One mobile app to rule them all. That’s how Anthony Di Iorio sees the new Jaxx Liberty crypto wallet.
As one of the cryptocurrency industry’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Decentral CEO Di Iorio said he aims to attract up to 100 corporate integrations to his new wallet to make it the most versatile app in the ecosystem. Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, Decentral is launching Jaxx Liberty today, after several months of beta testing.
“It’s almost like an app store,” Di Iorio told CoinDesk, speaking to how consolidation could make transactions faster and simpler. “Our whole model is we provide a single interface so that users don’t have to send money outside of a single system.”
Di Iorio said he believes the whole ecosystem flourishes when products monetize cohesively rather than competitively dividing users across platforms.
Stepping back, Decentral garnered over 1 million Jaxx downloads since January 2017 and still processes more than 3,000 support requests a month. Active users total 750,000 to 1 million a month, depending on market conditions, Di Iorio said, including 118,000 Chrome extension users.
While the original Jaxx was predominately a software wallet capable of in-app currency conversions thanks to exchange partner ShapeShift, processing roughly $2 billion worth of crypto through that integration since 2016, Jaxx Liberty now includes everything from in-app block explorers for multiple currencies to news feeds from sites like CoinDesk. (The new app is available for Android mobile devices and as a Google Chrome browser extension, with iOS and desktop versions on the way.)
“These are the things that, every day, people are looking at the pricing,” Di Iorio said, adding that the new features were inspired by user feedback about their financial habits. “We’ve put it all in one place.”
Decentral will charge up to $250,000 to add support for new assets to Jaxx Liberty and it takes a cut of the fees for integrating financial services from other startups, such as exchanges. Meanwhile, the Decentral team plans to launch a tokenized reward program in 2019, called Unity, as yet another revenue stream from Jaxx Liberty.
“The more the user is using services that we’re monetizing, the more they are earning of unity token,” Di Iorio said. “They’re going to be able to get discounts from our services.”
However, aspirations aside, conversations with users and market observers suggest the company has a steep hill to climb in terms of realizing its vision.
For one, Jaxx Liberty won’t be the first app to market itself as a comprehensive interface.
The Chinese company Cheetah Mobile has a similar all-in-one tagline for its Coin Master app, which includes crypto price trackers and portfolio management features that can link to various wallets and exchange accounts for automatic transfers.
Plus, the investing platform eToro already includes a multipurpose wallet with exchange features, portfolio management, social networking components, and customized news feeds. It remains to be seen if Jaxx Liberty will become the go-to multipurpose wallet, despite competition and philosophical conflicts with the open source community.
Fellow wallet maker Richard Burton, CEO of the ethereum-centric startup Balance, which offers a wallet with many of the same features as Jaxx Liberty, told CoinDesk he admires the diversity of assets and services incorporated in Jaxx Liberty.
On the other hand, Decentral’s past security issues, ones he attributed to the wallet’s closed-source design, give him pause.
Speaking of a Jaxx user who claimed in June 2017 that he lost $400,000 due to a security flaw, Burton said:
“These are the kinds of things that, if you are open source, someone might have just waded through and found [the bug]. A big part of what makes really secure software is the ability for anyone who is curious to dive in.”
What users say
That said, for many, Jaxx’s simple interface has helped it become one of their first user-friendly wallets.
“I began using Jaxx because they had mobile and desktop, as well as supported a couple coins that I was mining at the time,” an altcoin miner and trader, who asked to stay anonymous because his day job is in the blockchain industry, told CoinDesk.
As several others told CoinDesk, this user primarily relies on Jaxx for onboarding crypto newbies, converting niche altcoins into dominant cryptos, and transferring funds to other wallets for storage.
Like Burton, the miner and trader cited security issues as a concern, however.
“I stopped using [Jaxx] as a wallet after I lost money due to their bugs and poor service,” he said.
Others merely used Jaxx experimentally, a valuable use case in a field full of builders and tinkerers. For example, token aficionado Zineb Belmkaddem told CoinDesk she used Jaxx because Decentral partnered with the adtech company StormX.
Challenges to overcome
With today’s launch, it remains to be seen if Jaxx can overcome the $400,000 theft from 2017 that attracted widespread criticism from privacy experts, or at least the lingering perception of security issues.
This may be doubly true in that serving newer consumers is challenging in an industry where consumers remain under-educated on how to use available tools.
As for the hack, Di Iorio said the user was responsible, not Decentral, because the user allegedly didn’t secure the phone itself with a fingerprint lock or pin.
Despite complaints, Di Iorio said there haven’t been any cases of lost funds caused by Decentral’s software.
He also added:
“We consider ourselves a hot wallet. We don’t recommend keeping life-changing amounts on it.”
Indeed, one could argue that leather wallets are not meant for anyone’s retirement savings, just as no one lugs around a safe when they go shopping for groceries.
“There’s always a trade-off between usability, portability, and security,” Di Iorio said.
Shift at ShapeShift
One more challenge for Decentral – one that underscores its impetus to integrate with additional third-party services – will be responding to the recent change at its first integration partner, ShapeShift.
As reported by CoinDesk last week, ShapeShift is reluctantly moving away from its longstanding “no-account” model, in which users have not been required to provide personal information. The exchange will start by offering perks to users who identify themselves, but later this year, the know-your-customer (KYC) procedures will become mandatory.
Decentral is still figuring out what this means for the Jaxx integration with ShapeShift, Di Iorio told CoinDesk. “We’re evaluating their new system right now and seeing how that’s going to impact us and what our plans are going to be,” he said, noting that his company has a few months to make any decisions before ShapeShift’s new policy takes effect.
In the meantime, Decentral is looking to add integrations with similar services, so it’s not wholly reliant on any single one. “Our goal is to be the Expedia of exchange,” Di Iorio said, referring to the popular travel aggregation site. “We want to give our users options.”
Like ShapeShift founder Erik Voorhees, who tweeted that ShapeShift changed course “under duress,” Di Iorio was not happy about the change, saying:
“I like ShapeShift’s model that they’ve got right now. I like the no account [set-up]. I don’t like friction. … It’s a slippery slope when a company starts collecting user information, which is why we don’t.”
But he didn’t fault his partner for its decision.
“You see the climate right now,” Di Iorio said. “I understand that companies have to abide by certain rules and regulations.”
Marc Hochstein contributed reporting.
Multi-tool knife image via Shutterstock
The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.