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Web Payments Telecon Minutes for 2012-07-10

From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2012 16:22:12 -0400
Message-ID: <4FFC8EF4.6030205@digitalbazaar.com>
To: Web Payments <public-webpayments@w3.org>
Thanks to Dave Longley for scribing! The minutes for today's telecon are
available here:


Full text of the discussion follows for archival purposes at the W3C.
Audio of the meeting is available as well (link provided below).


Web Payments Community Group Telecon Minutes for 2012-07-10

   1. Reducing hoarding of decentralized currencies
   2. Fixed allocation of currency (supporting bills, digitally
      signed currency amounts)
   3. Dynamic allocation of currencies (digital off-line wallets)
   4. New PaySwarm Beta release
   Manu Sporny
   Dave Longley
   Dave Longley, Manu Sporny, Jeff Sayre, Melvin Carvalho,
   David I. Lehn

Dave Longley is scribing.
Manu Sporny:  today we were going to spend more time discussing
   alternative currencies because we didn't get through it all in
   the last call
Manu Sporny:  we're going to also talk about fixed vs. dynamic
   allocation (fixed dollar amount/card vs. online account)
Manu Sporny:  we also have the transaction and decentralized
   settlement algorithm(s) last on the agenda
Manu Sporny:  any updates or changes to the agenda?

Topic: Reducing hoarding of decentralized currencies

Manu Sporny:  during the last call we talked about supporting
   bitcoin, etc. other alternative currencies
Manu Sporny:  we have this concept called a "Currency Mint"
Manu Sporny:  which is a third-party interface that payswarm can
   call out to (via some mechanism) to get currency into payswarm
Manu Sporny:  once the currency is in your payswarm account, you
   can spend it with anyone else who has an account that transacts
   in that currency
Manu Sporny:  so what is payswarm going to do about currencies
   that require inflation or deflation, etc.?
Manu Sporny:  with bitcoin, you don't have to worry about an
   external force putting pressure on it to devalue it over time
Manu Sporny:  other currencies require this
Manu Sporny:  this will help cause people to spend their currency
   more quickly and keep the market moving
Manu Sporny:  the question is, should payswarm do anything about
   the "hoarding problem" or just depend on the currency mints to
   handle it?
Manu Sporny:  one way this could happen w/currency mints is that
   they could just change the exchange rate over time
Manu Sporny:  for example the Foo currency could have an exchange
   rate on day 1 as 1 Foo = 1 USD
Manu Sporny:  but over time that rate would change, eg: 1 Foo =
   0.50 USD
Manu Sporny:  another way to discourage hoarding is to put
   expiration dates on currency amounts
Manu Sporny:  eg: if you dont' use 100 Foo in the next 6 months
   you don't get to use it, it gets destroyed
Dave Longley:  I think that if we start taking the approach of
   having a currency expire, it will get very complex between
   currency mints and payswarm authorities. [scribe assist by Manu
Dave Longley:  The mint would have to contact the PA very often.
   Does the money get expired on it's expiration date? How would
   people get around this? Would they try to launder money through
   accounts. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Dave Longley:  I don't know of any system that expires currency
   like you describe... we could discuss it. Even if it does work, I
   don't see it as being that viable of an option - it requires a
   great amount of synchronization. It would have to be built into
   PaySwarm for it to work. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Dave Longley:  It's a separation of concerns problem. [scribe
   assist by Manu Sporny]
Jeff Sayre:  i agree with what dave said for the most part, i
   would add that if there's an alternative currency that is broadly
   accepted and used that does have an expiration, then there
   probably would have to be something that payswarm understands
   (part of the protocol)
Jeff Sayre:  it's often up to the people who are getting paid or
   have saved them in their account to deal with how those
   currencies behave
Jeff Sayre:  the only alternative to this should probably be if
   there's a popular alternative currency payswarm should interface
Manu Sporny:  in the worst case, if we do absolutely nothing,
   then at least the standard devaluing mechanism is in place
   (changing exchange rates)
Manu Sporny:  this already works with how we've discussed
   currency mints already, it's external to the system, we don't
   have to deal with it within payswarm, and inflation is still
Manu Sporny:  the only time we would implement expiration is if
   there's a successful currency that uses it
Manu Sporny:  i don't know how easy it would be to add it to
   payswarm, i'm wondering if there's a way we could bootstrap such
   a currency, i dont' know if we could implement currency
   destruction later, it seems like it has to be part of the
   protocol to begin with
Jeff Sayre:  i think that's correct
Jeff Sayre:  one of the issues that's involved that could come up
   with payswarm that facilitated that type of feature is that
   payswarm would be more than just ...
(bad audio)
Jeff Sayre:  could be a more political/social influence
Jeff Sayre:  by putting in those features up front before any of
   those currencies have thought about/implemented it we may be
   going down a path where payswarm is more political than is
Jeff Sayre:  i think what would happen with a hyperinflationary
   currency like Zimbabwe's could be a disaster
Manu Sporny:  i think we should try to avoid being too political,
   i agree
Melvin Carvalho: note: hyperinflation can also be considered a
   lack of trust in a currency
Manu Sporny:  we just want to give people tools that would make
   their lives easier when it comes to engaging in commerce over the
Melvin Carvalho: note: hyperinflation can also be considered a
   lack of trust in a currency
Melvin Carvalho: every currency mint has a degree of trust
Manu Sporny:  the more we're discussing this it does seem that we
   don't want to get involved in overly complex inflation systems
Manu Sporny:  it is true that each currency mint has a degree of
Manu Sporny:  i think we should just say that the currency mint
   can handle inflation as they see fit
Manu Sporny:  i think we've covered the stuff that's supported
   today ... and jeff makes a good point that we don't want to
   become overly political on this, just provide the tools we need
Manu Sporny:  anything else on reducing hoarding/inflation, etc,
   before moving on?

Topic: Fixed allocation of currency (supporting bills, digitally signed
currency amounts)

Manu Sporny:  so the idea is supporting the equivalent of a
   "digital bill"
Manu Sporny:  a payswarm authority would digitally sign that you
   have 5 units of a particular currency
Manu Sporny:  it would be a signed-json blob
Manu Sporny:  and then you could take this information and do a
   p2p transaction without having to talk to any centralized
   authority of any kind
Manu Sporny:  so how this might work: you would get your
   digitally-signed 5 unit currency and this would be in your
   digital wallet... then you could then use that digital bill to
   pay for water (and this transaction would be logged) and then
   you'd give it back to a payswarm authority at some point
David I. Lehn: is that in our use cases?
Manu Sporny:  so that's the idea of fixed allocation
Manu Sporny:  so we need to discuss if this use case is useful if
   you're connected all the time to the internet, etc.
Manu Sporny:  are there cases where you wouldn't be connected and
   this would work well?
Manu Sporny:  this isn't anonymous, however, to be clear, there
   is a transaction log
Dave Longley:  Yeah, I do believe we have a use case for
   communicating with devices that don't themselves have internet
   connections. For example - cellphone buying from vending machine.
   [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Dave Longley:  what about the case where someone copies their
   digital bill and makes multiple purchases (essentially infinite
Dave Longley:  they would eventually get caught once the bill was
   sent to a payswarm authority, however, in the mean time, they
   could commit a lot of fraud
Manu Sporny:  well, it would be a crime and they'd eventually be
   caught -- we might want to rely on the law to handle this
Dave Longley:  There are a few issues - what do you do with
   somebody that has a digitally signed blob that they copy? [scribe
   assist by Manu Sporny]
Melvin Carvalho: sounds interesting .... would be a cool feature
   if you can avoid double spend
Jeff Sayre:  this would amount to digital counterfeiting
Jeff Sayre:  there might be a lot of people that dont' think
   about it and just copy it maybe a single time -- a lot of people
   could fall victim to that
Jeff Sayre:  i dont' know if we could deal with that
   technologically at the time
Melvin Carvalho: bitcoin has a central registry
Manu Sporny:  melvin is saying bitcoin has a central registry to
   take care of these issues, but with bitcoin you have to be online
Manu Sporny:  to verify transfers
Jeff Sayre:  when you're exchanging digital money for digital
   goods, it's not that big of an issue because you could forgo
   sending the digital good until the payment has been verified, but
   when using digital currency for physical goods it's a different
Jeff Sayre:  i can't think of why a brick and mortar store
   wouldn't be online to handle this
Jeff Sayre:  maybe farmers, etc, could be in such a position
Dave Longley:  This offline digital currency thing only works in
   highly trusted scenarios... a brick-and-mortar store probably
   wouldn't want to accept something like this. [scribe assist by
   Manu Sporny]
Dave Longley:  We were talking about work-hours on the last call
   - maybe there is a use case there where there is inherent local
   trust. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Dave Longley:  If there is a use case where you have to have a
   lot of trust - having a digital currency that is also based on
   your word would be important. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
David I. Lehn:  part of this is that there are other systems that
   have similar issues, like bitcoin and ACH, they all have
   settlement times, but you can consider transfers instant even
   though they aren't ... maybe you can just charge a fee on top of
   the digital bill (upon creation)
Manu Sporny:  it doesn't sound like there's a great need for
   this, but it's something that could be potentially implemented in
   the future
Manu Sporny:  does anyone feel differently, that this is a high
David I. Lehn:  it would be nice to keep in mind and plan for in
   the future (not disable it's future use now)

Topic: Dynamic allocation of currencies (digital off-line wallets)

Manu Sporny:  the digital offline wallet is like a transaction
Manu Sporny:  the idea here is that you would promise people
Manu Sporny:  this is similar to what melvin is doing with web
Manu Sporny:  you make a number of promises to pay people money,
   and they submit those promises to their payswarm authority and it
   moves all of that money into their account
Manu Sporny:  this is similar to the offline digital receipt
   mechanism that we are building into payswarm 1.0
Manu Sporny:  this allows you to digitally sign a contract
   offline, for instance, you walk into a store, and they give you a
   bill that you digitally sign and give back to them, which they
   can, at some later point, upload it to get their payment
Melvin Carvalho: sounds very cool!
Dave Longley:  Yes, it's a fairly straight-forward idea - but
   implementation details are important... like - what happens if
   you digitally sign a contract and don't have money in your
   account? [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Dave Longley:  We have this use case of wanting to buy a coke
   from a vending machine - you digitally sign a contract for the
   coke and then using the internet connection on the phone, it
   communicates with a PaySwarm Authority that digitally signs that
   the transfer happened. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Dave Longley:  The vending machine then checks the digital
   signature by the PaySwarm Authority, then gives you the coke - no
   need to "trust" each other. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Dave Longley:  This other thing we're discussing is slightly
   different, because you don't have to confirm the payment before
   giving the product out - again, it comes down to a system of
   trust. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Dave Longley:  PaySwarm Authorities could try to mitigate the
   trust issue via several ways - the trust issue isn't handled by
   digital signatures in the digital wallet case because there is
   potential for fraud there. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Manu Sporny:  yes, we're shying away from situations where there
   are trust issues
Manu Sporny:  we don't want to derail people being able to trust
   payswarm (the system on its own)
Dave Longley:  I think we should focus on the use cases we have
   right now - they are very powerful use cases. Buying something
   from a kiosk would be great - it's already a very powerful thing
   that you can do with PaySwarm. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Manu Sporny:  another idea could be to help eliminate parking
   meters by using GPS systems/locations to pay for parking, etc.
Manu Sporny:  there are several other interesting ideas in this
Manu Sporny:  for these use cases, these vending machines, kiosks
   could be made cheaper by reusing the connections on smart phones
   of their customers, etc.

Topic: New PaySwarm Beta release

Manu Sporny:  we've released a new payswarm beta, a new reference
   implementation using nodejs and mongodb, which we believe will
   make us more agile - in fact, that is already the case.
Manu Sporny: https://github.com/digitalbazaar/payswarm.js
Manu Sporny:  we have a new payswarm client that we're releasing
   as well (work in progress)
Manu Sporny:  so i'd like to ask jeff and melvin if you have any
   input on how you'd like payswarm clients to work/what features
   you need and how you'd like to use them?
Manu Sporny:  over the next few months, we want people to be able
   to use payswarm clients to sign assets/listings and accept/do
   purchases as quickly as possible
Dave Longley:  Jeff, here's the PHP implementation -

Manu Sporny: Here's the github project for the PHP
Melvin Carvalho: thanks! Michiel is probably going to do the
   opentabs implementation, but the .js could be very useful ...
   need to look at it in a bit more detail ...
Dave Longley:  That is the PHP implementation - there is decent
   documentation on implementing that and integrating that. [scribe
   assist by Manu Sporny]
Jeff Sayre:  yes, very interesting, for using the PHP version
   with our smartup
Jeff Sayre:  we're looking at releasing the core of our smartup
   as a platform for creating whatever smartup they want
Jeff Sayre:

Jeff Sayre:  the true IP would be in modules, specific to
   products and services
Jeff Sayre:  payswarm would be a core standard which we would
Jeff Sayre:  so we could allow anyone to utilize payswarm for
   whatever they want in their smartup
Manu Sporny:  so the reason we're releasing the new beta now is
   we're doing a lot of load testing, etc.
Manu Sporny:  so we're also hoping to do a commercial release
   within the next 3-6 months (it will be done when it's done ;))
Manu Sporny:  our goal with the payswarm client stuff is to make
   payswarm stuff work within a day
Melvin Carvalho: yes
Manu Sporny:  so, in the simplest case, you can do web payments
   that quickly
Melvin Carvalho: cool!
Manu Sporny:  for the opentabs implementation ... what language
   are you using?
Melvin Carvalho: mainly client side js right now
Dave Longley:  Some of this stuff will work with client-side
   JavaScript... we leveraged Forge - based on what you're trying to
   do, there may be cross-domain issues. Ultimately, we do want the
   payswarm client to work on client-side, it boils down to what the
   limitations could be. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Dave Longley:  Right now you can generate RSA keys, digital sign,
   and do all those things. There are issues with where you're going
   to store those keys - you can either use HTML5 local storage or
   something like that right now. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Manu Sporny:  we've been thinking about putting limits on private
   keys that are stored in browsers, etc.
Melvin Carvalho: makes sense
Manu Sporny:  to help deal with issues regarding using html5
   local storage, etc.
Melvin Carvalho: thanks!
Manu Sporny:  good call guys, we'll meet again in 2 weeks.

-- manu

Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny)
President/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: PaySwarm Website for Developers Launched
Received on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 20:22:45 UTC

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