News at Signal: Crypto payment function and resignation of CEO Marlinspike

After the messenger service Signal presented a controversial payment function for the cryptocurrency Mobilecoin a few days ago, CEO Moxie Marlinspike announced his resignation. However, there does not appear to be a direct link between the two events. The background.

The messenger service Signal is probably known to many as a WhatsApp alternative – not least since the controversy surrounding WhatsApp’s new terms of use. The alternative messenger is considered popular, especially in terms of privacy and data protection.

But now Signal is causing a stir again, because the long-standing CEO Moxie Marlinspike announced his resignation. The reason: He wanted to bring “fresh energy” into the company.

Shortly before his departure, however, Marlinspike launched a new function. Because signal users can now send and receive the cryptocurrency Mobilecoin with the messenger.

That’s what moxie Marlinspike’s resignation is all about

Moxie Marlinspike, born Matthew Rosenfeld, founded the IT company Whisper Systems in 2010. After the takeover by Twitter in November 2011, however, the group was officially dissolved a short time later. However, some Whisper Systems programs were subsequently released as free software.

Under the follow-up project Open Whisper Systems, Moxie Marlinspike dealt with the development of the messenger Signal from 2013. In 2018, he again founded the non-profit Signal Foundation, which he has since led as CEO.

Now, however, Marlinspike announced that he wanted to retire from his post within a month. According to information from the news magazine Spiegel, Marlinspike wants to see someone “with fresh energy” at the head of the Signal Foundation. However, he himself wants to remain represented on the board.

“It’s a new year and a good time to replace me as CEO of Signal,” Marlinspike said in an official Signal blog post, for example. Until a successor is found, former WhatsApp founder Brian Acton will take over the post of CEO on an interim basis.

Signal: New crypto payment function for the Mobilecoin

The messenger service is also rolling out a new payment function for all its users. Users can now receive and send the cryptocurrency Mobilecoin within the Signal app. The developers have been testing the project since April 2021, including in the UK.

Signal itself advertises the payment method as a secure, untraceable payment method. The cryptocurrency is referred to as a “privacy coin” because the identity of users remains anonymous during transactions. Transfers could not be tracked.

However, in order to pay with the Mobilcoin, the currency must first be transferred to a wallet that is available in the Messenger app.

Cryptocurrency as a means of payment at Signal widely criticized

Many experts criticize the new function, which is mainly considered a project of Moxie Marlinspike. Crypto expert Matthew Green believes that the introduction of a cryptocurrency is a “nightmare of laws and regulations”.

IT expert Bruce Schreiner struck a similar tone: “The point is that adding a cryptocurrency to a consistently encrypted app dilutes the morale of the product and leads to all kinds of government investigations.

In April 2021, the online magazine Wired also reported in detail on the disadvantages of the feature already announced at the time. It is hardly surprising that Signal ultimately opted for the cryptocurrency Mobilcoin. Moxie Marlinspike not only acts as an advisor to the associated foundation, but was also involved in the development of the coin.

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