back to article GNU cryptocurrency aims at 'the mainstream economy not the black market'

GNU and an outfit called “Inria” have released Alpha code – version 0.0.0 to be precise – of an anonymous-but-taxable electronic payments system they say is “a currency for the mainstream economy, and not the black market.” “Taler”, as the effort is dubbed, looks to be an attempt to build on the concepts behind Bitcoin. So …

  1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Good idea

    This can only be described as a good idea, IMHO. It's basically electronic cash.

    However, as always, the devil will be in the detail. If the implementation is good, and adoption is good (from banks, merchants and consumers), it could be revolutionary. If not, it's just another interesting project. I'll be keeping an eye on it...

    1. PleebSmasher
      Mushroom

      Re: Good idea

      ReTalers will not adopt this new currency.

      And it aims at the mainstream economy, not the black market? I hope it has good aim, because it's either not anonymous or could work just fine for the black market. Embrace the darkness.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Good idea

        Yep its a good thing regular currency is never used in the black market.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Anonymous money is a relative concept

        Bitcoin isn't entirely anonymous, as if it were Silk Rd 1.0 would still be operational. An entirely anonymous currency provably usable for financing assassination would have advertised exchanges between itself and conventional money closed down as criminal money laundering accessories in short order, rendering it pretty much useless for said purpose overnight.

        A useful degree of anonymity means merchants don't always need to know who is buying from them - just that they are being paid, while banks won't disclose payment details to spooky agencies or police investigations unless specifically warranted by a judge and won't disclose to anyone else under any circumstances.

        1. PleebSmasher

          Re: Anonymous money is a relative concept

          We're not talking about Bitcoin. We're talking about "anonymous-but-taxable" Taler.

  2. petef

    An outfit called “Inria” has been around rather longer than GNU, so why the disparaging tone?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Yes, I was really hoping "an outfit called “Inria”" was a (feeble) joke. An IT journalist who doesn't know what INRIA is should hang up his hat, or at least spend the next few weeks in intensive study of the field.

      It's like not knowing what DARPA is.

  3. DrBobK

    INRIA

    French national computer science institute? High profile operations all over France? Sponsors and participants in all manner of international collaborations? So high profile even I've heard of them?

  4. PassiveSmoking

    Mining?

    So presumably you can't just magic money out of thin-air by mining it, the cryptocoins in this system have to have a corresponding amount of real money to back them up, correct? So if that's the case, isn't this more of a money transfer system rather than a full-fat cryptocurrency?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Mining?

      "isn't this more of a money transfer system rather than a full-fat cryptocurrency?"

      Yes, I think so.

      Cryptocurrencies are a speculation vehicle anyway.

      Anonymous payment systems or cryptocurrencies are an invitation for criminals and other neer do wells to do money laundering, accept ransom payments etc. I'm dubious about the claim of anonymous + taxable.

      I'll stick to IBAN and PayPal.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Mining?

        "Cryptocurrencies are a speculation vehicle anyway."

        COPY Bitcoin

        PASTE Bitcoin(2)

        PASTE Bitcoin(3)

        PASTE Bitcoin(4)

        ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mining?

      "isn't this more of a money transfer system"

      ... rather like handing people pieces of paper that say "I promise to pay the bearer on demand...." - seem to think peopel have been happy to call this "money" for some time

    3. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: Mining?

      'Real' money is magic'd out of thin air anyway. What happens to the crypto coins when the government comes in an cleans out the stash of real money under some pretence of drug smuggling child pornographing terrorists. Or do we end up back at the goldsmiths tale where far more money was issued than was secured because no one ever wanted to withdraw their gold and who doesn't want to be rich.

      As others have pointed out this is just a prepaid money transfer system and we already have those. I can see advantages for off the books organisations who want to run a private bank and use this as a transfer payments system but I can't see a lot of advantages over a prepaid debit card.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Mining?

        "I can't see a lot of advantages over a prepaid debit card"

        If it breaks the USA strangle hold on on-line commerce by Visa/MasterCard/PayPal, what is there not to like?

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Mining?

          If it breaks the USA strangle hold on on-line commerce by Visa/MasterCard/PayPal, what is there not to like?

          Hell, I'd settle for just breaking Paypal.

    4. Old Handle

      Re: Mining?

      Actually that raises an interesting point. If there's no mining, how do they motivate people to manage the blockchain? They are using some sort of blockchain, right? Otherwise I'm not sure how this is cryptocurrency at all.

  5. BurnT'offering

    Expect a trademark infringement claim

    From Sopra, vendors of the Thaler banking engine

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Expect a trademark infringement claim

      How can you trademark Thaler as a monetary term? It's the ancestral root of the word "Dollar" (originally a silver thaler coin - from the german town of Thaler)

      1. BurnT'offering

        Re: Expect a trademark infringement claim

        It would be trademarked not as a monetary term but as financial software, and that's where the hypothetical conflict could occur.

        Your etymology is not quite right - T(h)aler is actually an abbreviation of "Joachimsthaler" - ie from the town of Joachimsthal which was, in the 16th century when the name originated, in Bohemia. It's now Jáchymov in the Czech Republic.

      2. AdamWill

        Re: Expect a trademark infringement claim

        Why would that mean you couldn't trademark it? There's no rule that trademarks have to be 'original' words, most aren't.

  6. StaudN

    So... open source PayPal?

  7. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    I like the name.

  8. Danny van der Weide

    Taxes?

    The goverment can levy taxes, but why?

    Who wants to pay taxes anyway?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Taxes?

      I want to pay taxes (and I want everyone else to pay them too, of course). It's better than any alternative anyone's come up with so far.

  9. Speltier

    Hyperledger

    This seems more like a subset of Hyperledger, where what is tracked is monetary units. So, I'm not really seeing the long term utility, unless that "tax" hook really works.

    Of course, Hyperledger seems more like a bunch of crony companies all cheering "open source" while trying very hard to avoid actually contributing until they get IP staked out in their pending contributions... so maybe Thaler ought to bill itself as the real open source Hyperledger.

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