The popular Bitcoin wallet Airbitz has had many announcements and new features added to the platform this year. Just recently, the company unveiled its Software Development Kit (SDK) for developers. The team has demonstrated the SDK at the Bay Bit Hack in Berkeley California, and it will be presented at other industry events as well.
MK Lords on Airbitz
Airbitz says it has always been a business with a strong foundation in privacy and zero knowledge protocol. The company believes its wallet is also easy to use and offers an array of fun features including the ability to purchase Bitcoin within the app. Bitcoin.com got together with MK Lords Community Manager for Airbitz to discuss the recent SDK launch and other announcements made earlier this year. Lords says the team has been busy this year with development, and the company has more releases to come in the future.
Airbitz: ‘A Paradigm-Shifting Security Model’
Bitcoin.com (BC): How are things going with the Airbitz team?
MK Lords (MK): Things are going great, Jamie. We’ve had a busy year so far with our Fold and Glidera integrations launching late last year and the recent release of our SDK. Now developers can build on the same platform that we built the app on. It’s something we’ve been talking about for awhile and are excited that it’s out in the world for people to try themselves.
BC: What does the slogan mean “We’re not just a mobile app” mean?
MK: Our app utilizes a paradigm-shifting security model called Edge Security. This is an entirely new way of thinking about how we secure our most valuable data. While we’re best known for our mobile app, we launched an SDK that developers can use to highly secure many other types of data, locally encrypted on your phone. Now other apps can utilize the same security we use for bitcoin private keys, but for any type of client-side data.
“Open source projects and sharing them allows for a more collaborative approach to problem solving. We’ve seen technology solve many issues and a giant boom of technological innovation in the last century. Instead of hiding the awesome work that is being done, you can now get input from other great minds to be able to solve problems more thoroughly and improve existing technology by leaps and bounds.”
BC: Airbitz has revealed quite a few new announcements this year such as a new buy and sell feature, integration with Fold, European expansion, and the recent developer SDK. What has excited you the most so far?
MK: Great question! We’ve added so many cool features that it’s hard to say what my favorite one is. I suppose it’s a tie between being able to easily buy and sell with a bank account and getting heavily discounted gift cards for Starbucks and Target. The SDK is super exciting because of all the potential applications, so I’m thrilled to see what developers come up with there.
BC: Can you explain what the developer SDK and Edge Security is?
MK: Edge Security is a security platform that moves security to the edges–the end user devices. It’s a totally different way of thinking about security and it simplifies the process by automating a lot of the strong security features people want such as backups and encryption. There are six main parts that each deserve their own detailed explanation but are pretty self-explanatory for people familiar with tech. The platform combines automated data backups, synchronization across devices that allow users to access data on multiple devices, data is locally encrypted on user devices, our invention of One Touch Two Factor Authentication, data rollbacks/revision history in case data gets corrupted, and zero-knowledge password recovery of encrypted data. The last one is really important because while bitcoiners are used to having to remember their password or lose their money, we’ve devised a way to recover it through a series of password recovery questions which can be activated currently in our Bitcoin mobile app. Edge Security takes the best parts of blockchain technology and applies it to securing other types of data. It moves control of data to the hands of the users–where it should be–instead of relying on custodial third parties. Airbitz doesn’t have access to the data much like Bitcoin allows people to be their own bank. Edge Security allows people to control their own data and only share it with parties they approve of.
The SDK empowers developers to apply Edge Security to their own mobile app projects. We’ll have some presentations going into the technical details of the SDK coming up soon.
BC: How was the Bay Bit Hack?
MK: Although smaller than the prior year’s event, it was a lot of fun and we saw some very promising projects that I look forward to help cultivating into full blown deployed applications. It was exciting to see one team look into building back-office bitcoin applications such as payroll and financial tracking. This has been sorely missing in the ecosystem. Another project called El Dorado, is looking to utilize bitcoin as rewards points to merchant customers, thereby putting bitcoin in the hands of hundreds if not thousands of customers.
BC: How does sharing technology and open source protocols help promote innovation?
MK: Open source projects and sharing them allows for a more collaborative approach to problem solving. We’ve seen technology solve many issues and a giant boom of technological innovation in the last century. Instead of hiding the awesome work that is being done, you can now get input from other great minds to be able to solve problems more thoroughly and improve existing technology by leaps and bounds. Open source protocols also change the way we think about intellectual property in a positive way. As information becomes harder to wall off from curious minds, opening protocols up for examination can spur inventions that would have been harder to come up with if only relying on a small team. Why not have people from around the world who can contribute to your idea? It opens up borders and communication in ways that can’t be stopped.
BC: Can you explain to our readers how the Airbitz team feels about privacy and the current battle over encryption?
MK: Paul wrote a great piece on our position called Apple’s “Bold Stand” Has Always Been The Default For Airbitz. By making high security standards and a zero-knowledge approach to data the default, Airbitz has created something that reduces our liability significantly because we can’t access the data. Our code is also open source, so it can be reviewed by developers around the world for any backdoors. Airbitz is very transparent with our practices while reserving the highest privacy standards for our users. Encryption isn’t going away and it should be so easy to use that even your grandmother can use it to secure her most valuable data. I think opponents of encryption will lose because they simply don’t understand how much the government itself relies on it for secure correspondence.
BC: How did you feel about the Airbitz OBPP rating from the group’s most recent report?
MK: Airbitz rated much higher in the OBPP report than last time because we listened to the criticisms of Kristov and their team and took them to heart. We’re proud to be the #1 cross-platform mobile app for bitcoin and are happy to see the hard work noticed by such a stellar team of privacy experts. We’re constantly looking to improve and are very open to suggestions for making the tech we’ve built safer and more private. Hot wallets have gotten an understandably bad rap for being less secure than cold storage methods, but as more people move to mobile devices it’s necessary to build apps that give people peace of mind and easy accessibility when it comes to their valuable assets.
BC: How’s the growth of the business directory going? Since your platforms rise in popularity have you seen an increase from merchants wanting to submit their businesses?
MK: We see new merchants submitting their info daily. This is partially due to the efforts of our Ambassadors who evangelize the app and also wider recognition of bitcoin as a convenient payment method.
BC: Can you tell our readers your opinion on the current state of Bitcoin right now?
MK: I’d like to see a little more cooperation and a lot less ego. The current block size debate while understandably contentious, has really brought out the worst in many brilliant people. It’s a very important issue but equally important to be willing to work together on the best possible solutions for scaling and recognize how your behavior comes across to people outside the bubble. I’m the first one to defend lively debate but it’s gotten unnecessarily paranoid and nasty. Improvements like Segregated Witness give me hope that the community can come together on a solution that works for most everyone and facilitates a smoother route of scaling.
BC: What can we expect from Airbitz in the future?
MK: We have a new release coming up very soon that we’re calling “Matterhorn” in honor of our Swiss team member Lucas Betschart. The updated app will give users referral links for them to earn a little BTC when they sign up friends and those friends buy gift cards, Replace-By-Fee detection, some faster UI fixes, a link to our friends at Purse.io, and several other awesome optimizations users will love. I’m most excited about our referral program that will give users who like us a little love back to reward them for onboarding new people. We’ll also be touring around hitting up developer Meetups to show off our SDK and encourage people to try it. Those interested can sign up to get access here.
Thanks for speaking with us MK it’s always a pleasure hearing from those within the Bitcoin wallet industry.
What do you think about the recent SDK launch by Airbitz? Let us know in the comments below!
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