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Signal is developing payment features to enable the use of MobileCoin, a ” privacy-focused cryptocurrency” built on the Stellar network.
Private messaging app Signal is said to be in the process of developing features related to usernames and crypto payments.
The policy contained updates on how ‘WhatsApp processes user data, how businesses can use Facebook hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats and how the company partners with Facebook to offer integrations across its products.’ Opting for “more secure alternatives”, users turned to Signal and Telegram. The fast-growing app now has over 40 million users from 20 million just last month. It was reported to have gained 2 million followers in a 12-hour period a day after WhatsApp’s announcement.
This is a major win for the company that refused to go the popular ad-based revenue route of its Silicon Valley peers. CEO Moxie Marlinspike told Platformer’s Casey Newton:
“We’re organized as a nonprofit because we feel like the way the internet currently works is insane. And a lot of that insanity, to us, is the result of bad business models that produce bad technology. And they have bad societal outcomes.”
Signal is developing payment features to enable the use of MobileCoin, a ” privacy-focused cryptocurrency” built on the Stellar network. The coin is expected to make holding and spending easier in developing countries. The company is also looking into allowing users to create unique usernames for their accounts as opposed to the current use of phone numbers.
In recent weeks, however, employees are reportedly worried that the addition of certain features will lead to abuse by unsavory individuals or groups. They claim that such concerns have been largely ignored as the company is focused on reaching 100 million active users to secure sufficient donations to operate long term.
One such individual is said Gregg Bernstein, a former user researcher who left the company earlier this month. He asserts that Signal refuses to even consider putting in place a policy to counter such a possibility. He said:
“The world needs products like Signal – but they also need Signal to be thoughtful. It’s not only that Signal doesn’t have these policies in place. But they’ve been resistant to even considering what a policy might look like.”
Employees are said to be concerned that the addition of a payment feature may attract criminals hoping to avoid their transactions being traced and unique usernames could result in scammers pretending to be certain prominent figures or groups and defrauding users. Such negative use could result in more scrutiny by regulators.
The challenge for Signal will be to put in place policies that address such concerns before launching the new features.