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Keybase on Stellar - Identity, Wallets, & Payments

Last week, SDF announced they are funding Keybase through their partnership grant program. According to SDF and Keybase, Keybase will be integrating Stellar directly into Keybase apps.

[Keybase] will create critical Stellar ecosystem components over the coming years.

- Stellar Development Foundation

Here, we will speculate on what this integration will look like. Just like Venmo made fiat payments as easy as chat, Keybase may make cryptocurrency payments as easy as chat.

We want something where the user doesn’t really realize they are using crypto because they probably don’t care. They just want money to go from A to B.

- Jed McCaleb

Cryptocommunication Problems

Stellar and other cryptocurrencies in general face similar problems today to what cryptocommunication once faced:

  1. Identity - Before Keybase, you had to meetup in person with someone and get their public key to ensure that you were receiving the correct key for the correct person.
  2. Multi-device key management - Placing your private key on multiple devices was hard. What even is a private key? What if I compromise one of my devices?
  3. UIs - Applying encryption to chat, file storage, etc was not user-friendly. How do I encrypt/decrypt a message? How do I access it on multiple platforms?

Cryptocommunication Solutions

Keybase solved these issues for encrypted communication:

  1. Identity - Through public, signed statements on multiple social media profiles, you can verify an identity-key association without having to trust a third party.
  2. Multi-device key management - With Keybase, each of your devices has its own private key, and by signing and countersigning each other, your devices are all associated with your identity.
  3. UIs - By abstracting away the key pairs, users can now use encryption across chat, team chat, and file storage without realizing they are dealing with key pairs.

Cryptocurrency Problems

When using a cryptocurrency, these problems persist:

  1. Identity - How do I verify that I have the right public key without someone spoofing the intended recipient?
  2. Multi-device key management - How do I use a private key? How do I store it across multiple devices?
  3. UIs - How do I send someone a payment as quickly and easily as Venmo?
Even in the cryptocurrency world in general, there’s not very many good wallets. The user experience isn’t like Venmo or one of these easy to use mobile apps. We want that.

- Jed McCaleb

Cryptocurrency Solutions

Keybase will apply its encrypted communication solution to Stellar’s cryptocurrency:

  1. Identity - verify someone’s public key without having to trust a third party.
  2. Multi-device key management - manage your private key(s) across many devices.
  3. UIs - cross-platform app for payments (a Venmo on Stellar).

Decentralized Contact List, a.k.a. Identity

You should be able to address someone however you know them - and preferably not with a phone number.

- Keybase

Keybase will help you verify someone’s Stellar public key using their current identity verification solution without having to trust a third party. Keybase will act like a better alternative to a federation server. You'll be able to just look up someone's Twitter handle, Reddit account, or GitHub profile instead of a long, random, error-prone set of characters.

Mobile and Desktop Wallets, a.k.a. Multi-Device Key Management

Your wallet should persist across multiple devices.

- Keybase

Keybase will allow you to manage your private keys across many devices. We have some questions as to how exactly this will be accomplished, but it will likely be through a multisig account.

“Global Venmo”, a.k.a. A User-Friendly UI

To send someone cryptocurrency, you shouldn't need to pass around big ugly addresses. It's annoying and dangerous.

- Keybase

Keybase will launch a UI for payments. The end product could be a decentralized Venmo where users don’t need to know they are using cryptocurrencies or key pairs. After you look up someone by the social profile you associate with them, you'll be able to pay them in-app without touching a public or private key.


With any platform like this, network effects are crucial to success but very hard to achieve. To accelerate adoption, SDF will likely restart airdrops once Keybase’s identity, wallet, and payment solution is live.

The biggest one is essentially an airdrop to individuals where we intend to give about $10 in lumens to everyone. That’s basically paused right now. We are waiting until the ecosystem is better - there needs to be better wallets and better things that you can do with it before it makes sense for everyday people. Ultimately, we want to get it into the hands of tens...hundreds of millions of people which I think will be possible once we have the right ecosystem in place.

- Jed McCaleb

We will be curious to see how they ensure that people are real and not gaming the system. A possibility here is (please stop reading now, scammers) to require >3 account validations with accounts that are each one year old or older. This would prevent someone from generating a ton of fake accounts to earn endless, undeserved lumens.


Making cryptocurrencies user-friendly is key to mass adoption. Keybase has already made cryptocommunication user-friendly, and we have trouble imagining a better partner for Stellar in the pursuit of banking the unbanked and bringing distributed ledger technology to the people.

Originally published