Samourai and goTenna Enable Bitcoin Transactions Without Internet Access
Samourai Wallet is collaborating with goTenna, a Brooklyn-based company specializing in off-grid communications, to produce txTenna, an Android app that combines mesh networking with Bitcoin transactions. The app will allow users to pair their phones with goTenna’s portable antennas in order to broadcast transactions.
goTenna produces consumer-grade hardware to facilitate mesh networking — a concept that echoes much of the decentralization ethos that we see across the cryptocurrency domain — which operates by allowing peers to connect directly to one another for the purpose of routing packets, sidestepping the need to rely on an ISP or cell tower.
“What will happen when these massive centralized networks fail due to natural disasters, as they did after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, or due to some kind of outside cybersecurity attack? What will happen when providers decide to crank up prices just because they can?” said Rich Myers, goTenna’s Decentralized Applications Engineer.
“Mesh networks are the only legitimate alternative to these traditional centralized communication networks. They are completely decentralized and democratized, leaving the power of communication in the hands of the people. Beyond that, they are much more resilient to unforeseen disasters — the only thing these networks need to function is a mesh networking device paired with a smartphone.”
For its part, Samourai Wallet has been focusing on censorship resistance and privacy-oriented tools since it began in 2015. With features such as direct interaction with trusted nodes, added hops to circumvent chain analysis, and SMS commands for remotely wiping wallets, it has seen widespread adoption by users wishing to incorporate an additional level of privacy into their Bitcoin transactions.
Samourai has been curating Mule.tools, an R&D initiative to further reinforce the censorship-resistant properties of the Bitcoin blockchain and also published the code for Pony Direct, a proof-of-concept app for broadcasting transactions over SMS in January.
“We believe one of the most fundamental value propositions that bitcoin provides is censorship resistance,” SW, the CEO of Samourai, told Bitcoin Magazine. “The freedom to transact freely and without permission is not a freedom to take lightly, or give up without a fight. We saw the open internet transform into a walled garden, captured by regulatory and corporate interest working together — and largely aided by red-herrings like ‘net-neutrality.’
“The tools we are building arm the little guy — the individual — with the tools they need to level the playing field against the inevitable overstepping of bounds by hostile actors, oppressive regimes and overzealous governments,” said SW. “We're making some material changes to Samourai Wallet to allow for a greater high latency and offline experience. In conjunction with the release of txTenna, Samourai Wallet users will be able to theoretically keep their phone offline at all times and still be able to send and receive payments with minimal hassle.”
The concept explored by txTenna follows in the path of alternate methods to access the blockchain, previously seen with both the Blockstream Satellite and in the works of Nick Szabo and Elaine Ou. Not only does it provide more versatility to those wishing to avoid using censored systems, but it opens up a slew of use cases for Bitcoin in regions with less-developed infrastructures and those affected by natural disasters.