The developers of the privacy-centric bitcoin wallet, Samourai, have announced a new feature that claims to “improve fungibility and frustrate blockchain spies.”
Samourai Unveils a Premium Bitcoin Transaction Hop Service
Launched in the spring 2015, the creators of the Samourai bitcoin wallet have been staunch advocates of bitcoin privacy and fungibility. The Android-based wallet uses military grade AES-256 encryption and keeps private keys in the hands of the owner. The team recently revealed Ricochet, which is a feature that adds four additional hops to a transaction. The Samourai team explains that thousands of transactions are flagged and blacklisted by blockchain spies on a daily basis.
“Bitcoin banks and exchanges freeze funds and suspend users based on blacklists published by blockchain spies,” explains the Samourai developers. “Blockchain spies look at the history of your coins around five hops deep. Your coins can be frozen for their past activity. Even if they weren’t in your control. Ricochet adds four additional hops to a transaction—by adding additional hops before the coins reach their final destination, the blockchain spies would need to look ten hops backwards, increasing their costs and overheads.”
A New Way to Monetize a Wallet Project?
Many have wondered in the past how a wallet company can sustain itself offering a free service. One Reddit user commented during the announcement saying, “Interesting feature and one way that a small wallet team can monetize a wallet without resorting to an ICO scam. I think this is the type of revenue model that wallet devs should pursue.”
The Samourai developers say that is exactly what they aim to accomplish rather than monetize by pushing users towards “the arms of Know Your Customer (KYC) merchants.” Some commentators said they didn’t appreciate the bold characterization of other wallet developers who abide by overarching KYC policies. Samourai explains that they have nothing personal against these programmers monetizing in this fashion. It is just something on which the team will never compromise.
“We don’t see any KYC-related functionality as useful,” detail Samourai developers. “Those who disagree have plenty of options to choose from. As for revenue, it should be clear by now that we are not interested in monetizing via fiat.”
Samourai Hopes to Curb the Growing Environment of Blockchain Spying
Blockchain spying has increased significantly over the past two years, and some businesses are using tracing services. If there are connections to a frowned upon activity within the transaction hops analyzed, many companies may freeze your bitcoin account. The Samourai team views this as a privacy problem for bitcoin.
Ricochet collects the inputs and miner fees needed for the transaction, and the user also pays 0.001 BTC to Samourai to process the ricocheted transaction. Each hop transaction maintains one input and one output with the final transaction. The team explains the process does not eliminate blacklisting entirely but “fungibility is preserved by moving funds to an address out of the line-of-sight of ill-intentioned actors.”
Privacy Activism at the Forefront
Since the Samourai wallet was introduced, the project has always focused on privacy and believes it is a successor to the largely abandoned Dark Wallet project. The team has added numerous features to the platform, like the ability to swipe the app off the phone from a remote location. The team considers themselves activists on a mission to provide a more fungible bitcoin experience for users.
“We are privacy activists who have dedicated our lives to creating the software that Silicon Valley will never build, the regulators will never allow, and the VC’s will never invest in. We build the software that Bitcoin deserves,” reads the Samourai developer’s motto.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and Samourai’s Website.