Jaxx Cancels Monero Integration, Cites Difficulties Working With Community

Jaxx abruptly canceled its much-anticipated integration of Monero into its platform, citing “too many difficulties.”

The multi-coin wallet, which integrates across a variety of platforms with a focus on user experience, was slated to integrate the privacy-centric cryptocurrency last year, but faced repeated delays. CEO Anthony Di Iorio announced the cancellation news via Twitter:

The integration was reportedly almost complete, with Di Iorio posting screenshots of the wallet with Monero integrated.

Issues hindering the integration

During the integration process, Jaxx reportedly came across technical difficulties with the currency Monero ecosystem, detailed in a blog post by Di Iorio on Dec. 19:

“We believe to have determined the critical issues that are leading to problems with Monero growth and that these problems are hindering the adoption and success of the Monero ecosystem.

As such we are putting a call out for support from the Monero development community to help us break through these problems. We are confident that if these roadblocks can be bypassed, Monero has a great chance to flourish. We believe that unless solved, these issues will greatly hinder Monero’s ability to compete with projects that have similar features.”

Di Iorio outlined three major challenges facing the integration process, and potentially threatening any future integrations into similar light wallet systems:

  • Non-existing lightweight client library support - for a project as old as Monero its peculiar no dev has done this.
  • We would have to implement support for anonymization features.
  • There are RPC (Remote Procedure Calls) API Limitations that would require changes in the Monero daemon.

Hints at difficulties working with the Monero community

To speed up the integration process, Di Iorio worked closely with key Monero developer Fluffypony, though he stated that it was not sufficient to complete the process in a timely manner: “As mentioned in previous update posts, we’d like to thank Fluffypony for providing us with assistance with the integration. But we need more help than he’s been able or willing to provide.”

Di Iorio’s comments seem to hint at a possible conflict of interest on the part of Fluffypony, noting his role as both a main contributor to the Monero GitHub as well as running the popular Web wallet MyMonero, possibly giving an incentive to limit the amount of assistance provided:

“The issue is that his help has been limited as although he is a main contributor to Monero, he also owns MyMonero and has a profit incentive not to give away his “secret sauce” on the back-end. You see, MyMonero hooks right into the code and this coupled with him being one of the few main contributors on the Monero Github gives MyMonero an upper hand against other projects trying to create similar services.”

A key source of conflict seems to have been a difference in communication channels, with the Jaxx team preferring to conduct conversations on their own Slack channel in private, while the Monero community preferred public conversations on their own subreddit.

In a post in /r/Monero, which contains well over 100 comments and underscores the communication divide, Di Iorio underscored this conflict as a key factor in the decision to keep integration discussions off Reddit:

“We are re-evaluating our transparency and use of Reddit to communicate with the Monero community. The amount of venomous comments and lack of support in response to said comments are really disheartening and don't inspire us to continue working on the Monero integration...but maybe that's what some of those commenting want.

After internal discussions, we've decided not to use Reddit anymore to discuss our Monero plans. Turning out to be more detrimental to our team then [sic] its worth. Moving the discussions fully to our Slack channel and our other social media avenues.”

Problems reconciling closed-source and open-source approaches?

In a comment on Reddit, Fluffypony maintained that he had given more than enough assistance to the Jaxx team, and expressed frustration at the way communication between the two teams had played out.

“I'm not sure what more you want, when the code to do EVERYTHING you need has been given to you, both in C++ for the backend/frontend, and in JS for the frontend,” he explained. “I'd also like to point out that some of your developers frequently took conversations to private message, despite me asking them to have the conversation in the channel so that all of the Jaxx developers in the channel could benefit from it.”

Fluffypony ultimately underscored a key sticking point of a closed-source versus open-source approach, and the challenges of reconciling the two: “Unfortunately we cannot write your closed-source proprietary tools for you, nor can I give you MyMonero backend source (even though I offered several times to structure something around that).”

Backlash against Jaxx

The response to the decision to halt plans for Monero’s integration was taken with a degree of hostility by the community on Reddit. Purported core team member Othexmr said: “Lol wut, they claimed they are finished with xmr integration. they were simply lying like all [censored] scammers in this space.”

“It was obvious they were full of [censored] after the delays started. Either they have the [censored]iest devs in the industry, or they were just doing this in a (failed) attempt to manipulate the market. Constant delays, blaming Fluffypony, etc.,” user Brilliantrocket said. “Please stick to making wallets for Bitcoin clones/scam coins, apparently that's all you guys are capable of.”

Fluffypony summarized the sentiment in a sarcastic reply to a comment criticizing the Monero community’s handling of the situation: “Yep 100% my fault. I didn't write code for them for free. It's because I'm only interested in Monero being used by a small group of elite.”

The Monero community remains optimistic about the future

Despite this temporary setback, several implementations are on the horizon to make Monero much more user-friendly and spur wider adoption. A mobile version of MyMonero is reportedly under development, set for release in under “3-5 years at most.” The Exodus platform is also reportedly working on a Monero integration, claiming that it is their “#1 requested feature.”

Virgil Vaduva, CEO of emergency response and ridesharing platform Cell 411 and longtime Monero fan, remains hopeful about the currency’s future, noting the significant improvement in usability provided by the recently-released beta graphical user interface (GUI) wallet:

"Monero has been long overdue for a GUI wallet and the Beta release delivers. While it is still a full-blown wallet that requires a full blockchain download, it is still a big step forward in usability and convenience for users who want to use Monero as an actual currency, beyond just an investment vehicle. These are exciting days for Monero."

Update: The Jaxx team clarified that they halted work on Monero due to recent protocol changes that caused difficulties, and because the integration had gone significantly over time and budget, and was therefore hindering development for the 1.2 release.

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