Privacy-focused messaging app Signal reportedly is mulling crypto payments integration for its users. The company has run pilot tests for a privacy crypto token on the Binance-backed, Stellar-based privacy cryptocurrency platform MobileCoin.
Signal is the flagship app of the Signal Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to open-source privacy technology. It offers end-to-end message encryption to its 40 million users, meaning any transferred data can only be read by the sender and receiver. No other service/app on the phone can access or decipher it.
Moxie Marlinspike, CEO of Signal, serves as an adviser on the MobileCoin project. Heightening speculation that the test could be a trial run for subsequent deployment in the messaging app.
While Marlinspike has downplayed these speculations, describing the tests as “design explorations.” He added “If we did decide we wanted to put payments into Signal. We would try to think really carefully about how we did that. It’s hard to be totally hypothetical.”
Former Signal employees said the company is actively pursuing the necessary protocols for integrating MobileCoin on the messaging platform. If the reports turn out to be true, Signal would become the latest messaging service to enter the crypto and digital payments arena.
Danger Of Regulatory Scrutiny
However, the integration of a privacy coin on the Signal platform could put the company in danger of serious regulatory scrutiny. Facebook, for example, was forced to make multiple amendments to its planned Diem project after intense regulatory backlash.
Financial services firms similarly are worried about the emerging regulatory blind spot. Occasioned by the migration of traders from WhatsApp to Signal. The privacy-focused messaging service has already seen its user base jump over 100% following recent policy changes by WhatsApp.
The pace has hardly let up since. Signal leapt to No. 1 in the app stores of 70 countries and it continues to rank near the top of most of them. Including the United States.
While the company won’t confirm the size of its user base. A second employee told me the app has now surpassed 40 million users globally.
But Signal’s rapid growth has also been a cause for concern. In the months leading up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Signal employees raised questions about the development and addition of new features. Fearing it will lead the platform to be used in dangerous and even harmful ways.
Those warnings have largely been ignored as the company is setting its sights on hitting 100 million active users and generating enough donations to secure Signal’s long-term future.
Should Signal fail to build policies and enforcement mechanisms to identify and remove bad actors, employees fear that the fallout could bring more negative attention to encryption technologies from regulators at a time when their existence is threatened around the world.