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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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  • Perfect. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dildatron ( 611498 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:37PM (#6494312)
    This would be perfect for when you want to buy something without being tracked... but there is still a trail. You could use one of these machines, but if the feds got involved, they could probaqbly find you (from the camera, etc). It would leave some sort of a trail. Still, not bad for buying that fake vagina you always wanted.
  • How can I pay you? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Arslan ibn Da'ud ( 636514 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:38PM (#6494318) Homepage
    So how would I go about paying someone online? Today I could use
    a credit card or Paypal at someone's web could this be
    done from an ATM? (No, I'm not gonna try to punch in the recipient's

    That's a rather critical detail not mentioned in the article.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:39PM (#6494331)
    Of course I did not read the article (when will you &#&@ editors get a freakin clue, post a non-registration link!!!!), but couldn't this be used by terrorists?

    I remember Timothy McVeigh went to the trouble to use calling cards and hide his money trail to avoid raising suspicions... wouldn't terrorists be able to more conveniently purchase necessary wares now? Instead going into a farming goods store and buying large amounts of fertilizer, they could now do it anonymously online (but don't worry about that scenario anymore, the govt has taken care of that... but there are still other scenarios the govt hasn't taken care of).

    Sure someone could sign up for a credit card under false credentials, but wouldn't that leave more of a money trail than an anonymous ATM?
  • The market (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:39PM (#6494332) Journal
    PayPal wont accept payment for "adult" related eBusiness now (ie; pornos).

    Whoever steps in to fill that gap make a friggin mint. The frontrunner seems to be CitiBank's C2It, though I know nothing of such services.
  • by dildatron ( 611498 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:42PM (#6494365)
    It could issue a "temporary credit card" - maybe it could spit out a tempporary card with the number on it, etc, that had the balance of the cash you put in. Basically an anonymous, pre-paid credit card

    . You could then use that number like any other card (visa/mastercard/etc). Jsut a thought. The article didn't really specify.
  • Been Done..... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:44PM (#6494386)
  • by cybermint ( 255744 ) * on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:49PM (#6494431)
    I run a couple websites and a large portion of my user base is kids in the range of 14-17. Collecting cash from them has always been a problem. Some would opt to send in cash, but this has problems as well. I can see this becoming very popular if it gets implemented well.
  • by Psyonic ( 547207 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:51PM (#6494443) Homepage
    Obviously this system is not perfect, but as a teenager who has a good deal of cash but no credit card, and doesn't like to go to his parents to buy stuff online, I think I would definitely use this if I thought it was safe. I am security-minded, but the main reason I would use this is convenience, not privacy. However, rather than buying music and games online, like the article suggested, I would probably use it to buy real merchandise (band shirts, etc)
  • by fehlschlag ( 543974 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:51PM (#6494447)
    Although I really support the idea of being anonymous for protective purposes, I don't quite understand how this product helps very much.

    Sure, you don't have the logs of cash coming out of your account (credit, savings, etc), but there is cash being sent somewhere, and that somewhere has to be well-defined for the cash to get there.
    Also, the product, assuming something is bought, has to go somewhere, again a well-defined location, even if it is a mail-drop.

    AFAIK, all wired money transactions are logged in some fashion, and for this to be approved by the government, it would have to be as well. I still don't see how super-beneficial this gimmick might be.
  • by fredistheking ( 464407 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @05:54PM (#6494468)
    I had my account number stolen after buying computer equipment from small online stores (pricewatch). After having to change my account number I started using disposable credit card numbers from American Express []. These numbers can only be used once and expire at the end of the month. Also, if someone were able to crack the Amex system, at least I will be notified. I was not so lucky before. If you are really paranoid, I imagine that you can call and get these numbers over the phone as well.

  • Re:Too Much Freedom? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Knife_Edge ( 582068 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:05PM (#6494537)
    There is a money transfer system called hawala that allows two people in different locations with a means of communication, who trust each other absolutely, to transfer money without the aid of the banking system. Lots of people use it to send money from America to the the Far East - mostly because it is cheaper than Western Union, etc. However, I understand it is being cracked down on because terrorists were using it to move funds around. Still, it will be difficult to shut down completely since it only takes two people and a means of communication to operate. Most of the people who use this system today do so because there is no reasonable alternative (financial system is not good in their area), not because they are terrorists.

    I have read that organized crime transfers money from country to country by wiring small amounts (under the amount that must be reported) constantly. Even though there is a paper trail of sorts, it is very hard to sort through. But again, most of the people who wire money are not organized criminals. Should we stop this practice because some of the people are?

    Means of moving illegal money secretively already exist. I think the idea with this system is it could allow people to make online purchases, even if they are from an area of the world that does not have the financial systems and identification systems that we take for granted in the West. I am inclined to think the net effect of this would be good. Many people do not have any sort of identification or formal bank account (as required for a service like paypal, which is apparently unavailable in much of the world), but if they could get to a kiosk with some cash, they might be able to order something - provided someone was willing to ship it to them. This could be a big improvement in the lives of many people. It could also help economic growth, facilitating transactions at greater distances and of greater complexity than was possible before.

    Should we not build any infrastructure because criminals could use it? Criminals can drive on the roads, too, but that does not mean we stop building them. We police them. This system would have to be policed.
  • correct. and once some dumb criminal discovers he can use it to buy a gun (insert 1,000 $, get the card with amount on it, give to gun seller then go bang-bang) and then uses that gun to say... kill a high political figure (no insinuations there!!!) or popular person etc. BAM! instant ban or regulation.

    Yes, and since you have the anonymous purchase card you don't have to register the gun or go through the other processes. "Here's my anonymous cash card!" "Right, here's your pistol and ammo." You do know that you have to register to buy a gun, right? You also know you can buy a gun with cash, right?

    Anybody who accepts these cards will accept cash, and you have no benefit over them. For some reason I doubt that most private gun sellers will offer support for these cards.
  • by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:20PM (#6494622) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, but MasterCard is already doing this -- selling debit mastercards that work like gift certificates. He wouldn't get the patent if that was it. No, I bet it depenses some sort of cryptographic string which is impossible to generate meaningfully, but which will unlock the cash purchase.

  • by chriso11 ( 254041 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:24PM (#6494645) Journal
    Everything in society is not about terrorism, yet it is the overwhelming topic. I want to make and addendum to Godwin's Law []:

    Every slashdot discussion will eventually mention terrorism.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:31PM (#6494682)
    by systems like [], [], [] etc.

    These payment systems are worldwide, do not suffer the chargeback problem, and seem to be fine with gambling and adult sites. They are also not linked to any particular national currency so should appeal to more libertarian among us.

    Example: Wanna gamble now [] with them?
  • Suuuuuuure... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Duncan3 ( 10537 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @06:33PM (#6494696) Homepage
    Getting a debit card and a checking account is trivial and legal for any 6yr old. That's NOT the target market.

    But it's primary use will be for drug dealers to launder money. For married men(and women) to pay for hookers and strippers. For people to turn petty cash into petty lap dance...

    Big market for those things tho ...
  • by E_elven ( 600520 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @08:56PM (#6495573) Journal
    Dear lord, reading these replies. 'It dispenses a disposable credit card for you.' Morons.

    He's trying to sell it to banks. Ergo, the routing can take many shapes -an easy solution will be a virtual credit card number granted by that bank. Other solutions may well work on existing systems, but something using Visa and MasterCard networks is the most likely option (since they're not slow as hell like wire transfers.)

    As to why this is necessary? Because not everyone has a credit card. Because not everyone has even a bank account. Because everyone doesn't have internet access and don't want to buy stuff online using the library computers. And because PayPal is the only other option.

    'It can be used in money laundering', 'you can fund terrorists with it!'

    At least it doesn't take all your money, rape your family, pillage your domestic animals and burn your house while it's doing it. []
  • Agree (Score:2, Interesting)

    by idiotfromia ( 657688 ) <> on Monday July 21, 2003 @09:06PM (#6495628) Homepage
    I am also under 18 and like to buy things off the internet. This hasn't hindered me as much as some. I have a job and a checking account. Many online merchants accept checks now, but I still run the risk of sending a check through the mail. But worse than that is the time. In the instant online world I do not want to wait days for the USPS to get my check across country.
  • by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:54AM (#6496748) Journal
    " I just had an idea like this. I thought it would be handy to be able to have a card that went through the credit card systems (i.e, could be used wherever you use a credit card), but wasn't a credit card and wasn't tied to a bank account. It would just be cash. You pay $100 cash and get this "cash credit card" that is worth $100."

    A company called Mondex tried to implement something like this. My home town was actually a pilot test area and I was using it for about a year back around 1997 or so. The main cards were attached to a bank account and you can withdraw from ATMs from your bank account. But you could also get auxiluary cards that can only be filled up from other cards (via these little interface devices, properly equipped phones, and 'in the future' over the net) and are not attached to a bank account. There is still a phone with the modex slot on the main computer desk at my home.

    The people did not like it because while you were out playing with a little plastic card with a chip, the banks were taking the 'real' money and investing it. Sure, it was perfectly legal to use this money 'twice.' But they desperately tried to hide this fact and convince you that it was the same as cash. It was really the banks' dishonesty that killed it, not the fact that the money was being used twice, and also the fact that it added at least 10s to the transaction for the card to be read and the amount to be processed.

    Now I have heard tales of true debit systems being more common throughout Europe. Maybe some actual Europeans can fill me in here. Supposedly there are systems where you just pay a lump sum and you get a debit card that is the same as cash and you can pay for things in a lot of places with it. Can you use these as one-use credit cards as well?

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990