S12 E17: Max Hillebrand on Wasabi Wallet’s Development Roadmap

The year 2022 was extremely eventful for Wasabi. On March 13th, they published a controversial tweet about refusing certain UTXOs from registering to CoinJoins on ZK Snacks coordinator. Three months later, Max Hillebrand was announced as the new CEO of the company. And around the same time, Wasabi wallet 2.0 was finally launched on the Bitcoin main net to revolutionize CoinJoins with the elegantly scalable Wabisabi engine and prove that size does matter.

Given this series of events, there are quite a few important questions to be asked. First of all, what does the CoinJoin registration filtering entail, what does it look like from a user’s perspective, what are the reasons this can happen, and what can Wasabi/ZK Snacks do when somebody gets rejected? Secondly, how did Max Hillebrand ascend to the position of CEO so quickly – is he part of some sort of secret society? And thirdly, now that Wasabi 2.0 is out and we have seen what the new cryptography can do, what is next on the project’s roadmap?

Max Hillebrand agreed to answer to all of these questions, thus offering precious information about the company and the open source project that it builds. In the first part, he jokingly stated that he is a member of a secret society related to worshipping Satoshi Nakamoto, which explains his speedy rise to prominence. Afterwards, he explained why the CoinJoin registration filtering is in place and how it works in practice.

An important mention that Max Hillebrand made is that Wasabi Wallet 2.0 obfuscates every UTXO from your wallet under a different Tor identity. This way, the wallet and the CoinJoin coordinator will not be able to make associations between the coins you register to a CoinJoin round and the other coins in your wallet. This method requires more Tor bandwidth, but is ideal for anonymity.

In this interview, I also found out that the Wabisabi engine can theoretically create entire Bitcoin blocks containing nothing but one large CoinJoin transaction. However, the two mail issues are the transaction size limits imposed by Bitcoin Core and the reliability of the Tor network. Also, synchronization becomes much harder if there are thousands of simultaneous participants – as quite a few of them can join and drop out without a notice, thus making the coordinator’s activity more difficult. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to know that the Wabisabi engine in Wasabi 2.0 can handle this scale of privacy.

Max Hillebrand also introduces the two big integrations that will take Wasabi 2.0 to the next level: adding CoinJoins into Trezor Suite and BTCPay Server. These features are bound to get included in 2023, and they will greatly extend the user base and functionality. For instance, there are hundreds of thousands of Trezor Suite users who will be able to CoinJoin directly from their hardware wallet. Also, BTCPay has a mobile wallet from which users will join CoinJoin rounds – thus taking Wasabi mobile without architecting the software from scratch.

Throughout the interview, the new ZK Snacks CEO also spoke about potentially experimenting with other privacy technologies such as Nym and keeping an eye open to innovations in cryptography. Ultimately, the goal of the Wasabi wallet project is to buy Microsoft – and there’s still a long way to go until the purchase takes place. And if you want to better understand the philosophy of the project, you should also listen to my interviews with developers Lucas Ontivero (Wasabi’s first employee) and Yuval Kogman (aka nothingmuch, the brilliant architect of Wabisabi).

Listen to Max Hillebrand on Apple Podcasts, Spotify & YouTube!

Yes, these big tech platforms have a nice and intuitive user experience. Yes, they’re also convenient. And if you do use Spotify or Apple Podcasts, then you can provide great help to the Bitcoin Takeover project by subscribing and leaving feedback.

But if you’re serious about privacy, then you should use this free player. Not only that it doesn’t track you and allows you to download the file for offline listening (you know, morning jogs with your iPod Nano), but it also works well in the Tor browser.

On the other hand, if you want to watch the video recording then you’ll have to figure out a more private way to use YouTube.

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Vlad Costea

I'm here for the freedom, censorship-resistance, and unconfiscatability. What about you?

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