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)

Preview: COLD HISTORY. HOT REALITY.

SECURITY BRIEFING. The battlefields of the past as a lesson for the protection of crypto assets today.

COLD HISTORY. HOT REALITY is a contribution to The Yearbook 2022 “Treasury and Private Banking”, edited by Roland Eller. The book is a well-known platform for building the bridge from the traditional to the new decentralised financial world.

COLD HISTORY. HOT REALITY by Jochen Werne is a plea for openness to new technologies, embedded in a historical-social security briefing on money, power and the indispensable need to protect assets. The battlefields of the past provide the framework for lessons on protecting crypto assets in our technology-dominated world and help us gain a basic understanding of the opportunities and threats in our new cyber reality.

COLD HISTORY – HOT REALITY was particularly inspired by conversations and articles from the following thought leaders, to whom I am deeply indebted.

Raimundo Castilla – CEO Prosegur Custodia Digitales, Ghislain D’Hoop – Ambassador of Belgium to Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Roland Eller – Founder and CEO of Roland Eller Consulting, Niall Ferguson – Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Christoph Impekoven – Co-Founder micobo GmbH, Benon Janos – CFO flatexDEGIRO Bank AG, Lior Lamesh – Founder & CEO of GK8, Bernd Lehmann – Historian, Commander of the German Navy (ret.), Rakesh Sharma – Author, Thomas Vartanian – Author and Counselor, Heath White – CEO Prosegur Germany, Johannes Winter – Managing Director of the Platform „Learning Systems“ – Germany‘s AI-platform

Preview and excerpt from Chapter I of “COLD HISTORY – HOT REALITY”

WHAT IS PAST IS PROLOGUE

Impressive and powerful, the words “What is past is prologue” are chiselled in white marble at the foot of the statue in front of the National Archives in Washington D.C.. The famous quote from William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is a haunting reminder to everyone that history provides the context for the present.

We live in a present that is changing at breathtaking speed. This fact concerns us daily, but if we do not take the time for a little history lesson, we are doomed to painfully repeat the mistakes of the past. More than aware of this realisation is the former CEO of tech giant Alphabet, Google’s parent company. He dedicated the following note to the New York Times bestseller, “The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook”: “Niall Ferguson … brilliantly illuminates the great power struggle between networks and hierarchies that rages around the world today. As a software engineer familiar with the theory and practice of networks, I was deeply impressed by the insights of this book. Silicon Valley needed a history lesson and Ferguson delivered.” Not only is Eric Schmidt impressed, but many of the thoughts in this article are inspired by Niall Ferguson’s illuminating papers and lectures.

The beauty of the past is that everything that has already happened, successes and failures, can always be explained in detail and serve as lessons for future challenges. Successful leaders use this knowledge to develop solutions to the problems of the future and to develop communication strategies to make their visions understood by others.

This article was written at a time when humanity is in the final stages of a global pandemic that is saddling countries with an unprecedented debt burden. At the same time, a “New Cold War” is emerging and an arms race for technological supremacy has begun. With new possibilities, the old equilibrium is shaken and a new, albeit familiar, competition for power and money begins. All this at a time when crypto-blockchain-based monetary systems are rapidly becoming a new reality.

The article, with its historical analogies, aims to give the reader a better understanding of how money, power and security are closely intertwined. This helps to put quite complex issues into perspective and gives a clear view of the dangers and opportunities of our changing reality.

The world and change are not to be feared, but understood.

Jochen Werne

The new YEARBOOK will be available in Spring 2022. Find out more HERE

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

THE NEW REALITY OF MONEY

A historical-social innovation briefing for a world where military high-security standards meet digital crypto-assets

by Jochen Werne

Chief Development & Chief Visionary Officer PROSEGUR Germany

SAVE THE DATE

Strategy Summit B2B Sales & Key Account Management
5. – 6. October 2021

The aim of this contribution to the debate is to combine historical insights into the meaning of money with the latest technological developments in the digital age, to compare visions with realities and to develop options for action for shaping the digital transformation of money.

The 10 most successful bank robberies in human history, in which the equivalent of US$1.62 billion was taken at sometimes massive expense, seem like the work of amateurs compared to the US$3.78 billion taken by cybercriminals in 2020 alone. In a world where tech companies are spearheading campaigns to create a new cryptocurrency and bitcoin is surpassing the US$50,000 mark because a visionary electric car maker wants to recognise the cryptocurrency as a means of payment, some fundamental questions arise: How must money be defined in a digital world to reliably fulfil the characteristics of a universally recognised store of value and medium of exchange? And what changes will result if so-called stablecoins challenge the banks’ classic deposit business and their traditional business models?

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.

Cash, Currency, Culture – the love affair of Germans and their coined liberty

It has been a great pleasure giving the keynote at the CashCon2020 together with Mirko Siepmann, member of the board at Bankhaus August Lenz and long term business partner of Prosegur Germany.

Jochen Werne – CDO/CVO – Prosegur Germany & Mirko Siepmann – MD – Bankhaus August Lenz

We reflected with the expert auditorium, topics as Cash versus Crypto, The rise and fall of cash through the ages; Why we Germans, of all people, stick so closely to cash and if ATMs – will soon be a thing of the past or will they withstand digital disruption?

Libra and the Dilemma of Trust

A crypto currency challenges technology, regulation and humans.

Author: Jochen Werne

“Money is perhaps the most concentrated and acute form and expression of trust in the social-state order.”

Georg Simmel


In this clarity, the German philosopher and sociologist Georg Simmel, born in 1858, formulated the value of a currency in his work “Philosophy of Money”. This clear and comprehensible insight also provides a simple basis for understanding why, for example, states rely on the independence of their central banks. And just as simply the question arises, which order do you trust when it comes to crypto currency?

Almost 4,000 of these currencies now exist worldwide. After Bitcoin, Ether, XRP, Litecoin and Co., Libra now wants to establish itself as a future heavyweight in the market – and with a noble goal. Libra is to become the cashless payment option “for mankind” and make international payment easier.

Libra Coin – the currency of the future?

No crypto currency received comparable media attention, triggered only by the announcement of the project. And the emotionality and toughness with which the discussion is already being conducted shows how seriously the topic is being taken. It’s about reputation, influence, control, responsibility and only in the last instance about technology. Central banks and government bodies are sceptical about the “currency of the future” on a broad basis, even though the advancing globalization could argue for a single currency in the long run. A currency that supports a consistent free exchange of goods and services. Also under discussion is whether Libra Coin could be the means of payment for the approximately 1.7 billion people who have no access to banking services and whether the familiarity and the large target group of Facebook, combined with the announced low transaction costs, could make it possible to reach billions of people worldwide.

Challenges at all levels

Technically, not all hurdles have been cleared yet: In order to make a stable coin possible, it is necessary to find the right technology. It is precisely this stability that is supposed to distinguish Libra Coin from other crypto currencies and thus also make it suitable for skeptical end consumers. Members such as Mastercard, Paypal or Ebay should also provide the Libra Association with their names and brand promises additional confidence for the end consumer. But already today the alliance is not as stable as the founding members had hoped and the exits of Mastercard, Visa and Paypal weakens the consortium.

The Libra Association has repeatedly emphasized that it wants to comply with all regulatory aspects, but there are voices at the political and banking levels that are extremely sceptical about the project. The new payment system raises many questions in monetary and legal terms. Central banks and supervisors want to keep an eye on the influence of the potentially new currency and usually share the view that whoever acts like a bank must be treated like a bank. In other words, comprehensive requirements must be met and regulations observed – especially at the international level. This is difficult because current regulations are designed for the classical financial system, with which the Libra system has largely no points of contact. The aim is to keep total regulatory influence and not to allow any possible loopholes.

Despite its American origin, the Libra Coin is to be administered from Geneva by the Libra Association. The idea here is to be regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA. Although Facebook has paid a lot of attention to the underlying technology, the legal issues still need to be clarified. Especially with regard to money laundering, consumer protection and possible misuse of the currency for illegal activities. Within the Association, there will be no special treatment for the founder Facebook, but equal voting rights for all members.

Acceptance and European values

With regard to Germany, it can be said that its citizens are within the international average as far as their affinity for digital is concerned. However, a historical-cutlurell caution can certainly be observed with regard to the topic of money, which certainly explains the well-known love of cash. A more pronounced European awareness of data protection with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) makes many people, especially in Germany, sceptical about the subject. The fact that Libra was launched by Facebook is hardly a confidence booster after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The fear of the transparent customer meets with security concerns about one’s own savings. Every German knows the quote: “Friendship ends with money” and thus new things are always put test. Culturally different in Sweden, where sometimes it’s only possible to pay by card. The same in China, where WeChat Pay and Alipay are no longer just a trend.

As always, changes are taking place step by step. It remains to be seen whether Libra Coin in its current form has future prospects. In any case, any change can only work if it is accepted and used by the end consumer despite all skepticism.

And this stands and falls – also in the digital world – with what Georg Simmel already put in the centre in terms of money in the 19th century: CONFIDENCE.

A more in-depth look at money and value can be found in the article “Coined Liberty 2.0“.

Following the keynote on “Libra in Retail?” at the Payment Summit 2019 in Hamburg, the article “Libra and the Dilemma of Trust” has been published to give participants further insides on the topic.