[Bitcoin-development] Revocability with known trusted escrow services?

Mike Hearn mike at plan99.net
Thu Jun 6 09:03:19 UTC 2013

On Thu, Jun 6, 2013 at 2:19 AM, Peter Vessenes <peter at coinlab.com> wrote:

> So, this
> http://www.americanbanker.com/bankthink/the-last-straw-for-bitcoin-1059608-1.html?pg=1 article got posted today, noting that FinCEN thinks irrevocable payments
> are money laundering tools.

That's not how I read it, I don't see how one could argue that irreversible
transactions are a money laundering tool. Credit card transactions aren't
completely reversible either, you have to either claim that the card was
stolen or that the merchant didn't deliver. If you charge back routinely,
then the card companies are supposed to crack down on you. Though I don't
know if that really happens.

I think we should expect the head of FinCEN to argue that more or less
anything can be seen as money laundering. She directly and personally
profits from expansion of the notion of money laundering. That doesn't mean
other people have to agree.

> At any rate, it got me thinking, can we layer on revocability somehow
> without any protocol change, as an opt-in?

I think we need 2-of-3 dispute mediation and have thought that for a long
time, indeed, Satoshi's paper says so:


It doesn't require any core protocol changes but it does require deployment
of the payment protocol first, as that's the foundation on which we can add
lots of other useful features like that. And then it needs a whole lot of
work to define how you open a dispute from your wallet, how you find
mutually agreeable mediators, etc. Having reversible payments in which one
of the trading parties gets to decide whether to reverse seems pointless to
me. If the buyer decides it's simply equivalent to post pay, and if the
seller decides then it's just a refund, which the payment protocol already
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