Introducing Bolt

Secure messaging and payments app on the decentralised web

Bolt is a decentralised messaging app where you have control over your privacy and data. Bolt uses a peer-to-peer communication protocol to send secure messages and Ethereum payments between users.

Ads as business model

The Facebook Cambridge Analytica data scandal was an awakening call for many of us. The business model used by the social media giants is using our data for ad targeting. We don’t know how deep this goes but we already know how this can be dangerous to democracy. As a user, I’m sick of this practice and want stop supporting these corporations. As an engineer, I can use my skills to make the difference.

Alternatives to centralised services

My family and friends are spread around the globe. We use Messenger as our main channel of communication. We have groups, we share texts, audios, videos and images. Some of us are willing to walk away from those centralised services but we’re not there yet. That’s the main reason why I’m building Bolt.

Bolt is a viable alternative to users that don’t want to use the existing centralised services. It’s one way to own our data and fight back.

Solving two problems

The first challenge we have is how to build a good messaging app on the Blockchain. The Ethereum ecosystem is getting better everyday and we have all the tools in place to do the job.

The second challenge and the most important one is how to make it accessible to everyone else? We want users to share messages and send payments on the decentralised network without hassle. Bolt isn’t here to replace Messenger, Telegram or any other chat app but to be a good option for anyone willing to switch.

Bolt isn’t the first one and we’re not alone. Status have been doing an amazing work paving some of the way ahead. They are also focusing on browsing and discovering decentralised apps.

More products means bigger output. We can learn and work together to improve the Blockchain ecosystem. It’s a win-win. Users have good decentralised services and developers have better tools.

Small independent business

Bolt is a bootstrapped product using my own little capital and spare time — at the moment. It’s a small independent business building and supporting decentralised systems.

Ethical business:

◇ Transparency and openness
◇ No venture capital
◇ Business not built on selling ads
◇ No dark patterns to generate revenue

Bolt mission is: viable decentralised alternative to messaging apps. The vision is to see Blockchain applications accessible to reach millions of people.

How about revenue?

Simple, transparent fee over payments sent. This should be enough to sustain a small business when the product takes off.

We are NOT doing an ICO. There is no whitepaper as well. We don’t need more whitepapers, we need to ship useful products.

Technical Notes – The short version

When writing I had in mind non-tech users so initially I left this bit out. Some of my friends said I should at least drop one paragraph to mention what Bolt is using. We’ll write the long version after the alpha release.

We’re building Bolt with React Native, using MobX to manage the state of the app and web3 which is the JavaScript API that interacts with Ethereum.

The communication between users is done with Whisper protocol. Messages are sent peer-to-peer directly between users. Everything is securely stored on your phone. We don’t have or store any data in a server or database.

We haven’t got there yet but for storage our plan is to use Swarm and keep everything within the same Ethereum ecosystem. It’s going to be our first option however Swarm is under active development. Today IPFS sounds like the right candidate and the wise choice. Let’s see!

What to expect for alpha release?

The alpha release is happening early autumn. The MUP (Minimum Usable Product) includes: Messaging, payments and wallet support. We want to release this as soon as possible so don’t expect all features to be fully functional. We want to ship it early, collect feedback, iterate, ship, repeat until we get it right. You can check out the initial roadmap of the alpha release — This roadmap isn’t done and will be updated often.

Following up the release, the plan is to hire one engineer to work with me in the app plus one to help out with support.

I’m super excited to build this product and thrilled for the future of decentralised apps.

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