Crypto DeFined: MobileCoin CEO Joshua Goldbard's Quest for Payment Privacy

Crypto DeFined: MobileCoin CEO Joshua Goldbard's Quest for Payment Privacy

By Kathy Chu, TruthDAO

Joshua Goldbard founded payments company MobileCoin five years ago with a clear goal in mind: protecting the privacy of users.

It's "insane," he says, that payment apps like Cash App and Venmo allow people to see the payments history of users. As a general rule, crypto users value anonymity. And yet, once they send or receive funds using their digital wallets, Gordbard points out, their transactions can be easily monitored and tracked on a blockchain.

MobileCoin, which is integrated into the Signal messaging service and has its own Moby app, transfers funds via an encrypted blockchain that protects the privacy of users. The company, which is backed by  top-tier investors, including Binance, Sam Bankman-Fried's Alameda Research and Coinbase Ventures, is now valued at $1 billion.

In an Oct. 20, 2022 interview with Crypto DeFined, Goldbard shared his thoughts and concerns about the evolving nature of privacy in the crypto, and how humility helps hone his leadership skills.

Five top takeaways (edited for clarity):

Mobile is ideal for crypto, provided the privacy part is addressed: “One of the biggest unsolved problems in crypto is how to use crypto on a mobile phone. How do you make it so it’s super easy to send money? Fully non-custodial with data protections? Protecting your privacy from predatory corporations and criminals? What we’re trying to do is build the best payment system in the world that lets you send money quickly at almost no cost, anywhere in the world, with the kind of privacy that you would expect." He also wants to make it super easy: "I wanted to make technology that people’s grandparents could use."

Privacy is a key differentiator for MobileCoin: “We believe that privacy is a fundamental human right. Vitalik Buterin said he utilized privacy-protecting technologies in order to donate to the Ukrainian cause because he didn’t want to be harassed by Russians or other people who would take advantage of that information. I think it’s frankly insane that most blockchains today publish all of your payments on a publicly viewable global ledger.”

MobileCoin is aiming to change global commerce. MobileCoin's payments platform wants to create "a Rosetta Stone for global commerce: You’re able to pay with whatever (currency) you want, and the merchant can receive whatever (currency) they want. You can very easily imagine someone sending an invoice, and it shows U.S. dollars. You pay, and the person receives Euros automatically because the network translates it” for you, according to the preferences of the buyer and seller.

Regulatory clarity is urgently needed: “If you told me I’d be almost six years into running this company, and there would be zero crypto regulation in the United States, I would have told you that you’re crazy. But here we are" with no clear rules of the road. It's "is one of the things that holds back the United States from participating in financial innovation. I welcome regulatory clarity. I welcome understanding what is okay and what is not. MobileCoin wants to follow the law. The difficulty for us is that we have no idea what that is.”

Lead from both ends: “I’m a firm believer in servant leadership. The way that you lead an organization is both from the front and the back. It’s not something where you just give people orders and sit back" and watch others execute. "It’s important that if there aren’t chairs in the room, you sit on the floor. I’ve swept the floors after parties at the office. I’ve cleaned up the trash at the office at the end of the day.”

Watch the replay here.