The new BLIP app promises secure and private communication leveraging Bitcoin’s Lightning Network and a novel encryption method, Hexum.
A new Bitcoin-based encrypted chat platform has been announced at the Adopting Bitcoin conference, BLIP.
The new app, yet to be publicly released, leverages Hexum, a proprietary multilayer encryption method, also created by the team behind BLIP, that promises a more secure communication than popular end-to-end (E2E) encrypted apps.
“WhatsApp and Signal use one static private key. The Hexum encryption method gives you a private key per message or per interaction. So hacking that is very difficult,” Alejandro Muyshondt, El Salvador national security advisor and co-founder of BLIP founding company High Voltage, told Bitcoin Magazine.
Hexum’s multilayer encryption approach leverages base64, AES, SHA256 and the addition of randomly generated words.
Muyshondt explained two other key differences between BLIP and the now-popular E2E apps setup: everything goes through Lightning and a phone number is not required.
A new user can start using BLIP with an email address and a password. On BLIP’s end, Lightning nodes are leveraged and each new user gets an address , along with a hash file that serves as an account backup file.
“So [text] goes from your phone with the Hexum encryption to the Lightning network, then to a Hexum decrypting method and then to your phone,” Muyshondt detailed.
Phase one of BLIP is text-only in this “peer to Lightning to peer”-fashion. Phase two includes video calls and voice messages, for which the connection handshake happens on Lightning and the rest goes through the Tor network, leveraging BitTorrent technology.
Creators of BLIP explained that the idea behind the project is not only to provide antifragile means for unstoppable communication but also serve as a driving force of bitcoin adoption.
“We talk about bitcoin adoption and for the most part people talk about the price, whether it’s a store of value or a medium of exchange, but there’s not enough discussion about the power of the network itself,” High Voltage co-founder Rick Fisher told Bitcoin Magazine. “We might have two, three or four percent of the world that has adopted bitcoin, but there is a much larger majority right now that can get their arms around protecting their speech, and the privacy of their speech.”
The need for freedom of speech will drive a need for Bitcoin, he continued. “And because a user needs to power the app with sats, there is an inherent need to take that step to go and buy a couple of dollars worth of bitcoin. And, for 50 cents or a buck, you can power up the BLIP app and have absolute encrypted communication.”
To encompass these use cases, the team behind BLIP also announced other applications at the conference, including BLIP Freedom and a Lightning wallet –– all of which also leverage Hexum.
BLIP Freedom is a bot-administered app that enables the creation of movements with large-scale dissemination of information. Focused on freedom of assembly, it protects the privacy of like-minded individuals who wish to freely communicate in the digital world.
“To get from the point of where we’re at today to a bitcoin standard, there’s a huge chasm in there that is gonna require that we can congregate, assemble, create movements, create the revolution, and that’s gonna happen through communication protocols,” Fisher said.
On BLIP Freedom, the organization’s only task is to kickstart and open a channel to let people then join and crowdfund it. A user can only be kicked out of a channel with a supermajority vote (75%) from channel users, a process administered by the bot.
“Assembly begins in the digital domain,” Fisher said. “If you want to start a movement, to create a revolution, it’s gonna start on a phone. And if the overlords don’t like it, they just shut it down. They did it in Canada, they’ve done it in Iran.”
“So, really, if you can’t organize at that first-layer level and you can be deplatformed and it can be turned off, then it really makes it hard to assemble and create a movement,” he continued. “BLIP Freedom is really a movement-oriented app where people can fund it, you can receive donations and we can create, for every possible or potential movement, a messaging platform where we can disseminate large amounts of data to people without it being shut down.”
Hexsum and BLIP actually stem from the development of 2Wallet, a custodial bitcoin and Lightning wallet aimed at banking the unbanked in developing countries worldwide. Fisher told Bitcoin Magazine the idea was born after meeting Muyshondt at Adopting Bitcoin 2021, which closely followed the adoption of bitcoin as legal tender by El Salvador.
“We talked about the challenges ahead for El Salvador and adopting bitcoin, and at that time, Chivo had just been launched,” Fisher said, referring to the state-owned Chivo Wallet. “There wasn’t a lot of information, but we did know that adoption was going to be tricky because Chivo was rolled out without Lightning. And so for merchant adoption, these things were going to be pretty difficult. The wallet itself was also a pretty big download.”
The two partners then had an idea to create a small-download wallet that was simple, fast and secure, Fisher recounted.
BLIP and 2Wallet will be made available for download within a few weeks, but a waitlist is already available.