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I've been reading through web3.js's API documentation and come across transactions using IBAN numbers. They appear to be alphanumerical values generated from the public address.

What is their role since they're not used for confidentiality reasons?

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IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is the system used by bog-standard banks for transferring between accounts.

Ethereum has ICAP (Inter-exchange Client Address Protocol), which is effectively a decentralised version of IBAN.

From the glossary in the Homestead guide:

ICAP Interexchange Client Address Protocol, an IBAN-compatible system for referencing and transacting to client accounts aimed to streamline the process of transferring funds, worry-free between exchanges and, ultimately, making KYC and AML concerns a thing of the past.

There's some further information under Your First Account in this guide.

  • 1
    But aren't these requirements already met by Ethereum public addresses? – Sebi Jul 6 '16 at 17:06
  • 2
    @Sebi, nope, see this brilliant thread. – Afr Jul 7 '16 at 9:12
  • Ah, sorry, didn't spot the duplicate! – Richard Horrocks Jul 7 '16 at 9:43

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