Messaging could be the logical starting point for digital currency adoption, according to the CEO of bitcoin-enabled chat app Wiper.
In an interview with CoinDesk, Manlion Carelli praised bitcoin’s “amazing” promise but said the currency remains difficult for beginners to use. “Wiper’s goal is to make it more accessible to even first time smartphone users, so that its promise can be realised,” he added.
Launched in 2014, Wiper is part of a new wave of ephemeral messaging services that allow users to erase, or ‘wipe’ their conversations. The app also offers encrypted messages and phone calls, music streaming and, as of February, an embedded bitcoin wallet.
Once they’ve opted in, any Wiper user can send bitcoin to and receive bitcoin from their contacts within the app. Though Wiper would not disclose exactly how many wallets have been opened so far, Carelli said he has been particularly pleased with the response from Wiper’s asian user base.
How it works
Wiper uses a client-side wallet, meaning that its servers are not involved in the storage, sending or receiving of bitcoin. Instead, these operations are handled by the user’s device.
Each user can secure and restore their wallet with a deterministic key, a randomly-generated string of words that can be written down and stashed somewhere safe.
“Consumers can use the deterministic key to restore their wallet on a new device, if they loose their phone or get a new one,” said Carelli, adding that “the awesome thing for Wiper users is when it comes to backing up their wallet, their life is radically simplified”.
Unlike other messaging apps that offer payment functionality, Wiper reaches users without a bank account or debit card.
“Snapchat enabled users to send each other money through its integration with a payments company. But users on each side of the transaction require a debit card linked to MasterCard or Visa,” said the CEO.
Wiper won’t take a cut of bitcoin transactions either, Carelli confirmed:
“There is a tiny mining fee paid into the bitcoin ecosystem which is typical of bitcoin transactions and goes to the miners for speeding up a transaction, but none of that fee goes to Wiper.”
With smartphone usage on the rise, Carelli thinks bitcoin has potential to provide access to financial tools for the 2.5 billion people that are currently unbanked.
“How do you purchase bitcoin? Where can you spend it or convert it to local currency? Wiper is working on simplifying the answers to these questions.”
The CEO said that his company’s mission was “to bring this amazing new tool to mainstream users around the world”, adding that the embedded wallet and sending and receiving functions are the foundation for Wiper to “build a complete solution to making bitcoin an everyday tool”.
When asked about the messaging service’s focus on anonymity, he confirmed that privacy would continue to be an important element, adding that Wiper had “been architected so that it can later support multiple currencies”.
“Stay tuned,” he added.