Right after the holiday season, I had a chance to catch up with Nopara73 (Adam Ficsor), the legendary creator of Wasabi wallet. Wasabi is the most advanced Bitcoin wallet, which integrates many privacy and fungibility features into the wallet itself.

Nopara73 has managed to make an easy to use app, that truly allows you to become a Bitcoin power user.

Wasabi is the first Zerolink compliant wallet, which means it utilizes Chaumian coinjoin with advanced coin control features, allowing it to become the only light wallet client that doesn’t fail against blockchain forensic analysis. Take a look at my prior post on using Bitcoin anonymously for a closer look.


Q: How did you first hear of Bitcoin?

A: When I was at university the second time, I attended a camp. Some friends of mine were trying to get some weed, and they started telling me about the Silk Road. It made me curious to find out more about this Bitcoin they were talking about, like what is Bitcoin?

Q: How did you become a cypherpunk?

A: I had a problem I couldn’t solve, related to privacy, and I started working on Joinmarket. I tried to solve the problem and I wasn’t successful, but it started me down the rabbit hole. I wasn’t a freedom fighter or anything like that.

Q: Where did you initially learn to code?

A: I learned to code, like most people, at the university. I got my first job with a guy who was my mentor, and I learned a lot from him. He actually just joined ZKSNACKS (My Company that released Wasabi) a few months ago. He is now working on development for Wasabi Wallet.

Q: What advice do you have for someone looking to start working on developing Bitcoin projects?

A: That’s a great question, I would say don’t, but if you must, you should find out what you’re interested in, then figure out how to build it. You should look up what you need to learn for that specific thing. You have to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing because development is not easy.

Q: How did you meet the Block Digest crew?

A: They asked me and one of the guys from Samourai (not the developer, the other guy) to go on the show a long time ago. That’s how I got into contact with them. It’s really a great podcast and channel.

Q: What inspired you to work on privacy wallets, first Joinmarket, Breeze, Hidden Wallet and now Wasabi?

A: We can get back to my earlier story, basically I wanted to really contribute to Bitcoin. At the time the easiest for me was to work on a project everyone was really excited about. This was Joinmarket and it’s still around today. Initially, I just wanted to write a user interface. I did it but I couldn’t connect my C# code, with their Python code. At that time the command line stuff with C# didn’t want to work with the command line stuff in Python.

So I thought, Ok, what else can I do? So I decided to rewrite Joinmarket in C#, but first I had to travel to Japan and study C# Bitcoin programming under Nicolas Dorier. Then I realized I couldn’t rewrite Joinmarket in C#.

So now what do I do? I decided to learn Python and write a HTTP interface. So I started learning Python, but then Nicolas Dorier had another Bitcoin privacy project called NTumblebit which I thought was a good idea.

So basically, I was bouncing around from Bitcoin privacy project to Bitcoin privacy project. I learned a lot and ended up writing Hidden Wallet. Recently I rewrote Hidden Wallet from scratch and renamed it, this is now Wasabi Wallet.

Q: Speaking of Wasabi, what’s up with the upcoming Wasabi Wallet hard fork?

A: This is really interesting, at the recent Wasabi developer meeting and the developer I mentioned above, who was my first mentor, he said “Can’t we mix more efficiently?”

He presented a change that didn’t really work out, but during the meeting, we realized that yes, we could mix a lot more efficiently.

When you mix with Wasabi it sometimes takes a long time and is expensive especially if you have a lot of Bitcoin. It spits it all out as 0.1 outputs.

So we realized we could have everyone participate in 0.1 BTC mix, then run the change into another mix on top of the 0.1 mix for people who have 0.2 Bitcoin to mix, then another 0.4 and so on.

It would all be run in one transaction. This allows us to provide higher anonymity sets with less block space. It’s not an ultimate solution, but it’s a 5x efficiency increase, assuming you have a lot of money.

Q: I also saw on Reddit, that you may change the anonymity set indicator in Wasabi Wallet to a probability based indicator?

A: Yes, we may, the problem is that right now there is no research done yet. Right now, the anonymity set is just an estimate. It’s like a 90% upgrade and we can make it a 100% upgrade. We may have to introduce a probability based indicator.

I am not quite sure how it will be done, but it’s not a priority. Right now we are focused on the actual mixing, rather than giving the user feedback. The anonymity set indicator is good enough for feedback right now. It’s 90% which should be fine.

Q: Earlier you mentioned your work on both Joinmarket & Tumblebit. Will we see a Wasabi integration with either of these projects?

A: I have been thinking about Joinmarket alot because the problem with Wasabi is that it’s slow and Joinmarket is fast. We could do the exact same thing with Joinmarket except we could change the normal Joinmarket transactions. I am not sure we need to have normal 0-1 anonymity sets. It might get expensive when the fees go up, but we may be able to tweak the normal send with Joinmarket transactions with other schemes like pay 2 endpoint (P2EP).

About Tumblebit, it’s so hard, it needs to be rewritten now that we have Segwit, I am definitely sure that I am not smart enough to make that research progress and move forward. It’s like confidential transactions, I couldn’t do anything with confidential transactions, to help make forward progress with that research because it’s so high-level. If people are not working on it, it’s not going to make forward progress.

Q: In your opinion what’s the most important factor for Hyperbitcoinization and mass adoption to take place?

A: Well, you can look at the properties of good money. Scarcity, Bitcoin is the most scarce thing known, so we are good with that. Portability, Bitcoin lacks portability because of the fees, 10 minute block times, things like that. I think we need significant optimization in portability. Fungibility, we see that fungibility is another thing Bitcoin lacks. Lightning is a significant optimization, Wasabi is another significant optimization.

We need portability and fungibility, we kind of have everything else in place. We can’t do much about the acceptability, we have an issue, the more people using Bitcoin, the less portable it is. We need to just stick with working on engineering and mass adoption will take care of itself, by the time we are ready. Probably too soon.

Q: You’re a Tor developer as well? How did you get involved with Tor?

A: I am not a Tor developer, I don’t know the Tor developers, but I was developing on Tor. It’s like you can say I am a Bitcoin developer because I am developing on Bitcoin, but not developing for Bitcoin Core, it’s the same thing with my Tor work. Ok, so yes, I guess I am a Tor developer.

We were working on Tumblebit. Tumblebit relies on you having different identities on the network-level. This was problematic because we needed an anonymous network. So, what did we have? We had Tor, and I am also a DotNet developer, and Microsoft just had released the open-source cross-platform DotNet at the time. So the libraries were not quite there yet, there was no Tor library for DotNet core, so that’s what I wrote, that’s the thing I filled in.

While it’s nice to have Tumblebit, if we don’t do it over Tor in a way that changes Tor circuits, it makes no sense to use Tumblebit in the first place. So yeah, I wrote Tor for DotNet core.

Q: What’s next for your company ZKSNACKS?

A: We are working on a hard fork and I am hoping we will have enough income in the next few months to pay all the developers. I really want to concentrate on the user interface rather than feature-creep the wallet. Many wallets are doing this, putting in a bunch of features that nobody ever uses. It’s a huge maintainability risk for the wallet.

Q: Changing the subject, are we ever going to see a real clusterfuck wallet implementation?

A: Haha, yes, I was already talking about it briefly. Joinmarket is a way to create problems for blockchain analysis, another is Pay 2 Endpoint, simple merge avoidance, sender/receivership, etc. Right now, the way I am looking at it, we have tumbling stuff which is slow but sure, but then we can introduce some stuff to replace the normal send behavior. One of these would be Joinmarket.

What would happen is the Joinmarket market makers would be waiting for Wasabi users to coinjoin with them. It would be a 0-2 anonymity set coinjoin. That’s good enough to throw the blockchain analysts off because it’s like where did the money go now?

The other thing is that, in Wasabi, we have Tor already, so every user can be a Tor node. This means when someone wants to pay you or you want to pay someone else, you can give them a Tor address of yours.

You/they can choose how you want to pay, and this would be a Pay 2 Endpoint transaction, another way would be to avoid merging any UTXOs (this is a huge, huge thing already), another way would be to make the receiver participate in the transaction itself and this would mislead blockchain analysis.

There are at least 3 implementations of this already, one is from Adam Gibbs of Joinmarket, which is coming soon, there is Postepay, and Samourai is working on something too.

The point is a lot of new things are being implemented into wallets. It’s becoming really hard to figure out which transaction did what.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on the Bcash self destruction or Bitmain’s epic fail?

A: I love Craig Wright.

Do you know about the Nigerian prince scam? You’ve heard about the Nigerian prince that wants to send you money, right? Do you know why they make those emails so bad? Why did they write them in such a seemingly stupid way, with spelling errors and stuff?

It’s to filter out all the smart people, who will see through the scam, and Craig Wright is the same.

At this point if you believe anything he is saying, then, I don’t know, you’re just kind of hopeless. So basically, Craig Wright is a huge filter for Bitcoin, and I love him because of this.

Q: In your opinion, what’s the most exciting thing taking place in Bitcoin right now?

A: Lightning Network I would say. That to me is the single most exciting thing in Bitcoin at this time. The second would be Wasabi.

Q: What areas of Bitcoin development are the most critical to focus on in your opinion?

A: That’s a really good question because in Bitcoin development you don’t really know what’s coming next. Every year a lot of research papers come out and sometimes it’s completely unexpected.

Well, I would like to see Bitcoin Core made more user-friendly and by users I mean developers. Making Bitcoin Core more developer friendly would be a really nice thing. Develop the API properly and improve stuff like the user interface. That would be interesting.

Q: Do you have any Bitcoin prediction for this year, 2019?

A: $100k USD per coin by January 29th next year.

Q: Anything else you want the readers to know?

A: Nope, that covers it.

Well, that concludes our interview with Nopara73, about Wasabi Wallet. I would like to say thanks to Nopara73 for being really generous with his time and doing the interview. You can follow him on Medium & Twitter.

Stay tuned and I will do my best to keep bringing you solid Bitcoin content.

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just an individual who likes bitcoin

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