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The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency and Thin Branch Banking
07-12-2011, 02:59 AM,
Information  The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency and Thin Branch Banking
Read between the lines on this softball but deep interview with Walter Wriston, former Citibank CEO during the introduction of thin branch technology and currently a top Silicon Valley Adviser.

Quote:The Future of Money
By Thomas A. Bass

He used to be the most powerful banker in the world. Now he's talking like a cypherpunk. An amazingly frank Wired Interview with Walter Wriston about money, the economy, and the Digital Era.

Want to know about the future of money? Talk to Walter Wriston.

Wriston was there at the creation of the modern wired economy, when money began turning itself into bits and bytes and started flowing around the world through satellite transponders and fiber-optic cables.

Wriston bet the bank on technology during his 17-year reign as chair and CEO of Citicorp/Citibank. Under Wriston, Citibank set out in the 1970s to "wire" its customers into automated, online, checkless, international users of "financial supermarkets" based on CATs and ATMs. This "thin branch" of customers wired into a global network would be the engine of Citibank's financial growth.

By the time Wriston retired in 1984 - turning the bank over to John Reed, the wunderkind who had implemented much of Wriston's technological vision - Citibank was America's largest bank, and its investment in computer hardware and software was approaching US$1.75 billion.

Wriston, who has served on the boards of several dozen companies ranging in size from Silicon Valley start-ups to General Electric, is the author of two books on money (Risk & Other Four-Letter Words, 1986, and The Twilight of Sovereignty: How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our World, 1992). The basis for wealth, he says, has evolved from land to labor to information. "Information about money has become almost as important as money itself," he said - a famous remark now inscribed in the lobby of New York's Library of Science, Industry, and Business.

Wriston is the subject of a 1,000-page biography called Wriston: Walter Wriston, Citibank, and the Rise and Fall of American Financial Supremacy (1995), which regards him as the kingpin of modern American finance. "I'm too busy to read it," says the 77-year-old banker. "That's the past. I'm interested in the future."

Wired: What is the future of money?


The revolution that's waiting in the woods is smartcards. They issued 300,000 during the Olympics in Atlanta. It was the first mass use of smartcards in America.

Explain smartcards.

One kind is an electronic purse. It's basically a traveler's check that makes exact change. You give 7-Eleven 50 bucks, and they give you a card that goes in vending machines. When the card is debited down to zero, you throw it away.

The second kind of smartcard is rechargeable. A third kind involves identification. It holds a computer chip with your DNA signature or a digital picture.

This technology is on the verge of exploding, and when it does, people will think of smartcards as money in the same way they now think of traveler's checks as money.

Can anyone issue smartcards?

The United States had no central bank until 1913, so every bank issued its own dollar bills. In the early days these bills were different colors and sizes, and some of them weren't worth the paper they were printed on. The same thing is happening with smartcards. 7-Eleven is issuing smartcards.

Why switch from greenbacks to smartcards?

The idea of carrying a card with both built-in identification and money has a certain charm, as opposed to carrying a bunch of cash that can get lost or stolen. The card is secure, because it won't work unless you know the personal ID numbers. In France, they introduced smartcards by fiat: they just announced one day that you had to use smartcards for all automatic teller machines. Smartcards are very big in Germany, and in 1995, 400 million smartcards were shipped to Asia. You can't make a phone call in Japan without one. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think money is about to remake itself.

How does new money compare with old money?

Yap islanders kept huge stones in their front yards. The size of your stone indicated how rich you were. Nobody could move these stones, but nobody cared, because they knew you had the money "in the bank." We've used wampum, beads, silver, and gold, and now we use paper and call it money. The next transition will be to smartcards.

What does the government think of smartcards?

The first thing the government will want to do is regulate them: "If it's new it must be bad." For the moment, smartcards exist outside financial regulations. What effect will this have on the velocity of money? The quantity of money? What if 7-Eleven, instead of taking your cash, puts it on the cuff and extends credit? Nobody knows.

What is the velocity of money?

The number of times a dollar bill turns over in the course of a year.

Is it a constant, or does it increase over time?

The money supply turns over on average about three times a year. When economists fail to predict the future, it's not because they don't know how much money has been created by the Federal Reserve Board and released through the banks. It's because they don't know what people are doing with it. When people feel threatened, they put their money in the bank and the velocity goes down. When they feel good about life, they buy everyone a beer and the velocity goes up.

How about the velocity of money in international finance?

The velocity of this kind of money is increasing. The churn in the international markets is enormous. When I first entered the banking business, the entire foreign exchange market in New York was $50 million a day. Now it's $1 trillion a day.

You're credited with inventing the idea of the financial supermarket. What's the future of one-stop shopping for all your banking, insurance, and investment needs?

The real issue is who is going to run these financial supermarkets. Will it be something called a bank? Or will it be General Electric, Merrill Lynch, or Fannie Mae? All I can tell you is that the banking business used to have about 70 percent of the financial assets of the world. Now we have about 30 percent. Do you know any industry that went from 70 down to 30 percent of market share and survived?

But the market you're sharing is bigger.

It's still an unanswered question if America's heavily regulated banks can compete against huge corporations with massive cash flows. All I'm saying is that the share of financial assets administrated by banks is shrinking every day, while the share administrated by the General Electrics of this world is growing. Small-town bankers worried for years that Citibank would steal their business. But in the end, it was stolen by Merrill Lynch.

How did Merrill Lynch steal their business?

Don Regan, when he was running Merrill Lynch, changed the world, which doesn't happen very often. He invented the cash management account. The CMA consolidated checking, savings, investments, and borrowing all in one account, which is invested in a money market fund. The last time I looked, Merrill Lynch's assets under management were four times the size of the largest bank in the world. While everyone in the government was worrying about bank monopolies, these guys were eating our lunch. If we hadn't come up with something similar, the banks would have been dead.

Besides smartcards, what other changes are in store for money?

There's a lot of talk these days about electronic money. One strategy for making it work involves securing electronic cash with government bonds held in depository. This is a back-to-the-future idea that reminds me of what the United States government did in 1863. It passed the National Bank Act, which said that all dollar bills had to be backed 90 percent by government bonds. The banks had to buy the bonds to issue the dollars that financed the Civil War. It was very clever. This could happen again with ecash issued by 7-Eleven or DigiCash.

What is Citibank doing with ecash?

Colin Crook of Citibank has designed a whole parallel system of money, which goes out on a proprietary company network. It has both token cash and real cash. He has applied for dozens of patents, many of which have been granted, and it could well become a standard. But it remains to be seen whether people will believe this is real cash.

What do you do with token cash?

You pay your bills. The bottleneck for all these systems is the security of the network. There are too many 16-year-olds with gold chains around their necks who are breaking this stuff. RSA and Pretty Good Privacy claim to have it covered. But I'm from Missouri when it comes to thinking about security on the Net. You can tackle the problem by hardware (proprietary systems firewalled from the Net) or by software, but this stuff is moving so fast you'd be a fool to say which one is going to win.

If you were still running the bank, you'd have to put your money somewhere....

In the real world, over time, proprietary systems won't work. "Open" has become the pretty girl at the party. Nobody quite knows what open means, but the world is demanding that systems talk to each other.

This lets the bad guys listen in.

One day Jack Scantlin, the inventor who designed Citibank's electronic systems, came into my office and asked, "What are you worrying about?"

"I'm worried about someone putting a pair of alligator clips on the back of our mainframe, taking out $10 million, and putting it into a Swiss bank account."

"That's simple," Scantlin said. "You solve that by encryption."

Several months later I got a phone call from someone who introduced himself as the Deputy Secretary of Defense for Security. "Do you know a guy named Scantlin?" he asked. "He has invented a cipher and applied to patent it under American law. He ain't gonna get that patent, and you're never going to use that cipher overseas. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir," I said. So this was one cipher we never used.

I thought bankers were exempt from crypto export laws?

Not to my knowledge. We suffer the same export controls as people like Netscape. They recently implemented a crypto system that the French broke in no time at all. This happened because the Netscape people couldn't export their domestic system, which isn't all that good, either. But it's a lot better than what they're permitted to export.

Should the US government lift the export controls on strong encryption?

Yes, I think so. You can buy better stuff in Europe than you can here. We don't have a monopoly on brains.

So why is the government so intransigent?

Imagine you're Secretary of Whatever and your red phone rings. The president says, "You're in charge of preventing terrorism in the United States. The first plastique that blows up, you're out of here, buddy."

The means to prevent terrorism is intelligence. How do you do that? You tap people's phones, and you don't want their messages encrypted with anything the NSA can't break. Wired has one view on encryption, and the secretary charged with antiterrorism has another - we have a policy dispute, and one way out of the room is to think of escrowing the crypto keys.

If I'm a German banker or Singaporean stock trader, I don't want my crypto keys held by the FBI. This means American technology is unsellable in the world market.

Maybe, unless the secretary charged with antiterrorism phones up his or her counterpart in the Common Market and says, "We're all at risk. So let's create an international standard." I think this will probably happen, because it's necessary for the safety of the world. It's like a nonproliferation treaty for atomic weapons.

So who's going to hold the keys?

You could create an international agency, or a consortium of the world's great banks could work together. No one would get access to anyone's private keys without a court order, which is similar to what we have now in the United States, where you can't tap someone's phone without a court order. All I know is that the world's governments have to work together, because they've lost control of a lot of things they used to do by themselves.

You've been in the crypto business for 50 years.

When the United States entered the Second World War, we had no ciphers, except for a little five-alphabet machine we had bought from United Fruit Company. (The secretary of war, a fellow named Henry Stimson, believed that "gentlemen do not read other gentlemen's mail.")

During the Allied invasion of Anzio in May 1944, the Germans broke our codes and murdered us. After that, we jumped to an electromechanical machine known as the Sigaba, which was never broken, either by the Germans or our own people. I was guarding two Sigaba machines on the Pacific island of Cebu when I was relieved of duty by a newly commissioned second lieutenant. This was one of the happiest days of my life, because they took a dim view - like shooting you - if you lost these machines.

If we have unbreakable ciphers, why can't we use them?

The public policy question boils down to this: Is the security of the world's financial network as important as communicating with our SAC bombers? That's the issue in a nutshell.

What's your opinion of the Clipper Chip and other attempts by the government to build backdoor eavesdropping into our communications channels?

The Clipper Chip was a clumsy attempt by the government to say to people, "Terrorism is important, we need to prevent it by reading the mail, and you can trust us." But the world doesn't trust them. Mail was originally a government monopoly - the King of England wanted to steam open envelopes and find out who was plotting against him. Nothing has changed since then, except that we do it in nanoseconds, without a tea kettle.

How about the First Amendment protection of free speech?

I support the First Amendment in all cases, but I also think we should have libel laws that mean something, which we don't. The First Amendment is a fundamental issue, but in my opinion it's moot in relation to the Net. There will be a lot of sweaty debate on this subject, but there is no way on God's green Earth the government can exercise censorship on the Net in any meaningful way. Politicians love to get up and talk about pornography. They never think to tell their kids to turn off the PC.

So the Net is technologically untouchable?

I'll give you an example. Five years ago, expecting a visit from Gorbachev, the Chinese government proudly installed an automatic telephone exchange in Beijing and invited the media to cover this historic event. They're waiting for Gorbachev to arrive, when, suddenly, everyone all over the world sees a kid standing in front of a tank - the prelude to the Tiananmen Square massacre. The Chinese corked the pictures, but they couldn't stop the faxes because of their automatic telephone exchange.

Later something similar happened to Gorbachev. As soon as he leased a Russian satellite transponder to CNN, the ballgame was over.

The world is now so porous to news that there is no way you can put any weather-stripping around it.

It's also porous to hackers causing mischief on the Net.

I would be interested in knowing if there is more thievery going on now than there was in the days of Jesse James. I wonder if the only difference is that today, when Russian hackers steal $10 million from Citibank it's big news. Ten million dollars is what somebody gets when they knock over an armored car. But it doesn't have the same sex appeal, because that's yesterday's technology.

The biggest electronic transfer of funds in the world is the Clearing House Interbank Payments System in New York. CHIPS handles a trillion dollars a day clearing Eurodollars. It's been doing this successfully for a long time, with no breaches in security.

You've said the Eurodollar market - the offshore trading of American dollars - is the most perfect market in the world. No one regulates it. No government controls it. Is this our financial future?

The Euromarket was created at a time when American banks were prohibited from paying interest on checking accounts. So all our money began moving overseas. It became stateless money. The Euromarkets are now the greatest mobile pool of capital in the world. Money goes where it is wanted and stays where it is well treated, and that's all she wrote. This annoys governments to no end.

This huge pool of stateless money is destabilizing. It can move instantly, and it does. It's also annoying to governments because the market isn't in any one place, geographically. It resides in cyberspace. London today is the center of Euromarket trading, but if the British put on reserve requirements or other controls, Bahrain is waiting. In just a couple of keystrokes, the whole market could be gone.

Technology has overwhelmed public policy. People keep predicting this will lead to a crisis, but I don't think it will.

Who invented the Euromarkets?

The Russians. They were afraid we'd freeze their dollar accounts, so they wanted to put them in Europe. Bayer - as in aspirin - had its assets frozen during World War II, and they didn't get unfrozen until Bobby Kennedy negotiated their release in the 1960s. So a lot of people are justified in not trusting the US government.

As well as frozen money, you bankers also talk about hot money. What is hot money?

Money that can move. It's the opposite of patient money. But money really has no volition of its own. It all depends on the people who own it and use it. If you get nervous and pull everything out of the market, at the end of the day you'll be holding hot money.

What are the destabilizing influences of the Euromarkets and hot money?

I'll give you two examples: during the heyday of the huge Japanese trade surpluses, the Japanese bought United States government bonds to use up their dollars. They owned a sizable percentage of the American debt. So the folks who specialize in terror wrote articles about how someday, if the Japanese "pull all their money out of America," the government bond market will collapse.

My second example comes from the Arab oil embargo. When the price of oil went from 2 bucks to 20 bucks, people said, "The Arabs are going to own the world," and one day they'll "pull all their money out of America," and the country will collapse.

What happened in these two scenarios when the world was supposedly headed for destabilization? Today Saudi Arabia has a huge balance of trade deficit. They're not paying their bills on time, while the Japanese are trying to sell Pebble Beach for a third of what they paid for it.

Were we ever in danger of a financial meltdown?

It can't happen. If the Japanese own US government bonds, and they decide to "pull out" their money, they have to find somebody who will buy those bonds and pay them cash. Now they have US dollars, which they can't spend in their own country, so they have to find somebody who will buy those dollars for Japanese yen. "The money is always there, but the pockets change," said Gertrude Stein, and she was dead right. Speculators and other destabilizing influences can churn a market, but the dollars in America never change.

Is stateless money moving around the world with increased velocity?

No question about it. What annoys governments about stateless money is that it functions as a plebiscite on your policy. There are 300,000 screens out there, lit up with all the news traders need to make value judgments on how well you're running your economy. Before the Euromarket and floating exchange rates, the president could go into the Rose Garden and make a statement about the dollar, and the world would quietly listen. Today, if the president goes into the Rose Garden and says something dumb, the cross rate of the dollar will change within 60 seconds. This creates what I call the information standard. The information standard is more draconian than the gold standard, because the government has lost control of the marketplace. It overwhelms it.

How big is this pool of stateless money?

When I first went into banking, the Federal Reserve could call up Citibank or Morgan and say, "We want you to buy $10 million to support the currency." Back then we controlled 20 percent of the foreign exchange market, so that would stabilize it - boom! Now, the Fed could tell us to buy $100 million, and this would be pooping money down a well.

You once calculated that if all the assets held by all the banks in the United States were sold on the foreign exchange market, they would be disposed of in 10 minutes.

That sounds right. CHIPS handles a trillion dollars a day. That's a lot of money.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is even bigger.

The increased velocity of money gives you a difference in kind - not just degree. It's like a piece of lead: you put it on your desk, it's a paperweight; put it in a gun, it's a bullet. Same piece of lead. Big difference. The huge volume and speed of the international financial markets has put a brake on the ability of sovereign governments to do a lot of things they used to do.

As the power of sovereign governments wanes, who is left in charge?


"Everybody"? Aren't you really talking about a bunch of 23-year-old yuppie foreign exchange traders sitting in front of their Bloomberg boxes punching up deals? Are foreign exchange speculators really the voice of democracy carrying on a global plebiscite?

Why does the guy who changes your oil at Jiffy Lube have a vote in the presidential election? This is the way democracy works. Whether you're a 23-year-old yuppie with a Mercedes on time or a guy changing oil, we all have the same vote.

But the 23-year-old yuppie churning the foreign exchange market has a lot more influence on world trade than the guy at Jiffy Lube.

Traders are a different breed of cat, I'll grant you that. The US unemployment numbers come out at 5.3 percent. A trader in Frankfurt looks at them and says to himself, "I wonder what that clown at Bankers Trust in London thinks those numbers will do to the US economy? As soon as he makes a move, I'll trade against him." Like any referendum, you have a lot of people making independent judgments, which all come together in the marketplace and show up on your screen as a dollar/deutsch mark cross rate. You can argue that the 23-year-old yuppie with the Mercedes is a very poor judge of the integrity of the United States of America. But no single yuppie is going to influence the market that much, and by the end of the day, the market will have conducted a referendum reflecting the collective wisdom of people all around the world on what they think of our economic policies. This is one reason I'm an advocate of floating exchange rates.

What's to keep the yuppies from flushing Bolivia or some other national economy down the drain?

They won't do that, in their own self-interest.

But hot money jumps in and out of markets all the time. The crash of the Mexican peso is the latest example.

Sure, markets reflect the yuppies' view of the world, but yuppies are also very interested in their ability to make a buck. If the marketplace doesn't share their view, they either switch gears or get run over. Markets are self-correcting. That's why I trust markets more than governments. Governments usually aren't self-correcting, until too late.

Have you ever made a bad loan as a banker? I mean "bad" in the moral sense.

No. During the Arab oil crisis, there was panic in the streets. The Arabs were going to own the world, and developing countries were going to collapse, because they couldn't buy oil. So we recycled the money, not to dictators, but to foreign corporations, many of which were state-owned. There was corruption in these countries, without any question. It wasn't as bad as the recent corruption down at the Fulton Fish Market in New York, but it was bad. And by this recycling we did in fact save the international financial structure.

So you never had any second thoughts about a loan that was stolen or put to bad use?

In hindsight, the corruption and the amount of money bled off from those companies was a lot more than anybody knew about, including the United States government, Citibank, and the CIA. We based our loans on economic analyses - will the power plant supply enough kilowatts to pay back its loan? - without realizing that we also had to account for the fact that the head of the power plant was the dictator's brother.

As we approach the "twilight of sovereignty," what form of social organization will replace the nation-state? Will we have region-states? Netizens? One-world government?

The nation-state is not about to disappear. But the old concept of sovereignty, as governmental acts that cannot be reviewed by any other authority, is no longer valid. The CNN cameras are watching you. Because of those cameras, Iraq can no longer beat up the Kurds, for example, which they've been doing for 2,000 years. The cameras are another kind of global plebiscite conducted on the behavior of nations. The spread of economic freedom is enhancing the spread of political freedom. To the extent that you have free markets and free people, you have an automatic governor on the exercise of untrammeled power.

Do free markets necessarily create free people?

No, not necessarily. But it's very difficult to have a free people without free markets. Command economies always fail. When they do, and the marketplace comes in - as it has over the last 10 years in Latin America - this is one of the great revolutions in the world.

When we switched, in 1971, from the gold standard to the information standard, how did this affect the value of money?

This is the first time in the history of the world that every major country has a flat currency that is not based on gold or silver or some commodity. Today, the value of money is hooked to nothing other than the information that flows through it. If your currency becomes worthless, the world knows about it very quickly. If your economic policies are lousy, the market will punish you instantly. I'm in favor of this kind of economic democracy. There's nothing you can do to change it, except do right.

How does the information standard alter the way we handle money?

We used to study the balance sheet of General Motors, make an educated guess, and then buy a million dollars of commercial paper, which we then resold to GE. Today, GE's treasurer punches up the numbers on his Bloomberg box. Instantly, he knows as much about the credit of General Motors as we do. Intermediaries are an endangered species. The information standard has knocked them out. All the world's financial data is now online, which makes an incredible difference.

You bet the bank on technology. You wanted to wire your customers into something called a "thin branch." What made you think, back in the '60s, that technology was the wave of the future?

Jack Scantlin came into my office one day and said, "You guys are doing everything wrong. You're working on analog technology, which is yesterday's newspaper. The future is digital."

Ninety days later, he showed up again with what we now call a T1 terminal. He dipped in my Citibank card, and up came my balance. Scantlin designed our ATMs and bank cards and computer systems - all digital. Suddenly the world changed, because we listened to him, and he was right. Scantlin's a genius who now lives on his own island in the South Pacific.

A lot of people said your technology wouldn't fly.

None of this was well received by our friends in the banking community. "Old people won't use automatic teller machines," they said, "and young people won't use them, because they prefer going to tellers with pearly white teeth." But it turned out that people would rather get their money in front of the Hard Rock Cafe at 11 o'clock at night than get smiled at by a teller.

Was your ultimate goal to link Citibank's computers into one global brain?

Our greatest challenge was to get everything loaded onto one screen. If somebody has a line of credit in Euro-yen and wants to use it to trade in Saudi Arabian riyals while playing the interest spread on 10-year Treasury bonds, how do you track these moves in real time, which is necessary for risk analysis? We finally succeeded in doing this for our 200 largest customers.

One innovation that hasn't taken off is home banking.

Who wants to do their banking at eight o'clock at night after a tough day in the office? The jury is out on that. I bank through my PowerBook, which sits here at my elbow. I buy and sell securities, pay bills, transfer funds. The technology is no longer an issue, but home banking has been very slow to catch on.

You sit on the boards of a lot of biotech, computer, and start-up companies in Silicon Valley. What do you think of the culture?

It's fascinating to watch where the technology is going. The place is brimming over with young people with ideas. There's a lot of nonsense written about America's work ethic going down the toilet. You know it's not true when you see these people working 18-hour days. They pop ideas all the time, and they are changing the world.

Steve Jobs recently said of today's advanced technology: "This stuff doesn't change the world. It really doesn't. I'm sorry, it's true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We're born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It's been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much - if at all." (See "Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing," Wired 4.02, page 102.)

Far be it for me to argue with a guy who has $500 million and is a real guru, but I don't think his statement stands up. We used to have a life span of 30 years, on a good day, and now people live to be 80 or 90. Our quality of life is an order of magnitude better than it ever was. This is due to medical technology, nutrition, education, environment - all of it technology-based.

If I asked you to go out and get a hundred bucks, what would you do?

I'd go to the ATM down the street. I haven't been to a live teller in 15 years.

Behind your desk I see photographs of you with Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Nixon. And is that President and Mrs. Marcos?

That's Mrs. Shoes herself. I'm being presented with the Order of the Golden Heart, which caused so much uncontrollable laughter among my colleagues that I've kept that picture on my wall all these years.

There is a lot of anxiety in the land about downsizing, about workers becoming plug-and-play modules in corporate strategies. Does stateless money go with disposable workers?

I don't think so. The unemployment rate in the United States is low, around 5 percent, which is half the unemployment rate in Europe; and it's been stable for 10 years. Our national anxiety, which is very real, has been exacerbated by the media. They have seized on the issue and played to our worst fears. In 1900 we had 20 million people on American farms. Today we have a million and a half. We feed the world. Where did all those people go? Back then there was no media sticking microphones in people's faces, asking them how they felt about losing the family farm. We are engaged in a huge revolution, and in all revolutions you have enormous anxiety. Whenever the old gives way to the new, everybody with vested interests in the old starts crying that the world will stop. There aren't many people with vested interests in the new.

What is this revolution?

It's the third great revolution in the history of the world. First came the neolithic revolution in agriculture. Then the industrial revolution. Now we're moving to an information society.

Revolutions aren't made by gadgets and technology. They're made by a shift in power, which is taking place all over the world. Today, intellectual capital is at least as important as money capital and probably more so. But the world's accounting system is based on hard as-sets you can see and feel. We don't bookkeep intellectual assets. Take the relative market capitalizations of Microsoft and General Motors. Microsoft, which has no fixed assets except for a few buildings in Seattle, has a market cap of $71 billion. General Motors, which has lots of assets, has a market cap of $38 billion. The marketplace is capitalizing intellectual assets, while the accounting profession is not.

After the revolution, what happens to money?

The information revolution has changed people's perception of wealth. We originally said that land was wealth. Then we thought it was industrial production. Now we realize it's intellectual capital. The market is showing us that intellectual capital is far more important than money. This is a major change in the way the world works. Just like all the farmers who disappeared during the industrial revolution, the same thing is now happening to huge numbers of people in industry as we move into the information age.

What other changes are in the works?

In today's revolution, the line between service and industry is being erased. Even the industrialists are beginning to understand this. They used to make Rotary Club speeches about America turning into a nation of hamburger flippers. Then after lunch you'd visit their factories, where you'd find three guys in a control booth, watching screens and running the production line. Is this the service business? Is this the equivalent of hamburger flippers? Obviously, the vocabulary we use is obsolete. We're witnessing a complete change in the concept of wealth, and whenever that changes, you have political change. People invested in yesterday will fight to the last person. People trying to invest in the future will push the agenda of social change.

Thomas A. Bass ( is the author of The Eudaemonic Pie. His latest book, Vietnamerica: The War Comes Home, is published by Soho Press

So what's next.. the chip?

Bio-chip implant arrives for cashless transactions
Announcement at global security confab unveils syringe-injectable ID microchip
Posted: November 21, 2003

Fact is that the chip is a moot point. There are 5 Billion+ active cellular phones on the planet. They store whatever information, you can pay for goods with them, store biometics, store health information, take your heartbeat, come equipped with a camera and a mic and they are connected to the One Mainframe to Rule them All -- same deal.

7-11 issued currency was brought up a few times. Funny how Airmiles, Club Points, PayPal bucks, BitCoin and Gift cards are allowed, even encouraged, but the issuers Liberty Dollar were brought down by an FBI raid and had all their assets confiscated. Allowing corporate issued currency is a double standard.

The FED ends soon. The 99 year contract was signed right just before Christmas 1913. What will replace it? Corporate Currency? Barter? Straight Gold and Silver? The IMF XDR? Foreign Currency Baskets? Nothing?

Whatever the case it's only worth what people believe it is worth. An illusion of value. Not to discredit it's value as a whole but a usurious centralized banking system is no better for the average Tom, Dick and Hank if it is converted to something purely digital. However it is easier to tax, hack, hide, monitor, trade, convert, manipulate, create and destroy; generally speaking on an inherent level.

The Microsoft/Apple/Google/Facebook conglomerate cartel is a big player in the rollout and promotion of this next wave set forth by the international bankers at the behest of the so called 'elite'.


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We're going after all your bank details crackdown on welfare fraud

Digital Coin

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How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico

Jesse Schell - DICE 2010: Design Outside the Box (Disturbing Presentation)

One Mainframe To Rule Them All
There are no others, there is only us.
04-12-2012, 06:39 AM,
RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency and Thin Branch Banking
Quote:Royal Canadian Mint to create digital currency
Published On Wed Apr 11 2012

The Royal Canadian Mint wants to get rid of pocket change — and it’s enlisting hacker-types for help.

Less than a week after the government announced the penny’s impending death, the Mint quietly unveiled its digital currency called MintChip.

Still in the research and development phase, MintChip will ultimately let people pay each other directly using smartphones, USB sticks, computers, tablets and clouds. The digital currency will be anonymous and good for small transactions — just like cash, the Mint says.

To make sure its technology meets the gold standard in a world where digital transactions are gaining steam, the Mint is holding a contest for software developers to create applications using the MintChip.

The old-fashioned prize? Solid gold wafers and coins worth about $50,000.

It’s such an unusual move from the crown corporation, which has been in the coin-making business for more than 100 years, that Hacker News questioned whether it was an “elaborate hoax.”

It’s not, the Mint’s chief financial officer Marc Brûlé said Tuesday.

Commerce is changing and the Mint has always been innovative, Brûlé said. (For instance, it did an initial public offering of exchange traded receipts of its gold holdings last year.)

“There’s been a very huge growing digital economy that is really going to be fueled by smartphones and mobile being the next big thing,” he said.

Despite the variety of payment options, he said there are “still no cost effective electronic solutions” for low value transactions that can be used regardless of a person’s age or credit standing.

MintChip, a secure microchip, will be able to do this by letting people transfer small amounts of money (for an iTunes song or a newspaper) with no personal information attached to it, he said.

The Mint’s move into the digital market is a reflection the competitive payments industry, Interac spokeswoman Caroline Hubberstey said.

Despite a December 2011 government report claiming Canada’s payments system is “outdated” and “has simply not evolved,” Hubberstey said it the industry is “highly competitive and rapidly changing.”

Interac pegs the value of small cash and coin transactions (under $20) at $90 billion, and companies big and small want a share of that market as it turns digital, Hubberstey said.

“Players you wouldn’t have thought of before” are looking for ways to get into the market of secure transactions, she said.

“You’re seeing competitors that have been in the space in a while and new competitors looking at the payments market as an opportunity.”

The payments industry’s last major shake happened in the mid-90s when debit card use took off. As more smartphones adopt Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which lets users hover their phones over NFC-enabled devices to make payments, mobile payments are expected to soar.

Interac, Mastercard and Visa already have contactless cards that use near field communication (NFC) chips for small payments at gas stations and grocery stores.

PayPal, Google and Visa have introduced digital wallets where consumers control all their cashless payments from one place. Companies Square and Payfirma let people accept credit card payments on their smartphones.

The difference with MintChip is it doesn’t plan to link to a person’s bank account or credit card information. And unlike BitCoin, a peer-to-peer hosted digital currency with a fluctuating value, MintChip is simply a new way to exchange Canadian dollars. Plus, it’s backed by the Canadian government.

It’s still too early for specifics such as how the Mint will make a profit from this, how it will prevent hackers from stealing cash, whether the money is anyway traceable or who exactly will load a chip with money, but Brûlé said the response to the contest has been tremendous.

Developers may have been skeptical about MintChip, but the 500 contest spots were filled in just four days.

Additional Sources:

A December 2011 government report claiming Canada’s payments system is “outdated” and “has simply not evolved,”

Video :: MintChipChallenge

Federal budget 2012: pennies to be withdrawn from circulation
There are no others, there is only us.
04-12-2012, 08:01 AM,
RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency and Thin Branch Banking
The Fed's charter will not expire at the end of this year because an amendment to the Federal Reserve Act was made many years ago extending it indefinitely.
[Image: randquote.png]
04-12-2012, 12:25 PM,
RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency and Thin Branch Banking
(04-12-2012, 08:01 AM)yeti Wrote: The Fed's charter will not expire at the end of this year because an amendment to the Federal Reserve Act was made many years ago extending it indefinitely.

Oh yeah that first one was an old post based on bad research (recycling rumour). I now think along the same lines. The FRA charter is a different animal now as it has been amended dozens of times since its inception. That's not to say it will (d)evolve into yet another incantation or transfer power to other entities who are under less scrutiny or further insulated and fortified from any recourse, bit more criminal, more obfuscated, more redundant and/or more centralized.

So whatcha think about Canada's bold leap into the MintCoin digital currency¿
There are no others, there is only us.
04-12-2012, 12:47 PM,
RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency and Thin Branch Banking
(04-12-2012, 12:25 PM)FastTadpole Wrote: So whatcha think about Canada's bold leap into the MintCoin digital currency¿

Bound to get hacked. The great thing is that the hackers will be very hard to catch because the amounts are so small.

The bad part is it could hasten the demise of real cash.

[Image: randquote.png]
05-31-2012, 08:22 PM, (This post was last modified: 05-31-2012, 10:48 PM by h3rm35.)
RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency and Thin Branch Banking
toward turning every electric leash into a credit card reader:

paypal´s doing their part too:

Original URL:
PayPal whips out barcode app for high-street glad rags

No bonking please, we're British

By Bill Ray

Posted in Financial News, 31st May 2012 12:03 GMT

Vid PayPal's barcode-driven payment app has crossed the pond and now works in all manner of UK high-street stores … as long as they're selling women's frocks.

Oasis, Coast, Warehouse and Karen Millen are chains that have taken the PayPal shilling - so (deep breath) wander into any of those, pick a new outfit, open PayPal's iOS or Android phone app, log into your account, take the item to the till, let the cashier scan the apparel's barcode and a barcode displayed by the app on your mobile's screen, and walk out knowing that your PayPal account has been debited.

The shop cuts PayPal a percentage for the transaction, rather than pay the levy demanded by the credit card companies - which justify their higher prices with fripperies such as free insurance and actual credit.

Payment schemes are proliferating at the moment: WorldPay predicts that alternative payment systems, including PayPal, already account for €165bn annually and that number will increase as a generation grows up without credit cards.

But as with any growth market, there will be casualties. While the corpse of Mondex is cold and PayBox was run out of the UK more than a decade ago, neither will be the last to fail. Most of the competitors, including Google and Barclaycard, are betting on the short-range-radio technology NFC to enable pay-by-bonk, which can already process transactions up to £20 (it's gone up this month) with just a tap of the phone.

But NFC handsets are still in short supply, limited to the latest Android handsets and a handful of BlackBerrys. It can't be coincidence that PayPal is launching its new barcode service exclusively across frock shops, where customers might not have the showiest hardware and might prove more receptive to a low-tech solution. ®
Related stories

€165bn in e-commerce every year - and not a plastic card in sight (10 May 2012)
Visa Europe muscles in to UK cloudy wallet market (30 April 2012)
EU boots UK phone cash bonk threesome out of bed (16 April 2012)

[Image: conspiracy_theory.jpg]
06-01-2012, 12:37 PM,
Information  RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency and Thin Branch Banking
Heard this last week on the radio.

Quote:CIBC and Rogers Unveil the Future of Mobile Payments in Canada
Announce plans to launch the first, secure mobile payment solution of its kind to Canadians

TORONTO, May 15, 2012 /CNW/ - CIBC and Rogers Communications today announced an agreement to launch Canada's first joint mobile payment solution, allowing Canadians to pay with their CIBC credit card at the checkout counter using their Rogers "Near Field Communications" (NFC) enabled smartphone. Beginning later this year, customers will be able to use this payment capability at merchants across Canada where contactless credit card payments are accepted.

This announcement represents the first time a bank and a wireless carrier have joined forces to offer a commercially available mobile payments solution to Canadians that leverages the secure SIM card inside an NFC-enabled Rogers smartphone. This new solution aligns to guidelines announced yesterday by the Canadian Bankers Association for mobile payments in Canada, as well as those developed by respected international associations such as the GSM Association (GSMA), the association of mobile operators and related companies dedicated to standardizing and supporting GSM technology.

"As the leader in delivering mobile financial services innovations in Canada, we are pleased to introduce yet another innovation in the market that will shape the payments experience of the future," commented David Williamson, Senior Executive Vice President, Retail and Business Banking, CIBC. "By teaming with Rogers, CIBC clients will soon enjoy the convenience of paying at the checkout with their mobile device while enjoying the existing benefits of their CIBC credit card, including loyalty rewards."

"Canadians are embracing new technologies at an accelerated pace and we know they're interested in using their smartphone for mobile payments," said Rob Bruce, President of Communications, Rogers Communications. "We've been laying the foundation for mobile commerce and the ecosystem is ready to give Canadians the convenience, security, and peace of mind they deserve," said Bruce. "Today's announcement with CIBC represents an important first step toward a whole new world of mobile transactions which is a key growth area for the company."

Some of the key features of the new mobile payments solution include:

* Full access to a client's existing CIBC credit cards on their smartphone at no extra cost - whether Visa or MasterCard - this gives clients the opportunity to earn loyalty points on purchases as they do today.
* Multiple layers of security - Paying with your NFC-enabled smartphone will be as secure as using your credit card today. Clients will receive the same fraud protection they do with their contactless credit card, and secure encryption technology will add to the layers of security already in place on credit card purchases. Clients will also have the option to set additional password protection.
* No "stickers" on your phone - this new payment capability will leverage the secure SIM card inside a mobile device for payments, meaning clients can manage their credit card credentials on a secure platform, and won't need to worry about stickers attached to their phone.

This new CIBC mobile payments capability will be available on select BlackBerry® smartphones on the Rogers wireless network when the solution launches later this year, with additional device choices for clients available following launch.

MasterCard's Mobile Payments Readiness Index ranks Canada ahead of the United States and second out of 34 countries. A key finding emphasizes that partnerships among the key players in the mobile payments ecosystem - financial institutions, payment networks, telcos, governments, technology providers - are essential to accelerate the commercialization of mobile payments.

Today's announcement builds on CIBC's leadership position in delivering mobile innovations to clients. CIBC was the first bank in Canada to launch a mobile banking App in 2010, and more recently became the first bank in Canada to deliver an App that allows clients to trade stocks on their mobile device through the CIBC Mobile Brokerage App. The bank also offers the CIBC Home Advisor App, free to all Canadian homebuyers, giving them access to information about housing prices and other key neighbourhood data in an area they may be considering. CIBC was named "Best in Mobile Banking" globally by Global Finance magazine in 2011.

In 2002, Rogers launched its GSM wireless network, and last year was the first carrier in Canada to launch LTE, bringing the largest and fastest network and a global wireless standard to Canada. Today's announcement builds on this foundation of world-class networks, Rogers history of innovation and mobile commerce expertise, specifically in the area of mobile proximity payments. Over the past six years, Rogers has worked with the GSM Association, including the "Pay-buy-Mobile" initiative to get industry standard payment cards - like MasterCard or Visa - on industry standard GSM devices. In the past year, the GSM Association further named Rogers as one of many operators worldwide committed to SIM-based NFC solutions and services.

"The GSMA congratulate CIBC and Rogers on the launch of their mobile NFC services and we look forward to many more markets following Canada's lead in bringing exciting and interoperable NFC services to life," said Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA. "This is the year when mobile NFC is set to take off and the GSMA will continue to support our members around the world who will be launching their mobile NFC services later this year."

Your cell phone, your ID and everything you interact with is set to be "the chip".

and if CIBC continues the iPhone/iPad only trend with their mobile banking apps it looks to be a controlled gateway on the authorized app/OS framework as well Read: Commercial Monopoly on Payments.

Too many people, too easily bribed to the adoption of this scheme by convenience and conformity.

There are no others, there is only us.
06-01-2012, 01:21 PM,
RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency and Thin Branch Banking
Yes, and notice the protection from fraud which they so generously offer. The money only exists as digital data and they are perfectly willing to subtract and add digital data to their imaginary accumulation. Scamsville!!!

An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.
Mohandas Gandhi

Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind.
Did you think you were put here for something less?
Chief Arvol Looking Horse
06-01-2012, 02:38 PM,
RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency and Thin Branch Banking
plus, as long the money on the card is not spent it remains on a seperate account with the bank and creates interest. And of course the possibility to create extra 90% dept money out of thin air. Unlike the cash in your pocket.
11-05-2012, 06:33 PM,
RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency & Thin Branch
Next phase:

Quote:An Interac Flash transaction involves two steps:

1) Hold your card in front of the terminal or reader.

2) A beep and/or “approved” on the terminal will acknowledge your transaction is complete.

It's that simple.

Interac Flash

Just a sec .. no PIN.. fraud anyone, a gateway open to "toll" based payments. For example micropayments for any experience or travel through any given checkpoint separating the haves from the have nots via wealth even moreso than flight and travel regulations already do to limit access money, status, etc.. .. see the movie In Time (checkpoints) for an example.

A convenience to bribe the masses (and the merchants) into a cashless society powered by digital currency.

This 'convenience' also acts as an identification and a mechanism of punishment/espionage by simply turning it off. A tyrant's dream, one step closer to, realization if widely adopted.

Stop this step now. Point out the inherent security flaws. Mark of the beast. The power of the few over the many.. whatever you have to do.

We the people will not be chipped directly or by a sly proxy INTERACtion.

Related Torrents:

Predictive Programming and the Human Microchipping Agenda (2011)

One Mainframe To Rule Them All (2009)
There are no others, there is only us.
11-09-2012, 12:31 AM,
RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency,Thin Branch Banking
Quote:This Is Why Nobody Will Use Credit Cards In A Few Years
Two mobile payment things happened today. They're both baby steps toward the future, but you'll only want to use one of them.
By Dan Nosowitz Posted 11.08.2012 at 1:00 pm

Entertainment Weekly has twice now inserted an LCD screen into its paper magazine to show video ads. That's the growing pains that come when an entire medium is going through an upheaval--you get these little half-steps, a nod that, well, this thing we've used for a long time? It probably won't be around much longer. But that new things is maybe scary, or expensive, or not quite ready yet, so let's try combining the two.

A new credit card from Mastercard, as reported by the BBC, is going through those same growing pains. The card, first rolling out in Singapore before the rest of the world sees it, has a built-in greyscale LCD screen and a number pad. Mastercard will mostly use those features for security purposes, at first, though eventually they plan to roll out bonuses like loyalty rewards and coupons.

Also today, Starbucks announced the rollout of Square Wallet to 7,000 of its shops nationwide. Square Wallet is an app for smartphones that lets you use your phone to pay--it provides a QR code, which is scanned by the point-of-service machine. Square Wallet is just as secure; you can type in a security code on a phone even more easily than on a weird hybrid credit card. And it serves the purpose of moving us towards a wallet-free future much more effectively than the Mastercard.

Square Wallet is actually also an in-between technology; I think that near-field communication, or NFC, will either be the tech or be the basis of the tech that eventually replaces our credit cards. (Our primer on NFC can be found here.) NFC payments let you simply tap your phone to a point-of-service machine rather than opening an app and scanning a visual code on the phone's screen--it's more convenient and faster than a QR code. Square Wallet is a slightly diluted vision of the future; it has about one and a half steps more than the eventual solution will have, but it at least resembles the future. Also, it's in Starbucks, and the Square Wallet app can be used by pretty much any smartphone, unlike NFC, which is only available in a select few Android and Windows phones. So people can experiment with this fairly easy, nonthreatening thing, and soon when the time comes to cut up all your credit cards and throw your wallet in a box in the basement? They'll be ready.

The Mastercard isn't the last gasp of the credit card, but it's, I don't know, a tired and defeated wheeze. It's a pretty clear sign that we've taken the plastic rectangle as far as it can go.
Full Article with Links:
There are no others, there is only us.
11-30-2012, 09:57 AM,
Information  RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Encryption, Digital Currency Thin Branch Banking
Quote:The Cashless Society is Almost Here – And With Some Very Sinister Implications


Among the long list of items bundled by consensus reality merchants under the banner of ‘conspiracy theory’, is a world without cash – where technocrats rule over the populace, and everything and anything is exchanged via plastic and RFID chips.

In this sterile and controlled Orwellian hi-tech society, the idea of cas
h being passed from hand to hand would be as archaic as the thought of carrying around a rucksack of tally sticks today.

Still, despite the incredible penetration of credit and debit card transactions into economic aggregate, and the boom in internet shopping, few will comfortably admit that a cashless society is nearly upon us. In part, it’s a natural denial by many fueled by the idea of our society is indeed on a collision course with the sort of dystopic impersonal future like that depicted in the 1970′s sci-fi film classic, ‘Logan’s Run’.

Cashless money is here, and growing rapidly.
Over the years, futurists and commentators alike seemed to agree that a cashless society would be a slow creep, and cash would automatically phase itself in simply by virtue of the sheer volume of electronic transactions that would gradually make paper less available and more costly to redeem and exchange. This is still true for the most part. What few counted on, however, was how the final push would take place, and why. Some will be surprised by these new emerging mechanisms, and the political and sinister implications they will ultimately lead to.

What’s the time frame on all this? Difficult to say, but what is certain is that the initial phases are already in motion…

Introduction of Parallel Currencies

There has been a lot made about the ‘cashless society’ in media, but this cannot fully happen until there is a cashless currency.

Every revolution needs a good crisis in order to germinate its seed. The cashless revolution is no different. It should be abundantly clear by now that the global financial meltdown has been engineered at every juncture of its unfolding by the very private central banks who expand and contract the money supply. A dollar or euro collapse will trigger a global economic crisis, which is a prime opportunity to introduce the next phase.

In the summer of 2012, at the height of the European Central Bank (ECB) ritualistic raping of the Greek economy, financial expert Max Keiser, alongside Mexican billionaire Hugo Salinas Price, traveled to Athens to promote the idea of a silver Drachma as a parallel currency to the ever-failing euro. In theory and in practice, this parallel currency was ‘sound money’ for individual Greeks and would allow them to retain some say in their financial destiny, and also allow them to accumulate real wealth. It should have caught on. But this great idea did not go down well with media moguls and technocratic elites loyal to their overlords in the ECB, Wall Street and the City of London. Still, too many people remain unaware of how money is created, entered into circulation and how their private central banks control inflation, and Greece is no different.
Read More Here:

Lots of good comments at the link too:

Quote:Rothschild has his bank set up and ready for CARBON- see American Carbon Registry/Winrock; California Air Resources Board, Western Climate Initiative; Climate Action Reserve (an “offset registry”) –carbon sinks, carbon trading, AND carbon regulations, all in effect for over 10 years now. No one has ever voted for this junk. It’s all NGOs and bureacrats you’ve never seen nor heard of. Gov’ts are a Punch and Judy show. And the U.N. world parliament is slowly becoming a reality. The World Bank is investing in “low carbon” and selling green bonds.And you are part of the “internet of things”.

Quote:The cashless system is only gaining ground because people are lazy and dependent. They want to pay at the stores with ATM cards and credit cards rather than take out what cash they need for the month or week. People are are buying more products online via CC and taking business away from the small ma and pop stores whether they be groceries, cosmetics and clothing whatever. Non of it helps. Has no one stopped to think that the devaluation of the dollar is exactly what the PTB want in order to bring in the RFID chip and base everything on that chip and all it contains about us? Everyone is screaming about the dollar devaluation…start using it! get rid of CC and ATM cards and use cash stop accruing interest that you get no benefit from. But no one is going to listen because everyone wants to be a slave! It’s the new fad!!!

Solution: cell phone smashing events worldwide! .. or join me and never get one.
There are no others, there is only us.
12-22-2012, 08:58 PM,
RE: The Future of Money: Smartcards, Digital Currency and Thin Branch Banking
Quote:12 Simple Steps to Verichip the World:

Mobile Payments around the Globe

We are the last generation with a voice and free will to change the course of history. Everyone connected everywhere – smart phones are to be the tools of the Smart World Order; bringing an end to physical cash, keys, drivers’ licences, etc. They are also intended to be used daily to validate identity in the new ‘trusted’ internet community. The phone, or the chip that links the user’s ID to the phone, then becomes too valuable to lose, and the only safe place is under the skin. Unless we refuse to comply….

It goes something like this:

1. Create a climate of fear.

2. Get everyone online.

3. Enable even the poor to carry a cell phone.

4. Get everyone to talk about RFID and biometrics: the first phase of acceptance is expectation.

5. Chip as many things and people as you can (phones, pets, clothing, etc.) to make it normal.

6. Set up a global ID system but keep it hush hush.

7. Promote implants for health and safety, so people think they’re good.

8. Make it so you can use your phone for everything, especially payments and proving identity.

9. How do we know it’s really you? Your biometrics please!

10. Cyber attack! Revolution! Please protect us!

11. The economy collapses….. cash is gone, and all payments are now digital.

12. Phones get lost and stolen; biometrics get spoofed; carrying a phone is such a bother – and Verichips are just easier all round….

But… “Pssst!! Rewind!”

Time to change our minds.

We don’t have to co-operate. Awake and determined, we refuse to sign up with an Identity Provider, and we refuse to pay for anything with a phone.

We make it plain: they can stick their NSTIC up their ***

Their planned revolution takes a different course:

Be part of the movement they didn’t expect.

We are the warriors, writing history:

By the year 2020, in a bid to be free, we stood up to the corporatocracy, and won.

My solution is to say NO NEVER to cell phones and other grid based technology that enable centralized technocratic control.

Disconnect from The Cell Phone Trap or Fry Your Brain and CNS. Now You Know. Your Choice.

The 10 smartphones that emit the most radiation

10 Reasons NOT to Cave in and get a Cell Phone

Cell Phone Safety Alert Interview with Robert O. Becker (2000)

Video Lecture :: Dr. Magda Havas: The Truth About Wired & Wireless Technology
There are no others, there is only us.

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