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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

JP Morgan Chase (Crooks-In-Suits) Wants A Patent For Digital Payment System (Are You %$#@ Kidding Me?)

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JP Morgan Chase (Crooks-In-Suits)
Wants a Patent for Digital Payment System
Are You %$#@ Kidding Me?

"Decentralization Puts The Power Back Into The Hands of People While Centralization Keeps The Power In The Hands Of The Banksters"

Monty Henry, Owner

J.P. Morgan’s Anti-Money Laundering Controls Scrutinized

On the heels of a landmark $13 billion settlement over a wide-ranging set of legal headaches, J.P. Morgan Chase and Co.’s anti-money laundering practices remain under the microscope.

The bank is discussing a separate settlement over allegations tied to Bernie Madoff, which include the bank’s alleged failure to file a suspicious activity report, a key anti-money laundering document, on the fraudster, the Wall Street Journal reported this weekend. Federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been looking for a larger pattern of control failures at the bank, the article said. J.P. Morgan has said it didn’t know about or participate in the Madoff fraud.

It’s important to remember these are not the only authorities watching the bank’s anti-money laundering controls. The bank this January was hit with a consent order from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency that alleged deficiencies in the bank’s AML program and ordered the firm to improve controls. The bank didn’t admit nor deny the allegations. The OCC also ordered the bank to undertake a so-called look-back to reexamine suspicious activity reports it has filed, which could turn up new information on a bank’s controls. “That’s what would keep me up nights if I was their compliance officer,” said Ross Delston, an anti-money laundering consultant and expert witness.

These Are A Few Reasons To Stay Far Away From These Crooks

Slices Of The $13 Billion Settlement Pie:

Here's Where The Money Is Going In J.P. Morgan's Landmark Settlement:

$4 Billion: Previously Reported Settlement Of Claims By The Federal Housing Finance Agency

$4 Billion: Relief Given To Consumers Who Were "harmed By The Unlawful Conduct" Of Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual And J.P. Morgan

$2 Billion: Penalty To Settle Justice Department Claims Under The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery And Enforcement Act

$1.4 Billion: Settlement Of Federal And State Securities Claims By The National Credit Union Administration

$613.8 Million: Settlement Of Claims By The State Of New York

$515.4 Million: Settlement Of Federal And State Securities Claims By The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

$298.9 Million: Settlement Of Claims By The State Of California

$100 Million: Settlement Of Claims By The State Of Illinois

$34.4 Million: Settlement Of Claims By The Commonwealth Of Massachusetts

$19.7 Million: Settlement Of Claims By The State Of Delaware

Jamie Dimon (Head of J.P. Morgan Chase) Is Forced To Eat A Large Portion Of Humble Pie By The Justice Dept.

JP Morgan Chase is building its own digital currency for use with digital ‘wallets’, it has been reported.

@SnoopDogg @coinbase Fuck The Banks! Go #bitcoin and #litecoin
— Anarcoin (@anarcoin) December 9, 2013

The banking giant filed a patent application relating to a “method and system for processing internet payments using the electronic funds transfer network”.

Let’s Talk Bitcoin claimed the patent application was actually filed on 5th August, and published 28th November. The application’s abstract says:

“Embodiments of the invention include a method and system for conducting financial transactions over a payment network.

The method may include associating a payment address of an account with an account holder name, the account residing at a financial institution and the associated payment address of the account configured to allow withdrawals by the account holder only and to allow a plurality of deposits to be made at different times.
The method further includes freely publishing the payment address and making it available to users of an internet portal or search engine. The method further includes receiving data over a network identifying a deposit to be made to the account, assigning the deposit to the account using the payment address, and notifying the payer of the assignment.

At least one directory is used for associating the account holder with the payment address.”

Direct payment addresses, freely publishing such addresses for deposits over data networks… apart from the ‘account residing at a financial institution’ part, many might be familiar with a similar system already in widespread use.

In its lengthy application, JP Morgan Chase has avoided mentioning bitcoin at all, though it did allude to the fact that “new Internet payment mechanisms have been rapidly emerging”.

Of course, it could be referring to PayPal, or one of the many retail loyalty point systems attempting to become their own kind of currency. But the application also notes the drawbacks of these existing systems, such as the need to enter PINs, high processing fees, and shortage of consumer-to-consumer payment methods.

Before anyone says “prior art”, the application also mentions “prior art electronic Wallets”, but refers to software that stores existing account information rather than being self-contained.

Other Highlights From The Application Include:

“A computer-implemented method of providing an anonymous payment from a mobile device to a payee device to enable an electronic payment between a payer and a payee without provision of an account number or name from the payer…”


“payment message including a transaction ID; transmitting the transaction ID to the payer, the transaction ID permitting the payer to initiate transmission of a payment amount; generating a payment authorization message from the payer, the payment authorization message including a payment amount to be tendered to the payee and the transaction ID, the transaction ID allowing identification of the payment, thereby enabling redemption of the payment amount after the payee receives the transaction ID.”

Is this anything for bitcoin users to be concerned about? Is Chase, as the headlines said, ‘building a Bitcoin Killer?’

It’s no secret that the Internet, and the world at large, needs better payment options. The legacy system of credit cards and international wire transfers is being shoehorned into the Internet like Cinderella’s ugly stepsister into a glass slipper, often with the same unattractive results.

PayPal introduced the world to the concept of easy trans-currency payments, but also to those of account freezes, verification processes and 3% flat transaction fees.

But supposing Chase decided to use the patent to build its own cryptocurrency, would users flock to it? The initial reaction to Chase’s patent application from bitcoin fans was to point out a centralized system controlled by a large financial institution is hardly what cryptocurrency users want.

What about everyone else? Maybe all large financial institutions need to do is offer something identical to bitcoin, but without all the volatility, black market fearmongering and exchange shutdowns. Large banks, despite actions and events over the past five years, are still seen by most as safe places to store wealth.

Banks have also tried repeatedly to lock customers and companies out of the financial system for using bitcoin (including Chase itself), and perhaps having their own competing digital currencies would give them extra incentive to do so.

Holding a patent could also enable Chase to slow down or even stifle development of services relating to other digital currencies.

For those who don’t understand decentralization or its advantages, a controlling hand might even be seen as desirable. Neil Irwin of the Washington Post echoed this view with his ‘Bitcoin Needs a Central Banker‘ article in November.

Everyone from alt-coin developers to large corporations will probably try to build a better bitcoin in the coming years, and some users will be looking for one. Whether they succeed could well depend on more than just innovative features.

Inventing Problems

You’ve got to love Internet rumours. A bit of a Twitter-storm kicked off earlier this week, when the word went out that JP Morgan had tried to patent bitcoin.

Calmer heads prevailed: JP Morgan hadn’t tried to patent bitcoin. It had re-presented an old patent from 1999 about an online payment system with electronic wallets, but one that bore little resemblance to cryptocurrencies as we know them.

It’s a bank, after all, so why would it want to remove complexity and centralised control, two of the more lucrative aspects of the business?

But could someone spike bitcoin through patents? After all, software patents now have a long history of being used to extract money from companies and shut down competition.

Some estimates say that one in four civil lawsuits in America are patent-driven, and the big-dogs of Google, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft spend billions at the game.

It’s vanishingly unlikely, for at least three reasons. The one that’s most obvious is prior art, where a new patent can only be granted – in theory – if the invention embedded in it hasn’t been published before. As bitcoin is thoroughly published and open, then it can’t be patented.

It’s possible, indeed probable, that there are software patents which could plausibly be used to slap claims on parts of the Bitcoin protocol – the real evil of such patents is that they’re often written so vaguely it takes a court full of rich lawyers a long time to find out whether they apply in particular cases or not. But the whole thing? Nah.

If someone managed to get a patent on a bitcoin-like cryptocurrency, which remains a possibility as the US patent office is known for not being too fussy about what it grants, that wouldn’t do much harm either.

For a patent to be infringed, all of its aspects have to be infringed. You can copy a process or invention as much as you like, as long as you differ in just one point of the patented details.

Finally, and most importantly, there’s no money in it. Nobody owns bitcoin, so there’s nobody to sue. People and companies using bitcoin might be vulnerable – there are patent trolls who cause a lot of problems that way.

For example, suing people who just happen to use Wi-Fi because the trolls have bought a patent that might be applicable to something in Wi-Fi, but there are moves afoot in the US to make that sort of thing much less attractive.

Decentralised, distributed, open-source systems are in fact terribly difficult to control, technically and legally, which is why anyone with half a brain (and the morals of a pirate, natch) can still download any movie they like through bittorrent even though there’s been more than a decade of intensive government and industry fist-shaking at those darn kids.

So don’t fear the bankers. They can only mess up things they control.

Monty Henry, Owner

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