Trust architectures in payment systems: the great bifurcation

Dominique Boullier, Niranjan Sivakumar, Maxime Crepel, Stéphane Juguet

Payments architectures are on the verge of a great bifurcation that must be documented in order to be debated. Google is moving towards a quasi bank while Apple and Google disseminate payment systems over smartphones. At the same time, block chain might become a distributed ledger introducing a radical new model of trusted third-party. The detailed history of credit card systems helps understand why the game of security has always been trigged by a delegation process of the risk to third parties and by the 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. These payments systems shape our social life and the stakes of trust that we put in these architectures require a truly political examination.

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