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Risk Management in Payment System Architectures

Niranjan Sivakumar, Maxime Crépel, Dominique Boullier

Payments architectures are on the verge of a great bifurcation that must be documented in order to be debated. One one hand, actors like Google and Apple are moving towards becoming quasi-banks while they disseminate payment systems over smartphones. At the same time, the blockchain is a distributed ledger that introduces a radical new model of a trusted third-party for payments. The detailed history of credit card systems helps understand why the game of security has always been triggered by a delegation process of risk to third parties and by a cat-and-mouse game of security and fraud. Technologies were designed to solve these issues but have always been closely related to innovations in institutional assemblages. Payments systems shape our social life and the trust that we put in these architectures require an interdisciplinary examination that includes both technical and political concerns.