then causes me to reflect on the various use cases and conversations with people about the potential of DLT. I wonder why, at least here in the USA with our judicial and regulatory framework and the rule of law; we would seek to replace the existing intermediaries with a permissionless distributed ledger and the associated consensus mechanisms of a public ledger. There is enormous and growing cost in consensus built on “Proof of Work” and massive duplication of the ledger or as most call it the chain. Be it the electrical cost, the cost of a data center or the specialized computers necessary. The people and companies, the nodes and miners, will expect a reward for their effort.

Which is cheaper, if a reasonable level of trust exists?

Where are we going from here

This is the question. There are those that believe Block-chain and all of the other distributed ledger technologies are the answer to everything. I would suggest one much consider:

    • The level of trust the various parties have in each other.
    • The cost of multiple copies of the distributed ledger.
    • The cost of the consensus mechanism versus a trusted intermediary.
    • The governance required to maintain security, software and specifications.
    • The value and ethical issues of anonymity.

This then begs the question of a permissioned or a permissionless ledger. Which then begs the question of governance and who is responsible to establish the rules.

It is clear there is value in the idea of a distributed ledger. I would suggest caution in deciding if it makes sense for your use case.

      • What are the goals and objectives of the solution?
      • What are the economics of the various approaches?
      • Who are the stakeholders?
      • Who determines the rules and manages change?
      • Can the participants trust an intermediary?
      • Does everyone fear what another could do?

Helping you to understand the answers to these questions is what we do.