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Web Payments Telecon Minutes for 2012-09-04

From: Manu Sporny <msporny@digitalbazaar.com>
Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2012 21:21:47 -0400
Message-ID: <5046A92B.2020108@digitalbazaar.com>
To: Web Payments <public-webpayments@w3.org>
Thanks to Dave Longley for scribing! The minutes for today's telecon
are now 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 2012-09-04

   1. Transparent Donations for Occupy Wall Street (OWS)
   2. Financial Autonomy for OWS Working Groups
   3. OWS Alternative Currencies
   4. Expected Implementation Timeline for Software
   Manu Sporny
   Dave Longley
   Dave Longley, Nick Person, Manu Sporny, David I. Lehn

Dave Longley is scribing.

Topic: Transparent Donations for Occupy Wall Street (OWS)

Nick Person:  one use case that people are agreeing on is that
   ... people love transaction histories and getting some element of
   granularity case by case would be good, hypothetically working
   groups are different but we'd like to expose what's going on a
   little more publically
Manu Sporny:  we have transaction histories in payswarm now if
   you've seen that
Nick Person:  yes
Manu Sporny:  we have the ability to make an account public --
   which means you can see the account and its label, etc. -- but
   not its transaction history
Manu Sporny:  however, we've been discussing how to make that
   information public as well if its desirable
Manu Sporny:  we want to be able to do anonymous transactions
   (not bitcoin anonymous) where you can see that money is being
   exchanged but you can't see who is sending/receiving the funds
Manu Sporny:  we tie transactions to an "identity", which isn't
   necessarily a person
Manu Sporny:  a person can have multiple different identities on
   the web, examples are: your business identity, your personal
   identity, one you use to make political donations, etc.
Manu Sporny:  in each one of these cases the payswarm authority
   you use, per the legal requirements, needs to understand what
   your actual citizenship/identity/banking/ drivers license info but
   they don't need to expose that to the outside world
Manu Sporny:  you get to choose who your payswarm authority is
   and you get to trust who knows your identity
Manu Sporny:  just like with your bank today, so the payswarm
   authority knows its doing business with a real person, but you
   don't have to expose that to other people you don't want to
Manu Sporny:  so we've put a lot of thought into privacy when
   doing transactions, identities, etc.
Manu Sporny:  so maybe an OWS wants transparency but maybe
   someone who is putting money into a working group doens't want
   people to know who they are (or only that that are a certain
Manu Sporny:  so it provides for pseudo anonymous transactions
Nick Person:  when i try to imagine the concept of conversion of
   bank accounts to/from payswarm authorities, i've been trying to
   figure out how this would work, and i've been discussing w/our
   accounting people some of these questions
Manu Sporny:  yes, we'd be interested in talking more with the
   OWS accounting folks to figure out what we can do
Manu Sporny:  we can definitely do the automatic splitting of
   amounts for working groups
Manu Sporny:  we can split up payments between 3, 10, 100, 150
   groups, etc.
Nick Person:  sure, as far as transparency issues, i know one
   thing that has come up is the concept of reimbursement
Nick Person:  people want to be reimbursed for something when
   it's unclear who they were because the movement wasn't really
   going yet
Nick Person:  how would digital listings work with physical items
   or how would we apply digital receipts to track cash, etc
Manu Sporny:  what we could do .... the assets that are described
   are digital, we're sticking with those because it's less risky in
   terms of reversing transactions, w/digital we can revoke access
   more easily, once a physical property is transferred we can't
   undo that so easily
Manu Sporny:  it's also hairy w/returns when physical things
Manu Sporny:  we're staying out of physical things now, but that
   doens't mean you can't describe a physical asset in a listing
Manu Sporny:  you can track that a sale happens on a physical
   asset even though its just a digital description
Manu Sporny:  suppose you were selling posterboard and markers
   and we were selling them for $25 or something
Manu Sporny:  when you do the purchase that receipt of sale goes
   to the person that bought it
Manu Sporny:  to reimburse them they can show you that digital
   receipt so you know they made that purchase
Manu Sporny:  if you trust them that they used the markers and
   posterboard appropriately then you could reimburse them
Nick Person:  right, we can't guarantee what happens in the
   physical world, but you could use that data to sort things out
Manu Sporny:  right, it makes it easier if its verifiable, if
   what they bought is verifiable, if you have pictures of them
   using that thing, ... but there are ways of gaming the system
Manu Sporny:  because someone could make up fake assets for
   themselves and buy it
Manu Sporny:  and then go for a reimbursement from the working
Manu Sporny:  and they take that $25 without ever actually having
   spent it on anything
Manu Sporny:  the only thing the payswarm authority can tell you
   is whether or not money moved
Manu Sporny:  and it can tell you what the purpose of the
   transaction was
Manu Sporny:  if the buyer and vendor were in cahoots w/each
   other then they can pretend that money was exchanged for
   something when it really wasn't ... if they then want to be
Manu Sporny:  the other thing that you could do is that, if the
   working group has a way of tracking, saying "here's some money we
   expect you to spend on X, Y, Z", then if they don't show up with
   the money/goods then you know not to trust them (sort of a prebuy
   type of trust test system)
Manu Sporny:  the working group could deposit funds into members'
Manu Sporny:  another way is to have members show up with the
   physical good and then do the transfer when they are present with
Manu Sporny:  there are many different ways to do the
   reimbursement model, we just need to discuss how
Nick Person:  having a really easy way to generate the meta data
   so if there's a problem we can look at it and connect it with
   other semantic web communities, etc. is useful
Nick Person:  a public rating system could also be used
Nick Person:  Yes, we've been thinking of a public rating system
   as well.
Manu Sporny:  using the identities you could keep track of
   positive/negative transactions and link them to identities
Manu Sporny:  and keep track of "karma" (etc) to help people
   decide who they want to do business with
Manu Sporny:  we were thinking of having a publically accessible
   database to keep track of this to help payswarm authorities use a
   public rating system to help figure out who to trust, etc.
Nick Person:  i'm hearing some good things like transaction
   history, etc. we had a couple of meetings where there were open
   books, no photographs, etc., but any of this that can make the
   accountants job easier -- i'm just concerned about what all the
   difficulties might be there -- so i'll ask more people to figure
   out what we need, etc. for use cases
Nick Person:  i'm always happy to know what aspects of payswarm
   you think would be novel over systems i don't know or may not be
   using or that others may already be using, etc.
Nick Person:  so if you could help explain how payswarm is better
   than other choices, etc that would be good
Manu Sporny:  one of the biggest selling points for payswarm is
   that its a fully programmable financial system, whatever you need
   to automate, it's really easy to do that, the standard is open
   and published/being published
Manu Sporny:  and because it's open and a standard, you aren't
   locked into any given provider
Manu Sporny:  it's just like how we have multiple different
   browser companies out there right now
Manu Sporny:  and the reason those exist and smaller browser
   manufacturers exist is because of open standards
Manu Sporny:  so payswarm has that same advantage
Manu Sporny:  also this is all REST-based to make an easy API for
   interacting with the financial system (good for tech people to
Manu Sporny:  for non-techies it's good to know that the system
   is very flexible and you have access to the raw data/financial
   system so you can build whatever you want on top of it
Dave Longley:  There are a couple of other things that aren't
   available with other financial systems - for example, PaySwarm
   supports micropayments - we support up to seven digits of
   precision. So, $0.0000001 [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Nick Person:  Is this available anywhere? [scribe assist by Manu
Dave Longley:  No, I think PaySwarm is the only one that is
   accurate to $0.0000001 [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Nick Person:  why isn't this supported elsewhere?
Manu Sporny:  paypal and companies like them don't see the money
   in it
Manu Sporny:  is my best guess
Nick Person:  so it's like y2k bug
Manu Sporny:  it could be, if we built a system today we wouldn't
   have that system the limits are pushed much further
Manu Sporny:  before 2000 it didn't really make sense to make
Manu Sporny:  there was no system that could do that many
   financial transactions to make it profitable
Manu Sporny:  today we have the web and more scalable systems
Manu Sporny:  we want to get longtail micropayment business
   models w/payswarm
Manu Sporny:  we want to capture both macro and micro payments
Manu Sporny:  so the payswarm system should support the full
Manu Sporny:  if you look at a 2-percent surcharge on that
   transaction it doesn't even register, so you'd have to do
   hundreds of thousands of those transactions to make money off of
Manu Sporny:  storing those transactions on disk would cost more
   money than the transaction itself
Manu Sporny:  which would be cost prohibitive
Manu Sporny:  we're starting from the point "let's build a really
   flexible system" and see what they do with it
Manu Sporny:  we want that option out there and hopefully someone
   surprises us building a business with it
Manu Sporny:  does that explain why we support it?
Nick Person:  yes, i was curious about that for a while

Topic: Financial Autonomy for OWS Working Groups

Nick Person:  we may need to do a paper demo in front of large
   groups of people
Nick Person:  and if its not accepted at the GA that's fine, it
   could still be world changing
Nick Person:  what if we use sliders like simcity, etc., so let's
   programmatically allow people to distribute money that way to
   allow more flexible control
Nick Person:  maybe when you donate to a working group you could
   hear about what they've been doing lately, etc.
Nick Person:  there are a lot of user interfaces that we'd like
   to build to tie this data together
Nick Person:  we'd like to have an app for working groups that
   have payswarm accounts that mesh well/play well with this system,
   if they are distributing money within a working group we want
   them to have some ability there so long as they generate meta
   data (...)
Manu Sporny:  we support that today using the architecture we
Manu Sporny:  the slider thing could work like this: there's a
   set of sliders for say, $25, and they could select one of the
   working groups and give 100% to them or add another one and move
   the sliders around and divvy up where the money goes
Manu Sporny:  at the end of that they would say "accept" (yeah,
   this is who i want to donate money to) and then the site could
   generate an asset/listing for who is getting paid
Manu Sporny:  so you could on-demand generate who gets what and
   when they click the pay button, the money would go to those
   chosen people
David I. Lehn: there are examples of this slider idea out there.
   it's not running a deal right now, but the www.humblebundle.com
   site does this. they offer up a handful of apps for any price you
   want. you give them $X and can split it up between software
   authors, charities, and the humblebundle site owners. and they
   have live stats showing up too while the deals run.
Manu Sporny:  you could do that today
Manu Sporny:  you could have the GA basically say that we think
   the percentages should be X way because of how they think the
   money needs to be distributed
Manu Sporny:  maybe in different locations they don't need as
   much money and the percentage gets agreed upon
Dave Longley:  Yes, you can get as custom as you want with your
   listings. [scribe assist by Manu Sporny]
Manu Sporny:  so a static fixed asset/listing could work that
   way, people could give as much as they wanted but it would break
   up using percentages
Nick Person:  we also want to use recurring budgets
Nick Person:  say maybe let someone set $1/month that they want
   to give
Manu Sporny:  yes, we have budgets now
Manu Sporny:  you can set up a budget, for instance, to allow a
   GA to pull up to $5/month from someone (but not over that)
Manu Sporny:  the GA could dynamically pull the money from any
   person with that budget set
Manu Sporny:  it could be done whenever they want (the money
   could be pulled in a recurring way, or when necessary)
Manu Sporny:  so you could have a "line of grant" where people
   have previously agreed to allow $X from their accounts
Manu Sporny:  and with this pull based model people just agree
   ahead of time
Nick Person:  is this like a payment intent?
Manu Sporny:  a payment intent is slightly different
Manu Sporny:  where you say: "We need $X by october 15th, if we
   dont' get it, you get your money back"
Manu Sporny:  the model i'm talking about is "we need a line of
   grant from people who want to support our cause"
(different from a line of credit)
Manu Sporny:  so each person can say "i'm willing to give up to
Manu Sporny:  and it isn't a payment intent, it's a "we need to
   have a line of grant open for $25,000 and we don't know when/if
   we'll need to use the money, but if we do we'll pull it from your
   account at that time"
Manu Sporny:  and people can allow people to do that as needed
Manu Sporny:  a person can say "I allow the nyc GA to pull up to
Nick Person:  makes sense
Manu Sporny:  budgets are supported today, but payment intents
   are not implemented yet
Manu Sporny:  but they will be, but the budget mechanism is
   pretty powerful
Nick Person:  i'm curious if this is supported/will be supported:
   what about crazy/custom budgets
Nick Person:  like i want 75% of money in this account to be in
   the budget... we could do that in our own software i guess, it
   wouldn't necessarily be all transparent either
Manu Sporny:  this goes back to flexibility, for instance, once a
   month you could pull money from a budget and then send 25% to X
   and 75% to Y you could do that
Manu Sporny:  and that would all show up in the transaction log
Manu Sporny:  you would just write the custom software to do that
Manu Sporny:  does that make sense?
Nick Person:  let me find a different way to ask, could we trust
   someone to set up an account and then we'd be able to verify
   certain things that they are distributing funds in a certain way,
   could we look at an account and see things like that
Manu Sporny:  let's try to clarify terminology: a budget is
   strictly a spending limit that you set
Manu Sporny:  a vendor is someone you're going to pay for an
Manu Sporny:  you could set a spending limit with a vendor or
   say, 5 different vendors, that is a budget
Manu Sporny:  if you set a $50/month budget and assigned 5
Manu Sporny:  you could spend up to $50 a month and it wouldn't
   go over on any combination of assets from those vendors
Manu Sporny:  i think what you're talking about is a business
   rule or a triggered payment of some kind
Manu Sporny:  we don't have a plan right now for setting up
   payment triggers
Manu Sporny:  so right now, it would have to be implemented in
   custom software
Manu Sporny:  that said, it should be pretty simple to do some
   REST calls to do that
Manu Sporny:  so you could do a GET on an account and then a
   couple of POSTs to transfer money to two other accounts
Manu Sporny:  so that would be like 3-HTTP calls to transfer
   money around
Nick Person:  ok, makes sense, this is sort of out of left field
   and not crucial, i was just curious
Manu Sporny:  our hope is that people will write interesting apps
   on top of this system, it's an open standard and we want people
   to write open source software on top of it to really innovate a
Manu Sporny:  maybe someone completely unrelated to OWS would
   write some open source stuff that does what you guys want, we
   really would like to see that happen
Manu Sporny:  we want to see code reuse and innovation
Nick Person:  makes perfect sense to me

Topic: OWS Alternative Currencies

Manu Sporny:  we take alternative currencies seriously but we're
   not going to be able to get them implemented very soon
Nick Person:  OWS is the same way
Manu Sporny:  the core protocol today has a currency string so
   you can say "USD/EUR" or whatever currency you have
Manu Sporny:  the unit is separate from the unit, so you can
   model chickens and eggs or dollars
Manu Sporny:  so we have a concept of a currency mint which would
   allow anyone to mint new currency
Manu Sporny:  if you can own a URL online and you have a
   server/etc something online, you could issue your own currency
Manu Sporny:  and a payswarm authority should be able to just
   interact with that currency mint
Manu Sporny:  so when we design stuff we keep alternative
   currencies in mind, we just haven't spec'd everything out yet
Manu Sporny:  we need to set up exchanges for bitcoin/ven/things
   like that
Manu Sporny:  we're sort of waiting for someone to say that they
   really really want to use alternative currencies before we devote
   a lot of time to implementation
Nick Person:  there are a lot of OWS people that are kicking
   around alternative currency ideas, and i'm sure it will take some
   time but use cases will begin to crop up
Nick Person:  i heard on previous calls (the payswar minutes) i
   heard about other ways of exchanging alternative currencies
Nick Person:  i liked the idea though i realize that trust was an
   issue that was mentioned on the calls
Nick Person:  there's potential there for those use cases
Manu Sporny:  we're trying to provide some halfway implementation
   between bitcoin and current monetary systems
Manu Sporny:  we want to support offline exchanges as much as
Manu Sporny:  we just have to focus in certain areas
Manu Sporny:  the future will be more an more internet
   connectivity, not less
Manu Sporny:  so those use cases/solutions might become more
   fringe as time goes by
Manu Sporny:  there are still legitimate uses for being
   completely offline and being able to exchange funds
Manu Sporny:  the main thing i wanted to discuss was that OWS
   didn't have short term needs for alt currencies
Nick Person:  nope
Manu Sporny:  if there's a big need for something we might jump
   at that opportunity
Manu Sporny:  if something changes in the future where other use
   cases pop up we'll focus more on it
Nick Person:  i know a lot of people who are very excited about
   alt currencies and i see payswarm being a potentially easy
   framework to implement these things into -- and if i hear that
   people are trying to do things i'll definitely recommend that
   they let you guys know

Topic: Expected Implementation Timeline for Software

Manu Sporny:  most of things discussed today are done...
Manu Sporny:  we talked about transparent donations, we have a
   concept of public accounts, anonymous identities, right now if
   there's a transaction the only people who can view it are those
   that sold/bought the asset
Manu Sporny:  we can extend this to show others (if desirable) to
   show money going into/out of accounts w/out showing the
   identities involved
Manu Sporny:  the last step is showing fully public transactions
Manu Sporny:  the only thing that is keeping us from doing that
   are the privacy implications
Manu Sporny:  technically it's easy, we just need to make sure to
   be careful w/privacy
Manu Sporny:  we might need something like a flag that says "i
   don't ever want to show up on a public transaction log"
Manu Sporny:  we'll need to talk more about your use case i think
Manu Sporny:  do we only need to know who is getting money or do
   we also need to know who is sending it, etc.?
Nick Person:  i'll try to clarify this with as many people as
   possible, we want to be as transparent and anonymous as possible
Manu Sporny:  yeah, it's a sliding scale
Manu Sporny:  we can always go from very anonymous to less
   anonymous, it's fairly safe
Nick Person:  yeah, not so much the other way
Manu Sporny:  transparent donations are technically easy for us
   to do, but privacy issues have to be figured out
Manu Sporny:  we could easily implement it and spec it out once
   we figure that out
Manu Sporny:  doing the line of grant stuff, customizing
   listings, etc. that can all be done today, the custom software to
   generate the listings from whatever UIs just have to be written
Manu Sporny:  alt currencies -- the protocol supports it, but not
   really a strong case to implement now
Manu Sporny:  i'd say OWS could achieve a decent number of its
   tasks today using the existing system
Manu Sporny:  we could help explain how to integrate some of the
   things like slider/bar-based donations, etc.
Manu Sporny:  i think you also tried out the demo and wordpress
Nick Person:  yes, it worked well
Nick Person:  i'd like to work on some node/express clever stuff
Nick Person:  the potential for this is ridiculously insane
Nick Person:  that summarizes my feelings
Manu Sporny:  we'll try and create some simple nodejs server (or
   maybe php) that does split donations so you guys can see how
   that's done
Manu Sporny:  and let you hack on that after that
Manu Sporny:  thanks for your time, nick
Nick Person:  sounds great
Nick Person:  thank you guys

-- manu

Manu Sporny (skype: msporny, twitter: manusporny)
Founder/CEO - Digital Bazaar, Inc.
blog: Which is better - RDFa Lite or Microdata?
Received on Wednesday, 5 September 2012 01:22:23 UTC

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