MasterCard wants to leave blockchain transactions anonymous

Dec 11, 2018

The MasterCard credit card company has filed a patent that aims to obscure exit points and amounts spent on every purchase made with its cards if those transactions are made in blockchain. Essentially, the company wants to make anonymous purchases in this model.

The document explains in detail the operation of the patent: roughly, the user offers a primary address for the transaction, as is done today in any credit card purchase. This address then stores the transaction data, including the value and final destination (ie who bought and who sold). Meanwhile, a new digital and transactional signature is created, with a new authentication key. This "new transaction" is responsible for ensuring the receipt of funds by the person desired. As a result, when a seller receives the purchase value, his "address" will be associated with MasterCard, not the buyer's identity.

The method described above is relatively similar to what is currently used to launder money in crypto-coins, although some points make them different. In the case of laundering, for example, all addresses linked to a purchase are obscure; in the MasterCard method, there is at least one, making the transaction "legal."

The MasterCard patent also describes anonymous anonymizing methods, such as "breaking" a payment into several small parts, "hiding" the total amount and making it difficult to identify the buyer by association.

It is important to note that nowhere in the patent is it described that the above method is used exclusively in crypto-coins. For all intents and purposes, there is scope for applying the process to common purchases as well, although this may cause problems with governments in several countries.

The other side
The mention of governments does not come as no surprise: in the last week the news came that the US government - through its Department of Homeland Security - would be building tools to remove the anonymity of blockchain transactions and crypto-coins.

The agency's idea is to encourage small businesses to develop and apply methods of identifying crimes that have been committed through virtual currencies. The documentation is comprehensive and refers to all crypto-coins, but specifically mentions Zcash and Monero, which have a greater focus on privacy within their corporate communications and have long been used by terrorists and cybercriminals.

All information comes from the department's own "Small Business Innovation Research Program" (SBIR). Essentially, it is a three-phase program, where the first part is "to design a blockchain analysis system that allows Forensic Investigation for Internal Security and law enforcement to apply in crypto-coins like Zcash and Monero."

The second part is the execution of tests and data collection for the creation of prototype solutions in order to demonstrate its operation for the authorities. Finally, the third phase refers to the integration of these tools into commercial and government solutions, allowing authorities to track and, with luck, catch cybercriminals.

However, the SIBR does not have the same weight as a bid: there is no ordering of offers, only the submission of a program opening documentation. By the end of December, candidates may still challenge the Department of Homeland Security.

Source: The Next Web



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