YAP Cast

YAP Cast S2E3: Why Should Money Be Private? With Will Harborne, RhinoFi


When you think of financial privacy: you think of your investments, accounts, and other crucial details maintaining their secrecy. Ordinarily, people assume that banks & allied entities will protect their privacy and money. 

While you don’t often like to tell your parents how much/little money is in your bank account, governments and companies can find out without you knowing. So is putting your money in a bank a good way to preserve your privacy? What is privacy when it comes to money? These questions are the focus of this episode of YAP Cast season 2. 

Will Harborne, the Co-Founder & CEO of RhinoFi (previously DeversiFi), joins our host Samantha Yap in this episode. Will first worked at a major centralised cryptocurrency exchange, after which he got into DeFi (where he started working in the privacy domain). He later went on to form ‘RhinoFi’ in 2019. RhinoFi is a gateway to the whole of DeFi, where people can buy, trade, and invest across all blockchains from a single wallet. 

Privacy in finance and its importance

There are two types of privacy in finance. The first major category is privacy from your peers, and the second is privacy from governments & companies who know your purchasing history. 

Will shares that although sharing information with governments or companies might provide convenience in countries like the UK, it is more dangerous in other countries where people don’t trust their government very much.

Will further mentions that financial privacy is important because it allows everyone in the world to have access to financial services. “And I really think that basic sort of financial inclusion is a human right. And to have that really scale to everyone on the planet, we need privacy to be part of that. “

The transparency of Bitcoin and the issues of the current system

People don’t perceive Bitcoin as a transparent currency as early media portrayed it as anonymous & shady. Will explains the misunderstood aspects of this portrayal by saying people can’t necessarily see someone’s name and address. However, they can see a unique identifier that can be traced and tracked forever, and that data is public.

He then discusses how the general logic of DeFi facilitates a more robust system: something unlike the opaque traditional banking system. He believes that this base of transparent infrastructure is vital to avoid risks that could increase without anyone knowing. 

“If you’re building a lending system where someone can lend and borrow funds, anyone can come and view who the borrowers are.”

In the current financial system, data is transferred through many opaque institutions. Will talks about how this is merely a stopgap solution and how holding all those data doesn’t work. Huge data leaks throughout history and inadequate repair measures point to one pivotal observation: CeFi’s core priority is transaction facilitation, not data security. 

Privacy in DeFi

If someone has access to your wallet address, they could see the history of every payment you’ve made, every application you’ve used, and every token you’ve bought. Although being transparent does have its benefits, this begs the question; How is privacy being protected when using DeFi?

Will Harborne shares about zero-knowledge proofs and how they’re able to protect privacy. He also discussed projects working on DeFi financial privacy, like  Penumbra and Aztec.

Find out more about RhinoFi here.

Follow Will Harborne on Twitter here.