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Informational Only

This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.

Balancing Benefits and Risks in New Payment Systems

The Seeker is soliciting innovative ideas and insights on future new payment systems (loosely defined as virtual currencies, prepaid cards, mobile money transfers, and hybrids thereof) and how to foster financial innovation while still allowing for oversight and detection of illegal activity.

Department of Defense

Total Cash Prizes Offered: $15,000
Type of Challenge: Ideas
Submission Start: 02/12/2015 12:00 AM ET
Submission End: 03/16/2015 12:00 AM ET

This challenge is externally hosted.

You can view the challenge details here:


New payment systems (NPS) – broadly defined as virtual currencies, prepaid cards, mobile money transfers, and hybrid products – provide cost-effective means through which to move money value quickly within and across physical and virtual borders. 

While these systems hold the promise of making commerce accessible to many millions of people with no access to traditional banking systems, there is an absence of a clear understanding of how funds move through these systems and the associated risk mitigation tools for use in identifying and disrupting illicit funds flowing through these systems. Because of this, nefarious actors who are drawn to ungoverned spaces may find value in decentralized and lightly regulated technology-based financial systems. 

Incorporating new payment systems into a crime/threat finance business model could exploit high- and low-tech finance features resulting in more efficient financing trajectories capable of funding more widespread threat finance and illicit activities.

While efforts have been undertaken to identify NPS-based risks and associated mitigation strategies, most of these efforts have focused on discrete systems (such as Bitcoin or mobile money transfers) or problem sets (such as consumer protection). 

To date, little effort has been made to undertake an analysis of separate and interacting technology-based NPS’ behaviors in an effort to identify systemic vulnerabilities (technical, legal, human), to include disruption or mitigation strategies. 

This basic understanding of how NPS funds flow under a range of scenarios is necessary to reach consensus on what problems and opportunities are present through the introduction of these new systems into legacy-based payment platforms and banking infrastructure. While much of the recent media attention on the misuses of virtual currencies has focused on how criminals have used this technology for online trade in illicit goods and services, less attention has been given to the potential national security risks posed by virtual currencies and other technology-based new payment systems as well as emerging opportunities for use.