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e-money: Checking your Bank-Account

this message entered the list on Thu, 18 Jun 1998 13:46:25 +0200 (MET DST)
it has been sent by Jens-Ingo Brodesser and Frédéric Jadoul, Moving Art Studio
Beginning in the mid 1970s the digitalization of money brings about a
different relationship between the client and the bank. New banking
techniques are accessible to a constantly growing number of people. ATM's,
automatic clerks and remote banking are some of them. To introduce the
dicussion we will present four scenarios anticipating changes in the idea
of value and possible developments of the bank business.

An important issue in this context concerns the risks connected to
electronic transactions. These risks are client risks in Europe whereas in
the USA banks have been obliged to cover fraudulent transaction operated on
a client's account. A recent report ordered by the European Commission
states: *Whereas the classical bank robbery of the past involved the
appropriation of gold or banknotes belonging to the bank, bank crime in the
electronic age involves the unauthorized withdrawal of credit from the
accounts of specific customers. (...) It is the consequence of risks
associated with the remote banking rather than the level of the risks that
is of most concern to consumers. (...) Banks are in the business of
providing security. It is therefore them, rather than the individual
consumer who should bear the loss if criminals find ways around banking
security systems.* In spite of what is told by the banks, one can never
trust a system 100%: *By insisting that their remote bank link security
systems are infallible, some EU banks have passed on losses arising from
criminal activity to individual consumers. (...) Our research has revealed
numerous well documented cases in which the security system has been
cracked without a consumer revealing his or her PIN.*

The software design itself can be used to trap the user. Also advanced
users can become victims of spoofing attacks. Third parties can retrieve
sensitive and personal information belonging to others. We need a payment
system which shields effiently our private lifes.

1st anticipation: An alternative Bank

Rebels with no possession, young people, unemployed or *waste fulls* who
are using bank accounts for few transactions only need another type of
bank. A bank orientated to consumption rather than savings. Modern and
pragmatic this bank must answer the demands of freaky consumers. This
attitude cannot be found within the traditional bank concept. The
communication of this alternative bank is different and its customers don't
need to go physically to any agencies anymore. Every client receives an
account number and a remote access software. This offer can be connected to
a cheap credit for a computer. All the essential correspondence, like bank
statements, is send by e-mail. Hardware money is replaced by smart card
systems which can be tanked at an evolved ATM network. To maintain an easy
and dynamic work flow, this bank offers a range of products specially
adapted to its customers: unconditional small credits and a data base
showing the cheapest offers of consumption goods which can be browsed
according to different criteria. This data base includes a link to latest
test results - buying the cheapest and best products made easy. The banks
major goal is to protect its customers sensitive information.

2nd anticipation: True Self-Banking

An idealist publishes over his/her website the scheme for a security
hardware for free. How needs a bank anymore when electronic money is safe
at home? Low cost devices incorporating these circuits are floating the
home market. Hooked up to a computer they offer an authentication method to
unlimited money transfers. Like the former attitude of having the savings
under the mattress, the new generation stores its values on the domestic
hard disk. Solar cells on the device prevent from losses due to power
shortage and a back up facility connected to a self destruction mechanism
from theft. The package includes some useful bookmarks to a series of
service providers who offer real time access to shares traded at the major
market places. The 0% interest rate involved in this form of self banking
is compensated by the profits and dividends arising from an intelligent
asset management.

3rd anticipation: The Garden of Eden

The fluidity of electronic markets which favor the free circulation of
signs give birth to a space of pure and perfect competition. The huge
amount of sellers and buyers of information guarantees that nobody can
influence any price in an unilateral manner. Stronger search engines
contribute to a larger transparency of the market and offer to each
participant an objective product profile. The individuals have given
themselves means to apprehend what happens on the market: human interfaces
and mathematical analysis of movements have been considerably improved. A
side effect of the instantaneous nature of information processing is that
the people are able to devote themselves to the communication of specific
personal research. Deepening their knowledge even increases their
efficiency. Revisiting the writings of Tocqueville they desire to insert
themselves into a social network with multiple levels. The model of the
independent worker as described by Kant becomes the ideal of success. Money
is not anymore considered as a stock of value but as a simple unit of

4th anticipation: The Apocalypse

Most people worry about the political and social tensions accompanying the
development of the global market economy. The plunder of the burning
supermarkets of Jakarta has recalled the violent reality of the Asiatic
economical crisis. The power of money, which has been fascinating the
planet for a long time, showed on this occasion its fragile inner balance
and tendency to follow panic movements. After more than ten years of
deregulation and liberalization prevails the question of reorganization and
control of the financial markets. The absence of control mechanisms from
which are particularly profiting a huge amount of private companies is
perceived by a large number of people as disgraceful. The idea of a global
tax for financial exchanges is being discussed to reduce the totalitarian
practices of some multi-nationals. By using strategies of addiction,
companies have captured their customers. User tracking and data bases with
consumer profiles is another problem. Huge commercial networks are abusing
the internet topology to follow clients around and target their publicity.
Algorithms have started to observe us. This ugly face of the market has
issued an opposition movement which insists essentially to reintroduce
mobility and privacy-protection aspects into the system. Berthold Brecht's
advice to citizens to remove their traces is relistened to and conducts to
favor confidential payment methods: like some e-systems, paper money or the
barter system. Paper money is mainly appreciated for its nearly perfect
anonymity. The freeware model becomes a blossom in the hell of commerce. In
this context electronic money is bad money and stands for social control
and loss of freedom.

phone: ++32 2 538 13 06  fax: ++32 2 534 76 66
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