Signal announced on Tuesday that as a part of its latest beta, it’s adding support for a new Signal Payments feature that allows Signal users to send “privacy focused payments as easily as sending or receiving a message.”
These payments are only going to be available to Android and iOS Signal users in the UK during this beta, and will use one specific payment network: MobileCoin, an open-source cryptocurrency that is itself still a prototype, according to the MobileCoin GitHub repo. The same page notes that the MobileCoin Wallet that someone would need in order to send these payments back and forth isn’t yet available for download by anyone in the U.S. As Wired notes, however, this is a new feature that the company wants to expand globally once it’s out of its infancy.
Unlike other popular texting apps that also offer a payment component—like, say, Facebook Messenger—MobileCoin doesn’t rely on funneling money from a user’s bank account in order to function. Instead, it’s a currency that lives on the blockchain, allowing payments made over MobileCoin to bypass the banking systems that routinely work with major data brokers in order to pawn off people’s transaction data.
The main anti-rave:
Many technologists viscerally felt yesterday’s announcement as a punch to the gut when we heard that the Signal messaging app was bundling an embedded cryptocurrency. This news really cut to heart of what many technologists have felt before when we as loyal users have been exploited and betrayed by corporations, but this time it felt much deeper because it introduced a conflict of interest from our fellow technologists that we truly believed were advancing a cause many of us also believed in. So many of us have spent significant time and social capital moving our friends and family away from the exploitative data siphon platforms that Facebook et al offer, and on to Signal in the hopes of breaking the cycle of commercial exploitation of our online relationships. And some of us feel used.
Signal users are overwhelmingly tech savvy consumers and we’re not idiots. Do they think we don’t see through the thinly veiled pump and dump scheme that’s proposed? It’s an old scam with a new face.
Allegedly the controlling entity prints 250 million units of some artificially scarce trashcoin called MOB (coincidence?) of which the issuing organization controls 85% of the supply. This token then floats on a shady offshore cryptocurrency exchange hiding in the Cayman Islands or the Bahamas, where users can buy and exchange the token. The token is wash traded back and forth by insiders and the exchange itself to artificially pump up the price before it’s dumped on users in the UK to buy to allegedly use as “payments”. All of this while insiders are free to silently use information asymmetry to cash out on the influx of pumped hype-driven buys before the token crashes in value. Did I mention that the exchange that floats the token is the primary investor in the company itself, does anyone else see a major conflict of interest here?
Let it be said that everything here is probably entirely legal or there simply is no precedent yet. The question everyone is asking before these projects launch now though is: should it be?
Source: Et tu, Signal?
Some people on Reddit are throwing about that they donated so they feel they should be able to tell the developers what they should and should not be doing as well.
IMHO an open source developer is free to work on whatever projects they choose and combine them as much as they want. They are not “paid” by the couple of dollars someone donates every month. This is a completely optional extra setting which is off by default. Signal is not mining crypto with the app. People are free to fork Signal into another project without the payment option. Is it a pump and dump? I hope not. What is for sure though is that money is tight in the Free Open Source (FOSS) arena and it’s not surprising that people are jumping in strange directions to find a way to monetise a hugely popular product which is only causing them stress due to rude, know it all users who refuse to actually contribute, an idealistic fanatic mindset by the FOSS group who have salaries and hardly any income at all.