The Canada-based nonprofit Open Privacy is working on Cwtch, a messaging app that’s fueled with Zcash (ZEC) and is more decentralized than Signal or Telegram.
Sarah Jamie Lewis, the founder of Open Privacy had this to say about the project:
“Cwtch is focused on building a decentralized infrastructure. It can’t be reliant on Visa or Venmo unless we can find a way to remove that metadata.”
The work in Cwtch is just beginning the initial steps of sending messages amongst around a dozen node and the server operators. Thanks to a $40,000 contribution received from the Zcash Foundation, Open Privacy will get a designer and do more research on the system’s payment options.
Open Privacy is Considering Bitcoin
Lewis said the project should be regarded as a prepaid card that can be topped up using ZEC or other options for payment. She added that Cwtch was inspired by some market research done on queer communities and sex workers who have to deal with surveillance and censorship. Open Privacy is looking into the Bitcoin (BTC) and other liquidity or on-ramps options.
There Are a Few User Experience Challenges to Overcome
It isn’t clear yet how Open Privacy is going to deal with the challenges regarding the user experience. The ZEC option is going to be based on shielded transactions and requires a node that many people don't understand yet. This is why the nonprofit wants to hire a designer to take care of this problem and some others it’s dealing with. A press statement released by Open Privacy had this to say:
“Server-side support is only half the battle, and the most critical aspect of this whole endeavour will be getting people who use Cwtch to a position where they can easily use zcash (and possibly other cryptocurrencies with similar properties) to pay for anonymous services, or even accept it themselves.”
Zcash Foundation Hoping to Incorporate Feedback from Cwtch
Until now, the needs of the public seem to be personal ads like the ones that used to be advertised on Craigslist and Backpage, or in dating app-like features. Everything would have to be very discreet, as Lewis said there are some people subjected to violence if the authorities find them to have Grindr or other similar apps on their phone. Cwtch works very similarly to the Bitcoin (BTC) apps, in the sense that everyone downloads the messages’ ledger and there are ledgers that are public. The only difference is that user identifiers and private keys can unlock some conversations, including the ones in private group chats and in direct messages. Zcash Foundation’s director of engineering, George Tankersley, said he’s hoping the feedback from Cwtch is going to be incorporated into the Zebra ZEX implementation. Open Privacy was founded in back in 2018 and is mainly funded though Bitcoin (BTC), Zcash (ZEC) and Monero (XMR) donations.