Signal, a privacy-focused texting app, is now testing crypto payments — but not with Bitcoin

(Image credit: Signal)

Signal is a privacy-focused texting app that features end-to-end encryption. This messaging app is made for security-concerned digital communicators who are worried about hackers. Even if your Signal messages get intercepted, it would look like a string of nonsensical characters and symbols. 

Signal is now testing a new feature: cryptocurrency payments. However, it's not Bitcoin nor Dogecoin. Instead, Signal is hawking a new cryptocurrency called "MobileCoin" (MOB).

Signal pushes MobileCoin because it can't be tracked like Bitcoin

Signal's modus operandi is offering its users privacy-focused services and that doesn't stop with its new cryptocurrency feature. Signal doesn't believe Bitcoin aligns with its mission because it's still traceable. 

Like many other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin runs on a blockchain (a public ledger for record-keeping), which includes a network of miners that ensures the digital asset is not fraudulent nor counterfeited. However, as Wired pointed out, this blockchain can, in many cases, reveal who sent money to whom.


Bitcoin (Image credit: Snappa)

As such, Signal is pushing MobileCoin as the next big thing in cryptocurrency for users who want to keep their financial transactions hush-hush. 

Cryptocurrencies such as Zcash and Monero, heralded as "privacy coins," are more widely used, but Signal found MobileCoin to be more attractive because it is not designed to circumvent banks and protect users' identities, it also provides a seamless user experience on phones and doesn't take too much space on devices. On top of that, transactions can be confirmed in seconds.

MobileCoin founder Josh Goldbard told Wired that MOB is a cryptocurrency with state-of-the-art encryption, but it feels like Venmo.

"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 in a recent blog.

How to use the new Signal Payments feature

Signal says that its new crypto-backed Payments feature has a simple, easy-to-use interface. Users can simply link a MobileCoin wallet to Signal and they can start sending funds to friends and family, receive funds from them, keep track of their balance, and review their transaction history.

Signal is rolling out a new beta build today, which will feature new performance enhancements, many bug fixes, improvements to the mute settings, and, of course, the new Signal Payments feature. However, Signal Payments is currently only available to UK users. "For those in the United Kingdom living life on the edge, please help us test and give feedback," Signal said.

Signal promised that it will expand its beta testing to more users in the future.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!