In this interview with CoinGeek’s Becky Liggero, the nChain CEO discusses the three pillars of Bitcoin SV—stability, scalability, and security.
October 15 marks an important event for the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) community. On that day, the release candidate of the Bitcoin SV alpha client went live, one month ahead of the November Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network upgrade.
Bitcoin BCH miners and mining pools are encouraged to begin using Bitcoin SV, which is a new full-node implementation for Bitcoin BCH designed to fulfill the vision set out by Satoshi Nakamoto’s original Bitcoin white paper. Currently, the Bitcoin BCH ecosystem has a number of full node implementations available, but what makes Bitcoin SV stand out?
The answer, according to nChain CEO Jimmy Nguyen, is straightforward: Like its initials, which stand for Satoshi Vision, Bitcoin SV better fulfills the original vision for Bitcoin.
“The goal of Bitcoin SV is to restore the original Bitcoin protocol, and then create an implementation that enables a protocol that is stable, scalable, and secure,” Nguyen explained. “Those are our three main goals, and it’s designed to really allow a protocol to enable what bitcoin was always meant to be but could not be once Bitcoin Core [BTC] took over the protocol, but now that it’s been reclaimed in bitcoin cash, we want the software implementation to enable that vision to come to life.”
With a stable protocol, businesses—especially the big businesses—will feel comfortable operating on it. Take the internet, for instance. Its evolution has been very slow, which, according to Nguyen, makes sense since businesses or those running websites or mobile applications don’t want have to deal with time consuming, expensive protocol changes every six months.
“Do you want the big business of the world to build their house, their projects, on sand or on a rock foundation? We don’t want the platform and the protocol to be moving quickly every six months. We want foundation to be rock solid,” the nChain CEO noted.
Scalability is another key component of Bitcoin SV. While other implementations seek a gradual approach to scaling, nChain believes that the Bitcoin BCH network needs to scale bigger and quickly. With Bitcoin SV 0.1 version, the default maximum size of accepted blocks has also been increased from the 32MB soft limit to 128MB. The reason behind this comes down to one thing: economic reality. For Bitcoin BCH miners to remain profitable in two years, when the halving event is set to take place, the network needs to start scaling now.
For big businesses, scalability is also critical. Nguyen said, “They want to know that the network will be able to sustain the large capacity that’s needed for their project and other companies’ projects because otherwise they’re going to be hesitant to say, ‘Why would I commit millions of dollars of resources and time to build let’s say my blockchain application on a network which may not be able to sustain that scalability issues?’”
Speaking of critical issues for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin BCH, we have security. For the Bitcoin SV team, it means developing a world-class security system for Bitcoin SV’s code.
“Security is definitely this key issue. We are going to work as hard as possible to implement the best practices possible and modeling some of the best practices from security systems and rigorous processes in some of the most mission-critical industries such as aerospace, national security, transportation. I think that will serve the bitcoin community well,” Nguyen said.
In closing, the nChain CEO addressed the potential split that could happen in November, saying that it’s natural in the Bitcoin ecosystem for groups to emerge with a different plan and vision—and it’s up to the miners to choose.
Unlike other implementations, Bitcoin SV is born out of the desire to empower miners to direct the future of Bitcoin and also to ensure BCH miners remain profitable. Miners will have a choice and a voice to drive the process of restoring Bitcoin to its optimal state—that of unbounded blocks, original op_codes, and no artificial limits imposed on the protocol.
“We believe it’s time for bitcoin to grow up. It’s time for bitcoin to professionalize. We want a massively scaled network, we want worldwide adoption and enterprise-level usage. We want 5 billion people using Bitcoin Cash in the years to come. To get there, we need to demonstrate that its ecosystem is professionalized with world-class security, quality assurance practices with a scaled network, with big blocks to support big enterprise and global payments. And, going back to the first pillar, a stable protocol,” Nguyen said.
The Bitcoin SV project was created at the request of and sponsored by Antiguan-based CoinGeek Mining, with development work initiated by nChain. The project is also owned by the Antiguan-based bComm Association on behalf of the global BCH community, and the Bitcoin SV code is made available under the open source MIT license. Check it out during Miner’s Day at the upcoming CoinGeek Week Conference in London next month.
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CoinGeek’s Stephanie Tower spoke with Lt. Gen. (Ret) James Clapper on how governments can harness blockchain technology.
Lt. Gen. (Ret) James Clapper, former director of national intelligence for the U.S. government, participated in the recent Block Seoul conference in South Korea, which he found appealing for personal reasons as well. “Anytime I get an excuse to come back to Republic of Korea, I’ll jump at it, because I was stationed here in the military in the mid-80s for two years, and it was one of the best assignments I had in the Air Force, and my family had a wonderful time. And of course, like a lot of people, I’m concerned about cybersecurity and the potential for blockchain and related technologies to enhance cybersecurity,” he said.
Even with changing technologies, each person or group should approach the matter of security the same cautious way, according to Clapper. “[I]f you’re connected to the internet, no matter how, you’re vulnerable, and you may as well just accept that fact and do all the classical things that you can do, and even then assume you’re going to get attacked. And the big thing is how to respond to an attack, and the extent to which you are resilient, and this applies to a nation-state, an institution, a company, or an individual,” he said.
Clapper also finds blockchain technology interesting due to its applicability to a wide number of fields. “[Blockchain] has great potential for anything that involves transactions that are disaggregated, so medical, to financial, and [the] defense arena, it has great potential.”
He pointed out that so far, the government has not had much use of the technology for its operations. “We don’t use it very much,” Clapper said, explaining that “the government is always a little behind industry and technology. There are potentially great applications, not so much from an intelligence exploitation standpoint, as much as protecting information.”
Clapper warned that the U.S. government should be seriously exploring the use of blockchain. Implementation of blockchain-powered systems, he said, “better progress, because both the Chinese and the Russians are very aggressively pursuing blockchain applications.”
If you’re interested in helping the growth of merchant adoption of Bitcoin BCH, join the bComm Association, an industry group that intends to be the focal point for miners, merchants, exchanges, developers and members of the BCH community. Developers and merchants of the Bitcoin BCH community will also be on hand for the CoinGeek Week Conference happening in London on Nov. 28-30.
Tickets to the three-day conference are still available via Eventbrite.
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CoinGeek’s Becky Liggero speaks to Riad Hartani of Xona Partners, who looks at how blockchain technology will impact markets across the world.
Even at such an early point in the history of blockchain, its real-world applicability is already being put to test by companies big and small. Yet to Riad Hartani, co-founder of tech firm Xona Partners, the potential for the technology’s mass adoption is particularly strong in Africa.
One present problem he sees is fundraising for small and medium enterprises. According to Hartani, “The whole process of raising money is very cumbersome, and basically difficult to put into practice. So this is a typical example, and with blockchain, you come up with a solution that facilitates all of that… Even if it’s a North American-developed technology, any advanced technology, teams and so on, but the first applications are in Africa, which is interesting.”
Xona Partners, according to Hartani, does three things to push blockchain technology: “We see blockchain as what we call a ‘leapfrog’ technology that just comes into markets and [is] given the opportunity to disrupt, basically. Solve problems definitely, one. Number two, since it’s new, basically the whole world’s probably at the same levels. You can take it, build it, and then go global with it. And number three, it’s mostly open-source, so the knowledge is very much accessible if you have talent. You can have access to it without any restrictions. So these three things make it very valuable for Africa and building technology ecosystems in Africa, in our opinion.”
Hartani sees the Transform Africa summit as part of the necessary gatherings among people that will make the technology thrive. “I see overall the value is really building this connectivity between people and ideas, and this is ideal. Because what is technology these days? Basically being able to be close to those that understand it and have it, right? So building that connectivity model between people and ideas is really the goal, and I think this event has been doing a lot of that. And meeting people from any part of the world that have that knowledge and keys to be able to work with them. So fundamentally, I see it as a way to basically get us closer to that, you know, ‘world is flat’ thing. We all work with each other,” he said.
If you’re interested in helping the growth of merchant adoption of Bitcoin BCH, join the bComm Association, an industry group that intends to be the focal point for miners, merchants, exchanges, developers and members of the BCH community. Developers and merchants of the Bitcoin BCH community will also be on hand for the first CoinGeek Week Conference happening in London on November 28-30. Members of bComm Association can avail CoinGeek Week tickets at discounted prices. Tickets to the three-day conference are still available via Eventbrite.
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CoinGeek’s Becky Liggero recently interviewed Healid founder Bert Kastel, who has helped spread the message of blockchain through organizing conferences such as the Transform Africa summit.
Bert Kastel has been a notable presence in the cryptocurrency community, working to exploit whatever beneficial uses the technology has. The company he founded, Healid, aims to maintain a large gene database powered on the blockchain, intended to best determine treatments for all manners of illness. The ambitious venture is just one of many that preoccupy Kastel. He also played a big part in organizing the blockchain conference in the Transform Africa Summit, held in Kigali, Rwanda.
Of the conference, he said, “It’s definitely a virtual enterprise, and of several organizations together. One is K Lab which is an incubator here in Kigali, and the other one, the Transform Africa team, which is organized by Smart Africa, and then our team that is also spread out in several continents, several individuals but we coordinated. We got the locals to develop most of the hands-on logistics and we put together the contents and got most of the speakers and all of this, and tried to pull it together so that there’s some energy injected into this conference by future technologies.”
Kastel describes Healid as ‘crypto-economic genomics.’ A mouthful even for a cutting-edge industry such as blockchain, but it is such high-mindedness that has guided him in looking at firms and organizations who could realize the potential blockchain has, in its various applications.
“I believe that technology drives human advancement, and I want to just identify technologies, and facilitate them if they advance humanity. So no borders, not a specific country or specific continent, but wherever humans get empowered and can fulfill their dreams. And that is very close to the blockchain world, at least the premises and the promises of blockchain, so that’s why it came very natural to me,” Kastel said.
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In the seven and a half years that Bobby Lee, a co-founder of BTCC, has been studying blockchain and cryptocurrencies, he’s learned that what happens in the industry is something that “no one has control over.” This keeps him from making predictions on the upcoming Bitcoin Cash (BCH) upgrade.
Lee noted that before the hard fork that led to Bitcoin’s rebirth in BCH in August 2017, “I was begging people not to fork it at the time. But it still forked. So that actually proves the fact that Bitcoin is quite decentralized, that no one can force it: no governments, not even people, regular people or miners, or there’s no decentralization in it to force it one way or the other.”
A self-proclaimed “Bitcoin maximalist,” Lee nonetheless concedes that both BCH and BTC can co-exist. “The best analogy is, it’s like religion. If you look at the world’s religions, there’s many, many religions. I don’t claim to be an expert here, but I think several of them trace back to the same roots.” He considers Bitcoin BCH and BTC as “legitimate children of Bitcoin.”
The primary value of cryptocurrencies, as he sees it, is that money is no longer about specific pieces of paper or lines of credit issued through a governing body. “Very few people realize that the essence of Bitcoin is that now information is money. So it’s not about something physically you hold, it’s not about having ownership under my title, under my name, for example, real estate. Even the car I buy, for example, is owned under my name, and the government enforces it. There’s a matching of my name and the asset—the real estate or the car… With Bitcoin, the ownership is actually proven not through physical means and not through title registration, by identity. But that should only be because you have information, you have the knowledge of the private key. So people don’t get that, and that’s fine because not everyone’s a computer scientist, not everyone’s an economist. So I hope to spread that message, that that’s the essence of Bitcoin, because now people can own Bitcoin by having that information.”
Blockchain’s part in history, according to Lee, “goes back to the fundamental rights as a human being, goes back to the word ‘freedom.’”
“Essentially, we’re not slaves, we’re not enslaved in society. Now how does slavery and freedom matter to Bitcoin? Well, if you think about it, the governments have enacted so much control over the money, essentially, people who have now made money are enslaved to the governments, because the spending restrictions, who they can transfer it to, how much they can receive, and also the value of the money, is also completely and arbitrarily controlled by the central banks through inflation, and so on and so forth,” he said. “Right now, we’re seeing that the value is highly volatile, so there’s a downside to it right now, because we’re in the early days. We’re barely in the tenth year of Bitcoin, but give it another 10 years, give it 50 years. I think it will be very important to the people of the world.”
It may be just the beginning, but we could already see a big change from just five years ago. Lee said, “I remember distinctly in 2011, even as recently as 2013, saying the word ‘Bitcoin’ into a crowd, no one would understand what you’re talking about. The idea of a ‘bit’ coin, a digital coin, that was just unheard of. So now, through years of pushing it in the media, finally the world knows about Bitcoin. They also know about the word ‘blockchain,’ they also know about the word ‘tokens,’ and so on.”
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In this interview with CoinGeek’s Becky Liggero, nChain CEO Jimmy Nguyen shares his thoughts on how to spread the word about Bitcoin Cash (BCH) around the world.
nChain CEO Jimmy Nguyen sees much promise in how blockchain technology is going to change industries.
He said, “We think the power of the Bitcoin Cash blockchain is not just as a payment system, a currency that we can use to buy and send money, but to transform all kinds of technical functionality. And one of the great things it can do is transform trade, which will pave the way for smart contracts, all kinds of tokenization of any asset, financial instruments, rewards tokens, physical assets, and if you imagine a later world, if you could tokenize any asset, you will allow that to be traded for a different asset or variations of the same asset.”
Speaking from Kigali, Rwanda, Nguyen acknowledged the potential of blockchain in transforming the developing world. Tokenization of assets, he says, is “valuable for a lot of the world. I think that’s especially valuable for territories like Africa, because it breaks down borders and it allows them to sort of leapfrog into a new technology wave.”
There’s one thing though that bothers him. “There are—and I’m going to say this to the whole world—too many tokens in the world! I think there’s too many. We’re not opposed to people creating new tokens but we always say—and I get asked for nChain’s purposes to invest in a lot of ventures—I always look at them and say, ‘Is there a need for your token besides just being another way to pay for something, or just to raise money for your venture, to replace venture capital fundraising?’ I would like to see a world where tokens are done on the Bitcoin Cash chain, and if they’re done, that they have some utility function that can’t be done on the underlying Bitcoin Cash chain to begin with,” Nguyen said.
As head of a global leader in the research and development of blockchain, Nguyen seen some hurdles to application of the technology in the world. The first one he enumerated was the education of developers.
He said, “There’s too few qualified blockchain developers in the world. There’s a shortage. We’re trying to train more through programs such as what we’re doing with Stack Lab and CoinGeek in Iloilo, Philippines, training next-generation blockchain developers on Bitcoin Cash. So that takes partnerships with universities and training programs.
“Secondly, I think we need more partnerships with people, operators who want to run exchanges, especially in territories like Africa. There’s only three countries in Africa now where there are online exchanges for cryptocurrency. To make it more accessible to the world, the community needs to partner with more people who are willing to be operators of exchanges.”
Nguyen noted, “Finally, we need to partner with legacy businesses. The power of blockchain technology is that it creates ways to better solve problems that exist in our world today, eliminating intermediaries, make things more efficient, and the best way for blockchain ventures to do that is to actually partner with big legacy businesses, because you could help solve their problems. So that’s why we’re looking for partnerships like that.”
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CoinGeek’s Becky Liggero spoke to Cryptartica’s Ricardo Sancho on growing the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) economy through real markets.
As exciting as it is to watch cryptocurrency prices go up, the value of the digital currency, according to Ricardo Sancho, is its usability in transactions.
“I think that one of the most important things is to get both users and merchants onboard, and I think that at the end of the day, the price is not the most important factor. I think it’s actually getting those merchants who have options for the users to spend and having the users actually wanting to spend that money,” Sancho said. “Making the money move around is what actually creates an economy, and that’s what will actually get Bitcoin Cash off the ground and into a real cryptocurrency that can be used by everybody in the world. I think, by far, the most important metric is to measure merchant adoption and user adoption.”
Cryptartica, the company Sancho helped found, is intended to give BCH users opportunities to spend what they have. “At Cryptartica, we believe that becoming your own merchant is a very important thing. The economy is just getting started, so there’s a lot of places for users to create new businesses. A lot of these businesses already exist in the, let’s call it fiat world, but we need to move over to Bitcoin Cash, and big corporations are actually slower to adopt newer technologies, so the users have an opportunity here to basically take a pie of that market while the Bitcoin Cash economy is growing,” he said.
With the way Cryptartica is set up, one need not invest a lot of capital prior to earning. “One of the things that we’ve done at Cryptartica is actually to create a design marketplace, and that will allow any user to easily, in five minutes, start selling their designs on merchandise and earn Bitcoin Cash. That will allow these users to basically lower the barrier of entry for them and allow them to earn Bitcoin Cash without actually having to invest money upfront,” he said.
Sancho believes in the importance of meetups for getting the word out about BCH, a responsibility he takes seriously. According to the Cryptartica founder, “We started meetups around January, that was our first meetup. And that was a very successful meetup, a lot of people showing interest in wanting to learn about Bitcoin Cash, and we think that is very important. What the BCF, the Bitcoin Cash Fund, has been doing is very important to fostering meetups around the world and basically put Bitcoin Cash out there. People tend to forget that one of the most important things is to actually educate people. They will not learn and they will not find out about Bitcoin Cash or any other cryptocurrency unless we put in that effort. It has to be us enthusiasts, as the first Bitcoin Cash users, to actually do that work, go out there and educate people, let them find out by themselves how great this technology can be.”
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Alex Fauvel, analyst for CyberCapital BV, discusses with CoinGeek’s Becky Liggero the advantages of cryptocurrencies, specifically Bitcoin Cash (BCH), compared to central bank-issued fiat notes.
Alex Fauvel, who has served as analyst for CyberCapital BV, is also a partner in startup TwoHop Ventures. His background in mechanical engineering doesn’t scream a career in cryptocurrencies, but it has served him in his understanding of the subject.
“When I was doing my research in what makes cryptocurrencies special, I came across this concept called thermoeconomics. I’m a mechanical engineer by trade and I’ve studied thermodynamics, and when I read what it effectively proposed is that money is a representation of energy, and all of human interaction is just energy. So when you frame money as energy, when a central bank prints money, they’re stealing energy from the civilization,” he said.
This talk of energy may be a little hippie-sounding, but Fauvel keeps the conversation grounded in tangible instances. “[Y]ou can make parallels with that in biology. You have this dynamic called the red queen hypothesis which is parasites and hosts, and parasites steal energy from a host. So in that respect, central banks really act like parasites, and if they get too big, they kill both the parasite and the host,” he said, which brought to mind the 2008 American housing crisis where Bitcoin—whose first real application was poker—emerged as a possible alternative to traditional financial institutions.
Cryptocurrencies have been regarded as a way to bring back sound money, yet the scaling problem of BTC shows that even the new technology could be subject to centralized powers.
“When I first discovered cryptocurrencies in 2013, like everyone I fell in love with Bitcoin. And then it broke my heart, just like Brian Armstrong from Coinbase. And Ethereum was all the rage. Something never really sat quite right with Ethereum to me, and that’s partly probably because it was supposed to be built on [BTC]. And then Bitcoin Cash happened,” Fauvel said, with BCH able to surmount what BTC couldn’t. But he wasn’t on board immediately.
“To be honest, before the fork, I didn’t think a minority fork could survive, but then my understanding of the incentive mechanisms that drive miners to continue to mine developed, so that I realized they’re not hostile. And if they are hostile, the whole thing breaks down, but because they are part of the system, they’re never going to be hostile,” he said.
CoinGeek’s Becky Liggero caught up with Dr. Craig Wright, chief scientist of nChain, to discuss what Bitcoin Cash (BCH) can bring to developing countries around the world.
For nChain’s chief scientist Dr. Craig Wright, the use of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) as means of payment in Africa should not be confined to within the continent. The potential of a universally accepted currency making instant transactions possible should be explored farther.
“I think trade globally is what matters. Trade forms markets because of an emergent property in markets, all those people interacting without regulations stopping them,” he said.
Goods in one country in Africa are often available elsewhere in region, where trade opportunities are not maximized. “There’s coffee beans in Rwanda, there’s coffee beans in Ethiopia, there’s coffee beans in Kenya. Do you think Rwandans are going to buy Kenyan coffee beans and swap their coffee beans for the other? So what we need is a world market. Right now, that is a very primary market, one where people haven’t opened up and developed. That can be services and other things as it develops more and it can be global. With the internet, with the ability to trade from here to America, from here to Europe, that brings money in and can be used to further develop the country, to build infrastructure,” he said.
Bitcoin BCH might eventually serve as a medium of exchange to a greater capacity than the U.S. dollar and other fiat currencies.
“Bitcoin Cash, first of all, enables a payment system. So that’s going to open up the markets, the ability to trade, not just locally, which is part of it. Within the regions, but [also] globally. A global money becomes trusted because you know it’s liquid everywhere. But we can take that further. With the introduction of smart contracts, we can do things like enabling people to invest here in maybe even coffee plantations, maybe other forms of agriculture, maybe growing plantains that not get sold locally but become sold everywhere so that you can then get more money back and buy more goods and services, maybe educate your children and develop a future,” he said.
Because of BCH’s great exchangeability, the products for which BCH serves as remuneration ought to be something usable on a global scale. “I think the real issue is actually creating something that is going to be globally distributed. We don’t want to localize. This is the whole point of specialization. What are you building here? And there are some new industries that are starting to pop up, and that’s what they need to focus on, whether it’s developing new technology, whether it’s having the agriculture in a way that [you] can sell to the world, whatever else. But to do that, you’re not looking at selling between Africans. You want to sell to the world, you want to sell to Europe, you want to sell to Asia, you want to sell to America. That’s when it really becomes powerful. And having Bitcoin Cash will help and enable that,” Wright said.
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In this Coinversation with CoinGeek’s Becky Liggero, crypto pioneer James Howells talks about how his crypto journey started and why he’s a big proponent of Bitcoin Cash (BCH).
When James Howells talks about the virtues of Bitcoin Cash (BCH), you’re sure he knows what he’s talking about. After all, he’s been there. From the very beginning.
“I was one of the first six people on the network to mine Bitcoin. The difficulty level was zero. I launched my clients, started mining Bitcoin, and left it running overnight, until I was advised to stop by my ex-girlfriend, because the noise of the fans was keeping her up at night,” Howells told CoinGeek.
When he looks back to those times, and compares them to now, it is Bitcoin BCH that he sees working the way Satoshi Nakamoto’s cryptocurrency was supposed to.
“Bitcoin Cash represents the Bitcoin blockchain that I used back in 2009. When I first started mining, I started with my engineering work laptop and quickly realized that I needed a more powerful laptop. I began mining then with my personal laptop, which was a gaming machine, by then sent my original 400 coins that I’d mined from my engineering laptop to my personal laptop. That transaction fee cost me zero. If I want to do the same thing today, 400 coins being sent on the BTC chain, it costs me $5 in fee. In terms of technology, we have gone backwards,” Howells said.
This isn’t some negligible amount, especially when looking at the economy as a whole. “In the end of 2017, everybody knows about the [BTC] price increase but at the same time, fees were increasing rapidly. When Bitcoin Cash spikes in price, the fees don’t spike with it. That is the real Bitcoin that I used back in 2009, and it’s the real Bitcoin that many other early adopters have also backed and used,” he said.
Nowadays, Howells is busy promoting his miniPOS system, designed for businesses to accept BCH easily and securely. No one knows the value of taking care of one’s private keys, or the pain of losing them, as he does, after having lost millions of dollars’ worth of BTC.
“Unfortunately in 2013, the hard drive containing the private key was mistakenly thrown into the bin, which was then put into my local landfill or rubbish dump,” Howells said, probably the millionth time he’s told the story. He’s moved on, and is now focused on giving merchants and customers a great way to complete BCH transactions.
“miniPOS basically started as an open-sourced project between myself and three developers on Bitcoin Cash Slack channel. We came across this software, and we’ve now refined it into an actual product which can be purchased by merchants in order to accept Bitcoin Cash in store for goods and services, with checkout times in 10 seconds or less. There are absolutely zero private keys held on this device, so there’s no chance of losing any funds by using this device. The actual storeowners can leave the store, they can leave the cashier in charge, and be safe in the knowledge that the funds that they have received will not be stolen,” Howells said.