Electronic banking & currency

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Condottiere
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Re: Electronic banking & currency

Postby Condottiere » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:21 am

The smart banks are likely to use a Rothschildian model.

Private interstellar communications network, with branches run by people you know.

And the Buffettian attitude to cash is that having it allows you to buy stuff during fire sales; mine is opportunistic pouncing on bargains. Ship captains would be saving for that rainy day.
steve98052
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Re: Electronic banking & currency

Postby steve98052 » Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:34 pm

There are a lot of scales of financial transactions that would each operate in their own way.

In-system business would be electronic if the technology level allows; otherwise it would follow historical analogs. That's true at all levels, from personal grocery shopping to massive investments like an orbital habitat.

For business between systems, the scale and urgency of the business would determine the means.

Individuals on scheduled travel would use correspondent banking. Tourist Melissa and traveling salesman Eneri notify First Tewebka Bank of Regina that they're traveling to Extolay (likely by buying their jump tickets with their Tewebka Card), and their available balance at Regina branches drops to just enough to cover their auto-pay bills, with the rest made available Extolay branches. If Tewebka doesn't have an Extolay branch, Tewebka sends a message to its Extolay correspondent, the Grand Bank of Ozagae, and their Tewebka Card charges against their correspondent account at Oxagae. When they return to Regina, their correspondent accounts on Extolay are closed out, and their available balances back home restored, minus their spending on Extolay and various nuisance fees (which show up on their bank statements as "convenience charges", of course).

But what if Elmer of Hefry, after years of saving, is ready to sell all his worldly goods to pay for a move to Antares, where he wants to retire on the main world of the Church of Stellar Divinity? There's no way thinly populated TL7 has a bank with a correspondent bank on Antares. Instead, as part of buying his more-than-a-year of low passage and cargo space for his few personal goods, he'll buy insurance on the goods and his remaining cash from an Imperium-wide company, such as the Travellers' Aid Society. His money might just be locked up as cash in his travel cargo container, or might be noted as a balance in the insurance file. Because Antares has a lot of one-way migration, there's a good chance that it travels as cash, to keep up the stock of physical cash there.

Suppose Baroness Zea of Efate enjoys her basic training 25 year reunion, wants to really impress her classmates on their 30th reunion. She mail orders enough Tokaj Eszencia, all the way from Earth, to give everyone a dram to taste. Even a major world like Efate probably doesn't have any correspondent banking all the way to Terra, so she deposits a large sum of money -- probably enough to cover the highest price reported in the past ten years or so -- into an account at the local branch of a megacorporation's Distant Commodity Trade department. The order passes through the megacorporation's internal communication system, taking a year or so to get to Earth. If she's lucky, the price will be reasonable, and the megacorporation's Earth agent will buy her the stuff at a decent price. if there's a price spike, the agent might wait it out, or buy less than she ordered. But eventually the wine will be packed up and dispatched back to the Spinward Marches, probably passing through dozens of cargo liners, and possibly some very trusted free traders' cargo holds. Unless a disaster happens along the way, she'll have the wine and a refund of the money she deposited that wasn't spent on the goods and shipping. In the event of disaster, she'll get an insurance payment, and probably a personal visit from the megacorporation's Efate agent to apologize and explain how her wine was lost in a collision that destroyed MCr 70 worth of transfer shuttles and MCr 190 worth of other cargo.

If the despot of Arden decides to buy a new warship from the few-questions-asked shipyard in Gvurrdon Sector, that probably means sending a high ranking purchasing agent, a team of elite guards, a strong box of cash, and a case or two of Ofouz Biscuits to the shipyard in person, where they'll wait on-site to make sure the work progresses adequately, and for a flight crew to follow when it's time to take possession of the finished ship.

If Zhodani spies decide to stir up a revolution on an Imperial client world, that probably means traveling to a neutral backwater trading a strong box full of Zhodani cash (or cargo hold full of trade goods) for a neutral currency (or different trade goods), traveling to another world to exchange that cash or cargo for Imperial currency and supplies for the revolutionaries, and traveling to the client world to stir up trouble. To cover their tracks, they might pass the cash and goods through several intermediaries. But banks will not see any of it.

If the Imperium is going to trade a few squadrons of system defense monitors and a cluster of new university buildings to the Darrians in exchange for a giant research project of interest to the Imperium, the ships will just travel by carrier. Money for the university buildings will likely be sent in the form of a letter of credit that the Darrians can spend according to a complicated set of diplomatic rules.

Only the first few examples are likely to concern player characters, unless they're the agents, spies, or diplomats involved in the more complicated examples.
baithammer
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Re: Electronic banking & currency

Postby baithammer » Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:39 pm

Local transactions will be run by the local government(s) with either noble or corporation handling intersystem transactions, the intersystem transactions will probably be covered by credit with a limit based on credit history until the central bank has the record.
phavoc
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Re: Electronic banking & currency

Postby phavoc » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:04 pm

This article https://www.investopedia.com/articles/07/banking.asp on Investopedia may give players some insight on how they'd like their banking systems to work. Bottom line is that they will be efficient and well versed in time-based scams (i.e. people outrunning their money due to time spent to spread data between worlds).

Since all worlds are part of the Imperium and the Imperial credit is the defacto currency, electronic transfer of money will be the standard, much like banks within a country trade today. And it would be similar to how the world banks interact with one another from different nations - with the exception of no fluctuation of values of currency since everyone uses the Cr and a Cr on a TL1 world is as good as a Cr on a TL15 world (and there's no inflation, blah, blah, blah... yes, it's a fantastical economy). Only when a world needs to send physical cash would you expect large amounts of credits being transferred. I suppose there are Imperial mints spread throughout the Imperium to make the actual coinage and paper currency that people would use - probably at least one per sector to minimize time delivery effects.

Though if someone is looking for a adventure nugget involving cash they need look no further than how the US Fed disposes of cash they have removed from circulation due to age/damage/etc. That money is removed from the system at local Fed banks and then transported to an authorized disposal site. Assuming the Imperial banking system works the same, it could even be off-world.

So who wants to rob the ship carrying old currency? It wouldn't be as heavily guarded as new currency, because it's old, right?
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Re: Electronic banking & currency

Postby PsiTraveller » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:38 am

http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Imperial_Currency

They should come up with a verison of this instead of the cash only system the article holds as canon.

The issue with a cash only society is at some point there is a stagecoach carrying a trillion credits of new bills for the planetary payroll, unless the planet has been allowed to make currency on planet.

Free traders need enough cash on them to repair a ship in case the engine is destroyed, or jump drive fries. So a family trader is either rich enough to have 10 milllion at every port of call in a local branch, or it carries all its profits on the ship, and is now a bigger target.

Preventing wire transfers opens up a lot more heist style jobs for the "lets be bad guys"style of campaign. It also highlights the issues of the slower than light communication system.

The virtual mining software offers an option, but coming up with a crypto that allows virtual cash, but not e transfers in mobile wallets is a little odd.
phavoc
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Re: Electronic banking & currency

Postby phavoc » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:24 pm

PsiTraveller wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:38 am
http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Imperial_Currency

They should come up with a verison of this instead of the cash only system the article holds as canon.

The issue with a cash only society is at some point there is a stagecoach carrying a trillion credits of new bills for the planetary payroll, unless the planet has been allowed to make currency on planet.

Free traders need enough cash on them to repair a ship in case the engine is destroyed, or jump drive fries. So a family trader is either rich enough to have 10 milllion at every port of call in a local branch, or it carries all its profits on the ship, and is now a bigger target.

Preventing wire transfers opens up a lot more heist style jobs for the "lets be bad guys"style of campaign. It also highlights the issues of the slower than light communication system.

The virtual mining software offers an option, but coming up with a crypto that allows virtual cash, but not e transfers in mobile wallets is a little odd.
Thanks for the link. I agree that a cash-only high tech society would not occur, as it goes against everything humanity has learned about finances.

I went to the link and I'm re-posting so we can discuss it further (in italics below):

Imperial Banking

Within the Imperium, banks exist only as deposit accounts, safety deposit boxes and investment groups, requiring an in-person visit to the same, or nearby, branch every time.

This results in an essentially cash-only economy, though local banks may provide electronic banking services on an intra-planetary level or within a single star system.

Interstellar banking has not proven feasible without faster-than-light data communications, at least not in the sense that banking was understood on ancient Terra. There are factors preventing this:

In the absence of near-instant faster-than-light data communication, there is no way for a local trader to accurately assess a balance in a distant account at any given time and no way to quickly transfer money to distant accounts. Archaic methods of electronic funds transfer such as direct deposit, direct debit and wire transfers do not work.

Local time does not synchronize with distant time. Time is only constant locally; time may pass faster or slower at a distant bank, relatively speaking. Therefore it is virtually impossible to enforce expiry dates on credit guarantees, and unwise to assume that a distant financial institution is still liquid, if indeed it still exists. Cheques and credit cards (in their old Terran forms) cannot function. See also Offices of the Emperor with regard to the Office of Calendar Compliance.

Data encryption is problematic. Certainly by the time of the Reformation Coalition's founding in 1200, data encryption had become essentially worthless for financial purposes, and therefore one could not rely on some method of portable money transfer device similar to the old Terran prepaid debit cards since there would be no way of electronically authenticating either the user or the sum available. Essentially, widespread quantum computing negates data encryption. See the discussion under Talk:Imperial_Currency#Banking .

Imperial Standard Credit Card This card is effectively a portable bank teller. A microprocessor unit tracks the account and contains information for personal identification. Made of plas-steel, the card is practically indestructible. It is nearly tamper-proof, in that most attempts to tamper with it merely result in blanking the card.

Merchants in systems with a technology level of 13 and higher accept this card. It may be used in any Imperial starport to get Imperial credits, local currency or debit cards drawn on local banks if local technology supports it. Identification information consists of a thumbprint activator and a record of the owner's retina print. The latter is checked for verification on all transactions over Cr100,000.

Only the very wealthy may obtain the Iridium Edition of the card. It contains the owner's DNA code, allowing for positive identification and unlimited reliability. Starships have been purchased on these cards.


A few points -
1) I was not aware of the presence of planetary, or even megacorp script being part of the gaming setting. Both make sense, and actually can be very useful in a gaming setting. The idea of megacorp script goes back as far as currency goes - governments, companies, private citizens, carnivals, etc, all have created their own local currency that is useful only within a limited number of vendors. It's also a way for companies via a company store to keep their workers locked into their jobs and location.

2) A cash-only economy is not feasible for such a large polity. Electronic currency is just too useful, especially when needing to transport large sums of currency. And if trade is the lifeblood of the Imperium then electronic banking, letters of credit, etc, are a must.

3) The issue of STL banking is bunk. This was resolved in the age of sail on Earth. Yes, there opportunities for fraud, but there are today with near instantaneous banking. This reflects a very poor understanding of history and the banking system. Everything we have today as far as banking would be available in a STL setting. The issue becomes one of trust. A person you have never met presenting a letter of credit for MCr40 and asking to withdrawl in cash isn't going to be honored. It would be deposited and then a request back to the issuing bank would be sent via X-boat. Until a confirmation was received they would receive little to no money. Which is why a company with trade on multiple worlds would establish letters of credit at each world. And the same for traders. Heck, the same was present just a few decades ago here. A person could try to use the same asset to scam multiple banks out of loans. It worked, sometimes, but usually not. And it's still going on today, but it's getting harder to do it with the speed of verification.

4) I would argue that widespread quantum computing makes encryption easier rather than harder. We already know with quantum computing you can create a file that if altered is immediately noticeable. Plus there is blockchain which didn't exist until a few years ago. The thing we have seen with encryption is that it's a constant race between security and hacking. Usually hackers win their bouts because security people are (a) lazy, (b) cheap, (c) stupid, (d) all of the above.

5) If the Imperial credit card is near tamper proof, how can they not figure out how to extend that to banking? That makes no logical sense.

6) The TL acceptance of Imperial cards... silly! I can go to any country in the world and they have the ability to accept my AMEX card. That tech comes from a higher tech world, but it's certainly omnipresent globally. The issue would be travel outside a location that is very low tech and the people there choose to not interact via electronic interchange. Then I'd need some gold coins to buy my supplies. Out in the boonies, or on a low-tech world I would assume that my purchase of a phased plasma rifle in 40-watt range via Imperial credit card would be somewhat problematic.
Condottiere
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Re: Electronic banking & currency

Postby Condottiere » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:15 am

Blockchain confirmed through increasingly more independent sources.

Takes longer, but the longer in existence, the harder to forge.
baithammer
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Re: Electronic banking & currency

Postby baithammer » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:48 am

Electronic credit transfers can be handled through the x-boat service through propagating transactions on arrival, but there is still need of a physical medium for areas of lower tech as well as in some instances commodities.
phavoc
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Re: Electronic banking & currency

Postby phavoc » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:32 am

baithammer wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:48 am
Electronic credit transfers can be handled through the x-boat service through propagating transactions on arrival, but there is still need of a physical medium for areas of lower tech as well as in some instances commodities.
Yes, physical script is present, therefore the physical transfer from planet to planet of currency will occur. That is a given.

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