The signal cryptocurrency function has gone around the world

In spring In 2021, the application for encrypted communications Signal announced that it will add the payment feature in beta for your UK users, testing integration with a relatively new privacy-focused cryptocurrency called MobileCoin. But a much broader phase of that experiment has been quietly underway since mid-November. Then Signal made the same feature available to all its users without fanfare, offering the ability to send digital payments far more privately than credit card transactions – or bitcoin transfers – to many millions of phones.

MobileCoin founder Josh Goldbard confirmed the timing of the introduction and said it spurred mass adoption of the cryptocurrency, which now has thousands of daily transactions compared to just dozens before the global beta release. “There are currently over one hundred million devices on planet Earth that have the ability to enable MobileCoin and send en-to-end encrypted payments in five seconds or less,” Goldbard said, citing Signal reports. total downloads.

In fact, getting started with Signal’s payment feature is still not that simple. Anyone outside sanctioned companies like North Korea and Syria can access their MobileCoin wallet as part of a message by tapping the “+” icon and then “paying”. But the challenge for many will be to fill that wallet in the first place; cryptocurrency is listed for sale on only a few smaller cryptocurrency exchanges – such as BitFinex and FTX – none of which are yet offered to U.S. consumers.

Signal itself did not respond to WIRED’s requests for comment on the global introduction of the payment function. But last April, Signal creator Moxie Marlinspike he explained to WIRED that he wanted to add payments to the encrypted video calling and text messaging app to suit rival features like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger — while also introducing Signal’s acclaimed privacy protections into monetary transactions. “I would like to come to a world where you don’t just feel [a sense of privacy] when you talk to your therapist through Signal, but also when you pay your therapist for a session through Signal, ”Marlinspike said at the time.

Marlinspike argued that the kind of monetary privacy requires integration with cryptocurrencies, rather than traditional banking and credit card systems suitable for supervision. In 2017, Marlinspike helped launch MobileCoin with that potential integration in mind, serving as a paid technical advisor for cryptocurrency. He and Goldbard say they designed MobileCoin to be easier to use for small purchases on a mobile device, with quick transaction confirmations, and also far more private than Bitcoin, whose public blockchain can enable powerful forms of tracking.

To avoid blockchain-based tracking of user finances, MobileCoin applies techniques that were pioneered in older “privacy coins” such as Currency and Zcash. This includes a protocol called CryptoNote and a feature called Ring Confidential Transactions, which hides the amount of payments and makes it difficult to track them by mixing. MobileCoin also uses a form of mathematical proof known as Bulletproofs that can guarantee that a transaction occurred without revealing its value. “I don’t think it’s reasonable to send transactions through a book where all the actions can be linked,” Goldbard said of Bitcoin’s less private blockchain. “There are so many different ways this is a problem. If I pay my bills, my barista now knows I just paid the therapist or I went to the doctor. Every transaction I make with that wallet is now visible to my barista, forever.”

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