TL;DR: According to Whirlpool Stats Tools, a command-line computing privacy-oriented statistics related to a Samourai Wallet feature (a Chaumian CoinJoin implementation for obscuring BTC transaction history), mixing volume has increased steadily over the past year.
Whirlpool Volume Growth Shows Bitcoiners Value Privacy
Open testing for an advanced feature within the popular BTC-centric Samourai Wallet known as Whirlpool, a so-called mixer tool modeled after the Chaumian CoinJoin (based on the David Chaum’s blind signature scheme), is seeing real growth. Privacy hawks at Samourai insist Whirlpool breaks “the link of your bitcoins and their prior history and [stops] blockchain analysis in their tracks.” They offer a “mobile first experience” along with a desktop version.
Coin mixing in the CoinJoin sense has been around in various forms since at least 2013. The practice’s popularity grew along with adoption metrics and literacy. Bitcoiners who once labored under the illusion transactions were anonymous were quickly disabused of that notion as governments around the world ramped-up prosecutions (Silk Road was a very big wake up call to the community).
The ability to mix UTXOs affords users greater anonymity as an opt-in choice. Privacy oriented cryptocurrencies such as Monero, on the other hand, are immediately suspect to minders, corporate and government, and have been censored outright as a result. Mixing tools for wallets, on the other hand, allow users to be relatively private when they wish.
Mobile is Key
Whirlpool’s distinction in this regard is many-fold. It is non-custodial, offering multiple liquidity pools by UTXO size, and Samourai favors it in mobile form, which is where many Bitcoiners are as a matter of course. Mixing from the comfort of a smartphone could prove to be a real difference-maker when it comes to less tech-savvy users adopting the practice. The service also imposes a one time flat fee rather than the typical volume-based per anonymity set model.
The combination is yielding results. Volume for Whirlpool topped some $10 million in BTC with last month making up a large, sudden portion (near 40%). It’s anyone’s guess as to why, but perhaps coronavirus, a by-now familiar excuse, was reason enough for a retreat into privacy. By March of 2020, more than 1,500 BTC were mixed. Whirlpool Stats Tool continually updates numbers, and it appears April 2020 might soon be the best yet if trends hold.
By contrast, 2019 was a brutal year for coin mixers. Governments around the world cracked down on the practice, shuttering long-standing and very popular services. In response to aggressive European law enforcement efforts, for example, that summer Bitcoin Blender announced it would close after half a decade of operation (months later, it was accused of stealing users’ funds). If, however, early 2020 is any indication, transaction privacy advocates could be in for an innovative year. In addition to the success of Whirlpool, Bitcoin Cash-centric privacy tool CashFusion is getting high marks from users along with reaching fundraising goals during its Alpha phase.
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