I was having a productive morning, but now I'm having to do a deep dive on MobileCoin. I'll add the details I think are pertinent here on this thread as I find them.


They don't yet have a block explorer, from what I can tell, but it is a UTXO based coin, so a block explorer would likely look similar to BTC/LTC style block explorers.


They're relevant this morning, BTW, because Signal has announced integration directly with MobileCoin for "secure, private payments."

I view this claim with extreme suspicion for a number of reasons.


If they're UTXO based, that means payments are exactly as traceable as they are on BTC, which means chainalysis-style tools are usable on the network.


If you're unfamiliar with chainalysis, they're a tool used by law enforcement to use blockchain records like puzzle pieces to identify who transactions and coins belong to.

I found the MobileCoin white paper here.

It doesn't appear to use traditional consensus mechanisms like Proof of Work or Proof of Stake, instead hoping to achieve byzantine fault tolerance by utilizing SGX secure enclaves.


There isn't a lot of technical detail in the whitepaper about how this is achieved, but there are several references to their use of Stellar Consensus Protocol for how consensus is achieved.

Stellar's website has technical documentation here: stellar.org/papers/stellar-con

After reading this tweet in the white paper, I'm left with a question about the node, which apparently resides in the SGX secure enclave.

How do you manage node size in the event the network rises above zombie-chain status.

I've evaluated SGX Enclave tech only enough to know it relied on trust in hardware vendors, which made it a non-starter in my opinion for a truly secure solution... but aren't these environments very small relative to the overall system they reside on? It seems problematic.

Even if they do scale, wouldn't that make your account security tied to the physical device, making it impossible or at least very difficult to migrate your coins and identity to a new device?

In reading the Stellar Consensus Protocol white paper, it's clear how it's an upgrade over existing trad finance systems, but it isn't clear how it's superior to existing blockchains.

The wp attempts to make the case that it's better, but by using args long since debunked.

Obviously Stellar's main chain is a great proof of concept that SCP can work as a consensus mechanism, but without a lot more research, it's impossible to say that it's as byzantine fault tolerant as, say, BTC or ETH given the incentives to break the network are much lower.

Again, here's the white paper on Stellar Consensus Protocol, which goes into the arguments for it over proof of work and proof of stake, as well as some of the technical reasons why they say they're byzantine fault tolerant.


Here's the bottom line: Cryptocurrency users who prefer the privacy of signal over traditional centralized messaging do so because it's privacy resistant to law enforcement as well as hackers/scam artists.

Using MobileCoin in Signal is less private and secure than BTC.

Bottom line, cont'd: This move toward pseudo-privacy is consistent with Signals moves in the last year that have claimed privacy, but belied that aim.


Bottom line, cont'd: Using MobileCoin is probably a moderate privacy risk. If you're the type of tin-foil hatter that needs signal because of political oppression or privacy needs, you'd be better to install Samorai Wallet for BTC or just switch to Monero.

@rizzn Samourai only if you run your own node, otherwise you're doxxing your xpub to their servers. Do you have any recommendations for monero wallets that are FOSS and don't suffer from network privacy leaks?

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