Swiss blockchain startup Zulu Republic is bringing Litecoin payments to Facebook Messenger with the launch of its new chatbot. The new Facebook Messenger service is part of Zulu Republic’s Litecoin platform Lite.im, which also allows users to send Litecoin payments via SMS and through social messaging services such as Telegram.
Users can set-up an account by interacting with the Lite.im chatbot from within Messenger at https://m.me/lite.im. The messenger bot asks for personal information, including the user’s email address and telephone number. After entering a SMS code to the telephone number you provide, you’re then prompted to create a password for your account. Finally, the bot provides you with a public key for your Litecoin wallet and presents you with options for interacting with it.
If you visit Lite.im, you’re greeted by a chatbot programmed with frequently asked questions related to the service. With regards to security, Zulu Republic claim that your private key is encrypted within the password you set and is not viewable to them. There’s no way for an average user to actually verify this, so it’s probably a good idea not to use the wallet Lite.im provides as permanent storage for large amounts of Litecoin. And regardless of how much you trust the team behind this service, a password-protect account will never be as secure as a cold-storage paper or hardware wallet.
Of course, there are many within the crypto space who baulk at establishing any connection between their real identity and their cryptocurrency balances. If this applies to you, then this service clearly isn’t for you.
Lite.im and Zulu Republic have touted the fact that this brings Litecoin payments to all of Facebook’s 2 billion users. However, as a newly-launched project, it remains to be seen how many users the service will actually attract.
Setting up an account with the bot is very straightforward. Sending and receiving funds is also easier than it is through most crypto wallets. However, without any gateway between Litecoin and fiat currency, the service still requires a working knowledge of cryptocurrency exchanges and how to transfer funds from one place to another in the usual way.
It therefore seems unlikely that Facebook grandma’s will suddenly be sending their grandkids LTC for Christmas. But there are certainly many other situations were making payments using an email address of telephone number would be convenient. It’s also a lot easier to make a one-digit error copying out a typical public key than a telephone number.
But this service falls short of being truly revolutionary, or something likely to have much impact upon cryptocurrency’s real-world adoption. It is a good concept well-executed, but it isn’t really anything more than that.
It’s actually quite surprising that Zulu Republic can legitimately claim to have lauched the first service that allows users to send cryptocurrency payments via Facebook Messenger in this manner, and being the first to do this is certainly commendable. But it seems likely they will have paved the way for others to follow, and there’s no reason this service needs to be restricted to Litecoin payments, when so many other cryptocurrencies would function just as well in its place.
RATING – 4/5 ★★★★☆
Lite.im’s Facebook messenger bot does what it does perfectly, but it isn’t the revolutionary service some people might be hoping for.