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The end of cash = the end of privacy?

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Inspired by an article by Ilias Louis Hatzis, and my recent musings around a cashless world, I wondered what privacy is these days? What is private? Are we bothered about privacy?

I guess many have let their guard down about privacy this century as, when everything is online, we no longer have any. We allow intrusion into our lives in every corner of our lives through the network. Bank workers have been targeted by criminals based on their facebook updates; social engineers find social media a goldmine; and the exchange of images and videos, often without the individual knowing they are being traded, is rife.

I found hundreds of anonymous profiles dedicated to sharing, trading and selling explicit images - and it all appeared to be without the permission of the women pictured.

Source: BBC investigation

It often brings me back to a Black Mirror episode, where a teenager is secretly filmed watching porn and then blackmailed. You may think this bizarre, but social bullying is as big a thing as social networking. It may even be social suicide.

Privacy is ripped apart by technology.

This therefore creates the causes for cash.

If all of our lives are exposed online, the one place that can be kept private is our financial dealings … it it’s based upon paper. As soon as we digitise paper, we create an audit trail. There are ways around it, but it’s not the same as using notes.

Cash is King, Queen, Knave and Ace.

Source: The Mirror

Or is it?

If you want to be truly anonymous, there are always ways. Using encrypted services, you can be social and private. Signal, Telegram, Diaspora, MeWe and more can all keep you below the radar. And the same is true of money.

There are many digital currencies out there that are private, with Monero being #1.

The anonymity of Monero has been validated by Jerek Jakubcek, a strategic expert for Europol. Mr. Jakubcek during the Blockchain Alliance webinar explained that Monero transactions could not be tracked or recorded, mentioning Monero's Blockchain as the endpoint of several conducted investigations. “We were unable to locate the funds because the suspect combined Tor and Monero. The IP addresses were not traceable. Consequently, we have reached the road's end”.

Source: Bitrates

Because Monero is so difficult to track and trace it is a real version of digital cash.

Unlike Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies, Monero transactions do not expose any address information to the sender or the receiver. This feature is known as the ring signature, and makes it incredibly difficult to track the source or destination of Monero funds. This added layer of anonymity allows cybercriminals to more easily remain elusive.

Source: makeuseof.com

And because it is anonymous and the equivalent of digital cash, it is the most preferred cryptocurrency for cybercriminals.

REvil, the notorious ransomware group believed to be behind the attack this month on meatpacker JBS, has removed the option of paying in bitcoin this year, demanding monero only … DarkSide, the group blamed for the Colonial Pipeline hack, and Babuk, which was behind the attack on Washington DC police this year, allow payments in either cryptocurrency, but charge a 10 to 20 per cent premium to victims paying in riskier bitcoin.

Source: The Financial Times

“We want to make monero as similar to cash as possible, where one $10 bill is the same as another and the merchant doesn’t know where they came from.” Justin Ehrenhofer, a member of the monero developer community

Therefore, it’s worth noting that monero only has around $5 billion invested today. I expect that amount to grow considerably over the next few years as the only way we will get rid of cash is if there is a cash alternative and, today, the only viable digital cash alternative is monero.

Postscript:

In September 2021, America's IRS offered a bounty of $625,000 for anyone who could develop tools to help track and trace monero transactions. It has since awarded the contract to Chainalysis and Integra.

Postscript2:

Most crypto exchanges do not allow the purchase of monero's coin, XMP, for the reasons above.

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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