Is NGI TALER a trustworthy alternative to Stripe and cryptocurrencies?

Hi NGI Taler’s Team,
I’m running the Aipress24 project which aims at generating new editorial revenues for the ecosystem of press & media all around the world. This B2B platform is going to put together all the professional communities that help making the news : news agencies, journals, magazines, medias ; Press relations agencies ; Leaders & Experts ; Transformers : companies that support organisations in their major transformations (digital, ecological, energy, environmental, technological, etc.) ; Academics : higher education and research structures, teachers, lecturers, researchers, doctoral students, students and student-entrepreneurs.
We would like to integrate the Horizon Europe-Pillar II-Group4-NGI Taler technology Open call.

As far as I understand what NGI Taler is, it appears to be a a privacy-preserving digital payment system. Which is fine, in our context, because Aipress24 allows employees in organizations to buy the access to some editorial stories without being traced by their employers. But we’ll be having also other products that don’t require to preserve the privacy of the purchasers.

First question : is NGI Taler only a privacy-preserving digital payment system or is it at the same time a global payment system for digital marketplaces like ours ?

Second questyion : Is NGI Taler a trustworthy alternative to Payment Service Providers like Stripe ? We need a Payment Service Provider and, of course, the US company Stripe is technically able to fit many of our requirements. But, as Aipress24 is a European company, we prefer to rely on a European solution. Moreover, Aipress24 will be a FLOSS platform, so we implement only FLOSS systems. In this context, does NGI Taler provide electronic Wallets for individuals and for Businesses (splittable among differents epmployees) ?

Third question : On Aipress24, operating organizations will be buy and purchase digital products and services. In this context, is NGI Taler a trustworthy alternative to Service Cryptocurrencies ? If it is, we’ll create The Money of Journalism (MoJo) in order to pay and buy digital products and services on Aipress24.

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Hello Erick,
Let me try to briefly answer your questions:
1- Both! GNU-Taler payment system will always be privacy preserving as it is so designed, but NGI Taler aims at becoming a global payment system for payment in Euro and hungarian fiorins at first (2025)
2- One account can have many wallets and thus allow splittable usage (to share a wallet would require blind trust or a tweeked version where payment would be impossible to erase :hushed: which is quite adverse to the principle the system is built on)
3- The Depolymerization program allows payments with DLT currencies(bitcoin and ethereum), I see no reason why it couldn’t become possible in Mojo!
I hope this starts to help :slight_smile:
Marie

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Woaw, thank you Marie. It sounds very good. I think we are going to position our project on NGI Taler Open Call !

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Hello Marie,
Some More questions :
1- Is it possible to create the MoJo service currency on top of the Taler System without using a cryptocurrency like ethereum or bitcoin ? We’d like that the MoJo relies on Taler, not on a crypto.

2- I understand that one Member’s account can have several wallets. But with Taler’s Wallet System is it possible for a company to allocate some wallets to some collaborators (and to refund when it’s necessary) ? Behind this question, here is my idea : if corporations can allocate wallets to their collaborators, the act of purchasing journalistic stories on our News Portal and digitals services will be fluid, thus very easy. So this would genetate a massive source of revenues for editors and publishers. Which is good for democracy and independant press.

3- I really need to understand if Taler allows a purchaser to buy anonymously some products (for example the consultation of journalistic stories on our News Portal ) and, on the opposite, to buy ransparently (not anonymously) other products on our platform (for example, the layout that enhances an advertisement, or a digital service) ? In other words, is NGI Taler is a complete payment system (anonymous AND transparent) ? The ambiguity absoluetly needs to be cleared up.

4- Concerning the 2 banks that are in the NGI Taler consortium, is mandatory to work with them ? Or is NGI Taler System able to operate with our On-line banking partner ?

If the answers to our questions are positive, Aipress24 project will be able to propel Taler to the scale of a journalistic information and innovation platform which intends to operate worldwide.

Why ?
1- because the problems of journalists and innovators are the same everywhere on the planet !
2- We used to operate an embryo of Aipress24 as a Living Lab between 2010 and 2014 and we had members in 44 countries !

Thank you for answering my questions

GNU Taler is a payment system. Its user interface is a Wallet. In this wallet you can put any kind of supported currencies. In order to be able to put Mojo into your Taler Wallet, you would be running your own Taler Exchange and mint your own coins, setting up your bank for Mojo. I’m not sure of any legal aspects to it though.

I’m not sure why you would need some ‘external’ allocation of a wallet. If I understand you well, it’s a bootstrap issue: in order for the system to work, the customer should have a Taler Wallet. There’s no reason why a ‘collaborator’ would not have a way to get coins from the ‘corporation’, and start from there. I may be wrong, but I do not think there’s a need to generate wallets for other people. What the corporation wants is to generate tokens that the wallet can spend on your site. This is covered by the upcoming Contracts v1. This way, the ‘corporation’ can allocate a number of coins to spend on your news agency, and distribute tokens to ‘collaborators’ to this effect. The collaborator remains anonymous among all collaborators with regard to their spending towards you; and the ‘corporation’ doesn’t know what articles were purchased. But both you and the corporation can know about the amount spent.

With Taler, the buyer is always anonymous (among the set of all buyers for the purchased product), but there are other ways to allow the buyer to reveal its identity (e.g., for shipping physical products), although of course the idea is not to have to do this. Taler is a complete payment system (anonymous AND transparent), but these properties do not apply the same to the buyer or the seller: buyer is always anonymous and sales are always transparent. This is the cryptographic layer that guarantees both properties. But they are not concurrent: buying something is never transparent, which is one of the preconditions for cash-like payment; selling is never anonymous, which is one of the preconditions for auditability and taxability.

I need to ask our banking partners to get a definitive response. I can only tell you that we are definitely interested in more banks being able to handle Taler payments, and that a bank is only necessary to clear payments in EUR (or other fiat currencies in the future). Let me come back to you on this point.

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Thank you very much for your answer. I have to analyse your answers in depth. But, as far as I can understand from now, it appears to smell very good !

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Although very promising, I’m afraid, unless I’m mistaken, that your technology isn’t mature enough for us to take the risk of investing in it.
1- In the case of Aipress24, which is a B2B marketplace orchestrating the pre-publication production of media information and innovation, we cannot accept that all payments be privacy-preserving. This may work for certain purchases, but they will be remaining very marginal.
2- On the contrary, the accounting and management control processes of the many companies that will be operating on the Aipress24 B2B marketplace require transparency of transactions (who spends what, how much and when within the same organisation), on pain of contravening European accounting and financial regulations. To put it plainly, every seller must declare every buyer (company name, address, identification number, intracom VAT, etc.). That’s the reason why our platform will be backed on en ERP System.
3- For the same reason, we need to have a system of Corporate Wallets which can be subdivided, on the initiative of the decision-makers of the numerous organisations that will be operating on Aipress24, into Collaborators Wallets, selected and funded by those decision-makers. Here again, every single expense must be justified, tracked and traced.
4- The Exchange process from Taler to Euro is not clear enough for the security of an every day business multiplayer platform.
5- We have Doubs concernant your banking Partners. We need to rely on agnostic banking partners.

In Taler, the payment system learns nothing about the contract between two parties, but, of course, those parties are free to choose to put as much detail as needed or required into that contract.

Privacy-preservation is built-in Taler, so you can use it with both anonymous payments and payments where you know your buyer. Taler is compliant with all EU regulations (KYC, AML, etc.) and of course respects VAT constraints. In your B2B case, you already know your business partner, so you do have information on company name, address, identification number, intracom VAT, etc.): Taler is designed for compliance. There’s no reason why you should change your normal business practices with other businesses. Taler functionality comes on top of it: in the B2B case, anonymous payments do not preclude business compliance, on the contrary: Taler guarantees auditability of the sale transactions, which current payment systems do not. To the auditor, the buyer remains anonymous, but the auditor knows by design that the transactions exposed to its scrutiny are correct.

I think there’s a misunderstanding on the whole process. B2B relations and actual payments are two different things. If you want to deal with a business, the business should certainly identify to you, since this is required by law for VAT clearance, before you would accept Taler payments from them. What Taler payments bring you is 1) the ease of use for your business partner, and instance payment clearance for you to process product delivery; 2) an audit trail ready for tax authority.

Taler Wallets can provide all these features. On your side, you will only know that your business partner has spent their coins on specific products, but you will not know who in the company did it: the (individual) buyer remains anonymous within the anonymity set of all buyers; and the buyer will know what is spent on what by whom, because they can derive tokens from their wallet to collaborators, so that they control the spending on their side.

I guess this is one of our tasks to clarify this.

There seems to be a misunderstanding that Taler is in itself a currency. That is not the case. Taler tokens have their denomination in the currency defined by the operating exchange. E.g., GLS Bank will operate a payment service (aka exchange in Taler lingo) for the Euro. The coins handed out will have their value in Euro, not another currency. Once a purchase is made and the coins are deposited by the Merchant with the Exchange, the Exchange will initiate the wire transfer of the total amount in the same currency of the purchase to the actual bank account of the Merchant (potentially batching all purchases of a day into one single wire transfer, depending on costs).

In a nutshell, the Taler Exchange is the intermediary between the bank account in EUR and the Taler wallet. When a coin is spent, the Exchange marks it as spent, and the Merchant’s bank (your bank) can receive the corresponding value in Euro. The security of the process does not depend on how many ‘players’ are in the game: it’s intrinsic to the encoded values. The protocol guarantees the security of transactions.

Then please, invite your banking partner to become a Taler Exhchange! I’ll let our banker colleagues get back to you.

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Thank you for your answers.

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I hope they clear out some doubts, and please, do not hesitate to ask for more clarifications! TALER ICH is only beginning, and we’re willing to make it a place where such questions are answered. Your contributions are highly welcome.

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Concerning Point 5, if I find an On-line bank that’s OK to become an Exchange, will it be granted within the frame of the Open Call (if it’s selected) ? In the same idea, is my bank hunting taken into account within the grant of the Open Call ?

1-Concerning my Point 5, if I find an On-line bank that’s OK to become an Exchange, will it be granted within the frame of the Open Call (if it’s selected) ? In the same idea, is my bank hunting taken into account within the grant of the Open Call ?

2- Then is NGI Taler to replace Stripe allowing direct Crecdit Card and SEPA payment, in particular for subscription services payements ?

3- Is it possible to use “Taler” coins or tocken as a white brand and rename them as “MoJo” ?

Dear Erick, let me chime in here and try to answer some of the questions raised by you

Terminology:

GNU Taler: The free software stack, that is being developed by Taler Systems SA
NGI Taler: The project funded under Horizon Europe with the aim of bringing GNU Taler as a privacy-preserving payment system to market across Europe.
TALER: The payment system that NGI Taler rolls-out across Europe, based on GNU Taler

I need a Payment Service Provider (PSP), is TALER able to fit my requirements?

  • That depends on the specifics of your requirements. If you are looking for a PSP that can process credit card payments for you, TALER is not the right solution. If you are looking for a privacy-preserving payment system, TALER might be the solution you are looking for.
  • If you don’t really need a PSP, since you want to build your own currency, you might want to look at GNU Taler.

Is TALER an alternative to payment processors like Stripe?

  • No, because TALER is a payment system in its own right, not a processor of other means of payments, like credit cards, debit cards etc.
  • Yes, if all you need is just a privacy-preserving payment system, then TALER is an alternative to other systems (including processors).

Is GNU Taler a trustworthy alternative to a blockchain-based payment system?

  • Yes, GNU Taler offers you the unique capability of building a payment system from the ground up. We are using it to roll-out a privacy-preserving payment system (TALER), but it can also essentially be used to create your own payment system for a festival, your sports club etc. Meaning, that you can specify the properties of the tokens that are underlying every transaction.
  • This would allow you to create your own currency, or Token, that can be used to create MoJo with properties specified by you. (You can use GNU Taler as a white label and rebrand it as MoJo)

Do I need to work together with NGI Taler’s banks if I want to build my own service with GNU Taler?

  • No, the banks within the NGI Taler consortium are mainly working on TALER, the payment system that NGI Taler rolls-out across Europe, based on GNU Taler. If you want to build your own payment system, regional currency, loyalty program, or currency called MoJo, GNU Taler got you covered. But since you are then not using services by the consortiums’s banks, you don’t have to work together with them.
    (But you probably need a bank somewhere involved in this, if you want to allow users to deposit into your system and withdraw money out of it)

Hinting at the regulatory dimension: To operate a payment system based on GNU Taler, you fulfill certain criteria that require you to have licenses for the financial service that you are then essentially offering. Regulated financial institutions allow for the compliant operation of TALER as a payment system.

If you want to offer your own coin like Mojo, we are not speaking of a payment system in the traditional sense anymore. To operate something like your own currency/token you might fall under specific crypto-related regulations or requirements for local/regional currencies.
I am happy to try to answer any of your question that might arise along your way non the less

Do I need to work together with NGI Taler’s banks if I want to use TALER as a payment system, either as a payee or a merchant?

  • Yes, if you want to either become a merchant excepting payments via TALER, or want to be paying with TALER, you will have to become a customer of the banks offering this service. It is comparable to you using PayPal: Once you sign up, you become a customer of their services.
  • How the onboarding process exactly looks like is not yet clear, since it is subject to regulatory requirements and the work on this is still ongoing.

Thank you LeoW.
Some more questions :
What can be the economic & financial interest for a new banking partner to become a Taler Exchange ?
What’s the business model for a bank ?
As a payment system, is Taler able to replace credit or debit card payments and SEPA pyaments ? And what are the advantages for the buyer, for the merchant and for the marketplace tenant (Aipress24) ? Are they some specific legal conditions ? Thank you for your answers.

Sure, TALER allows for new forms of monetization for merchants, whilst also offering an attractive value proposition for payees. TALER then would also come with fees for the services it offers.
Generally speaking, GNU Taler allows you to set fees for certain operations, this allows for economically sustainable operations.

Yes, TALER will be able to replace traditional forms of payment

GNU Taler offers a great starting point for GNU Taler’s features and its general value proposition. If any more specific questions should arise, pls don’t hesitate to ask!

Wether legal conditions arise totally depends on the use case at hand. Also different from country/legislation to country/legislation. In the context of NGI Taler it would be licenses for the issuance of e-money. If you want to build your own solution on top of GNU Taler it heavily depends on how the service is structured. No general answer can be given here.

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Thank you LeoW.
1- In order to be clear, we are to small to issue an e-money, as far as I can imagine. We’d just like to rebrand Taler under the label MoJo which is very attractive in our context. Appearantly, it should be possible. Am I wrong ?

In your documentation, I saw this : A Taler exchange only supports a single currency. The currency and the smallest currency unit supported by the bank system must be specified in /etc/taler/taler.conf.
Is it here that we can set the Mojo ? For example: /etc/mojo/taler.conf ?

2- If Taler is able to replace legally and operationnally traditional forms of payment, it’s really cool ! Because, in other words, if I understand properly, Taler payment eliminates some risks for merchent (that we represent and that we also are). For example, when the clients lose their credit ou debit cards. Except for monthly subscription payments (that seem to be adressed by Taler), taler may be used foir buying coins that will be spent on demand on the platform.

Hi LeoW, some new questions :slight_smile:
1- In the GNU Taler documentation, I saw this : “A Taler exchange only supports a single currency. The currency and the smallest currency unit supported by the bank system must be specified in /etc/taler/taler.conf.” Would it be the way for our AIpress24 project to rename Taler currency Mojo ? For example: /etc/mojo/taler.conf ?
2- Is here a way to rely on 2 kinds of GNU Taler Exchanges ?

  • 2-1 The first one would be a banking partner that converts Euros into Talers/Mojos (and from Talers/Mojos to Euros) ?
  • 2-2 In a more unexpected way, the second GNU Taler/Mojo Exchange would be an internal one. I mean it would operate all the transactions between all the stakehorlders’ Corporate and Collaborators’ Wallets in our internal B2B marketplace. It would help, Aipress24 contolling transactional fees and, thus, generate new sources of revenues. These sources would be affected to generate internal fund aiming at financing Press & Media projects and innovations projects.

3- Would it be possible, for Aipress24, to have multiple GNU Taler Exchanges in order to reduce risks of failure? The idea is to switch easily from a failing Exchange to a functionning one. And then come back when failing source recovers.

Thank you for your answers

I would expect that in this file you can specifiy MOJO (instead of KUDOS).

Fantadstic ! Thank you for this answer. I can’t wait to hear the other answers !

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