Encrypted messaging app, Signal, has announced that it has started testing a new feature.
The communication app, which was launched about seven years ago, said it is testing a new peer-to-peer payments system in the beta version of its app.
The feature, which is called Signal Payments, is currently being worked on to supports only one protocol: the MobileCoin wallet and its companion cryptocurrency MOB.
Speaking on the new feature, Jun Harada, Signal head of growth and communication, said in a blog post that:
“The first payments protocol we’ve added support for, is a privacy focused payments network called MobileCoin, which has its own currency – MOB.”
Jun Harada further added that:
“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.”
MobileCoin has for a while, had close relationship with Moxie Marlinspike.
Moxie Marlinspike, the creator of Signal and CEO of the nonprofit organization that runs it, describes the new payments feature as an attempt to extend Signal’s privacy protections to payments.
In a chat with Wired, Marlinspike said:
“There’s a palpable difference in the feeling of what it’s like to communicate over Signal, knowing you’re not being watched or listened to, versus other communication platforms. […] I would like to get to a world where not only can you feel that when you talk to your therapist over Signal, but also when you pay your therapist for the session over Signal.”
The company said that only UK residents are eligible to try the new feature, and those who qualifies, should sign up for MobileCoin and access the feature through the Signal beta.
“This is a beta feature in a beta build, but for those in the United Kingdom living life on the edge, please help us test and give feedback,” Harada added to the blog post.
While payment features integrated into other messaging apps typically link user’s bank account, Signal wants to provide a way to send money that no other person can track – except the sender and recipient.