Synonym Software, dedicated to bringing new utility and user experiences to Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, has officially launched today.
"Hyperbitcoinization won't magically happen on its own," said John Carvalho, CEO of Synonym, in a statement sent to Bitcoin Magazine. "In order to live in a world without big banks, oppressive regulation, or Big Tech presiding over our lives, we need a strategy and ecosystem to replace the legacy economy. That is where Synonym comes in."
Synonym builds software to empower the Bitcoin and Lightning networks to encompass more use cases and free users from depending on traditional finance applications and systems.
"By combining the Lightning Network's speed and efficiency with an architected ecosystem of open P2P platforms and applications, Synonym hopes to accelerate Bitcoin's ability to act as an independent, self-regulated economy," per the statement.
At launch, Synonym is releasing Slashtags, a protocol that leverages a web of trust model to create interoperable, uncensorable networks connected via encrypted private channels and feeds. Plans for Slashtags include a search and publishing platform that enables users to create and monetize data and a user-centric decentralized social media platform.
"Synonym will also release Blocktank, a full-service 'Lightning Service Provider' (LSP), which will allow businesses, platforms, apps, or Bitcoiners to configure and purchase Lightning Network connections and liquidity instantly," according to the statement.
The company, which Tether Holdings owns, is also open-sourcing code libraries for features like tokens on Lightning, a mobile Lightning node, and encrypted, remote wallet backups. Fulgur Ventures is also an investor.
"As part of the family of companies that make up Tether and Bitfinex, Synonym is positioned to integrate all of these companies products in a strategic way for Bitcoin, and we can reroute these resources back into Bitcoin development," Carvalho told Bitcoin Magazine. "Slashtags Accounts and Blocktank LSP will be integrated with Bitfinex. Instant Tether tokens will be introduced to the Lightning Network, within our apps, and within Blocktank LSP for token channel liquidity, and Synonym will bring all of this together using the one and only important blockchain, Bitcoin."
An Exclusive Look Inside Synonym With CEO John Carvalho
The Slashtags protocol challenges common beliefs in the cryptocurrency industry that many blockchains are necessary for disrupting traditional finance. Synonym and its software stack aim to demonstrate how only one blockchain is necessary.
"We wanted to show and prove that you literally do not need a blockchain for anything other than a Bitcoin standard store of value," Carvalho told Bitcoin Magazine. "Slashtags can improve any network's ability to authenticate, coordinate, permission, and sort anything digitally expressible."
Slashtags is based on a web of trust (WoT) model, in which public-key cryptography is used to establish the authenticity of the binding between a public key and its owner. It requires that a schema be passed when communicating about a key. These schemas can be leveraged to allow anyone to form private yet interoperable networks.
"These localized WoTs can rebuild an entire new user-centric web where you decide who to include and under which conditions," Carvalho explained. "This empowers Bitcoiners by allowing us to create literally any digital marketplace we can define in a way that leaks minimal metadata and only with whom we choose to trust."
Slashtags is only part of Synonym's stack, however. The company also uses Omni, a platform that enables tokens, decentralized crowdfunding, and peer-to-peer trading solutions on Bitcoin.
"The reason we chose to support Omni and OmniBOLT, is that they are the only token solutions that do not require extra blockchains or native store of value tokens to operate," Carvalho said. "Omni transactions are Bitcoin transactions with special info that is tracked by the Omni network, and uses the same scaling methods as Bitcoin, like a Lightning Network layer 2."
Similar offerings exist, like Liquid and Stacks, that also promise the ability to issue digital assets on Bitcoin. However, Carvalho explained why Synonym chose Omni instead.
"The problem with Liquid is that it requires a trusted federated network, and that risk profile is nearly impossible to communicate to users inside of an app. Omni allows users to focus on whether they trust each individual token owner alone," he said. "The problems with Stacks are even worse, as it has a lot of superfluous design and mechanics that do not scale whatsoever, and are ultimately totally unnecessary to achieve decentralized web goals."
Synonym's goal is to enable society to function without trusting intermediaries or asking for permission from big banks or tech companies. By leveraging Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, the company aims to replace trusted intermediaries with an "Atomic Economy" powered by open-source software that puts the user back in control.
"The idea is to actually reform the web to be as practical and relevant as possible to each individual," Carvalho said. "The Atomic Economy is a concept that combines the ideas of a circular economy with a web of trust to form a highly efficient and relative social economy. Our hypothesis is that if we can achieve minimal conversion (with a circular economy) and minimal data redundancy (with localized webs of trust), we can replace the violent oppressive legacy economy with a self-regulating reputation-aware social economy that obsoletes banks, governments, and Big Tech."
Bitcoin is core to that goal since it provides a global and permissionless monetary network to backbone the new web, and Lightning is central to unleashing sound money's full potential. Synonym's LSP, Blocktank, seeks to bring that power to everyday users with convenience. The service rivals Lightning Lab's Pool and Voltage's Flow as a market for Lightning liquidity.
"Pool and Flow are systems that attempt to decentralize aspects of this kind of service, but we want to demonstrate that such a design is not always necessary because users can still hold their own keys regardless of the source of their channel connection," Carvalho explained. "We aim to prove that by offering an intentional business service for Lightning channel liquidity and automation, we can specialize and scale in predictable and useful ways for the businesses that choose to work with us."
User control in the form of key ownership and true sovereignty is central to Synonym's mission, as well as choosing the right tool for the job. As a result, that is where much of the company's and Carvalho's criticism of novel "Web3" narratives, common in the cryptocurrency industry, stems from.
"You simply do not need a blockchain to create what they call 'Web3' user experiences and designs. We are solving the same problems using Slashtags and Hypercore to establish a new social economy web paradigm without the nonsense of unscalable blockchain bullshit," he said. "The Web3 and Metaverse narrative will haunt us for years, and require much re-education to separate design ideas from the people simply trying to pump their investments to greater fools."
"The Slashtags Web of Trust will enable people to make their own decisions together about which token credit issuers to trust, and which to dismiss, empowering all businesses to leverage their relevance with the customers that rely on them by issuing credit in any format they wish: IOU dollar tokens, hamburger tokens, subscription tokens, gift tokens (a strict upgrade to gift cards), and any bearer instrument they are willing to define and be responsible for," Carvalho added.