In late April, 2018, MobileCoin, a privacy-focused cryptocurrency announced that Binance Labs, the major blockchain incubator associated with the Binance exchange, led a $30 million round in Bitcoin and Ether for the new cryptocurrency. As part of the relationship, MobileCoin will enjoy “priority consideration.” In a whitepaper published in December, 2017, MobileCoin is described as an “effort to develop fast, private, and easy-to-use cryptocurrency that can be deployed in resource constrained environments to users who aren’t equipped to reliably maintain secret keys over a long period of time, all without giving up controls of funds to a payment processing service.”
What is MobileCoin?
MobileCoin has the supported of established names in the industry. Moxie Marlinspike, the founder of end-to-end encryption messaging app Signal and Open Whisper Systems, joined MobileCoin as a tech advisor in August, 2017, according to Wired. Marlinspike jokes Joshua Goldcard, a general partner at hedge fund Crypto Lotus and Shane Glynn, legal counsel, to guide MobileCoin through the murky waters of cryptocurrency regulation.
MobileCoin transactions will synchronize to the coin’s network using the Stellar Consensus Protocol for scalability and speed. The technology will allow MobileCoin to record transactions and protect user privacy. The end product will emphasize user privacy and integration into mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Signal. Both apps use Marlinspike’s end-to-end Signal Protocol.
While MobileCoin has the power of Marlinspike’s support, the talent, and funding, the project is still in its early days. Binance Labs, the project’s incubator, will use its resources to concentrate on pre-ICO projects. On the other hand, MobileCoin will use its funding to hire a proper team of core engineers and develop working processes at the same time as the product’s development. “A mobile-first, user-friendly cryptocurrency, like MobileCoin, plays a critical role in driving mainstream cryptocurrency adoption,” Binance Labs said of the deal. “The MobileCoin team and Binance Labs share a common vision and we are proud to be a supporter of what they are doing.”
The cryptocurrency-based service has much promise, given Marlinspike’s best-known project and his usual reluctance to attach his name to anything. Nevertheless, beyond the question of why a new cryptocurrency needs to exist at all, MobileCoin will have to find ways to establish itself as a viable alternative to established mainstream mobile payment services such as Venmo and Paypal for the typical user.
There’s also the issue of regulations, including those pertaining to fraud prevention that plat other digital currency projects. Nevertheless, MobileCoin’s downplayed behavior and the fact that one-third of the three-member team listed on its website represents legal counsel, it seems the founders are not charging in with wanton abandon.
The Bottom Line
With a $30 million partnership with Binance, MobileCoin hopes to bring blockchain technology to the world of mobile payments. With the help of established industry leaders like Marlinspike and technology such as the Stellar Consensus Protocol and Signal Protocol, MobileCoin is building a scalable platform that ensures privacy and seamless integration with messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal. There are challenges ahead for the technology, but given the reticent, measured attitude of its legal counsel, MobileCoin could pave the way for a compelling blockchain-based product.