After a round of testing in beta, Signal is revealing its capacity to quickly send money privately to any other user with a message.
As first reported by Wired, Signal has launched its private cryptocurrency payments feature worldwide.
After almost a year of testing, the integration of a payments feature in beta in the UK, and a few months since quietly experimenting with a global rollout, Signal is now confident enough to launch the ability to send ultra-private digital payments.
The app has now fully integrated a relatively new, privacy-focused cryptocurrency called MobileCoin. The token’s founder, Josh Goldbard, confirmed the rollout of the global beta, adding that the release spurred massive adoption of the cryptocurrency, with thousands of transactions occurring daily.
“There are over a hundred million devices on planet Earth right now that have the ability to turn on MobileCoin and send an end-to-end encrypted payment in five seconds or less,” said Goldbard, referring to Signal’s total download numbers.
But getting users to make the most of the new feature is not yet that simple. To send money with a message, Signal users in any country (except the sanctioned North Korea and Syria) can tap the “+” sign and select “payment” to access their MobileCoin wallet.
The problem is that purchasing the coin is not accessible to all. The cryptocurrency is only listed on exchanges BitFinex and FTX, and neither is accessible to US customers.
According to Goldbard, users in the US should be able to start purchasing MobileCoins in the first three months of the year thanks to cryptocurrency payment processor Zero Hash and cryptocurrency trading platform SFOX.
The addition of a payments feature to the encrypted video-calling, and texting app comes after rival platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are already providing the service, though none of them enjoy Signal’s reputation on respecting its users’ privacy.
“I would like to get to a world where not only can you feel [a sense of privacy] when you talk to your therapist over Signal, but also when you pay your therapist for the session over Signal,” Signal creator Moxie Marlinspike said last spring while championing the privacy of cryptocurrency over surveillance-friendly banking or credit card systems.
Marlinspike and Goldbard say they designed MobileCoin to be both easier to use for small purchases on a mobile device, with fast transaction confirmations, and also far more private than Bitcoin, whose public blockchain can allow powerful forms of tracking.
But some privacy advocates fear that integrating a privacy coin into Signal could create new legal headaches and a further tightening of US federal rules on cryptocurrencies.