Press Brand Story: George Clooney would have no chance

The secret bunker for bitcoin assets

Published on 24.06.2022 | Reading time: 6 minutes

Source: Die Welt – original language German | Translated by deepl.com

International security company Prosegur stores cryptocurrencies in super-secret locations without internet access. Partner O₂ Telefónica makes the communication possible and ensures that it is secure.

Looking at money, it quickly becomes clear that times have changed. In the ten biggest bank robberies, around 1.5 billion euros were taken, all told. In crypto hacks, it was around 3.9 billion euros in 2021 alone, according to the analysis company Crystal.

Jochen Werne is not surprised. “Anything of value arouses covetousness.” Werne is Chief Development Officer and Chief Visionary Officer Prosegur Germany. He develops new services for the German subsidiary of the international security group. Prosegur Crypto GmbH offers such a service, Werne is managing director: a custodian for digital assets – without an internet connection.

New money, new risks, new security concepts

Security world market leader Prosegur is famous for its yellow money carriers and became big in the cash business. With the boom of cryptocurrencies, new demands came to the company with headquarters in Madrid. The goal: to be able to offer the world’s most secure storage method for cryptocurrencies. In Germany, Prosegur works together with the business customer division of O2 Telefónica. Together, they are setting themselves up at a new level of security – the highest level, because billions in Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital currencies are at stake.

“Our goal is to help give the new ecosystem the trust it deserves through security components,” says Werne. “Our history is closely intertwined with the security of any asset. Crypto custody is a logical evolution of our business.”

O2 networks vaults and money

O2 Telefónica is taking over the communication for Prosegur Germany, and completely. Karsten Pradel, Director B2B at O2 Telefónica, explains: “It starts with the mobile phone service for 3300 employees. In addition, around 1,000 of Prosegur’s yellow armoured cars and networked safes are equipped with a Global SIM from O2 Telefónica. In this way, the armoured vans and the security boxes are directly and securely connected to Prosegur’s company network. Via GPS, the routes of cash transporters can be documented and secured.”

O2 also provides fast fibre-optic access and secures internal communication against external access with VPN (Virtual Private Network) access. A completely new feature is a software-controlled data network (SD-WAN): this allows the Prosegur data traffic to be controlled intelligently and quickly.

In this way, the environment at the site can be secured against threats – where the internet traffic originates. An intelligent component links all communication paths and always selects the best one. This has three advantages, says Sören Jahnke, Global Solutions Engineer at O2 Telefónica: “A lot of bandwidth at a low price, more redundancy and thus communication security (because copper cable, fibre or mobile are used depending on availability and demand) and a better user experience because the services work better: ‘Everything runs much faster'”.

Where it gets critical is when people and the internet come into play

Prosegur aims to offer the ultimate crypto custody method. Yet transactions in cryptocurrencies are actually secure. Their cash book is the blockchain. That’s where the crypto money is stored. The blockchain is a digital document; digital copies of this document are stored simultaneously on a large number of computers – this makes it forgery-proof. When a transaction is made, the data chain contained in the document is supplemented in all copies by a data block that can never be deleted again.

However, it becomes critical when people and the internet come into play. Anyone who trades in cryptocurrencies needs a wallet. This is a kind of digital wallet. The wallet software in turn creates a digital signature and processes a transaction with the owner’s private key. Only in this way does the owner gain access to his crypto treasures stored in the blockchain and can use them. “You can always trace every step, what happened when and where,” says Jochen Werne.

Danger for assets and for people

This wallet can be made available in an app or on a computer and is usually connected to the internet. This is called a “hot wallet” – it is convenient because transactions can be made quickly, but it is vulnerable to hacker attacks. A “cold wallet” (also called “cold storage”) works without direct internet access – this can be a USB stick, for example. This form of asset storage has two problems. Firstly, a cold wallet can be the target of an extortionist or robber, just like a gold bar or large amounts of cash stored at home. Secondly, cold wallets are only secure as long as they are disconnected from the internet.

“For us, cold storage is not enough,” says Jochen Werne. “Because having large assets at the disposal of only one person not only endangers the assets, but also the person who has that power of disposal. Here, criminals not only resort to direct threats of violence on this person, but they often also threaten family members.” Prosegur Crypto therefore takes a different approach. The company stores customer data in a hardware security module (HSM). The technology works in much the same way as we would expect in an agent film.

No chance for “Ocean’s Eleven”

“This is a computer in a military-standard shielded case that is kept in one of our high-security facilities and is not connected to the internet,” Werne explains. If, contrary to all expectations, such a device should fall into the wrong hands, it deletes the stored data. Security protocols then stipulate that the data can be reconstructed via a highly complex system equipped with appropriate codes. Prosegur has a whole range of high-security facilities. The locations of the crypto-bunkers are, of course, secret.

“The entire security is fully electronically monitored with various modules and security protocols on several levels. These are smart fences, for example, where possible threats are analysed by artificial intelligence,” says Werne. Even an attack like in the film “Ocean’s Eleven” – George Clooney’s crew simply turns off the power there – would not work.

“WE BELIEVE WE CAN OFFER THE MOST SECURE CUSTODY METHOD FOR CRYPTO ASSETS IN THE WORLD”

JOCHEN WERNE
Chief Development Officer and Chief Visionary Officer Prosegur Germany


And yet Prosegur customers can initiate blockchain transactions online – what follows is a sophisticated process. In the process, the hardware security module connects to a computer network that makes blockchain transactions possible.

The technology comes from GK8, a company specialising in crypto technology; the method used here is so-called multi-party computing (MPC). The transaction is transferred to the user’s blockchain via several security instances, using a patented technology that does not require a direct connection to the internet. This secures the critical moment of the transaction. “Everything else stays in cold storage” – most of the time the crypto assets are in the Prosegur high-security vault, without an internet connection. Jochen Werne: “We believe that we can offer the most secure custody method for crypto assets in the world. Currently, we are preparing to launch this service with the appropriate licensing in the strictly regulated German market as well.”

Bank Blog Crypto

Bank Blog Publication: WHERE BITCOINS MEET HIGH SECURITY FACILITIES

State-of-the-art crypto custody

by JOCHEN WERNE

Original published in German at DER-BANK-BLOG. Please click HERE Translation created with DeepL.com

14 February 2022

Digital assets are as safe as their encryption? Unfortunately not. After all, the dangers do not only come from hackers. Security must be thought of more broadly, as examples of state-of-the-art crypto custody solutions show.

The protection of crypto assets can only be guaranteed if there is a clear awareness of the dangers. Attacks on digital assets such as cryptocurrencies or asstes no longer end with the numerous attack vectors of cyberattacks, but unfortunately already extend to the use of physical force against their owners. It is therefore important to raise awareness of possible dangers, as shown by examples of the state of today’s state-of-the-art crypto custody solutions.

According to Investing.com, the total number of cryptocurrencies as of 12 December 2021 is 9,004 with a total market capitalisation of US$2.24 trillion. After Bitcoin, Ether, XRP, Litecoin and co, the Libra Coin initiated by Facebook received unprecedented media attention, triggered by the announcement of the project alone. And the emotionality and sharpness with which the discussion was conducted shows how seriously the topic is taken internationally at the state level. It is about reputation, influence, control, responsibility and only in the last instance about technology. And for every investor, it is first and foremost about protecting his assets.

The right sense of danger

In the future, protecting our assets will not just mean keeping our wallet in the deepest pocket of our jacket or handbag or turning the key to our flat twice in the lock. In the future, we will have invested part of the fruits of our labour, our fortunes, in crypto investments and cryptocurrencies. This part of our wealth needs to be kept safe, and we need to understand exactly where and how. This requires that we understand the risks. The sense of danger must therefore adapt, as must the lure of the new opportunities. For this, it is of utmost importance to understand the real dangers and to take appropriate protective measures.

As yet, however, this sense does not seem to be all that pronounced. According to Slowmist Hacked , which specialises in aggregating information on detected attacks on blockchain projects, apps and tokens, the total amount of crypto assets stolen in 122 different attacks in 2020 is $3.78 billion. Even though the evaluation is based on the Bitcoin peaks of January 2021, it clearly shows the importance of greater efficiency in security.

In comparison, only 1.63 billion US dollars were captured in the ten largest bank robberies of all time. Considering that the largest robbery took place when dictator Saddam Hussein ordered his son Qusay to withdraw nearly US$1 billion from Iraq’s central bank with a handwritten note, and the tenth largest robbery netted the perpetrators just US$18.9 million, crypto-cybercrime has become an extremely lucrative business.

Crypto custody: Do hot and cold wallets offer sufficient security?

The famous military scientist Carl von Clausewitz argued in the early 19th century: “An army on the defensive, without fortifications, has a hundred vulnerable points; it is a body without armour”. “We must always retain sufficient forces beyond the garrisons to be a match for the enemy in the open field, unless we can rely on the arrival of an ally to relieve our fortresses and free our army.” In cryptocurrencies, the wallet is the fortress and the blockchain – the distributed ledger – is the army in the open field. It is the job of modern crypto custodians – as guardians of their clients’ assets – to ask themselves daily what additional measures can be taken to best protect cryptocurrencies and crypto assets.

Crypto custody solutions typically involve a combination of hot storage or crypto custody that is connected to the internet and cold storage or crypto custody that is not. Rakesh Sharma comments on Investopia, “Both types of storage have advantages and disadvantages. For example, hot storage is connected to the internet and therefore offers better liquidity. But hot storage options can be vulnerable to hacks due to online presence. Cold storage solutions offer more security. However, it can be difficult to generate liquidity from crypto holdings in the short term because they are offline. Vaulting is a combination of both types of cryptocurrency custody solutions, where the majority of funds are stored offline and can only be accessed with a private key.”

The risk of becoming a victim of physical violence in private crypto custody

The risk of theft of crypto assets is no longer solely about digital robbery in cyberattacks and hacks. Physical violence against the owner of crypto assets or threats to family members is already sadly present. In November 2021, for example, the American co-founder of Tuenti, once billed as the Spanish Facebook, Zaryn Dentzel, was the victim of such an attack in his private Madrid flat.

Dentzel stated on record that the gangsters beat him and stabbed him in the chest with a knife while shooting him several times with a Taser.

Thus it becomes clear that the protection of crypto-assets must also go hand in hand with the fact that a perpetrator who is prepared to use physical force understands in advance that his alleged victim does not readily have power of disposal over his total crypto-assets. Cold storage not at home, but in a cold space, for example a high-security facility, can provide the necessary protection.

State of the art crypto storage meets high security facilities

In July 2021, Prosegur Crypto – the crypto custody subsidiary of Prosegur, one of the largest security companies in the world – announced the creation of the world’s first “digital asset custody bunker”. The consistent combination of a physically and digitally inaccessible environment here is unique to date.

In collaboration with cybersecurity company GK8, Prosegur Crypto brings together all the infrastructure, facilities, technologies and security protocols required to minimise all risk areas identified in the digital asset custody chain.

The solution consists of state-of-the-art cyber security systems provided by GK8’s patented technology and the highest level of a military-grade secured protection environment. It is based on a “360° inaccessibility” approach, mapping over 100 protection measures into 6 integrated layers of security. This ensures the highest possible protection against physical and cyber attacks.

The HSM (hardware security module, a device that generates, stores and protects cryptographic keys) is housed in a military grade briefcase within the high security vault. This vault is only accessible to a limited number of people who manage the data manually and offline. Staff have restricted access to the information they handle to avoid any risk of internal theft and work from a secure facility where there is no risk of physical attack, copying or theft of systems or passwords. In the event of an unauthorised attempt to access the HSM, its contents are permanently deleted. Immediately, a recovery plan is activated, including a protocol for recovering private keys using seeds located in various other vaults.

The module is connected to an MPC (Multi-party Computation) system, which provides a fast signature process on a state-of-the-art computer network and generates transactions on the blockchain without a direct internet connection. This minimises the possibility of fraudulent access and eliminates any potential vector for cyber attacks. These system features are patented and represent a highly differentiated offering in the market.

Plea for openness: danger recognised – danger averted

The analysis shows that from Clausewitz to the latest developments in cyber security and crypto-custody, the security perspective has hardly changed. The more you rely on a single system or fortress, the more vulnerable you are. It’s all about layered security, which makes it time-consuming and very costly for attackers to get what they desperately want.

We are still only at the beginning of a new era for our monetary systems. An era driven by technology in which it is increasingly important for every actor to develop a good understanding of it in order to build sustainable ones. Technology has never been right or wrong, only the way we humans use it can make it so.

New technologies offer the opportunity to make our world more prosperous for all – let’s use it!

ZEIT DES MISSTRAUENS

TEASER

Ein Plädoyer für Vertrauen in einer Zeit des Misstrauens. Vertrauen ist die Grundlage, auf der Währungssysteme aufgebaut sind. Vertrauen bildet  die Basis internationaler diplomatischer Beziehungen und ist die Grundlage für jeden Fortschritt. 

Doch was passiert, wenn das Vertrauen einmal erschüttert ist? 

Der aktuelle diplomatische Streit um einen milliardenschweren U-Boot-Vertrag, die Sorge um einen neuen kalten Krieg und der Zusammenbruch des Bretton-Woods-Systems vor genau 50 Jahren sind das Manuskript für diese maritim angehauchte französisch-amerikanische Geschichte über Geld und Vertrauen. Sie ist ein Lehrstück für unsere heutige Zeit, wo wir das Entstehen von Kryptofinanzmärkten miterleben und somit an der Schwelle zu einer neuen Form des Geldes stehen.

ZEIT DES MISSTRAUENS

von Jochen Werne

Nach dem traditionellen langen Sommerurlaub, erwacht Frankreich im September wie jedes Jahr aus dem kurzen selbst kreierten Dornröschenschlaf.  Das Leben beginnt seinen gewohnten Gang zu nehmen, auch wenn manch einer noch in Erinnerungen schwelgt und dabei vielleicht die ersten Vorboten post-Covid-sorgenfreien Lebens genießt.  Nicht so Philippe Étienne. Für ihn beginnt auf der anderen Seite des Atlantik, im für diese Zeit eigentlich malerischen Washington, der Herbst mit einem diplomatischen Gewittersturm. Ein Unwetter, das selbst für den 65-jährigen grau-melierten eloquenten Botschafter Frankreichs neu gewesen sein dürfte. 6 160 Kilometer entfernt beschließt im Élysée-Palast Président de la République Emmanuel Macron seinen Spitzendiplomaten in den USA, samt seines australischen Amtskollegen Jean-Pierre Thebault, zu Konsultationen nach Paris abzuberufen.  Der in der französisch-amerikanischen Geschichte einmalige Akt wird von Außenminister Jean-Yves Le Drian mit der „außergewöhnlichen Schwere“ einer australisch-britisch-amerikanischen Ankündigung gerechtfertigt und mit den Worten „Lüge“, „Doppelzüngigkeit“, „Missachtung“ und „ernste Krise“ eindrucksvoll unterstrichen. 

Im Mittelpunkt dieser Krise steht die überraschende Ankündigung der genannten Länder ab sofort ein strategisches trilaterales Sicherheitsbündnis (AUKUS) einzugehen. Ein Bündnis, welches auch die Beschaffung atomgetriebener U-Boote für Australien vorsieht und somit einen bereits 2016 initiierten 56 Milliarden Euro schweren französisch-australischen U-Boot- Auftrag quasi ad acta legt. Der Abschluss des Abkommens fällt in einen Zeitraum in welchem US-Präsident Joe Biden vor der UN-Generalversammlung beteuert: „Wir streben nicht – ich wiederhole: wir streben nicht – einen neuen kalten Krieg oder eine in starre Blöcke geteilte Welt an“. Über diesen sogenannten „neuen kalten Krieg“ zwischen den USA und China sprechen Experten, wie der bekannte Historiker Niall Ferguson jedoch bereits seit 2019. Es geht hierbei nicht um atomares Wettrüsten, sondern vielmehr um die Technologievorherrschaft in Cyber Security, Künstlicher Intelligenz und Quantum Computing. Auch wenn nukleargetriebene U-Boote im Zentrum des diplomatischen Disputs stehen, so stellt man im AUKUS-Abkommen doch schnell fest, dass die Zusammenarbeit in den oben genannten Feldern einer der wichtigsten Bestandteile des Vertrags ist.  Ein Ziel, welches vielleicht auch mit französischen Interessen kongruent ist. Doch geht es im Streit zwischen den alten Freunden im ersten Moment weniger um das „Was“, sondern viel mehr um das diplomatische „Wie“ – das heißt, um den Vertrauensbruch, der ausgelöst wird, wenn man enge Bündnispartner einfach vor vollendete Tatsachen stellt. Tatsachen, die sie auch finanziell und persönlich betreffen. 

Denn Geld und Vertrauen sind eng verwoben. Das Vertrauen einer Bank, dass der Gläubiger seine Schulden zurückbezahlt. Das Vertrauen eines Bürgers, dass die Währung, in der er oder sie ihre Gehälter ausbezahlt bekommt, stabil ist. Das Vertrauen eines Staates in ein Währungssystem, dass die dort getroffenen Vereinbarungen von allen eingehalten werden.  Georg Simmel bringt es in seiner „Philosophie des Geldes” so auf den Punkt: „Geld ist die vielleicht konzentrierteste und zugespitzteste Form und Äußerung des Vertrauens in die gesellschaftlich-staatliche Ordnung.“ 

Eine weiteres französisch-amerikanisches Vertrauensbruchsmelodrama mit maritimer Untermalung jährt sich in diesem Jahr zum 50. Mal. Die bewegenden Ereignisse des 6. August 1971 beschreibt Benn Steil, Senior Fellow des Council on Foreign Relations, in seinem Buch „The Battle of Bretton Woods wie folgt: „…ein Unterausschuss des Kongresses gab einen Bericht mit dem Titel  ´Action Now to Strengthen the US-Dollar` heraus, der paradoxerweise zu dem Schluss kam, dass der Dollar geschwächt werden müsse. Das Dollar-Dumping beschleunigte sich und Frankreich schickte ein Kriegsschiff, um französisches Gold aus den Tresoren der New Yorker Fed abzuholen.“ 

Diese dramatisch anmutende Geste des damaligen französischen Präsidenten Georges Pompidou im finalen Akt des Zusammenbruchs des Bretton-Woods Systems wirkt auf den ersten Blick genauso befremdlich wie der Abzug der Botschafter heute.  Die Basis jedoch ähnelt sich und lag damals wie heute in einem ebenfalls erschütterten  Vertrauen zwischen den doch so eng verwobenen großen Nationen. Ohne tiefer auf die nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg geschaffene neue Währungsordnung mit dem US-Dollar als Ankerwährung eingehen zu wollen, ist es wichtig den im „White Plan“ offensichtlichen Grund des französischen Aufbegehrens zu verstehen. Der Plan sah vor, dass die USA den Bretton-Woods-Teilnehmerstaaten garantierten, Gold auf unbestimmte Zeit zum festen Kurs von 35 US-Dollar pro Unze kaufen und verkaufen zu dürfen. Das Dilemma dieser Regelung wurde früh sichtbar. Denn bereits Ende der 1950er Jahren überstiegen die bei ausländischen Zentralbanken befindlichen Dollarbestände die Goldreserven der USA. Als der französische Präsident Charles de Gaulle 1966 die USA aufforderte die französischen Dollarreserven gegen Gold zu tauschen, reichten die Goldvorräte der FED, nur für etwa die Hälfte. Der immer tiefer sich verankernde Vertrauensverlust zwang den amerikanische Präsidenten Richard Nixon am 15. August 1971 die nominale Goldbindung aufzukündigen und der sogenannte „Nixon-Schock“ beendete das System wie es war.

Und dort wo etwas endet kann oder wird zwangsläufig etwas Neues beginnen.

Heute leben wir in einer Welt, in der die Stabilität unserer Währung auf unserem Vertrauen in die staatliche Finanzpolitik, der Wirtschaftskraft unseres Landes und auf der guten Arbeit einer unabhängigen Zentralbank beruht. Wir leben jedoch auch in einer Zeit in der sich am dichten Horizont bereits neue Währungssysteme abzeichnen. Die Basis dafür legte 2008 nicht überraschend eine der schwersten Vertrauenskrisen in das internationale Bankensystem, die die Neuzeit erlebete. Und umgesetzt werden die neuen Systeme mit Hilfe modernster Distributed-Ledger Blockchain Technologie. Das Neue mit seinem dezentralen Charakter fordert das Alte heraus. Während viele der neuen Währungen in der Kryptowelt, wie etwa der Bitcoin, großen Schwankungen unterworfen sind, versprechen Stablecoins eine Bindung und fixe Umtauschbarkeit an einen vorhandenen Wert, wie beispielsweise den US-Dollar oder auch Gold. Die alte Bretton-Woods-Herausforderung, dieses Versprechen auch jederzeit einhalten zu können, bleibt jedoch auch in der neuen Welt bestehen. Von der New Yorker Generalstaatsanwaltschaft verhängte Strafen in Millionenhöhe gegen den größten US-Dollar Stablecoin Tether wegen nicht lückenloser Nachweisbarkeit helfen dem Vertrauen wenig, besonders wenn weniger als 3 Prozent der Marktkapitalisierung auch wirklich in US-Dollar Cash hinterlegt ist. Es gilt wie immer bei neuem, Vertrauen aufzubauen. Sei es privatwirtschaftlich durch eventuell einen zu 100% mit Zentralbankgeld hinterlegten Stablecoin oder staatlich, mit durchdachten Central Bank Digital Currencies, wie dem von der Europäischen Zentralbank geplanten digitalen Euro.

Wir leben in einer Welt immer währenden schnellen Wandels und Vertrauen ist, wie Osterloh es beschreibt, „der Wille sich verletzlich zu zeigen“. Ohne Vertrauen gibt es keine Bündnisse, kein Miteinander, keinen Fortschritt. 

Philippe Étienne war bereits nach ein paar Tagen zurück im herbstlichen Washington und arbeitet seither wieder daran wofür Diplomaten bestens ausgebildet sind – Vertrauen zu schaffen.

Quellen

Billon-Gallan, A., Kundnani, H. (2021): The UK must cooperate with France in the Indo-Pacific. A Chatham House expert comment. https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/09/uk-must-cooperate-france-indo-pacific (Abgerufen 24.9.2021)

Brien, J. (2021): „Stablecoin ohne Stabilität“: Tether und Bitfinex zahlen 18,5 Millionen Dollar Strafe. URL: https://t3n.de/news/stablecoin-tether-bitfinex-strafe-1358197/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=news (Abgerufen: 30.9.2021)

Corbet, S. (2021): France recalls ambassadors to U.S., Australia over submarine deal. URL: https://www.pressherald.com/2021/09/17/france-recalls-ambassadors-to-u-s-australia-over-submarine-deal/  (Abgerufen am 25.9.2021)

Ferguson N. (2019): The New Cold War? It’s With China. And It Has Already Begun. URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/02/opinion/china-cold-war.html (Abgerufen: 30.9.2021)

Graetz, M., Briffault, O. (2016): A “Barbarous Relic“: The French, Gold , and the Demise of Bretton Woods. URL: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3545&context=faculty_scholarship S. 17 (Abgerufen 25.9.2021)

Osterloh, M., Weibel, A. (2006): Investition Vertrauen. Prozesse der Vertrauensentwicklung in Organisationen, Gabler: Wiesbaden.

Steil, B.  (2020): The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the new world, S. 377 

Stolze, D. (1966): Besiegt de Gaulle den Dollar? In der ZEIT Nr. 36/1966. URL: (https://www.zeit.de/1966/36/besiegt-de-gaulle-den-dollar/komplettansicht (Abgerufen: 26.9.2021)

The Guardian Editorial (2021): The Guardian view on Biden’s UN speech: cooperation not competition URL: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/22/the-guardian-view-on-bidens-un-speech-cooperation-not-competition(Abgerufen: 29.9.2021)

Unal, B., Brown, K., Lewis, P., Jie, Y. (2021): Is the AUKUS alliance meaningful or merely a provocation – A Chatham House expert comment. URL: https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/09/aukus-alliance-meaningful-or-merely-provocation (Abgerufen: 24.9.2021) 

Zeit-Online (2021): Frankreich sieht Verhältnis in der Nato belastet. URL: https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2021-09/u-boot-deal-frankreich-australien-usa-streit-nato-jean-yves-le-drian?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fmeine.zeit.de%2F (Abgerufen: 25.9.2021)

Comment: Crypto regulation

The crypto market has become and will remain an undeniable part of our financial system and Germany has become the frontrunner in regulating the market

Jochen Werne

The German Act Implementing the Amending Directive on the Fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (Federal Law Gazette I of 19 December 2019, p. 2602 (Gesetz zur Umsetzung der Änderungsrichtlinie zur Vierten EU-Geldwäscherichtlinie) has included crypto custody business in the German Banking Act (Kreditwesengesetz – KWG) as a new financial service. Since the Act came into force on 1 January 2020, undertakings wishing to provide this service are required to apply for an authorisation from BaFin.

One of the prerequisites receiving the authorisation is the proof the the managing directors of an institution must be qualified and reliable and devote sufficient time to the performance of their duties (section 25c (1) of the KWG). This also applies for the conduct of crypto custody business within the meaning of section 1 (1a) sentence 2 no. 6 of the KWG. A managing director’s lack of qualifications will constitute a ground for denial of authorisation (section 33 (1) no. 4 of the KWG).

Aside from the fact that lifelong learning is a MUST for leaders in our rapidly changing technology-driven environment, the crypto regulation Germany has opted for underscores an important point: “The crypto market has become and will remain an undeniable part of our financial system.”

It was a pleasure participating with other executives of innovation driving companies and banks at the 1st Crypto Custody Certificate Course offered by WM Seminare.

The well balanced equilibrium between theory and practise makes the course valuable. Especially the expert speakers as Dr. Carola Rathke ( Eversheds Sutherland ), Veronika (Vicky) Ferstl (TEN31 Bank AG ), Dr. Sven Hildebrandt ( DLC Distributed Ledger Consulting GmbH ), Martin Kreitmair ( Tangany GmbH ), Dr. Tim A. Kreutzmann, LL.M. (SUN) ( BVI Bundesverband Investment und Asset Management e.V. , Jacek Trzmiel ( Coinfirm ) & Christopher Zapf ( Tangany GmbH )

https://www.bafin.de/EN/Aufsicht/BankenFinanzdienstleister/Markteintritt/Kryptoverwahrgeschaeft/kryptoverwahrgeschaeft_node_en.html

MONEY IN THE DIGITAL AGE

Reflections by Jochen Werne, Chief Development & Chief Visionary Officer Prosegur Germany (published in Prosegur Express 02/2021)

In all debates on analogue and digital means of payment, “trust” is always at the centre of the discussion: trust in the state-social order, which stands as a guarantor for stability and security of the fiat money issued. In this respect, some would almost like to marvel at how Bitcoin & Co. have managed to gain such trust in such a short time that a market capitalisation in the billions has been achieved. One of the points is certainly the technological confidence in the non-manipulability of the blockchain.
But is the blockchain really not manipulable, or is it rather a question of time before an attack will succeed? And what conclusions are central banks around the world drawing from this as they look at creating central bank digital currencies? Currencies designed to bridge the gap between the stability of analogue central bank money and the demands of our digital age.

Perhaps the solution for a trustworthy and generally accepted today and now lies in a hybrid model: in a cryptocurrency, in form of a stablecoin, that is 100 per cent backed by physical central bank money. This means that every digital token has a unique physical counterpart (euro). Due to the tradability of the tokens, the flexibility of book money is paired with the guarantee of physical central bank money. Last but not least, a regulated trustee function guarantees that the existing and securely stored central bank money is always paired with its digital twin. Thus. the best of both worlds is firmly united.

Buying Crypto-Currency with Cash: Prosegur supports the operation of Bitcoin-ATM‘s in Germany

The possibility to buy Bitcoins with cash in a regulated process at a designated ATM intelligently combines the best of both worlds. As Germany’s market leader in cash transport and processing, Prosegur guarantees secure cash handling for Europe’s largest operator of Bitcoin ATMs.

Find details about the project in this article from t3n, translated with Deepl.com. Find original HERE

Sutor Bank has announced a number of cooperations in the fintech sector in recent years. In the future, the tradition-rich bank will set up Bitcoin ATMs in Germany.
The project will be implemented as a cooperation with the Hamburg-based Sutor-Bank, the Austrian Kurant, which claims to be Europe’s largest operator of Bitcoin ATMs, as well as the startup Spot9 with the participation of IDnow, Coinfirm and Prosegur. According to the participants, this is a unique cooperation that meets all the requirements of the German banking supervisory authority Bafin – and the number of participants already suggests how high they are. Their rules include, for example, compliance with money laundering guidelines and the secure identification process of customers, which IDnow takes over. Finally, Prosegur is involved as a security service provider in the area of cash transport and processing and is supposed to guarantee secure cash handling.


Last week, the first machine was set up in Berlin – in the medium term, a nationwide network of Bitcoin machines is to be set up. “Spot9’s vision is to enable everyone, even without extensive prior knowledge, to use our Bitcoin ATMs. That is why it is very important for us to understand exactly how customers behave at the vending machine before we open the additional locations,” says Johannes Gorski, CEO of Spot9.

Vending machine solution: Easier than buying bitcoin via an exchange


The vending machine solution is intended to be a safe and easy-to-understand alternative to buying online and carries fewer risks than buying cryptocurrencies on Bitcoin exchanges, the parties involved explain. The purchase process works via cash and is similar to the operation of a conventional ATM. Thus, the offer is aimed at customers who want to buy cryptocurrencies in their normal everyday life.

After the first vending machine has been set up in Berlin, but can be used by a selected test group for the time being, the primary goal is to get to know the user behaviour of the customers better and thus ensure an optimal user experience. The opening of further locations is to take place in the course of the first quarter of 2021, whereby the Corona Factor will of course still have an impact.

It should be possible to use the Bitcoin ATMs with any digital Bitcoin wallet. The user is thus independent of an ATM-specific wallet. However, in order to use the Bitcoin ATMs, the customer must first go through the registration process with verification on the Spot9 website.