A core ideology in the cryptocurrency space is a consistent commitment to privacy. But until privacy coins deliver easy-to-use, efficient solutions at scale, privacy will remain a privilege reserved for the crypto-savvy.
For individuals seeking to reject government or other third-party surveillance in their financial and business dealings, end-to-end encryption is a must. However, privacy coins universally lack a comprehensive approach that can aid users in performing other necessary functions like private messaging, file sharing, and data messaging.
Monero is routinely seen as the gold standard of the privacy niche, and for good reason. It’s the longest running of the major contenders, boasts the largest market cap, and has successfully protected XMR transactions from unwanted eyes for years. But that hasn’t stopped Monero users from being identified and reprimanded, over and over again.
Now, the purpose is not to condone criminal behavior, or argue over what constitutes a crime – criminals should be arrested. But the fact that individuals using Monero for illicit purposes are routinely uncovered and detained suggests that XMR isn’t adequately serving its users. By tracking on-ramps in and out of Monero, channels of communication, web activity, and so on, Monero users can forfeit their anonymity even if they use the coin exactly as intended.
The recent Monero website hack, in which a malicious actor planted a coin stealer on the site, proves that anyone can be tampered with, despite how knowledgeable they are of crypto. Centralized solutions in use alongside Monero and other privacy coins aren’t perfect, as the massive, recent NordVPN hack highlights.
And if we take a step further back, how accessible is Monero itself to the average individual? Despite over a decade of existence, cryptocurrency across the board is incredibly inaccessible for the average individual. XMR and coins like it carry an even larger learning curve. Realistically, what percentage of the population is equipped to properly utilize Monero and supplementary services to adequately protect their anonymity? I’d argue the figure is well below 1%. And with the ongoing trend of exchanges delisting the “purely privacy” coins, that figure may continue to dip lower still.
For privacy coins to carry out their intended purpose, they need to build out comprehensive, user-friendly applications that average Joe can wrap his head around.
Opal Coin: Before Its Time
A holistic approach to privacy isn’t a foreign concept to the niche. Once upon a time, there was a little known privacy coin by the name of Opal. Launched in 2014, Opal was situated as a suite of privacy utilities that were all housed in the Opal wallet. Alongside hidden addresses and shielded transactions typical of most privacy coins, you could also partake in on-chain private messaging. From a single location, you could negotiate dealings and settle transactions in a completely decentralized, secure manner. Read More...