Litecoin Goes Text Message: Introducing Lite.IM

Photo by Brandon ong

Since day one of the Zulu Republic, we’ve been driven by a vision of what the world might look like if the founding ideals of the cryptocurrency revolution were actually realized. A world where everyone, regardless of technical proficiency or how free their country of birth happens to be, can benefit from the unprecedented financial agency brought by decentralized, peer-to-peer value exchange.

Today we take that vision one step closer to reality by announcing Lite.IM, a new project from Zulu Republic aimed at expanding cryptocurrency access to a wider population than ever before. Lite.IM brings Litecoin services to anyone with even the most basic mobile phone, regardless of whether or not they have access to the internet. With a simple Telegram or SMS message, Lite.IM users can interact with the Litecoin blockchain, sending and receiving funds from anywhere in the world where a cellular signal can be found.

Why Telegram?

Not only is Telegram widely used and accepted within the cryptocurrency community, it also gives us a perfect proof of concept environment for releasing this technology before deployment to SMS messaging. As the most trusted messaging platform within the cryptocurrency community, starting with Telegram means giving people the ability to manage their funds within an environment they are already regularly engaged with.

Telegram also makes transacting in Litecoin as simple as possible for users, with programmable bot commands that require a minimum of user interaction to function.

Best of all, Telegram is the most secure messenger in the world, which means privacy is built in by default. When combined with the Litecoin blockchain, this makes for an incredibly powerful payment environment.

Why SMS?

Even in the most developed nations, pockets of unreliable internet connectivity still exist, making it difficult for those traveling or living in more rural areas to access financial services. With Lite.IM, you’ll also be able to send Litecoin to those who don’t already have a Litecoin wallet, or to those whose wallet address you don’t know, even if the recipient has no idea how to use cryptocurrency.

But we hope to make the most impact in countries where internet connectivity is scarce, where the web is censored by autocratic regimes, and where large segments of the population are marginalized by the conventional financial system. While we’re still a long way off from free or low cost global internet connectivity, many people in even the most impoverished or war-torn areas have access to a basic mobile phone. While ~64% of the global population has a mobile phone, only ~33% have a smartphone, which means there are almost twice as many people with SMS capabilities as there are with mobile internet. By opening the world of cryptocurrency to these underserved and vulnerable populations, we aim to provide a degree of financial agency, autonomy, and (perhaps most importantly) security that they’ve been denied up until now.

How does it work?

Lite.IM allows users to interact with Litecoin services using textual commands via Zulu’s backend LTC API system. The first version of the system features a Telegram bot that users can send commands to, e.g. to obtain their current Litecoin balance, to reveal a Litecoin address for receiving funds, or to send Litecoin to a Litecoin or email address (sending via email address is currently available only for registered recipients).

SMS functionality, available now for U.S. phone numbers, works in much the same way, with users sending commands via SMS message instead of Telegram. When sending funds, users will choose between sending to a phone number or to a Litecoin address. This way, funds can be sent regardless of whether the sender knows the recipient’s wallet address, or whether the recipient even has a wallet at at all.

With both the Telegram beta and full SMS-capable release, privacy and security are fundamental components of the design, and private key data is not controlled by the Zulu Republic. Instead, private keys are encrypted with RSA encryption and the user’s private password, which we also never store or ask for. This way, users always maintain full control over their wallet and their funds.


Are you excited for Litecoin payments via text? Let us know what you think!

Check out the Lite.IM Telegram bot here.

If you’re in the U.S. or Canada, you can use Lite.IM via SMS by texting any message to +1–760-LITEIM-0 [+1–760–548–3460].

To stay up to date on what’s in store for Lite.IM, sign up for spam-free updates here. For all things Zulu Republic, visit our site.

You can also learn more about Lite.IM on GitHub.


Update!

Lite.IM is now available on Facebook Messenger! To get started, just send us a message on Facebook.

If you would like to use Lite.IM on multiple platforms, just use the same address when registering on each platform, and you’ll be able to access the same wallet no matter where you use Lite.IM.