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Signal adds a payments feature with a privacy-focused cryptocurrency (wired.com)
542 points by josh2600 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 639 comments





The comment from the article echos my own sentiments:

> Speaking solely as a person who is really into encrypted messaging, it terrifies me that they're going to take this really clean story of an encrypted messenger and mix it up with the nightmare of laws and regulations and vulnerability that is cryptocurrency.

Moreover, there are three other points I'd add:

1. I don't like "do everything" apps like WeChat or Line. One of Signals strengths was UX that focused on it's core competency. Early in Signal's development they would add privacy features. Lately they have been adding social features. This, however, feels especially out of left field and likely to hurt the UX.

2. This smells like dev resources will be spent building and maintaining something not related to messaging.

3. I've always had a "don't let perfect be the enemy of good" rationalization that gives Signal autonomy to grow a privacy centric messaging app despite the deficits (e.g lack of federation). In contrast, I personally associate "crypto" with "scam". There have been so many shady ICOs and pump-dump schemes around crypto. This will taint the product for those of us who don't think of crypto currency as being anything more than pump-and-dump schemes and a way to buy dab rigs online.


> Early in Signal's development they would add privacy features. Lately they have been adding social features.

This is intentional and relates to Signal's growth in the past few years. It's not "a hacker tool for nerds" it's "a friendly, easy to use chat app with stickers & voice messages (also strong encryption)."

IRC does one thing and does it well, and barely anyone uses it. The "clean technical vision" story isn't enough on its own.


I love IRC but saying the IRC protocol does anything well (or is even a documented and agreed-upon protocol) is a bit of a stretch.

Otherwise, agree with the thrust of your statement. I believe getting Signal into the hands of more users is an overall net good and if stickers are the answer then get to making some stickers.


Haha yeah I never did learn all about modes and had to google commands or go to the mod channel and ask for help not infrequently, but irc does get held up as an example of “a simple and perfectly decent tool” and my point is that being simple and perfectly OK is not enough, it needs to also be user friendly and accessible to the lay person.

I think we’re violently agreeing.


IRC was simple and decent 20 years ago. Not today. Or even 10 years ago. The world has moved (very very far) on.

Discord is basically modern IRC. Twitch.tv chat is IRC based.

Yes, Sir.

> a friendly, easy to use chat app with stickers & voice messages (also strong encryption).

Except it's not, strong encryption and privacy emphasis goes against easy to use. I recently got my family to switch to Telegram (because I like the interface) - my sister works in an environment where she has to have a separate work phone without a camera and everything synced up out of the box, history, etc. Brother lost his phone - same thing, has chat histories and everything is back to normal. I use Telegram on desktop and mobile and it synces instantly.

Compare that to Signal, you don't even sync between active devices and you can forget about having old conversations on a new device. And just to give you a scope of how important messaging history to people is (I've seen people say nobody cares about IM history) - designer from work is lugging around her Android phone year after switching to iPhone just for WhatsApp history (it doesn't sync between OS-es).


I don't disagree that Telegram storing everything on their servers is very convenient, but:

> you don't even sync between active devices

I use Signal on a phone and a laptop, switching between the two frequently throughout the day and see the same conversations on both. (Edit: I realised you probably meant multiple phones, yes I see that's not yet supported.)

>and you can forget about having old conversations on a new device.

There's been a manual, secure transfer process between Android devices for years. More recently they've added an easy OTA transfer process for Android->Android, or iOS->iOS.

Here's the iOS announcement: https://signal.org/blog/ios-device-transfer/


> I use Signal on a phone and a laptop, switching between the two frequently throughout the day and see the same conversations on both.

I've had multiple issues with this before I gave up on Signal, it wouldn't show history when I initially paired up even when importing forever, then randomly stopped being connected and required me to pair again (losing everything on PC again)

> There's been a manual, secure transfer process between Android devices for years

Doesn't help much when you lose your phone.

I guess what I'm trying to say for most people the value of having your chat messages hosted in the cloud > security.


Same experience here. I'm absolutely flabbergasted that the Signal devs decided to implement something like stickers (which, btw, are a pale imitation of what Telegram offers in terms of ease of use and discovery) before they implemented full message sync between devices.

I have a smartphone that I control. I have a desktop computer that I control. I use an application on both computers that lets me send secure messages between device. The application somehow can sync new messages but refuses to let me import old ones. How insane is that? But apparently integrating with cryptocurrencies was above that in the todolist.

Signal is clearly a great protocol, but man is it seriously in need of a great implementation...

>But Marlinspike and Goldbard counter that Signal's new features won't give it any control of MobileCoin or turn it into a MobileCoin exchange, which might lead to more regulatory scrutiny. Instead, it will merely add support for spending and receiving it.

Oh, that's going to be a recipe for a great user experience again. You can send MobileCoin super easily... after you've gone on some crypto exchange platform to trade a highly speculative asset into one of your wallets. It's basically like Venmo indeed.


I'm not surprised at all. 3 out of 4 big message apps (Line, WhatsApp and Wechat) don't support full message sync, it's clearly not a showstopper for mass adoption. 99% of the people don't need it and it's hard to implement correctly. Not importing old messages could be a security feature.

Stickers on the other hand are something that does attract many casual users and has no security implications.

Payment features... I think it's a bad idea for many different reasons but it might attract many users if it's not too complex.


Stickers probably were much easier and quicker to implement and they're important for many people. It's not a difficult decision.

> I use Signal on a phone and a laptop, switching between the two frequently throughout the day and see the same conversations on both.

Frequently messages aren't even synchronised between those two or they're out of order. Also, the desktop client itself is a bit of a joke.


> Except it's not... my sister ...

I don't see how these relate. Signal isn't explicitly aimed at high security targets, although it works for them (seeing the Snowden endorsement). Signal is about bringing encryption to the masses. Making E2EE the default choice for everyone. Is is much more about mass surveillance. Your sister has a different threat model, one where they are also concerned about the physical device being compromised (i.e. stolen, hacked, or being physically accessed).

These are different threat models. For E2EE for the masses you need things like stickers and for it to be "fun" in addition to being a tool. In your sister's threat model she's more concerned about the tool over the fun part. It is a work phone after all (I mean this is why they take out the camera).

E2EE for the masses is pointless if you can't appeal to the masses. Cypher nerds will always have their fun toys to communicate with but we are also in dire need for something that prevents mass surveillance. That is, after all, one of the fundamental necessities of a democracy: being able to speak your mind without fear of government spying/involvement (this is the reason they got funding from Radio Free America in the past). Unfortunately this means some compromises need to be made. But as far as I'm concerned Signal has done far better than any service I've seen and the relative leak is near zero. The weak points are SGX and pins, which only hide some minor metadata (even fully leaked this would be better than WA or Telegram).


I'm just giving real world scenarios where people might have two phones, plenty of people have them for different reasons, it's useful to sync between them - I should have worded that differently.

Oh, I understand now. Though I would argue in your sister's case she would explicitly not want to sync. But other people might. I'm actually highly in favor of Signal allowing multiple devices and their platform to be expanded (it'd be nice for IOT bots). Or even allowing for decentralization while maintaining the core official node.

Yeah, the history sync issue is a huge problem, signal doesn't even support Android BackupAgent based client side encrypted backups or device to device transfers at all which should not be difficult to add, see: https://community.signalusers.org/t/support-native-android-b...

Signal should in theory also be able to just sync/backup everything to the desktop client, this would largely solve the inability to transfer between Android and iOS issue.

I don't understand why such basic quality of life improvements have yet to be implemented, especially since they are especially desirable for less technical users.


They're orthogonal to good security. Missing data is always better than encrypted data. I wish it had a global keep messages for X time feature like iNessage instead of tge per yser configurable dissappearing messages.

Implementing these sort of backup options should not result in a meaningful reduction in security as they don't effectively change the security model, encrypted client side backups are equivalent to the existing signal specific encrypted backups on android, device to device transfers are the equivalent of coping the existing signal specific encrypted backups to a new phone and restoring them. The desktop client receives copies of signal messages normally as well so it effectively keeps backups already(they just often end up incomplete and can't be restored properly).

You’re totally correct that there are trade offs. Coming from a background of using IRC, google chat & Facebook chat with and without e2e encryption and deleting accounts etc I’m used to not always having forever message history and I can see how not having that would be a nonstarter for some users.

Yes there are sacrifices and trade offs for the security signal offers and it’s not 100% as convenient as Facebook messenger in that regard, but it’s also not 100% as cumbersome and impractical as GPG email. It strikes what I consider a decent balance of being secure and private and usable enough for non-technical users. Yes the message history story is lacking, I lost my messages moving iPhone to iPhone because I did it wrong and yeah it made me sad for a moment but I’m philosophical about it I guess. Dust to dust and all that.


>You’re totally correct that there are trade offs.

Sadly, Signal's developers don't think trade offs exist


I recently switched WhatsApp from Android to iOS and I was flabbergasted there was no official mechanism to retain message history. As annoying as it is, it goes to show most people don't actually value it highly.

Facebook would have no trouble funding a basic iCloud-GDrive bridge if there was enough demand for it.



I don't see the incentive for them to work on it - by the time you need it you're already deep into using the app so it's an inconvenience.

You can get away with this when you're the established player, but when you're the new guy every annoyance is a reason to revert to the previous app.


The lack of portability of WhatsApp between the two mobile OS platforms is infuriating.

Of the three (WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal) I find WhatsApp to be the worst from a UX pov and Telegram the best. Personally, I find this exodus of users from WhatsApp to be a good thing even for no other reason than having to deal less with their UX.

Signal is not much better UX wise, but at least it gives hope of being better because they have to compete and because they are open source. If they fail to bad at growing the project or providing the infrastructure, someone will eventually fork and setup a separate network. WhatsApp has no pressure. It is in Facebooks interest to eventually migrate everyone to FB Messenger.


> goes against easy to use

or just respect reasonable limits?

Does it make sense to destroy one feature for the illusion of having both?

Elements.io and telegram (to a much lesser extent) are safes. You place something there and it is locked. Signal, whatsapp, et al promise to be safes, but as soon as you place something, a hidden camera scan all the documents and print copies in a hidden printer at your home safe.

Would you trust that safe? would you still even call them safes? Yet some product manager/marketer convinced you that these are essential features for a "easy of use safe".


How is Telegram a ”safe“ but Signal isn‘t? This doesn’t make sense.

Telegram stores all history (except secret chats, which are a pain to use) server-side and effectively unencrypted.


Matrix is an industrial-strength steel safe. Telegram is one of those transparent plastic safes you can buy for 20€.

And what on earth does cryptocurrency have to do with mass appeal then?

The whole "not available in the US" messaging around MobileCoin, no doubt to avoid regulatory attention, gives this particular ponzi scheme a very nice ring.


Well, I guess that it can go both ways : you can have too many or not enough features...

That and a handful of early WhatsApp employees now work at Signal. WhatsApp, back in the day when they were just 30+ people, accomplished amazing feats of product and engineering given the scale and growth. I sense Signal has the ambition to outright compete with WhatsApp on most if not all fronts.

I, for one, welcome this; the larger market is asking for a privacy-focused WhatsApp alternative, and Signal could be it.


Amen to all your points. I find this really disappointing. The "yeah, but they are a non-profit so you can be assured they are good custodians of the product" no longer goes for me.

Respectfully disagree, Sir.

Crypto integration was one of the things that arguably killed Keybase for a lot of users, and damaged trust. Given that trust is the selling point for these type of services, I really hope Signal don't lose it.

Yeah, it was a disaster for Keybase IMO. My messaging tools are already valuable enough to me, the last thing I wanted was a reward on hacking it. When keybase did their Stellar drop, I didn't activate it and it was just a nagging option in the UI forever.

I don't like using SMS for 2FA because it encourages people to social engineer the phone company to port the victim's phone numbers. I wouldn't want crypto in my messaging app for a similar reason.

Right now hacking a user's Signal account means you get some txt messages. Big deal. With payments there is now real reason to try to hack Signal accounts because some percentage of them will contain money.


> When keybase did their Stellar drop, I didn't activate it and it was just a nagging option in the UI forever.

Just FYI but those Stellar drops are worth over 500 USD right now.


Oh wow, you're right, just checked mine and it's got $600+ in there.

Is there a way of converting those into actual USD?

Most of the big exchanges such as Binance, Bittrex, Kraken and even Coinbase support it now.

Ooo, you are right. Thanks for the tips!

I agree with all of your points.

The counter argument would be seeing the success of WeChat in China and wanting to reproduce that success AND expecting that if they don't do it someone else will do it and take their market.

Whether that's true or not I don't know but if I believed it was true then your arguments wouldn't matter since I'd believe not doing it is an existential risk.


If that is their thinking, then they are quite naive. Comparing WeChat's success in tackling payments with a crypto-based attempt is laughable. WeChat is using real money, and it has explicit official endorsement by the state - an extremely powerful state at that in terms of internal control.

In contrast, any crypto-currency based solution will be inherently distrusted, and few if any states will endorse it. It is more likely to be actively discouraged by many states, and the crypto support may well end up as a pretext to ban Signal on economic rather than censorship grounds.

It is overall a disaster of an idea.


I don't know how will it play out for Signal in countries which have banned or are planning to ban crypto as a currency. RBI had issued policy to banks to stop providing banking services to people/organizations holding/trading in crypto. Though the blanket ban was invalidated by the supreme court after two years, but using it as currency is against Indian Law and the government is working on a new law to further restrict it (read legalizing RBI policy to a great extent as I understood) .

In such cases, Signal could easily be banned in such countries outright.


Nothing really stops Signal from shipping a build w/o a crypto wallet to comply.

Do we have a CVE for the regulator vulnerability yet?

In a lot of ways, the transfer of cryptocurrency is the same as the transfer of generic messages.

It's only when you're transferring them back to dollars/yuan/yen/etc. that it's suddenly currency from a government.


> the transfer of cryptocurrency is the same as the transfer of generic messages

Technically, yes. Legally and sociopolitically, no.

And if you intentionally muddle the data streams, that brings the full force of anti-money laundering, tax evasion and terrorist financing law against you. It gives almost any government a free pass to do what it wants.

Freedom to speak privately is, in most democracies, popularly recognised as a right. Freedom to pay using dark money is not. Attaching the second to the first weakens both.


Legally, yes. FinCEN distinguishes custodial exchanges with noncustodial wallets. It looks like signal is doing the latter.

Bitcoin Core (the software) is not registered as a money transmitter anywhere in the world, its developers are fine and never got into any trouble.


> FinCEN distinguishes custodial exchanges with noncustodial wallets. It looks like signal is doing the latter.

We agree. There is a legal difference between a custodial exchange and noncustodial wallet. Just as there is a difference between a non-money messaging system and a noncustodial wallet. The comment you are responding to concerned itself with the latter.


Simply enough, people do NOT want filthy hooker money in their wallets, if they don't need to. Yuck.

I'll tell you one way it's not, is as soon as someone commits a crime who happens to use Signal and the media gets ahold of this. It'll be a circus with terms like "dark webv and wha not thrown arohnd. GPs point #3 is kind of important for their reputation and if we want to onboard more people into crypto messaging.

Transferring cryptocurrency between different people (with the exception of spouses) is an asset disposal that is subject to capital gains tax in the UK. It doesn't matter what, if anything, you get in return.

You mean in the sense that it can be traced back to the originator, just like messages?

So how do I get the cryptocurrency in the first place? Especially Mobilecoin?

I would even say that it’s not a clean story of an encrypted messenger. Not when your phone number is associated with it.

The "scam" is using payment systems that allow their owners, controllers, or just hackers to spy on every single transaction on earth, accessing all your past present and future economical activity on demand. Not even the worst dictatorships of centuries past ever dreamt of such awareness and control.

The promotion of pseudonymous and anonymous digital payment systems such as cryptocurrencies is vital to a healthy and functioning society.


I can't really see how a craptocurrency attached to a messenger provides any sort of pseudonymity. If I can send money to you, I can later identify you in a ledger, which simply means I need to find some reason to converse with you and it's game over. If the ledger isn't public, you're back under corporate or Government control.

Signal does not require KYC, so there is no direct link there. As far as public ledgers are concerned, pseudonymous activity offers reasonable privacy controls as long as you know what you are doing.

There are also entirely anonymous cryptocurrencies with no readable public ledgers. Everything is still decentralised, no centralised control of any kind, but you can't see what people are doing (Monero and Zcash being good examples. Signal uses Mobilecoin, which still needs to stand the test of time).

There is still a long road to go before there is a fool proof anonymous, liquid, consumer friendly, usable cryptocurrency, but it is the last bastion of defense against complete total state and corporate surveillance. - One of the greatest threats to human life, on par with climate change.

Your use of the word "craptocurrency" is rather childish and naive. Eventually you will take a closer look at the situation and reconsider. Good luck

I will leave this https://www.theengineroom.org/dangerous-data-the-role-of-dat...


What about using Wickr as an alternative to Signal.

What all these "tech" companies tend to do is to exploit a captured audience. They are generally not focused on doing one thing well (producing a product or providing a service), they are more focused on building a following and then doing with those users whatever they like. One of the most blatent examples of this line of thinking is Microsoft's acquisitions. They acquire companies in order to get access to users. The "technology" is secondary. Another example is WeWork. They started introducing WeEverything. The product or service being offered is what is important. It could be anything. Instead the focus is on building an audience and exploiting that captured audience. One can apply this analysis to almost any "tech" company. "Growth" is the number one focus. No one really cares about what it is the company purports to be selling.


https://github.com/WickrInc/wickr-crypto-c

   ## Linux
   ### Linux Requirements
   - CMake 3.1 or higher
   - Clang
   - OpenSSL => 1.0.2 (Optional)
   ### Linux CMake Configuration
   The linux build can be configured using the standard CMake flow with a few options
   ```
   mkdir build
   cd build
   cmake -DBUILD_OPENSSL=true \
   -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release \
   -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=USER_INSTALL_LOCATION ../

Wickr is proprietary.

The only thing Signal should be able to do with crypto is send it privately.

Yeah I agree. I wouldn't mind so much if this were a second app but this is kind of scary.

And FBI associates "e2ee" with "terrorism".

I do not believe dev is relevant here, Sir. Let's dare to be different<3

Do you associate fiat money with "scam" as well?

I can accept a definition of scam that includes fiat. Though it definitely doesn't track the same way with cryptocurrency.

I associate nootropics with scams but I definitely don't think all nootropics are scams. If someone said, here buy this pill that will make you smarter I'd be incredulous.

My point was cryptocurrency has a deserved bad reputation (for the reasons I mentioned).

I love the lofty ideals but the reality is the altcoin world especially is a minefield of scams. That reputation will hurt a messaging app that has done a pretty good job of building good will.


Money can be a message worth 1000 times more than words...

Perhaps the onus is on you to change your opinion on crypto, regardless of whether it belongs in Signal or not.

There are 250 million units of mobilecoin, and majority of them are owned by the founders. Only 37.5 million have been distributed. With current price ($65), they're worth $14B already. This makes the project a scam and impossible for it to work as a reliable money that holds value. Bitcoin had no pre-mine and has been fairly distributed from the start.

The founding organization owns 85% of the total market cap of a coin? That should be raising red flags for everyone involved.

There is no valid reason for the vast majority of what is supposedly a currency to be owned by the company that created it. Imagine if PayPal launched but required everyone to transact in fractional shares of PayPal to get anything done. Oh and by the way, those shares are majority owned by the founders, but they’ll sell you some so you can send them to your friends.

This is ridiculous.


Of course, it's totally centralized. The 'cryptocurrency' marketing just exists as a regulatory dodge.

So far this scheme has worked out fine for the original creators of Ripple-- who've extracted hundreds of million selling their massive premine to an ignorant public, then abandoned the original and did it again. What we're seeing from signal now is just a third generation of the same scheme, preempting the ripple founders from doing it again (or maybe they're involved behind the scenes, who knows?).

So long as there seems to be no consequence except a massive windfall (SEC fines against ICO/premines have tended to be a fraction of 1% of the funds raised), it's unsurprising to see them continue.

The fact that it may kill one of the more useful secure messaging apps as a side effect? Welp. This is why we can't have nice things: Collectively, we're better at funding borderline scams than public goods.


At least it's better than Bitcoin, since in this case it's well known who the whales are.

If one wishes to subject their wealth to the whims of a massively centralized cartel of "rationally self interested" HOLDers, maybe it's better to deal with the devil(s) one knows.


Or better yet, don't use cryptocurrency at all. Then you can avoid all ethical dilemmas surrounding them.

Problem solved.


But then, you haven't solved the private electronic payment...

Most people don't want private electronic payments. In stable countries like the UK - where this is being launched - it's basically only useful for buying drugs and tax evasion.

One can argue than most people don't care about private messaging as well... I find it a bit scary that my bank has all my purchasing data : they basically know everything about me that way, what if they decide to sell this data ?

Use cash for every day payments - your bank will know nothing.

That's definitely not the direction taken by society... Pandemic, convenience, online businessew ( yeah, I know we could physically mail cash for online purchases but, come on... )

I can't remember the last time I could use paper cash. Beyond your daily groceries, everything is usually exclusively paid for digitally.

Surveillance on daily spends is not valuable. What's valuable is things connected to your identity, specifically associations with other individuals and companies.


This is the way government wants you to think. They want to know literally every dollar (unit_of_monetary_exchange) that you use and don't care one iota about your privacy. They don't want you to value privacy at all.

Here's the reality of the situation.

The vast majority of people simply don't care about this. I mean I have a hard enough of a time to get people to care about privacy-centered messaging apps. Getting them to even begin to comprehend the myriad of cryptocurrencies and the confusing space of DeFi is simply not going to catch on. To them, there's really no benefit outside of "number go up" and so-called store of values, which conveniently have the nasty side effect of requiring users to do their own OpSec. That's actually harder than you think.

And that's not even accounting for how scam-ridden the entire space is to begin with. Who can they even begin to trust? Seems like an oxymoron for a trustless system, when the fact is they aren't even sure if they can trust themselves.

I find it mildly hilarious too, that places like BNY Mellon and JP Morgan are exploring cryptocurrency storage options. Now we are back to "trusting" those darn evil banks everyone gets triggered about.

See how weird this rabbit hole gets?


You say that like those are bad things.

Can you spell out why is that fundamentally bad? I'm asking in good faith not to be oppositional, apologies if its a stupid question. But if you were buying shares in a company it would not matter if most the shares were held by the company (as long as there is enough liquidity to sell your shares in future). Why is it different with the currency? I get that its making the founders rich so perhaps they have greedy intentions, but why does this inherently undermine the validity of the currency?

A cryptocurrency is generally more easily spendable in an open market. The sell potential that a founder has with 75% of the supply is massive.

If I created a coin today and sold 1% of the supply to you alone, on what basis would you want to store any value in that currency? Given constant buy demand, The currency's market value is defined by what I do. This is why organic price discovery for a currency is important.


The majority of the MobileCoins are available for purchase for non-us persons at https://www.buymobilecoin.com right now.

Yes, we’re well aware that you would love to sell us those coins you pre-mined.

That’s the problem.

If Signal was serious about this they would have launched their own fork instead of pitching a pre-mined coin to their users.


> If Signal was serious about this they would have launched their own fork instead of pitching a pre-mined coin to their users.

Agreed. They either would have launched their own fork and distributed the vast majority to their users, or at the very least chosen an existing project that was fairly well distributed.

This makes me believe they primarily did this in return for an incentive from Mobilecoin.


What?

Marlinspike's been an advisor to MobileCoin from like... the beginning. The article also notes that neither he nor Signal own any actual MobileCoins.


Signal may not own any MobileCoins, but the CEO of MobileCoin said:

> MobileCoin has not yet paid Signal anything for integrating MobileCoin. We intend to donate a great deal of money to Signal over the coming years.


In my view there are worse ways to make money from a chat app. Like selling all your users data. Ir worse yet just selling out to FB. At least a crypto scheme can maybe be the cash cow that helps them keep true to the privacy aspect....

I'm really tired of every single company going through some abusive scam or data harvesting scheme to avoid simply charging me money.

Yet somehow the Wikipedia project has managed to stay afloat during all these years...

I'm pretty sure more than one WikiCoin has been pitched too.


Isn't this because most users have decided that charging money is a death sentence? Hell, there's a HN article on this like every month.

Someone should always take the time to point out to such threads that WhatsApp was running very profitable based on that model without eveb trying.

Also feel free to read anything by the Basecamp guys (yep, the guys behind Rails).

It won't get you or the investors (another) yacht, but there exist a number of companies that delight their customers and change history far more than many attempted unicorns.


Until something goes awry in that crypto scheme and some intelligence agency decides to use that as leverage to undermine the security of Signal. Moxie, on his own, may be resistant to pressure, but when there's a secondary company involved that might be pressured by threats of losing several million dollars...

This commingling of business interests means there's more angles of approach, and much more risk exposure.


Yes, I've read that. I find it a stretch to draw that conclusion though, as if it's some back door deal for funding.

For all the criticisms of cryptocurrency (and I have many...), I don't particularly see anything on MobileCoin's work that indicates the usual shady cryptocurrency stuff. I'm not sure it belongs in Signal, but I do think this stuff can be evaluated without people starting conspiracy theories.


It's not a conspiracy when it's all out in the open. Calling things you don't like a conspiracy theory to discredit them is a poor form of argument.

A bunch of decently well of people decided to do a few handshake deals to make each other a whole bunch of money. That's how most of the world rolls so this is simply par for course.


If the owners of MobileCoin own 85% of existing coins which at current rates is valued at $14 billion, you actually expect they're not in this to liquidate their coin for that $14 billion if they can snooker people into using it?

>It's not a conspiracy when it's all out in the open. Calling things you don't like a conspiracy theory to discredit them is a poor form of argument.

This statement would work better if that's what I was doing, but I'm not.

You (and nobody else) on this thread knows for sure what's going on there, and if Moxie's been advising MobileCoin for years I don't see how it falls under a handshake deal.

There is nothing to indicate that he, or Signal, are directly profiting from this, other than some MobileCoin people saying they want to donate to Signal (which is a good thing - I'm really not bothered by that particular point).


The CEO said:

> I love Signal and I started MobileCoin to help fund their work.

I don't see how it's a conspiracy theory that this is a backdoor way of funding Signal when the CEO literally says that MobileCoin was created as a way to fund Signal.


Yeah, I don't really see anything particularly wrong with that. I'd be more bothered by it if Signal wasn't a nonprofit.

Is it potentially a bad business model? Yeah. Is it necessarily some backdoor funding deal? I dunno, I don't really buy it.


It's literally a quid pro quo? What conspiracy theory do you need here?

I don't see how it's a quid pro quo for someone like Moxie, with his background, to advise a project for years and then work with them to integrate it given the alignment with regards to privacy initiatives.

I find it conspiracy-theory in nature to assume otherwise; I think it could've been handled better from a server source code side but I don't really see why this has to be an assumed bad faith thing.


It's quid pro quo to include an obscure scam coin out of the blue into an entirely unrelated product, with a public promise from the scam club owners to donate their money to your business. The fact the the owner of signal had already been associated with MobileCoin for a long time makes it worse, not better.

...no, the fact that the founder of Signal advised it for years indicates it's not an "obscure scam coin" from out of the blue.

If Signal had built this themselves, in house, nobody would bat an eye.

You're stretching hard here.


Signal including a cryptocoin came completely out of the blue (well, apparently there were rumors, but that doesn't mean it was an expected change). MobileCoin is also deeply suspicious in its mining model, and is not some well known coin.

And what is the downside to them if this isn't entirely true? On one hand you have tens of millions of dollars and potentially a lot more, on the other you have a few angry nerds.

The slashdot effect triggered Cloudflare’s DDoS protection and is returning errors for that page.

No, this is just what happens when you try to hit the page from a US IP address.

Why are you blocking the US?

I'm guessing because they don't want an SEC investigation into whatever they're running.

Don’t want to end up in a US prison for the obvious scam they’re running.

because the US has a long reach in the financial world even into Switzerland (these days). The IRS is on a war path against crypto currently and I think they believe 50% of it is something they can be taxing or is fraudulent. The US government doesn't like things that are hard to track.

There is only a "contact us" link on that page.

Will you buy my coins back at a fair price?

What value do you provide? at least when I buy vbucks from Epic I know I'm getting fortnite skins with it.

Why should we run a node free of charge when you extract all the profits of our efforts?

When I see statements like "there's no economic incentive."

I read "I want all the profits, and screw everyone else".

If you genuinely wanted a decentralized network, then you would provide fair compensation for the added value the node provides against attacks on the network.


> There are 250 million units of mobilecoin, and majority of them are owned by the founders. Only 37.5 million have been distributed.

more of the same cryptocurrency themes:

1. decentralization for Thee and not for Me

2. regulated by math.... aaand the developers' / founders enormous, unaccountable and unilateral leverage over liquidity.


Agreed. I was half expecting this was going to be using Monero, one of the more popular privacy-oriented cryptocurrencies I know of that's already being used.

E.g. the only cryptos I've seen people accepting on dark web markets are Bitcoin and Monero.


Monero is clearly the most practical secure coin as evidenced by it's popularity on the darknet. But I think what MobileCoin offers is speed.

As a tradeoff for decentralisation. Currently nodes are run by "trusted companies" and it doesn't look like you can run your own as an individual.

And way less energy consumption, according to their website.

There is no mining which is the big issue. The big issue with their plan is that they hold 85% of the outstanding coins, which at current rates makes them billionaires. No doubt they will liquidate it in chunks to move it from digital potential to cold hard cash.

That is because there is no mining. A proof of stake coin would also use electricity but MobileCoin doesn't even do that.

PoS and MobileCoin validator nodes use about the same amount of electricity.

I'm not a fan of PoS because it looks like a ponzie scheme (unless it's done like eth where initial distribution is done via mining)

This is actually worse than PoS, because PoS uses standard public key cryptographic to validate ownership of coin in the chain to stake, it at least in theory can achieve "trustless" validation.

This on the other hand is just a shitty attempt to outsource database maintenance to untrusted 3rd parties, using SGX, while forcing them to pay for S3 hosting because they can't implement a DHT to do proper decentralized file transfers.


Bitcoin rates worse than North Korea in terms of wealth distribution as measured by the Gini coefficient. [1]

[1] https://blog.dshr.org/2018/10/gini-coefficients-of-cryptocur...


All calculations of this sort are fatally flawed because they assume all the coins in one address are owned by one person. That would be like calculating the US Gini coefficient assuming that all bank accounts are owned by the CEO of the bank.

> All calculations of this sort are fatally flawed because they assume all the coins in one address are owned by one person.

But don’t the calculations equally assume coins spread out across multiple addresses aren’t owned by one person, when in fact they often are?


Sure but that doesn't offset the first problem, it's just an additional problem. In fact I believe it could move the fake Gini coefficient in either direction depending on how each person splits their money.

If many coin owners share the same address, that is not very decentralized, is it?

that's like saying that the internet isn't decentralized because lots of people interact using facebook. that address isn't decentralized, much like facebook isn't. that doesn't mean that bitcoin or the internet aren't decentralized.

"Decentralized" means little without more context. The issuance of bitcoins isn't a legal monopoly. In this sense Bitcoin is "decentralized". On the other hand the Bitcoin blockchain is a centralized ledger, which is distributed, but nonetheless centralized. So which one is it? Centralized or decentralized? It doesn't matter because at this stage "decentralized" is being used as a mere buzzword rather than to convey a precise meaning.

> that's like saying that the internet isn't decentralized because lots of people interact using facebook

Yes, and I do say that. Decentralization is a lot less interesting if most people just end up centralizing anyway.


Who shares a bitcoin wallet or operates one like a bank? If anything the opposite is more likely, several bitcoin wallets belong to single individuals, probably in particular for some of the high net worth ones in an attempt to obfuscate ownership, which if anything, understates how concentrated it is.

> Who shares a bitcoin wallet or operates one like a bank?

Almost every bitcoin exchange.

It's typical to pool user funds into a relatively small number of addresses.


A system which is 12 years old, of which many people have not heard about, don't understand, or may not even care to understand. In some countries its illegal to use. Most countries have unfriendly tax treatment (capital gains on your coffee purchase). Can't be paid in it. Can't yet pay your federal taxes in it. Uncertain if the government will one day ban it.

> Most countries have unfriendly tax treatment (capital gains on your coffee purchase).

That's definitely unfriendly tax treatment. Is it different from the tax treatment that applies to national currencies?


Yes. It's the same tax treatment that applies to gold bullion or barrels of oil - volatile commodities that are at least partly speculative investments rather than stable mediums of exchange.

What is the tax treatment that applies to national currencies?

Country-specific, but often you don't have to account for them up to a certain limit, and/or you can treat anything you buy in a foreign national currency as having been bought at what you originally paid for that currency.

Not sure in the US, but in Canada you don't need to report capital gain on foreign currencies if its under $200.

No “pre-mine” doesn't mean fairly distributed. Bitcoin is a multi-level marketing pyramid scheme as well. Early adopters mine or buy large proportions at negligible prices while late adopters mine or buy negligible proportions at large prices.

By this definition, every company stock is a multi-level marketing pyramid scheme.

In fact, company stock is WAY worse, because the majority of people are legally prohibited from investing in private companies unless they're an accredited investor (already rich). So, only rich people (other than founders and early employees) are allowed to buy in at super low prices before handing off the bag to the public.


This is incorrect. Stock represents actual ownership of a scarce resource (a company). That company would have value whether or not it was explicitly sold as a stock. The value doesn’t come from the stock.

Cryptocurrency removes the underlying asset and simply sells shares of artificial scarcity. It’s only as valuable as what people decide to trade it at, because it doesn’t represent ownership of anything other than itself.


Stock represents actual ownership of a scarce resource (a company).

Is there a limit to how many shares a company can issue? No, a board can technically issue shares unto infinity. There is no guarantee of scarcity, no guarantee they will not raise more money.

That company would have value whether or not it was explicitly sold as a stock. The value doesn’t come from the stock.

So when a company has no profit but a high valuation, is this the market correctly discounting future predicted cashflows and giving a company fair value, or is it some sort of scam? Ex: Is NKLA actually a $5.2b electric vehicle company? How about the spade of Chinese IPOs that ended up being vaporware?

Cryptocurrency removes the underlying asset and simply sells shares of artificial scarcity.

The scarcity isn't artificial. It's mathematically provable, open source and auditable. If you think you can manufacture "fake" btc on the blockchain, feel free to try. If you think you can successfully fork and create a whole new chain, you're also welcome to try.

It’s only as valuable as what people decide to trade it at, because it doesn’t represent ownership of anything other than itself.

This is actually factual for anything in existence. A piece of bread. A $100m painting. You're starting to figure out what peculiar creatures humans are.


> Is there a limit to how many shares a company can issue? No, a board can technically issue shares unto infinity. There is no guarantee of scarcity, no guarantee they will not raise more money.

The scarce asset is the company, not the shares. Yes, they can issue more shares, but those shares still represent the same company plus the new investment money raised by raising the shares. They're not creating more company out of thin air when they issue more shares.

EDIT: To clarify some misconceptions in the comments below: When a company sells more shares into the market they are not simply diluting away existing shareholders. The keyword is that they are selling shares, meaning they take money in exchange for shares. The company's value increases by the amount of money they take in exchange for the sale.

Example: If a company is worth $1,000,000 and has 1,000,000 shares outstanding, each share is worth $1. If the company decides to sell another 100,000 shares and the market buys them at $1/each, there are now 1,100,000 shares outstanding and the company is now worth $1,100,000 because they took in $100,000 of cash via share sales. Existing shareholders have not lost any money or value.


> but those shares still represent the same company plus the new investment money raised by raising the shares.

No. Your shares were _diluted_ by the company issuing new shares. Now your 100 shares are worth half as much. Shares have predicted forward value embedded in their valuation. When you buy a share, you're betting that company will continue to grow. If it's having to raise money and issue new stock, odds are it's struggling with cash on hand. Maybe the bet will work out for you. Maybe not. Stocks are gambling, though, don't let yourself believe otherwise.


> No. Your shares were _diluted_ by the company issuing new shares. Now your 100 shares are worth half as much.

That's not correct. A company sells shares in exchange for cash. That cash is owned by the company, which is represented by the shares.

Companies can't simply dilute away their shareholders like you're suggesting. The money raised by selling shares doesn't simply disappear.


> Companies can't simply dilute away their shareholders like you're suggesting. The money raised by selling shares doesn't simply disappear.

Yes, they can and yes they do, all the time. That's not only precisely how VC funding works in the early stages of a startup raising seed money and subsequently doing Series A, B, etc. that's also how public financing works via new share offerings on a public marketplace like NYSE or NASDAQ.

GameStop is about to do precisely this very thing: https://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/gamestop-finally-a...

The cash they receive has no forward value. $1 will be worth $1 in 10 years. When you buy shares, you are betting on future value. When a company trades new shares for cash, it is trading some portion of its future value for cash today.

Not only that, but the cash on hand can disappear rather quickly (after all, they are raising it to spend it) depending on the company's expenditures, cost of new customer acquisition and whether its growth strategy is working or not.

Also, shareholders are the last to be compensated in the event of a bankruptcy or liquidation. Bondholders take preference.


> That's not only precisely how VC funding works in the early stages of a startup raising seed money and subsequently doing Series A, B, etc.

The concept of "pre-money" and "post-money" valuations exist for precisely this reason. You can read more here: https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/difference-between-...

If a company raises $1mm on a $9mm pre-money valuation, the company is now worth $10mm ($9mm valuation + $1mm raised) and the extra shares correspond to the $1mm raised.

Onwership is diluted on a percentage basis, but the Series B and C investors didn't steal value from previous investors through dilution. There are more shares because there is more money in the company.


> If a company raises $1mm on a $9mm pre-money valuation, the company is now worth $10mm ($9mm valuation + $1mm raised) and the extra shares correspond to the $1mm raised.

No, the company is worth it's last share price x number of shares outstanding. A company is worth what the market will pay for it, not for what some bean counter guesses is the value.

Yes, they didn't "steal" value, they traded cash for present and future potential value.

That cash doesn't just get parked in a bank account (it gets spent) and the company valuation isn't static, it changes based on market perception all the time.

You are thinking in snapshot accounting terms and not in real market valuation terms. Dilution typically causes price per share to fall unless growth is outpacing the dilution significantly.


I own 10% of a company. Several rounds later, I now own 2% of the company. It is possible the company is now valued higher or lower than what I got in at.

Did I get diluted?


The concept of "non-voting shares" exists, so the answer is "maybe, depending what you value".

> Companies can't simply dilute away their shareholders like you're suggesting.

They absolutely can. When you buy shares, or exercise options, in an early stage company the documents clearly specify that the shares can be diluted, which is how it's on solid legal footing.


OP was responding about stocks being just as much "multi level marketing" because you still need someone to sell the shares to, someone willing to pay more for it than you did. So it is actually irrelevant to scarcity or "intrinsic value".

It doesn't matter if it represents the company because the thing that shareholders care about is how much $ each share represents. This is why a stock will tank when a company talks about diluting their existing shares by creating new shares out of thin air. What you're talking about would be more akin to a stock split.

When a company sells more shares, they money they raise from selling those shares contributes to the value of the company.

If a company sells 100,000 shares at a dollar each, the company is now worth $100,000 more because they now have another $100,000 on their balance sheet. No value is lost in this process.

> This is why a stock will tank when a company talks about diluting their existing shares by creating new shares out of thin air.

Companies can't just declare that more shares exist and dilute away shareholders like you said. They either issue them as stock based compensation, which is an expense, or they sell the shares to buyers, which means money goes toward their bottom line.


Value is lost to existing shareholders who have the value of their shares diluted. Everything you're saying may seem logical, but economics is often illogical and any 1:1 $:stock sales still tank the share price.

> Value is lost to existing shareholders who have the value of their shares diluted.

You're confusing percentage dilution with absolute diluation.

The shares represent the value of the company. The value of the company has increased by the amount of money raised. Each share represents a lower percentage of the company, but this is offset by the fact that the value of the company has increased by the amount of money raised. The shares have not been diluted on an absolute value scale.

Owning 10% of a company worth $1mm is the same value as owning 5% of a company worth $2mm.

If you own 10% of a $1mm company that raises another $1mm by selling more shares, you now own 5% of a 2mm company. Your percentage ownership is diluted, but your value has not been stolen.

This is basic pre- and post-investment math. Shareholders are diluted on a percentage basis, but not on an absolute basis.


Assuming all shares are equal in class, voting power is diluted.

I don't really care about how much of the balance sheet I could lay claim to during a liquidation. That's going to be pennies on the dollar, or nothing.

I care how much of future profits will be returned to be, which does depends on the percentage I end up owning. A round needs to enable a bigger gain than the fraction it dilutes everyone.


That would very much depend on what you're buying stock in. Holding companies and investment companies are mostly valued to what your "share" of their holdings is worth. Real estate too.

You continue to make a 1:1 assumption. Dilution can cause the stock to go down because of FUD of financial health. It can go up because of strong leadership and optimistic futures. It's not occurring in a vacuum where $1 is 1 share and +$1 to company worth.

But raising money might also cause the stock to go up, right? More investment signals confidence and planned growth. More people may want to buy in.

Issuing new shares is not always a good move and sometimes it might cause investors to lose money and percentage ownership, but sometimes it might be a good move and result in investors gaining money (though still getting their ownership diluted).


Yes but a company doing something that causes the market to value shares less isn’t dilution. The fact that you know how the market will respond to companies raising capital by issuing new shares doesn’t change the legality of it.

> EDIT: To clarify some misconceptions in the comments below: When a company sells more shares into the market they are not simply diluting away existing shareholders.

HAHHAHHAHHHAHAAAA come on man.


The scarcity is technically real, but practically pointless.

Every Bitcoin represents 100,000,000 tradable assets. If there are 30,000,000 Bitcoin in circulation that means there are 100,000,000x30,000,000 individual assets available to hold and trade. Do the math, and then realize that we’ll arrive at the heat death of the universe before Bitcoin is ever actually scarce.


Scarcity is about the rate of supply meeting demand. In most commodities, as demand increases, suppliers will move to increase supply to meet that demand. Even with gold (of which the earth has some unknown finite supply), the rate of which it is mined and extracted will increase as market price increases.

Bitcoin has a fixed supply, Bitcoin's daily rate of creation cannot be increased or decreased unless everyone agrees to it.


>>This is incorrect. Stock represents actual ownership of a scarce resource (a company).

He's referring to the grandparent comment's definition, not yours. The GP's definition is:

>>Early adopters mine or buy large proportions at negligible prices while late adopters mine or buy negligible proportions at large prices.

By that definition, anything that goes up in value is a "multi-level marketing pyramid scheme".


> This is incorrect. Stock represents actual ownership of a scarce resource (a company). That company would have value whether or not it was explicitly sold as a stock. The value doesn’t come from the stock.

Depending on the voting rights embedded in the share, your ownership is likely meaningless. It doesn't guarantee you rights to dividends necessarily and even if it does, the company can just choose to never issue a dividend (like Amazon). It doesn't necessarily grant you voting rights for the Board of Directors either. Worse, you have to go through a 3rd party broker to buy a share or trust a company like Robinhood to hold your shares for you. As we saw with GameStop, they can rug pull on you at any time. With decentralized cryptos like BTC & ETH, that can't happen from your own private wallet. You can always transact.

Cryptos such as BTC & ETH are provably scarce, not artificially scarce. You can validate supply at any time by running your own node and joining the network. You don't need anyone's permission to do that. It's a public blockchain.


>As we saw with GameStop, they can rug pull on you at any time. With decentralized cryptos like BTC & ETH, that can't happen from your own private wallet. You can always transact.

ETH is probably not the best example here because they have rug-pulled people with a hard fork.


> they have rug-pulled people with a hard fork.

"People" here being criminals that exploited a flaw in the DAO, yeah?


At the time of that fork, the Ethereum website literally said "the code is the contract". Then, when someone found a perfectly legitimate use of that code that the creators failed to anticipate, they forcibly altered the contract. There are criminals here, but they're not the ones you think.

The issue with this narrative is that the "they" isn't the creators, it's the network. The Ethereum core devs can do whatever they want, but if nodes don't migrate across the hard fork then nothing happens.

The code is the contract, enforced by a decentralized network of actors. Of course that network can at any point change the contract if the majority of them agree to do so – how else would it work? The key is that there is no way for individual actors to modify contracts at will – you need consensus. It's the difference between oligarchy and democracy.


If the code is the contract, each of those actors is individually liable as a tortfeasor.

> they forcibly altered the contract.

What was forcibly altered? Perhaps the meaning of "force" is different for you than it is for me.


Just like how the US financial system only freezes the assets of Bad Guys, right? As for GME? We had to rugpull them because they were manipulating the market[1].

[1] Yes I know that wasn't the real reason why trading was halted


I don't know enough to comment on those things, I'm discussing the specific example of the ETH fork which was given.

The point is that in your initial comment, you were saying that with decentralized cryptocurrencies you'll be free from third party interference, but with ETH the DAO hacker was subject to the very interference you claimed crypto wasn't subject to. Therefore it weakens your claim from something like "with crypto, nobody can stop you!", to "with crypto, nobody can stop you! ...except if you do something we don't like in which case we'll hardfork", which is pretty similar to how centralized systems work today.

A hard fork in a decentralized cryptocurrency is democratic, users chose which of the 2 new chains assets' they want to keep. No binary winner is decided, the market currently values ETH as 122 times more valuable than ETC, but ETC is not censored.

The sentencing of criminals in republics is very removed from democratic action (see drug criminalization).


> A hard fork in a decentralized cryptocurrency is democratic, users chose which of the 2 new chains assets' they want to keep.

Show us the votes, then. Did a majority of miners and/or coinholders vote to hard-fork?


> A hard fork in a decentralized cryptocurrency is democratic

Yup, and I don't want public votes to decide the amount of money I have.


> public votes to decide the amount of money I have.

Unfortunately, there is no alternative. The value of what you have is decided by what people are willing to pay for it in markets. If people decide that they value the forked ETH that doesn't provide the money to the people who stole from the DAO more than the version where those people have all of the money, then it is going to be more valuable. You don't escape this problem with fiat either.

Basic market mechanisms like this are pretty much inescapable.


Gold or other physical scarce assets come pretty close to allowing you to escape this.

Ah yes, the constant value of gold https://www.macrotrends.net/1333/historical-gold-prices-100-...

As I said, there is no escaping market mechanisms, as value is market contextual. Certainly, there are assets with more or less stable value, but that is still due to the whims of what people (ie. the "public") are willing to pay.


Yes, the point here is not about the total valuation of each asset, which affects every holder equally, but about how individuals can influence, or not, the relative distribution of said asset.

If I'm, say, from a persecuted cultural group, I'll want to keep my wealth in an asset that has the same value whether I or someone else own it. Precious metals fit this bill better than both fiat and public-ledger cryptocurrencies.


That wasn't my comment. Also, people freely chose to start using the new version of ETH, they weren't required to.

> your ownership is likely meaningless

That's not true. The shares still represent a claim on the underlying company.

If someone wants to acquire the company, they have to compensate you for the shares that you hold.

Companies can't simply wave a magic wand and steal value from shareholders. There's more to stock ownership than voting rights.


It's both provably scarce and artificially scarce.

> By this definition, every company stock is a multi-level marketing pyramid scheme.

No because the company's income doesn't come from selling more stock, but from selling valuable products. (Companies that don't have actual revenue are indeed multi-level marketing pyramid schemes and there are some of them around, but they're the exception rather than the rule).


The stock market being crooked doesn't mean bitcoin isn't crooked as well. I'm critical of both.

Also, it would include fiat currency as a scheme as those who print it do so at negligible prices.

The gold and oil rushes weren't "fair" either. Fortune favors the bold, I guess. I was salty for a long time about bitcoin early buyers being filthy rich now. My saltiness clouded my vision of the real value there. Granted, I think there are better solutions than bitcoin now, but I respect it.

By that definition, any stock or collectible is a "multi-level marketing pyramid scheme". A multi-level marketing or pyramid scheme is not defined as anything where early adopters might have purchased it at a lower price than later adopters.

Which is interesting. Unlike virtually every stock on the stock market, I see Bitcoin-stans constantly harp about the "USD price" of Bitcoin on places like Twitter, Youtube, any social media with a large enough megaphone, just so they can stir up loads of FOMO and get people to make a financial decision that is likely not led with wisdom and prudence in mind. Especially with how high BTC is priced at now, you'd be lucky to have massive multipliers on your initial buy in as you might have in the earlier days. The diminishing point of returns is rearing its ugly head, so more pumping must happen to keep this all in the public zeitgeist.

That kinda smells pump and dump like to me. Lest we forget, the end of the previous bull runs in 2013 and 2017 wiped out some people that made bad investment decisions (and there's no guarantee another black swan event won't happen again in the future). Not to mention, whenever there is news of someone losing their wallet keys, Bitcoiners breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that that's one more person that has to permanently HODL. Gross.


>>That kinda smells pump and dump like to me.

Yes agreed. Though I would add that this is a paradigm shifting technology, so there may be something substantive underlying all of this Bitcoin hype.

As for crypto as a whole, Ethereum has real world use cases, like stablecoins and NFTs, and an extensive multi-pronged development effort to expand its capabilities, in particular scalability, that cannot be dismissed as mere hype.

Just on the basis of fee revenue alone, and the assumption that this turns into income for ETH holders once the platform switches to Proof-of-Stake, Ethereum's current valuation can be justified with only the assumption that its price-earnings multiple will match that of relatively mature and low-growth industries like electronics.


Personally, I'm still incredibly skeptical about Ethereum and its ilk, but certainly a far less energy wasteful PoS methodology in the next version (when it finally goes full throttle) I suppose would be a good start.

Adding to this, unlike Satoshi Nakamoto, which I believe to be the alias for a team and not a single person, Vitalik Buterin at least is not shrouded in mystery and is out in the open. I'll give credit where credit's due. He's pretty upfront about his pet projects.

I don't share your enthusiasm for stablecoins and especially NFTs, though that's an entirely different can of worms.

For now, I'm happy to see where this all goes as I watch from the sidelines and not capitulate to FOMO. Yet so far, I can't help but feel that the market effects surrounding the ETH network is nothing but grifts and rich-on-paper showboating. Plus, my God those gas fees...


look at the chart: https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/mobilecoin/

the integration with signal made the valuation of mobilecoint jump from around zero to 65$. I hope the signal team got some mobilecoins in return for the favor.


It was $6 two weeks ago. Still a big jump but hardly “zero”.

my initial thought was: why didn't they choose monero (another coin that is privacy-focused but sort of more established). However monero is already much higher than that mark, in its valuation.

They didn’t choose Monero because it wouldn’t make them filthy rich.

still, i think that's a better way to get rich than by tracking/snooping on your customers.

Wtf is that dip to $33 ?

It also paints a giant target on them for the feds to come down on.

> and has been fairly distributed from the start.

except for that giant cache of untouched (so far) bitcoins from the start.

> Blockchain analysts estimate that Nakamoto had mined about one million bitcoins before disappearing in 2010

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin#Creation


Can you post your source for these claims?

Their own white paper (no longer hosted on their site it seems) says they created 250 million tokens and pre-sold 37.5 million.

https://mixin.one/assets/MobileCoin-Whitepaper-EN_FINAL.pdf


This whitepaper is not the whitepaper I wrote back in 2017. We took that down because it was ultimately not the design we implemented. The full system design can be found here: https://github.com/UkoeHB/Mechanics-of-MobileCoin/blob/maste....

Fyi, while the whitepaper marcinzm links to may not be the design you implemented, it is the first result (for me, at least, in the UK) when googling "MobileCoin Whitepaper", while the Mechanics of MobileCoin repo doesn't appear at all.

Just in terms of avoiding confusion, you might want to reach out to mixin.one to try to replace that document with one that clarifies that the design outlined there was not used? Or publicise the actual design a bit better? (I couldn't find a link to this repo on the MobileCoin website, which is why I searched for the whitepaper elsewhere in the first place).


It's in the whitepaper. There are 250 million coins in total, and 37.5 million were sold in the ICO. I couldn't find any information on further distribution or monetary policy, so I assume the founders still hold them.

If true then that's a huge minus. I would suspect they will "make it available" for "the low low price of ________" over time.

Thanks. Honestly, not surprising..

> Bitcoin had no pre-mine

/me glances at the great big pile of Satoshi coins...


large stash =/= premine

What's the difference in practice?

That moves the goalposts from "did satoshi premine?" a question with a well-defined criteria, to something more vague like "is bitcoin fairly distributed?", which opens a can of worms regarding what "fair" means.

Even UK-only release in Signal means more people with cryptocurrency wallets than all other cryptocurrencies combined.

Is the number of empty wallets of a cryptocurrency a useful metric in any way?

I would say yes, at least to the extent that owners are aware that they exist and potentially become more likely to use.

It's roughly similar to Brave's userbase, though Brave is opt-in. Figures from 2020 put both in the low tens of millions.

MobileCoin is not a cryptocurrency.

The Wired article that the CEO of Mobilecoin is implicitly endorsing in this thread specifically categorizes Mobilecoin as a cryptocurrency. At least, it doesn’t seem to be a distinction worth splitting hairs about (yet).

I don't give a shit about Wired categorization. MobileCoin is a company. It has a fucking CEO. Cryptocurrency is by definition decentralized.

That particular ship has sailed. Much like people calling cryptocurrency "crypto", it's windmills all the way.

> Bitcoin had no pre-mine and has been fairly distributed from the start.

Except for that small initial 1 million that stayed with Adam


That's not what pre-mine means. As for "fairly", that's debatable because it's unclear what "fair" means. Should everyone on earth get the same amount? That would be the most "fair". How would the logistics of that work, for a cryptocurrency? What about all the people born after 2009?

Pretty easy to risk someone else's safety with lies from behind that alias, isn't it

Long-time Signal user here, with a number of technical and non-technical friends, colleagues and acquaintances who also use it. I don't know who was asking for this. And I think it really dilutes Signal's message.

I believe that everyone has a fundamental right to secure, private communication. Some people may hold the same belief for the right to transfer funds. I don't agree and I suspect many others feel the same. That tension alone makes this look like a bad decision to me.


This kind of anti-feature is not what I signed up for. I just wanted a secure messenger normal users could understand! It seems like a simple enough problem that Signal solved well (apart from the phone number requirement).

Sadly, now it feels like Signal was just a long game trojan for Marlinspike to onboard users to a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme. This has nothing to do with its core functionality and it makes me question the developers' motives.

I've wasted my influence with my non-technical friends convincing them to adopt Signal, and I don't forsee convincing them to switch yet again to something different.

The state of secure messaging is really bleak. I wish Matrix had an IM-style client that was decent enough for non-technical users to adopt.


> I've wasted my influence with my non-technical friends convincing them to adopt Signal, and I don't forsee convincing them to switch yet again to something different.

This has bitten me before. Now I'm thinking that every recommendation and suggestion to adopt must come with a "for now this is the best way to do it, but it will probably change again". And somehow try to prepare the non-technical people for that.


> Now I'm thinking that every recommendation and suggestion to adopt must come with a "for now this is the best way to do it, but it will probably change again"

Except for Matrix, because it is decentralized.


Hah, this almost feels like a matter of faith. It would be interesting to see though where Matrix would end up if it manages to becomes as popular as Whatsapp or even Signal.

> The state of secure messaging is really bleak. I wish Matrix had an IM-style client that was decent enough for non-technical users to adopt.

See Element [1] which uses Matrix [2]. It feels like IM, and is super simple to onboard new users. I'm not involved with it, but I'm a huge fan of the Matrix ecosystem.

If you want group chats to be mixed in with 1-1 chats, try SchildiChat [3], a fork of Element.

[1]: https://element.io/

[2]: https://matrix.org/

[3]: https://schildi.chat/


Even with a fast home server Element is quite slow. Slow enough that even I, trying to get my circle to use it, feel some reluctance to open the app. Hopefully the upcoming Hydrogen client can solve this.

element-web? element-android? element-ios? all of them?

Have you tried fluffychat on android? Or any of the other clients https://matrix.org/clients-matrix


I love FluffyChat. Been using it for a month now and it's significantly faster than Element/SchildiChat on Android. It has the basic chat features I would expect from a Matrix application. Only feature I don't think it has crosssigning at the moment. (In which you're signing your friends master-key, which they use to sign their new devices, so you don't have to have a cryptoparty anytime a friend adds a new device)

I occasionally use Element on my Android device, waiting for it to get to the point where I can seriously recommend it as an alternative to silos like Signal or Telegram. It's sadly not at that point.

Fundamentally, Element "feels" more like an IRC client than a typical IM client like Signal. It isn't focused on direct, one-off, or small group communications (this isn't a technical thing and it has nothing to do with federation, it's simply the UX paradigm that Element has adopted).

The SchildiChat fork looks promising, although it's clearly too early to recommend it. It's not even available on the Google Play store, which makes it unsuitable for non-technical users.


> This kind of anti-feature is not what I signed up for.

At the risk of sounding like a Signal simp: don’t use this feature if you’d don’t like it? I have no idea whether this is a good or bad idea, I figure the proof of the pudding is in the tasting and I haven’t had a chance to try the signal payments feature, but I’m willing to extend the benefit of the doubt here at least as far as “I’ll withhold judgement til I can try it for myself.”

I really don’t get the ire on this. I think it’s good that whisper systems is forward looking and trying to be innovative and dynamic and go where users are rather than just sit around waiting to become irrelevant. Not all experiments or risks will pay off but that doesn’t mean risks and bets are bad.


It's the fact that many much needed improvements to their core offering are not being taken care of and instead they've gone and done this, which nobody asked for and puts the operation at risk. Not to mention that they integrated a premine scam coin over a proven leader like Monero. Sadly it seems the Signal team has sold out. Really hope their payout for this move was worth it.

>don’t use this feature if you’d don’t like it?

How do I prove that I didn't use it? And why on earth would I want a messaging app to put a target like that on my back if I'm not even using the feature? With this feature, the likelihood of someone demanding access to the app grows from almost zero to pretty significant.


Good point, I hadn't thought of that.

How does the ability to transfer "points" from one number to another, remove from the messaging features?

Is it really that hard to imagine unobtrusive UI that makes this as optional as sending GIFs, stickers or location data? Or did the later features already kill Signal for you?


Signal's UX still needs work and a lot of features just don't work very well (e.g. the desktop sync). That's fine in and of itself - the team is small and they're funded by donations - but if they're spending time on payments, that raises concerns for me about the priorities of the project and how the funding is being spent.

I don't know what who was asking for this either, especially when what I consider to be core features are still missing.

Signal for iOS still doesn't support message backup like the Android version.

And Telegram introduced a feature to import old Whatsapp chats into new Telegram conversations, a form of "backup". This was great when I was migrating away from Whatsapp, and made the decision between Signal and Telegram easy for casual conversations where encryption wasn't a priority.


> I believe that everyone has a fundamental right to secure, private communication. Some people may hold the same belief for the right to transfer funds. I don't agree and I suspect many others feel the same.

What are the arguments?

Don't you think that as data becomes more and more valuable, "freedom of transaction" is a natural evolution of "freedom of communication"?

In an environment where only "legally valueless" data circulates freely, the few entities that are actually able to monetize this data become gigantic monopolies (Google, FB, ...), while most individual parties are either forced to play by their rules (Youtube, Patreon, ...) or filtered out by startup costs.


My view is that the public in general has a right to universal services that can realistically only be delivered through taxation. That right needs to be balanced against the right to transaction privacy. It's one thing to say that friends should be able to send money to each other privately; it's another to think about bank settlements and international flows of large sums of money not being visible or auditable.

The whole issue is a real minefield and I don't have a firm stance. And obviously the fiat money system has gaps and flaws there too. I'm sure much of the HN audience would disagree with me here from a libertarian point of view. But I think it's safe to say that the issue of transaction privacy & freedom is not as straightforward as that of speech (which itself is really not that simple).


This is rather terrible news. On the other hand; there's no technical reason someone (like, say the EFF) couldn't fork the client and server - and establish a new signal network - maybe drop the need for phone number registration as well?

I'm curious: why did you choose Signal when you care about privacy?

Probably because all conversations (1-to-1 and group chats) are E2EE.

> Probably because all conversations (1-to-1 and group chats) are E2EE.

They are in WhatsApp, too. At least Facebook still claims that after the Snowden leaks :) And: Did you verify this? Did you check the source code at signal's android/ios client repo? Did you also verify that no untrusted third party receives your backed up private keys?

Why do you trust Google more than Facebook? [1]

[1] https://github.com/signalapp/Signal-Android/blob/d74e9f74103...

I'm not trying to troll here. I'm trying to point out that babbling about crypto is easy. Verifying it, and actually caring about it is another thing. Most users are probably also the wrong audience for early adoption of TOX.


> Why do you trust Google more than Facebook? [1]

How is using Google for domain fronting for the purpose of censorship circumvention "trusting Google"? They don't get to see the message content (just like Facebook doesn't see the content for WhatsApp).

> Did you also verify that no untrusted third party receives your backed up private keys?

Private keys are not backed up in either service, as far as I know.

> Did you check the source code at signal's android/ios client repo?

Given the lack of reproducible builds on iOS/the app store, any source code audit is pointless if the app vendor is included in your threat model.


Communication platforms like Signal live or die by network effects. If payment is incorporated as a first class citizen into other platforms, Signal would need it as well to maintain its network - just like it would need the capability to transfer photos or other non-textual items.

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