Tether, Bitfinex, Hypercore Launch Encrypted Communications Protocol Holepunch

Video-calling app Keet, the first app built on Holepunch, will integrate built-in payments powered by Bitcoin's Lightning Network.

AccessTimeIconJul 25, 2022 at 3:53 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 3:57 p.m. UTC
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Tether, the issuer of popular stablecoin USDT, along with sister company crypto exchange Bitfinex and peer-to-peer (P2P) infrastructure platform Hypercore have launched Holepunch, a P2P platform intended to allow developers to build Web3 applications.

Holepunch is a fully encrypted protocol that is designed to "unlock global communications, empower freedom of speech and combat censorship around the world," according to a company statement.

The platform, which will move to open-source code at the end of this year when alpha testing is complete, will launch a series of peer-to-peer applications over the coming weeks and months.

The companies have invested a total of $10 million to aid with the development of new start-ups on the protocol. Holepunch is also seeking further investment.

Form a 'swarm' with Keet

Keet, a free-to-use video calling app that utilizes peer-to-peer connections, is the first project to be built and released on Holepunch.

The app facilitates real-time video calls, text chat and file sharing by using a stack of distributed technology including distributed databases, which users can connect to in order to form a "swarm."

A swarm is created by a technique called "Distributed Holepunching," which allows users to connect to each other around the world using only cryptographic key pairs.

Keet leverages this technology to eliminate central points of failure and reliance on third-party platforms or servers.

Digital communication apps Zoom and Google Meet, as well as Discord, Slack and Telegram have all experienced a sharp increase in users since the start of the coronavirus pandemic as employers shift toward remote working.

But Tether Chief Technology Officer Paolo Ardoino said in the company statement he believes these Web2 applications are fraught with issues, notably surrounding privacy and use of data.

"Web2 requires users to give up control of their data, which has led to the rise of monopolies and growing privacy concerns," Ardoino said. "That is why Tether and Bitfinex chose to participate in the development of Holepunch and Keet. It believes that freedom of choice, communication and finances are the lifeblood of the future, and anything that will enhance those freedoms is worth amplifying."

Holepunch CEO Mathias Buus, who has been heavily involved in peer-to-peer and Node.js ecosystems for more than 10 years, reiterated Ardoino's stance in the statement. He said open-source technology "will play a big role in liberating communication channels for billions of people around the world."

Tether said USDT tokens will be supported as the micropayments system for companies that want to build products on Holepunch.

Lightning Network comes to Holepunch

While the Holepunch platform is designed to be blockchain agnostic, it will integrate a built-in payments API powered by the Lightning Network, a popular Bitcoin layer 2 scaling solution that was conceptualized in 2016.

The integration with peer-to-peer apps like Holepunch and Keet, both of which hope to make an impact on a global scale, will demonstrate whether the Lightning Network has the functionality to operate in the world of Web3 applications.

The capacity of the Lightning Network has steadily increased over the past year, especially as bitcoin has been accepted as legal tender in developing nations including El Salvador and the Central African Republic.

According to BitcoinVisuals, there is currently 4,304.996 BTC, equating to around $100 million, in liquidity flowing through the Lightning Network.

However, while the Lightning Network serves a purpose for in-store merchants accepting bitcoin, it has struggled to have a similar impact with decentralized applications (dapps) as users often opt for more established altcoin networks including Ethereum, Solana, Tron and Binance Smart Chain.


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Oliver Knight

Oliver Knight is a CoinDesk reporter based between London and Lisbon. He does not own any crypto.

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