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The Almighty Buck Patents

ATM For Anonymous Online Payments 254

prichardson writes "The New York Times has an article about a way to anonymously transfer cash online (NYT registration required)." The inventor, Carl Amos, believes the target market for his newly-patented 'Aunty IM' ATM machine "..might be teenagers.. [who] do not usually have their own credit cards, they usually have cash and are more than willing to spend it to download music or games", as well as "those who were worried about identity theft on the Internet, or who simply wanted the privacy it provided."
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ATM For Anonymous Online Payments

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  • google linkage (Score:4, Informative)

    by Neophytus ( 642863 ) * on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:32PM (#6494268)
    heh. No reg required ;) []
  • by TokyoJimu ( 21045 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:42PM (#6494358) Homepage
    Sorry to disappoint Mr. Amos, but for at least the past twenty years, you have been able to make anonymous cash payments at any bank ATM in Japan.

    You just key in the bank name and account number to transfer to, insert the cash, and it's on its way. The ATM will even make change for you.
  • Already been done. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:43PM (#6494381)
    Good ol' R, S , and A made quite a while back a system to digitize money into extremly long numbers to represent money. Each number would be encoded the bill amount alone. They also proved it would be untrackable and unbreakable.

    They also made into the system a way of determining real-time if any "bill" was being used more than once.

    Wow. Anonymous atm. It's a real shocker if it hasnt already be theorized up to the top.

  • Re:Useless invention (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:52PM (#6494453)
    He has your info sure, and essentially just deposits cash straight into your account. The customer needs no bank account, credit card, PayPal account, etc.

    He just goes to the local box and sticks 20 bucks cash money into a slot, which electronically credits you. He is somewhat anonymous, paying cash (of course, you are shipping to him), you are not.

    People are hyping the word "anonymous" erroneosly here.
  • by PincheGab ( 640283 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:55PM (#6494473)
    The law is that if you transfer $10,000 or more to a financial institution it needs to be reported to the feds

    It's not even that simple, nor is the threshold that high. There are several levels of reporting requirements and the lowest explicit thresholds are at about $3000 for most states.

    Additionally, funds transfers companies are burdened with detecting "suspicious" transactions, and you have to report those no matter what the amounts are.

    I am not going to spell out how to do this, just suffice it to say that the methods are very sophisticated.

    This guy ain't implementing his invention in the USA (and the non-triangle of terror countries) until he gets some heavy-duty legal compliance checking stuff into his system. The age of anonymous funds transfers is over.

  • by FsG ( 648587 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:12PM (#6494579)
    1. Click on URL, you're redirected to registration/login page
    2. Go to URL bar, replace "www" with "archive" in the URL, leaving the rest alone, and hit ENTER
    3. The system will bounce you around a few erroneous URLs, before returning you to the homepage
    4. All NYT links will now work without registration, thanks to a special cookie set by the bouncing process
  • by Jac_no_k ( 5957 ) * <> on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:13PM (#6494584) Homepage Journal

    Doesn't American Express have something like this? It's called Private Payments []. It gives you a unique number that's lets you obscure your identity.

    Now there's probably a market for teenagers and such. But I'm thinking pre-paid cards will take care of that...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:24PM (#6494643)
    Yes, but....

    you can only make these payments within Japan if you are a Japanese citizen.

    He's talking about automating *international* wire transfers of money. The inherent self-limitation and discrimination is enough to disqualify the Japanese system for a patent. Besides, I think you would be hard pressed to find a teller machine that would allow a transfer without some sort of identification. Sure you might be able to find some machine tucked away in some small Hakidao hamlet, but the vast majority of machines require ident. (and you are usually on camera).
  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:29PM (#6494674)
    The name is a bit silly, but check out Visa Buxx []. Visa has several other prepaid options. Check out their website to see.
  • by ptbarnett ( 159784 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:31PM (#6495044)
    It gives you a unique number that's lets you obscure your identity.

    No, Private Payments simply gives you a temporary American Express card number that expires at the end of the month in which it was issued.

    The charge is still posted under your name and all the usual billing information is required. The amount is debited from your existing account.

    The idea is that you give an on-line merchant a "throw-away" credit card number, without potentially compromising your primary credit card number. It cannot be used after the expiration date.

    Of course, the temporary number is valid until then. So, it doesn't eliminate fraud -- it just puts a time limit on it.

  • by jaydeekay ( 96431 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @07:39PM (#6495100)
    Not really since they are one-time use numbers. So as long as the merchant uses it for the item/service you intended to buy, you're all set.

    Also, it is nice because you can give them the number (as a deposit for example) and then revoke it - though this may be fraud, so use at your own risk :)
  • by Yankovic ( 97540 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:13PM (#6495308)
    This is really interesting... in the print version, they start the article with the correct "I" rather than "N".
  • illegal (Score:5, Informative)

    by austad ( 22163 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:18PM (#6495334) Homepage
    Unfortunately, this is illegal. I work for one of the companies listed in the article.

    It's against the law. The feds say that all ATM transactions must have positive ID of the cardholder (PIN number, driver's license swipe, etc) As far as electronic money transfers go, there has to be some positive identification on the person sending the money, but curiously from what I can find, not on the person receiving it.

    Nice idea, just not legal here in the US.
  • by exhilaration ( 587191 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:36PM (#6495454)
    No, you can use it as many times as you want before it expires. But doing so reduces your ability to track a fraud back to a particular merchant.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:28AM (#6496644)
    These are particularly great if you are near one of the locations where they are physically sold. It's a Visa card for online (and phone) purchases only, with a 2 year expiration. You have to activate it online, but you can do that from any internet cafe, or through trusted proxies. You have to give a physical address, but it can be totally spoofed. An e-mail address is required, but just use one of the non-obvious disposable ones (i.e. NOT Hotmail, Yahoo). You can recharge it by mailing in a money order.

    Be warned, however--if you give a spoofed physical address, you may likely have problems ordering delivered goods to your real physical address (not to mention that such orders obviously compromise your anonymity).

    Also, since it is a Visa card, it is subject to any restrictions Visa might adopt (for gambling sites, for example, although I don't know that they do have such restrictions).

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982