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Stablecoin issuer Tether and cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex have entered the world of social media today, announcing the launch of a video chat application named Keet.
Keet, which is fully encrypted, is the product of Bitfinex, Tether, and the software company Hypercore. It’s only available on desktop for now, but there soon will be a mobile app with “amazing” video quality, the companies told Decrypt.
The messenger is the first app built upon Holepunch, a platform that allows developers to construct Web3 applications, which also was announced today by the three companies.
Tether, Bitfinex, and Hypercore Launch Holepunch, a Platform for Building Fully Encrypted Peer-to-Peer Applications
Currently closed-source but expected to be open-source later this year, Holepunch doesn’t run on a blockchain but will use the Lightning Network—a “second-layer solution” that speeds up Bitcoin transactions while reducing costs. So, those who want to build a payment app upon Holepunch would be able to via Lightning.
They added that Tether, Bitfinex, and Hypercore had poured $10 million into Holepunch, which could see tens of millions of dollars in additional investments.
So why would the company that issues the world’s biggest stablecoin (USDT) and a crypto exchange go into the crowded market of chat apps? It’s in the name of freedom of speech, Paolo Ardoino, the CTO of Tether and Bitfinex and the CSO of Holepunch, told Decrypt.
“You know that funny meme where people ask if you are ‘in it for the tech’ in the Bitcoin space, mocking the fact that everyone is in it for the money? We at Tether and Bitfinex—and this is the great alignment we have—we are actually in the tech blockchain space for the tech,” he said.
“One of the main concepts is that individual sovereignty cannot be reached if you only have financial freedom, but you don’t have freedom of speech,” he added. “Sometimes, you have to give back and push forward.”
The app and Holepunch are free to use and will supposedly be more private and secure than Web2 centralized peers such as Zoom or Google Meet. This is because Keet users can make calls directly to another individual’s computer, with nothing stored on a server.
“This app is for everyone,” Holepunch CEO Mathias Buus said.
Ardoino added: “Privacy is one of the most forgotten human rights—everyone should be entitled to say what they want to their parents without worrying if someone is listening.”
Tether’s USDT—the most-traded cryptocurrency and considered the backbone of the crypto economy, typically pegged to the U.S. dollar—is available on some blockchains. (Japanese yen and euro tokens are also available.)
But that hasn’t stopped regulators from asking whether actual reserves back its tokens, as the company says.
Last year, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission fined Tether $41 million for lying about its fiat-backed reserves. Bitfinex, the ninth-biggest crypto exchange in terms of volume, was also hit at the same time with a $1.5 million fine for “illegal, off-exchange retail commodity transactions in digital assets.”