Signal, the encrypted messaging app is making an addition to its messaging business. The app announced Signal Payment on Tuesday, a new beta feature that will allow users to send and receive privacy focused payments as easily as sending or receiving a message. The beta feature for now, is for those in the United Kingdom.
Signal, which rose to stardom early in the year following WhatsApp’s attempt to force its users to share personal information with Facebook, said the new feature will be powered by blockchain technology.
“We want payments in Signal to be fast, private, and work well on mobile devices. The first payments protocol we’ve added support for is a privacy focused payments network called MobileCoin, which has its own currency, MOB,” the company said.
Founded by security researcher Moxie Marlinspike and roboticist Stuart Anderson in 2014, the San Francisco-based app has operated as a non-profit, relying on donations to function. Thus, the introduction of the payment system is a surprising copying of its rival, WhatsApp’s profit-driven business model.
The Facebook-owned messaging app is dominating the instant message business with its over 1.5 billion users. Mid-last year, it moved to cash in on the huge numbers through WhatsApp Pay, a spinoff of Facebook Pay, which provides a secure and consistent way to make payment across all Facebook-owned apps.
WhatsApp Pay is an in-chat payment feature that allows users to make transactions via WhatsApp to their contact list. It is UPI-based payments service that allows you to both send and receive money. It was developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
Facebook is developing a huge market that it believes will make it easier for more people to embrace WhatsApp Pay, following the integration of all its units.
But unlike WhatsApp Pay which is fiat-based, Signal’s choice of cryptocurrency may be the technique it needs to capture huge market shares.
Signal Payments makes it easy to link a MobileCoin wallet to Signal so you can start sending funds to friends and family, receive funds from them, keep track of your balance, and review your transaction history with a simple interface, the company said.
With its reputation of giving total control of data management to its users, Signal has an enticing edge over WhatsApp Pay, whose parent company has been enmeshed in a series of private data scandals, including the recent breach of 500 million users’ private information.
“As always, our goal is to keep your data in your hands rather than ours; MobileCoin’s design means Signal does not have access to your balance, full transaction history, or funds. You can also transfer your funds at any time if you want to switch to another app or service,” Signal said.
The company said UK is a starting point, the Signal Payment may be converted to/from MOB on FTX and other exchanges soon, and the beta will be expanded to other countries as it receives feedback.
Signal’s user-base increased to over 20 million early this year due to its end-to-end encryption, as people sought a safe alternative to WhatsApp data privacy controversy.
End-to-end encryption crypto trading may be just another reason for more people to jump onto Signal. MobileCoin just snagged a little over $11 million in funding last month following rumors that this integration was about to happen.
Signal will only need to onboard popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether. As more countries announce stiffer rules for crypto trading, it may serve as a more secure Peer-to-Peer (P2P) platform for traders seeking refuge from governments’ harassment.