GNU cryptocurrency aims at 'the mainstream economy not the black market'

'Taler' is anonymous-but-taxable and tied to actual money


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 while Taler lets you use encrypted “coins” as a means of exchange, it is explicitly not a new currency. Instead, it “... uses an electronic exchange holding financial reserves in existing currencies.”

“This means that Taler is not a new currency with the inherent currency fluctuation risks, but instead the cryptographic coins correspond to existing currencies, such as US Dollars, Euros or even BitCoins.”

The technology is also designed to be open enough that governments can peer inside, levy “sales, value-added or income taxes”.

As a GNU project, the code is of course freely-available.

For now, the effort is in its very early stages. GNU even warns, in the announcement of the project's debut, that “There is no auditor, and hence components do not properly support auditors either. As a result, a dishonest exchange could embezzle funds.” There's also no real-world integration at present, “so only toy currencies are available for now.”

If you're interested regardless of those foibles, the 0.0.0 code does include “key components providing logic for running a bank, exchange, merchant and wallet.” That code is described as follows:

  • Exchange implements the full Taler protocol, but does not integrate with traditional banking systems (only with Taler's own "bank").
  • Wallet can withdraw and spend coins, but does not yet handle refreshing, refunding, synchronizing, or export of cryptographic proofs. Some error handling may be insufficient. The wallet was only tested with Chrome/Chromium.
  • Merchant backend can generate contracts and handle payments, but does not yet offer full back-office support for tracking payments received. Frontend examples are available in Python and PHP.
  • The bank can manage accounts, allows the wallet to withdraw funds and can receive payments from the exchange.

Inria and GNU hope to have more advanced versions of Taler to share by year's end.

When they do, it may well be game on in the cryptocurrency space: Taler's already used fighting words with its “mainstream, not black market” talk. Bitcoin's many admirers may take offence at that kind of language and point to strong adoption. Sceptics can point to security woes among Bitcoin exchanges, governance woes and the cryptocurrency's volatility as evidence that different approaches to electronic currencies probably won't hurt their evolution. ®


Other stories you might like

  • UK government opens consultation on medic-style register for Brit infosec pros

    Are you competent? Ethical? Welcome to UKCSC's new list

    Frustrated at lack of activity from the "standard setting" UK Cyber Security Council, the government wants to pass new laws making it into the statutory regulator of the UK infosec trade.

    Government plans, quietly announced in a consultation document issued last week, include a formal register of infosec practitioners – meaning security specialists could be struck off or barred from working if they don't meet "competence and ethical requirements."

    The proposed setup sounds very similar to the General Medical Council and its register of doctors allowed to practice medicine in the UK.

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft's do-it-all IDE Visual Studio 2022 came out late last year. How good is it really?

    Top request from devs? A Linux version

    Review Visual Studio goes back a long way. Microsoft always had its own programming languages and tools, beginning with Microsoft Basic in 1975 and Microsoft C 1.0 in 1983.

    The Visual Studio idea came from two main sources. In the early days, Windows applications were coded and compiled using MS-DOS, and there was a MS-DOS IDE called Programmer's Workbench (PWB, first released 1989). The company also came up Visual Basic (VB, first released 1991), which unlike Microsoft C++ had a Windows IDE. Perhaps inspired by VB, Microsoft delivered Visual C++ 1.0 in 1993, replacing the little-used PWB. Visual Studio itself was introduced in 1997, though it was more of a bundle of different Windows development tools initially. The first Visual Studio to integrate C++ and Visual Basic (in .NET guise) development into the same IDE was Visual Studio .NET in 2002, 20 years ago, and this perhaps is the true ancestor of today's IDE.

    A big change in VS 2022, released November, is that it is the first version where the IDE itself runs as a 64-bit process. The advantage is that it has access to more than 4GB memory in the devenv process, this being the shell of the IDE, though of course it is still possible to compile 32-bit applications. The main benefit is for large solutions comprising hundreds of projects. Although a substantial change, it is transparent to developers and from what we can tell, has been a beneficial change.

    Continue reading
  • James Webb Space Telescope has arrived at its new home – an orbit almost a million miles from Earth

    Funnily enough, that's where we want to be right now, too

    The James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most complex space observatory built by NASA, has reached its final destination: L2, the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, an orbit located about a million miles away.

    Mission control sent instructions to fire the telescope's thrusters at 1400 EST (1900 UTC) on Monday. The small boost increased its speed by about 3.6 miles per hour to send it to L2, where it will orbit the Sun in line with Earth for the foreseeable future. It takes about 180 days to complete an L2 orbit, Amber Straughn, deputy project scientist for Webb Science Communications at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said during a live briefing.

    "Webb, welcome home!" blurted NASA's Administrator Bill Nelson. "Congratulations to the team for all of their hard work ensuring Webb's safe arrival at L2 today. We're one step closer to uncovering the mysteries of the universe. And I can't wait to see Webb's first new views of the universe this summer."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022