There’s nothing sinister about putting payments into a messaging
app, and Signal is not alone in adding crypto payments to
messaging: the company formerly known as Facebook has undertaken a
multiyear effort to create a new currency and integrate it
with WhatsApp and Messenger. What sets Signal’s effort apart is
the combination of end-to-end encryption in messaging and a
cryptocurrency with privacy features designed to make any
Last year, current and former Signal employees told me they were
worried about what that combination would bring to the app.
Anonymous transactions would likely attract criminals, they told
me, and that in turn would attract regulatory scrutiny. Given that
end-to-end encryption already faces legal challenges around the
globe, they said, Signal’s addition of anonymous payments was a
needless provocation. And it could give more ammunition to
lawmakers who want to end encryption as we know it.