XMR.to Blog

  • Job Done

    Hello to all the Monero faithful. Sad news today. With heavy hearts we are announcing that the XMR.to service will no longer be operated. It's been a grand ride, and a great privilege for us to have participated in and contributed to the growth of Monero since its early days. In a strange way this announcement also makes us happy - happy because we can shut down safe in the knowledge that by now Monero users have plenty of great options to spend their moneroj.

    So, why are we shutting down? As you will have noticed (and as many of you have complained about) over the last years and months, we have increasingly been self-imposing restrictions on the service. As discussed in previous blog posts, this is necessary as part of our responsibilities in running this type of service. Our attitude has always been that responsibility comes first and we have consistently imposed necessary restrictions even when it hurt our bottom line. However, we won't compromise on our principles and, to give one example, are not prepared to turn our back on digital privacy preserving technologies such as TOR and VPNs. We have now got to the point where it no longer looks feasible to run this service in a manner consistent with our core beliefs.

    And with the writing on the wall, why are we making this hard decision now? We see the great adoption that Monero has had in the past years. If we had shut down in previous years, it might have been a genuine inconvenience for Monero users. We are proud to see that the ecosystem has grown and that monero users now have plenty of options to spend their moneroj directly. We are super confident that in the future these options will just keep growing along with Monero adoption in general.

    In terms of supporting the community, which was always our priority from day one, please note that for the time being we will continue to support our community contributions code and infrastructure. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to keep these alive forever, but we'll keep them around for a few months at least, and will devote some resources to figuring out how best we can hand over these elements so as to minimise impact on the community.

    For six years (an eternity in the crypto space) we are proud to have set the bar of trust and honesty high for what we believe a crypto service should be - how users should be treated, how a service can be run responsibly without compromising on its principles, and how a service can and should give back to the underlying ecosystem (to both the community and the technology contributors). We sincerely hope that we have set an example and that the ever growing Monero ecosystem will keep the torch lit that we are passing on, and hold it high for a bright Monero future.

    Long live Monero!

  • Cash is king

    Hi to all the Monero faithful. Today’s topic: the meaning of life, the universe and anything. Not really, but we are indeed tackling a biggie - what the hell is a cryptocurrency, and where does Monero fit in (and thanks for all the fish).

    All us Monero lovers use cryptocurrency every day, so to ask what cryptocurrency is might seem odd. However for most of cryptocurrency’s decade long existence, there has not been a clear answer to this question. While for individual users, it’s clear - it’s something I use to pay for stuff and store value - from a formal point of view, there has been no such easy answer. Over the years, we’ve seen different jurisdictions apply different classifications - is it a bird, is it a plane, is it money, is it an asset?

    As cryptocurrency goes more mainstream, and as more and more people start using it for everyday transactions, there seems to be some convergence to the idea that cryptocurrency is money, with more and more governments around the world proposing that cryptocurrency be treated as money. If that is the case, then where does Monero fit in?

    Our belief is that Monero should play the role of cash in the digital ecosystem. We all take cash for granted, but it’s worth taking a moment to think why it’s important. There is a slow progression even with traditional finance to undermine the role of cash, and the upcoming switch to cryptocurrency and “digital first” threatens to massively accelerate this process. But why do we need cash at all?

    Firstly, the exclusion of cash from the global financial system would be disastrous for a significant percentage (estimated at 20%) of the world population. Many of the world’s working poor are not plugged into the global financial banking system as they cannot pass the gateway of institutional respectability demanded by banks and now increasingly by crypto exchanges and service providers. A system where you can’t spend money without jumping through administrative hoops disenfranchises the people who can least afford it. We believe that an important role of governments should be to protect financial inclusion - and, thankfully, some governments have put legislation to enshrine the role of cash. However, these efforts will be useless if at the same time in the digital arena all of these protections for accessibility to money are stripped away.

    Secondly, cash gives a default level of privacy to our day to day transactions that people take for granted today, but that they might be shocked to be suddenly deprived of. Imagine buying a second hand fridge or a car with cash - you would find it very disconcerting to have adverts for fridges and cars pop up in your browser the next day (unless you are a facebook/google fanboy and ran home to post about your new fridge).

    Bitcoin is great (yes, we said it!) - it was the grandaddy innovator, and continues to be the standard bearer bringing crypto to the mainstream. However Bitcoin’s public ledger makes it fundamentally unsound to use as money, and in particular, as cash. The 21st century is the century humankind becomes digital first. So it’s not ok to think in terms that we have privacy in real world financial transactions, and that we just have to make some sacrifices online. In a digital first world, the digital world is the real world. And it mustn't be a world where surveillance capitalism, extralegal deputized institutions, big brother (and indeed anyone with a network connection) can snoop on your spending habits.

    Step in Monero to the rescue! Here at XMR.to we believe that Monero will be the crypto currency of choice for cash style daily transactions in a digital first world. Till the world wakes up to the importance of having real cash in the digital first world, and every-one starts using Monero, it’s clear that paying for stuff in bitcoin is still in many cases the only way to use crypto. And for as long as that is the case, you still have XMR.to to help out. But we are trying to put ourselves out of business by pushing everyone to use Monero, providing tools to help adoption. Help us put XMR.to out of business! Long live Monero!

    Disclaimer: The stuff we write in this blog is only meant to be the basis for discussion and helping the community raise awareness of relevant issues.

  • Blogging and logging

    Hello to all Monero enthusiasts and faithful users of the XMR.to platform. We’re so glad to be able to restart our communication with you, and we’ll try and be a bit more regular with our updates moving forward.

    First of all, we are happy to see Monero going from strength to strength and we’re proud to play our own little part in the Monero ecosystem. We see the Monero ecosystem growing month on month, and while we loved being the premier place for Monero to Bitcoin transactions back in the good old days, it makes us happy to see how many options Monero users now have to spend and exchange their Monero.

    In this post we wanted to talk about VPNs. We remain passionate believers in privacy - VPNs are tools that protect the downtrodden and persecuted around the world. In the world of finance, these tools help people that fight for truth and freedom avoid persecution from non-democratic authoritarian states.

    At the same time, it is very important to us to do everything we can to prevent misuse of this technology. Every tool from the humble kitchen knife all the way up to global financial tools such as Monero itself have the potential to be used for both good and bad. VPNs are no exception. Please be aware that we are detecting, flagging and logging VPN traffic. We repeat that we will cooperate with the authorities if it is brought to our attention that any transactions through our service may have been used to initiate harm against others. But while we take our responsibility to prevent unconscionable behaviour very seriously, we also take our responsibility to the privacy of users very seriously - so we will only cooperate with law-enforcement if correct legal procedures are followed.

    In the meantime, we will continue to innovate in the space. We brought Lightning network to you in 2020 as well as many more tools for the community to use, and we hope to keep giving back to the community and pushing the boundaries of what is possible with Monero. Keep the flag flying! Long live Monero!

  • Our first ever blog post

    This post is about changes that have been happening on XMR.to recently. There has been some speculation on reddit, so we wanted to set the record straight. First of all, no, we haven’t received a court order :). And in answer to the inevitable next question - no, we are not planning to add KYC, we believe in the right to privacy with respect to lawful financial transactions. However, we have been doing some soul searching about how to run our service in accordance with our principles and being good citizens in a world where crypto and Monero are going mainstream. The changes people have been talking about are part of our ongoing efforts to run our service not just as crypto geeks but as responsible business service providers, and we talk about these efforts in the rest of this post.

    First of all, we’d like to say a big “thank you” to the Monero community for supporting us since the beginning. We are very proud to have been and still be one of the prime mechanisms for Monero users to use their XMR in the real world.

    As service providers, we are happy to observe that Monero is growing up - we are seeing more and more users even from outside the core community, and Monero is being acknowledged as an important development in the evolutions of finance by influential players even outside the community.

    This maturity and adoption is of course fantastic news. However as a wise spider once noted, with great power comes great responsibility. We firmly believe that it is up to all of us in the Monero community to embrace the discussion about how to promote responsible use of the Monero cryptocurrency and how we can be a part of a global financial ecosystem that does have rules and regulations.

    As one of the main service providers in the Monero ecosystem, we are obviously on the front line of this evolution, and it takes a lot of our time and energy to try and run our service in a way that fulfils the privacy-focused principles of the Monero community, whilst still being responsible players in the financial community.

    The first thing to note (again!) is that we passionately believe in financial privacy. The day we can’t run our service while offering financial privacy is the day we will (sadly) decide to shut it down. But we hope for, believe in and are actively working towards a world where we can run this service, and consumers can engage in lawful financial transactions privately in a safe responsible way - hopefully using XMR.to. On a side note, please do help us in this - educate those around you about the risks of a world without financial privacy, write to your local politicians about the importance of protecting the the right to financial privacy, join and contribute to the recently established Monero workgroup on regulation, make responsible use and/or regulation a topic of discussion in your meetups, etc.

    To be clear, being responsible citizens does mean that we will cooperate with authorities under certain circumstances. We have described those circumstances in our FAQ - tldr: if valid and legally enforceable requests come through the proper channels in our jurisdiction then we will comply. We do not believe in governments’ rights to obtain mass information without a legal basis to do so.

    One of the recent changes you may have noticed was that we no longer offer a TOR onion address, a decision we took after careful consideration of the risks and benefits of doing so and after receiving legal advice.

    Transparency report

    We believe in full transparency of our service (not of blockchains!). The only way to respect our users is to be transparent about our choices and our actions, so our users can make their own choices. We believe this is the best way we can protect our users and the community and move it forward. As such, and to help the Monero community to assess our position and decide for yourselves whether or not you are comfortable with our policies, we will start issuing regular transparency reports. Our transparency reports will describe any requests XMR.to has received from government or regulatory authorities and how we have responded or otherwise reacted. You can find our first transparency report here.

    Feel free to reach out to us on reddit (/u/xmr-to), twitter (@xmr_to) or by email (support@xmr.to) to discuss any of the above. As the service evolves we will continue to keep you up to date in this blog. Looking forward to providing many more years of service to the community. Long live Monero!