Signal Accepts Cryptocurrency Donations, App Goes Dark in China

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In Brief
  • Signal accepting donations in cryptocurrency in new partnership.

  • The Giving Block currently accepts 12 different coins, including BTC and ETH.

  • Users in China unable to access Signals app or website.

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The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations building standards of transparency.

The encrypted messaging app, Signal, announced it will now accept donations in cryptocurrency.

On March 16, 2021, Signal tweeted:

“As a nonprofit organization, we depend on your support. If you’ve been patiently waiting for Signal to accept cryptocurrency donations, you no longer need to hodl back your generosity,”

The app is accepting donations in bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Amp (AMP), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), ChainLink (LINK), Dai (DAI), Gemini Dollar (GUSD), Litecoin (LTC), Storj (STORJ), ZCash (ZEC) and 0x (ZRX). 

Signal Opens Crypto Donations

Signal has partnered with the cryptocurrency donations platform The Giving Block to process these donations. The selection of accepted cryptocurrencies is based on The Giving Block’s capacity.

However, users on Twitter pointed out that a messaging platform founded on improved privacy was lacking coin options with the same focus. 

In response to a user questioning the limited number of privacy coins, Giving Block co-founder Alex Wilson said: 

“We are always working to add additional support for new tokens.” 

Signal’s popularity has exploded over the past few months. As of December 2020, the app has an estimated 20 million active users, an industry insider told TechCrunch

China Appears to Block Signal

This massive userbase may soon diminish, however, as it appears China has decided to block the growing app. 

Also on the morning of March 16, Signal users in China were unable to access the app or website. Access to their encrypted messages is now only available through a virtual private network (VPN). 

The Chinese government has a strict handle on what its population can access online. Apps built outside of the country are not often accessible without circumventing these censors. 

However, Signal was among the few US-built apps given the green light to operate in China. In the past, the platform has gone down for short periods of time before being restored, according to Reuters. 

As a result of these blocks, most Chinese smartphone users rely on Chinese-built alternatives. Almost all blocked apps have a local equivalent.

For example, Sina Weibo is essentially Twitter, and Tencent Video is the country’s version of YouTube. Another Tencent app, WeChat, is China’s answer to WhatsApp. It has over one billion active users in the country alone. 

Whether Signal will be permanently blocked is still to be seen. The company has not yet commented on the developments. At this time, there is no concrete evidence linking Signal’s cryptocurrency donation development and service outage.


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