As authoritarian regimes tighten their grip on digital spaces, the necessity for censorship-resistant protocols becomes increasingly evident. Enter Mostro: a Peer-to-Peer decentralized Lightning Exchange. It not only facilitates seamless peer-to-peer exchanges but also pioneers a new frontier in financial sovereignty, adding a new use case for the NOSTR protocol.
Mostro: A Lightning and NOSTR Integration
In its beta phase, Mostro emerges as a beacon of financial liberation, offering users the ability to seamlessly trade bitcoin via the Lightning Network for various fiat currencies accepted by sellers. Serving as a testament to resilience, it integrates seamlessly with NOSTR, fortifying its foundation for long-term sustainability and its hard-to-censor nature.
“This is where enter nostr as a platform where the bot can live without the possibility of being censored by a powerful entity”– “Development started.” November, 11th 2022
Behind the Innovation: Francisco Calderón
Francisco Calderón, also known as “negrunch“, is a Venezuelan software engineer, advocate for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), and a Bitcoin supporter, as stated on his NOSTR profile.
Francisco also built other programs and web apps that are worth mentioning, with one being a very popular lightning p2p bot on Telegram (precursor of Mostro), and a lightning event registration called “danta”.
The Human Rights Foundation Grants
In a testament to its potential for catalyzing societal change, Mostro alongside 17 other groundbreaking projects was awarded a grant of $500,000 distributed between them, by The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) in December 2023. This endorsement underscores it’s pivotal role in advancing financial freedom and human rights worldwide.
“Funding will support Mostro’s progress in helping users in restrictive financial environments buy and sell bitcoin in a censorship-resistant way.”– Adams, Vasilia. “HRF Grants $500000 to 18 Projects Worldwide.” Human Rights Foundation, 19 December 2023 — Source
Negrunch replied to the HRF, stating:
HRF started to support Mostro’s development and gave Mostro a grant which allows me to keep coding an entire year exculsively to Mostro development, let’s keep working and give this Non-KYC and Censorship-resistant #Bitcoin peer-to-peer tool to the world.
Join us and help us building Mostro.
Thank you so much HRF.
Before Negrunch started to develop the app, he was working on a Peer-To-Peer bot on Telegram, that allowed thousands of people to buy and sell bitcoin without KYC (Know Your Customer). This bot does not require you to have any expertise in coding, it works with simple commands.
Francisco was part of a video conference at Alianza Blockchain’s YouTube channel, where he explained how NOSTR solved the possibility of Telegram banning the bot:
Telegram Lightning Bot: lnp2pBot
The problems with this bot were addressed by Negrunch who stated the following:
“Although the bot works excellent, it’s running on top of Telegram, a great platform but we do not know if one day it will be reached by the tentacles of a powerful government asking for political dissidents or simply awkward public person.
This is where enter nostr as a platform where the bot can live without the possibility of being censored by a powerful entity”
How Does Mostro Work?
Criptopanas, a YouTube channel that creates Bitcoin tutorials and content in Spanish said the following on stacker.news:
“Mostro’s operation is based on Lightning network nodes that route payments through generated invoices, and these nodes, called “Mostros,” are run by users who receive commissions for their services. The reputation of these nodes is crucial, as users can rate them, incentivising their participation in the platform’s payment processing.”– Criptopanas. “Mostro. No one can stop you from buying Bitcoin.” stacker news — Source
Mostro works with a p2p communication on top of NOSTR. It will be the escrow that allows buyer and seller to operate reducing the risk for both parties.
It relies on 3 premises to work:
- Client: Buyers and sellers will need the clients to buy/sell bitcoin, and a Lightning wallet.
- Removing Single Point of Failure: Making Mostros (nodes) as easy as possible to implement for non-coders or programmers. These nodes will route the payments and take a fee cut for each seller’s successful order.
- Reputation System: Users will be able to rate sellers, thus, providing organic growth and competition between sellers to obtain more buyers.
A web client was announced in January of 2024, making it possible for people to start testing and finding possible bugs, and the learning curve is exponentially lower.
In a world marked by increasing authoritarianism and digital surveillance, Mostro emerges as a beacon of hope, giving individuals the tools they need to trade within dictatorial states like Venezuela or Cuba.
Through its seamless integration of The Lightning Network and the NOSTR protocol, it not only facilitates peer-to-peer exchanges but also fosters a community rooted in transparency, and resilience. Looking ahead, Mostro signifies a paradigm shift in our perception of financial transactions. In this evolving landscape, intermediaries are more often present, and reputation no longer plays a pivotal role in the transaction process.