June 23, 2021

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A Digital Currency Architecture for Privacy and Owner-Custodianship. (arXiv:2101.05259v3 [cs.CY] UPDATED)

In recent years, electronic retail payments have increasingly replaced cash
retail payments, especially e-commerce and card payments at the point of sale,
in many OECD countries. As a result, societies are losing a critical public
retail payment option, and retail consumers are broadly losing important
privileges associated with using cash. To address this concern, we propose an
approach to digital currency that would allow people without banking
relationships to transact electronically and privately, including both internet
purchases and point-of-sale purchases that are required to be cashless. Our
proposal introduces a government-backed, privately-operated digital currency
infrastructure to ensure that every transaction is registered by a bank or
money services business, and it relies upon non-custodial wallets backed by
privacy-enhancing technology such as blind signatures or zero-knowledge proofs
to ensure that transaction counterparties are not revealed. Our approach to
digital currency can also facilitate more efficient and transparent clearing,
settlement, and management of systemic risk. We argue that our system can
restore and preserve the salient features of cash, including privacy,
owner-custodianship, fungibility, and accessibility, while also preserving
fractional reserve banking and the existing two-tiered banking system. We also
show that it is possible to introduce regulation of digital currency
transactions involving non-custodial wallets that unconditionally protect the
privacy of end-users.