Digital cash: Swiss parliament to examine use of GNU Taler

digital cash swiss parliament to examine use of gnu taler.jpg
digital cash swiss parliament to examine use of gnu taler.jpg

The ECB is still struggling to maybe give birth to a digital euro. In Switzerland, a member of parliament now wants to push the introduction of the GNU Taler.


With an initiative in the Swiss Parliament, Jörg Mäder, Green Liberal member of the Federal Assembly, wants to promote GNU Taler as digital cash in Switzerland. According to Mäder, the system developed at Bern University of Applied Sciences offers the anonymity of classic cash for online payment transactions and could be introduced quickly.


Technologically, the open-source development Taler is already mature and could be introduced without major problems, Mäder assured the Watson portal. According to Mäder, the only thing missing so far is the political will. The Swiss National Bank had already examined GNU Taler and judged it to be a good technical solution. According to Taler chief developer Christian Grothoff, the Taler team has already held talks with a further 20 central banks.

Taler is based on suggestions by Digicash developer David Chaum and allows you to obtain digital coins via your own account, with the value units created by the local Taler software being sent to the bank in encrypted form and blindly signed there. As a result, the purchased digital coins cannot be assigned to the buyer when paying. Payment transactions in the network remain anonymous. Only the dealer whose account is to be credited with the thalers has to reveal their identity.

Statements from politicians and central bank managers vary on questions of anonymous payment. Some consider the monitoring options to be an advantage of digital money. Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, on the other hand, have spoken out in a non-binding discussion paper in favor of extensive anonymity with a digital euro. The ECB wants to decide by next year whether and how a digital euro will be created. German commercial banks are concerned about the ECB’s current considerations on the digital euro, fearing that they will lose their banking business through a possible migration to digital central bank money.

The FOSS development Taler is much more conservative, allows the withdrawal of Talers via national central banks as well as your own house bank and always assumes capped “withdrawal processes” – in your own currency, by the way – in your own proposals.

Mäder, who claims to work as a software developer in addition to his political activities, has the support of all the parliamentary groups represented in the Federal Council, i.e. the Social Democrats (SP), the Center Party, the Liberals (FDP ) and the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP).

The Federal Council must now decide whether to accept the “postulate” – as the initiative is called under Swiss law. If the decision is positive, the responsible authorities in Switzerland would be commissioned to prepare the necessary legal basis for an anonymous, electronic payment system based on GNU Taler.

Taler developer Grothoff welcomed the parliamentary initiative. It is also a signal of what a process should look like when such key decisions as the choice of an official digital payment system are made in a democracy. Grothoff described the actions of the ECB on the digital euro as not yet really democratically legitimized. If other countries in Europe opted for a data protection-friendly, open-source payment system, it is also conceivable that the ECB could be dissuaded from concepts that could allow absolute control over the citizens of the Union.

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.