In this day of hi-tech cyber attacks against personal privacy, we need to think twice before sharing personal information online. This is true for info such as credit cards or personal preferences that we would like to protect for personal safety. This was the inspiration for AnonPay, where we wanted to create a mechanism to buy online on any website without sharing personal info such as credit card numbers.
What it does
AnonPay allows users to create coupons of monetary value. The equivalent amount of money is withdrawn from the user's bank account and held in escrow in a big pool by AnonPay. Then, the user is able to use the coupons they purchased to buy items online. The merchant redeems the coupons and is paid by AnonPay. This way, no personal information is shared with e-commerce websites whose connections cannot be trusted. Furthermore, due to the movement of money via an intermediate entity (AnonPay), purchase of goods cannot be linked back to the users. AnonPay is simple, does not require installation, and acts as a trusted intermediate entity with secure connections to users and merchants alike.
How we built it
The Capital One Nessie API was extensively used to deposit money, make purchases, make accounts for customers, and transfer money from account to account. We built a coupon generation system in Python. The coupons can be used repeatedly until they are of no value. Money spent on the coupons can also be refunded. The online store built to stimulate e-commerce was built with node.js, django, angular-js and HTML/CSS. All processes ran on Linode. Mongodb was extensively used to track coupons, save transactions and power the online store.
Challenges we ran into
We were not sure of an API we could use to track movement of money. We had spent 1/2 day building our own system before we discovered Capital One's API. We also had tried simulating 1000s of customers/merchants buying and redeeming codes and had to make use of multiple Linode instances and Linode's load distribution mechanism to continue operating.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud that from conception to creation was less than 24 hours. We worked excellently as a team under testing conditions and lack of sleep. Most importantly, we are proud to create a service that actually addresses a need and can become a viable option to perform e-commerce in the future.
What we learned
We did become more proficient in the areas that we worked in. We also learnt more about the electronic payments industry in the process. We also had a lot of fun with fun domain names: anonymunz.me!
What's next for AnonPay
We will definitely try to expand this in the future by demoing it to our friends. We hope that Capital One keeps this API alive as it has been a great way to manage money with proper barriers in place.