MobileCoin is a new cryptocurrency designed to be used by everyone in the world. Find out how it works today in our review.
What Is MobileCoin?
MobileCoin, found online at MobileCoin.com, is a digital currency that promises to simplify cryptocurrencies, making them more accessible to everyone. MobileCoin emphasizes simple, private payments, easy key management, and sub-second transactions, among other benefits.
As the name of the coin suggests, MobileCoin is focused on a mobile audience. The vast majority of the world has a mobile phone. MobileCoin wants to create mobile-focused apps that make it easier to spend, manage, and receive MobileCoin payments.
What Problems Does MobileCoin Seek To Solve?
One of the problems with cryptocurrencies is that they have multi-gigabyte blockchains. Bitcoin’s blockchain, for example, is over 150GB in size and growing. This makes it impossible to install on a mobile phone. Mobile applications can’t synchronize an entire multi-gigabyte blockchain.
Other problems with today’s mobile applications include end users who are ill equipped to reliably maintain secret keys over a long period of time.
Mobile applications are also subject to the same minutes-long transaction times as cryptocurrencies, which makes cryptocurrencies unacceptable for standard mobile use – say, if you’re standing in a coffee shop trying to buy a coffee.
The end result is that most users need to resort to third party apps that manage keys and validate transactions on their behalf.
With MobileCoin, the developers want to create a fast, private, and easy-to-use cryptocurrency that can be deployed in “resource constrained environments” (i.e. mobile phones) by users who aren’t equipped to handle private keys over a long period of time, all without giving up control of funds to a payment processing service.
How Does MobileCoin Work?
MobileCoin was built on the idea that not all clients are capable of participating in a P2P network, which is why they created a federated approach instead. The MobileCoin network is made up of nodes, with each node designed to serve users.
Nodes do the heavy lifting of all tasks in the MobileCoin network, including tasks that user clients can’t perform – like maintaining the large ledger of transactions and processing high-throughput low-latency transactions. At the same time, node operators do not have access to users’ funds, nor do they learn anything about users’ balances and transaction history.
Nodes run in an SGX secure enclave. SGX secure enclaves are isolated from the host OS in hardware-encrypted RAM. This prevents the node operator from being able to “see” any activities on the network.
In addition to SGX, MobileCoin transactions use CryptoNote one-time addresses and one-time ring signatures, which means MobileCoin still maintains transaction privacy through unlinkable addresses. So in the unlikely event that an attacker defeats SGX and view transactions on the network, the network won’t be compromised.
MobileCoin nodes also use the Stellar Consensus Protocol to synchronize their ledger. This is why MobileCoin promises sub-second transaction times.
In terms of key management, nodes can securely manage keys for users without actually being able to see those keys (due to the SGX enclave). A client can perform remote attestations to its MobileCoin node before transmitting its keys into the remote enclave along with a short recovery PIN.
The MobileCoin node can then rate limit authenticated access to the keys, while the enclave prevents the node operator or anyone who compromises the node from circumventing the software and attempting to brute force access to the keys directly.
That means user keys can reside safely in a node and survive across application reinstalls or lost devices. There’s no need to trust the node operator or the security of the node computer, and there’s no need to memorize or safely store extremely long recovery passphrases.
Users interact with MobileCoin through a wallet – like a mobile app. The wallet is designed so that an ordinary messenger – like WhatsApp, Signal, or Facebook Messenger – could integrate to the wallet, allowing MobileCoin to send payments over a messenger network.
Some of the core emphasized features of MobileCoin include all of the following:
Easy Key Management:
You can securely recover keys using a 4 to 6 digit PIN. There’s no need to remember long word lists, and there’s no need to trust a provider with your keys.
Sub-Second Transaction Times:
Most transactions complete in less than a second, which means payment happen instantly.
The entire MobileCoin ledger is opaque, and individual transactions are cryptographically protected. The network uses forward secrecy.
User-Friendly and Eco-Friendly:
Today’s PoW blockchains are criticized for their massive energy usage. MobileCoin, alternatively, emphasizes a user-friendly and planet-friendly environment.
Who’s Behind MobileCoin?
MobileCoin is led by Joshua Goldbard, a mobile and telecommunications expert with a decade of experience developing, managing, and implementing networks for AT&T and other companies, Shane Glynn, a lawyer with a background in telecommunications and mobile devices, and Moxie Marlinspike, a cryptographer with a passion for secure communication (and the founder of Signal).
Today’s cryptocurrencies are designed to appeal to a mass audience of users. However, high transaction fees, long transaction times, and overall complexity are preventing mass adoption. MobileCoin sees an opportunity to develop a mobile-centric cryptocurrency. It’s a unique project that’s built to be implemented into messengers like Signal, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, where it could provide convenient and secure payments between individuals.
Overall, MobileCoin is a cryptocurrency designed to be used by everyone. To learn more about MobileCoin and how it works, visit online today at MobileCoin.com. Right now, the project has a 4 page whitepaper and a small website, although we expect more details to be released in the near future.