The team behind the privacy-obsessed bitcoin app, Samourai Wallet, has gotten its first round of venture funding.
Founded by two former developers at Blockchain.info, Keonne Rodriguez and William Hill, the wallet’s maintainer, Katana Cryptographic, has received a $100,000 investment from Cypherpunk Holdings.
Samourai Wallet has been built for Android users, specifically designed to enhance privacy while using bitcoin.
“There is no other cryptocurrency that is as battle-tested and hardened as bitcoin,” Rodriguez, Katana’s director, told CoinDesk in an email. “The founding team of Samourai has zero interest in working on other coins, or even other layers of bitcoin at this time.”
The wallet has a number of features that provide greater privacy for users, such as a service that puts intermediary hops in a transaction in order to create uncertainty about which wallet pays for what. Another feature makes it difficult to trace the provenance of someone’s bitcoin. The company earns a small fee, in bitcoin, from users that make use of these services.
Samourai also provides a privacy-enhancing service called “stonewall” for free. Stonewall creates doubt about the ownership of bitcoin in a given transaction. The company is also offering a forthcoming hardware product, called Dojo, which is a user-friendly bitcoin node built to work with the wallet.
Still an alpha release in the works since 2015, Samourai has 27,000 users, according to the company. Its first full version should come out in June. Rodriguez said it will use the funding to expand its development, customer service and quality assurance program, all of which have been put under significant pressure by the wallet’s growth.
The products have personally impressed John Carvalho, a longtime bitcoin user who currently works at Bitrefill. Carvalho told CoinDesk:
“I have respect for any company that adds utility for Bitcoiners and Samourai is clearly willing to go against the grain to add privacy options for users. If Bitcoin is freedom money, Samourai are freedom fighters.”
A similar sentiment spurred the investment itself. Cypherpunk, a venture fund listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker symbol HODL, was set up as an investment vehicle to support privacy-enhancing technology.
Cypherpunk’s chief investment officer, Moe Adham, said in a press release, “Katana’s technologies will advance the bitcoin project. Privacy is an increasingly important, yet underfunded sector of the market, and it is increasingly coming under attack.”
Cypherpunk’s director, Dominic Frisby, told CoinDesk that his fund is looking across a wide array of blockchain technologies for opportunities to undermine global surveillance.
“Bitcoin itself scores badly on privacy, but it scores highly on market cap and usage. What bitcoin has that no other coin does is this colossal network effect. That is a powerful thing,” Frisby told CoinDesk.
But the fund is not limiting itself strictly to bitcoin. Frisby said:
“We’re investing on both sides – in privacy coins themselves and in bitcoin privacy tech. We think there will be growing demand for both.”
Katana sword image via Shutterstock