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How anonymous can we be when managing our finances?

In today’s digital age, we are sometimes forced to submit our personal data even when making minor purchases online. In this case, how sure can we be about the security and privacy of our financial operations?

Can you believe that your private email and phone number were once known only to your family, friends and close acquaintances? Those days are gone. Today even your gym receives an amount of data sufficient for issuing you a passport. Some of us don’t even blink when sharing their personal data, email, address and even fingerprint! Such requirements have become standard, and sometimes we don’t even think about who receives our sensitive personal information.

The situation when your smartphone knows more about your life than your closest relatives, raises a question: Does anonymity still exist? And, if it does – in which areas can we still hope to stay anonymous without refusing the modern lifestyle and technologies?

What kind of anonymity is essential in the 21st century?

  • Privacy online. In fact, this is not only about anonymity but also about security. Have you ever felt uncomfortable that Facebook or Google knows so much about you and your preferences? Ever felt annoyed that even minor apps ask you to register with your email or Facebook account? If yes, then you know what I mean.
  • Anonymous shopping. Each of us has sometimes wished to purchase a product or service discreetly. In reality, your purchases are visible not only to the seller but also to your bank and sometimes to a third party – e.g., payment system provider, like PayPal.
  • Incognito online entertainment. I believe this point doesn’t require explaining. It is your choice and only your business how you spend the money you’ve earned.
  • Professional confidentiality. There are numerous professions, industries, and forms of employment. Discrete payments allow you to inform as few people as possible about your occupation or source of income.

Financial anonymity and legislation

Since our email inboxes have become a public space where promotions and even spam messages fall among important and private emails, how can we be sure that our bank account won’t become public and easily accessible as well?

Luckily, we are not there yet. However, recent changes in European Legislation prove that governments are seeking increasing control over our finances. On 26 June 2017 the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive entered into force establishing that any institution performing financial transactions must be capable of identifying the origin and flow of its funds. Banks have already started asking detailed information from their customers, including the workplace and the monthly turnover of personal funds.

The aim of these changes may be noble, like fighting against money laundering, financing of unlawful activity and illegal economy. However, the result stays unchanged – our income and expenses are not anymore our private business.

How to protect your anonymity?

Most people adjust to the new order of things because they trust banks or don’t even stop to think about other ways to manage their finances discreetly. In fact, many innovative companies already offer the opportunity to manage one’s emails, SMS and also finances anonymously. The growing popularity of such services proves that people care about their privacy and the safety of their online transactions.

There already are secure communication services that don’t share the contents of email conversations with third-party systems. For example, ProtonMail is a service for safe and anonymous emailing, and Telegram is a similar service for mobile massages. Many people across the globe use AdBlock that blocks promotional banners and ads on different websites.

In order to manage their finances more safely and privately, many people choose to open non-bank accounts and get prepaid cards. For example, WestStein Mastercard accounts are maintained by an international financial institution Prepaid Financial Services (PFS) in Ireland and London. It is a universal, Irish-owned bank that is monitored in accordance with EU regulations. Therefore your account details are not handed to your country’s governmental institutions unless they are specifically demanded due to suspicious or criminal activities.

It’s the freedom from huge bank machinery and bureaucracy that WestStein customers appreciate the most. To open a WestStein account, all you need is a computer or smartphone and a few minutes to provide basic information about yourself. One WestStein account, email, and physical address can have up to three associated Mastercards.

Anonymity is often misunderstood and underestimated. If you stopped to think about it for a moment, you would probably also start doubting the safety of your data and operations online. A wish for privacy is completely understandable, and it does not mean that you’d like to do something shady or even illegal. On the contrary – safeguarding your personal information is a wise decision today when all our online actions are transparent and many services are linked to social media accounts.

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