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Re: Remailers and ecash
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Robert A. Costner wrote:
>Let's assume you want to setup a remailer for profit. You could use a
>spare machine on your desktop and share a phone line part time by using a
>PPP connection. But I take it this is not what you are suggesting. I'm
>assuming you want a commercial quality service. You'll need a machine,
>colocation space, UPS power, a router to separate from the rest of the
>internal network, a phone line for complaints and administration, a domain
>name, and a person who can do programming, server administration, and
>administrative work, perhaps 20 hours per week.
> Machine $2,500
> Router 800
> Domain 100
>Startup costs $3,400
> Colocation $ 700
> Phone line 45
> Salary 3,750
>Recurring costs $4,495 x 12 months = $53,940
>Fixed costs $ 3,400
>This makes an estimated business cost of $57,340 for one year, or $4,778
>per month, or about $159 per day. based on 4,000 messages per day that
>gives a base cost per message of less than 4 cents. Actual operation costs
>would be higher, but even at triple that price, if there is a demand for
>the service (which I have my doubts) the 25 cent price would make a profit.
1. You should be looking at the marginal cost of adding money
collection to a remailer. It isn't fifty thousand dollars, it's
calling Mark Twain Bank, downloading the ecash software, getting it
set up, and then hooking it into your remailer. (This would be a good
way for the EFF to collect donations, wouldn't it?)
2. Remember that this could be started as a side business by somebody
who has already paid the fixed costs.
3. $50,000 is nothing for a high tech venture, anyway. If there is
any indication that security services could be a real market, the
investment money will flow like tap water. (People love web
businesses that are really generating hard cash.)
>What about the free system does not seem to work well?
When I look at Raph's statistics I don't see a successful remailer
network. Now, there is some question about what his numbers mean, and
there are some questions about the causes, but it is believed (not
just by me) that the remailers lose messages and that they are delayed
by reasons other than waiting for reordering queues to fill up.
Yesterday, I think you said that if you noticed a problem with your
remailer at 1am, you would deal with it in the morning. You are a
volunteer and that is perfectly reasonable. But, if your remailer was
related to a flow of cash, you might find it worthwhile to stay up
another 30 minutes.
Also, there are really only a few remailers out there. If there was a
market in place, we would see some more entrants, both as service
providers and as customers. There are lots of people out there who
would be delighted to operate a remailer for $5000/year.
>I'll admit that I really have not used DigiCash. Maybe someone here
>can tell me some experiences with it.
It's a great product. You haven't lived until you've e-mailed money.
>I found two problems. Last I checked, the bank account reuired to
>have digicash had a service fee of about $10 per month.
I don't think you have to pay this fee with every account. (Even if
there is a $10 fee, I would think my $50 would help defray the
The way it works (in e-mail) is you generate a block of ASCII text
that looks sort of like a PGP message and give it to the person you
want to pay. You can make the payment out to them in particular, or
you can make it out to whoever takes the certificate to the bank
For ease of use, remailers should use the latter method. This also
means that you wouldn't have to have a merchant account (which might
be more expensive) to accept cash with your remailer.
Editor in Chief
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