Towards blockchain democratization with the “crypto-smartphone”

HTC has recently introduced at ConsenSys Paris office its new model the HTC Exodus 1, the first “crypto-smartphone”. After a slump, the brand forged solid convictions on blockchain technologies, HTC partnered with major players in the sector to produce the first “crypto-smartphone”; a smartphone natively integrating a cryptocurrency wallet to make, without any extra installation, purchases with your favorite token.

HTC is surrounded by major players in the tech and blockchain sector. Among them, Opera, the Norwegian web browser and Infura, the infrastructure platform that allows secure access to Ethereum, are supporting the manufacturer in this pioneering project. Driven by a common vision of what the blockchain should be in the years to come, they focused their developments on a central notion: user adoption. Therefore, the target is the general public with the objective of opening the possibilities of blockchain technologies to a neophyte audience. The brand’s bet was the use of a blockchain without realizing it, by simply using a mobile browser that integrates the features of wallets like MetaMask.

Indeed, it was a successful bet. We have had the opportunity to test the device and check out its crypto functionalities, the phone includes natively in its browser a cryptocurrency safe usable for payments on third-party applications. Exodus’ technical specificities are what makes it “unique”. The manufacturer explains: “Exodus contains a secure enclave — a locked area on the device that is protected from the Android operating system. It will hold the keys to your crypto, be it a currency or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or, in the very near future, all your digital data. “ It is, therefore, a zone in the hardware, separated from the other components of the system, dedicated to the storage of the most famous coins and tokens like those used in the CryptoKitties game.

Another interesting point in Exodus 1, the data security is optimized by a “social blockchain”, the technology on which cryptocurrencies are based. Through this social blockchain, the owners of an Exodus 1 can recover their private keys through their own trusted network. In short, the owner of the smartphone can rely on his contacts — those he considers reliable — to recover from them the contents of his wallet. The principle is that the data is separated between several contacts so that none of them holds all of them.

HTC has also added some third-party apps to its decentralized apps store. One of the interesting applications is “Numbers”. This dapp records user data and allows them to make money — in cryptocurrency — by selling it to different companies.

Exodus presentation ended, representatives of HTC, Opera, Infura, and ConsenSys met around a round table. It was the opportunity for each one of them to assert the beliefs that drive them and present their visions of the next steps to be taken to humanize the blockchain technology and stimulate the adoption of the general public.

Among them, Lisa Chu, HTC’s Product Manager, says that the brand considers security as a growth pillar for user adoption. A well-welcomed point in a context where data security and privacy are important concerns of consumers and regulators.

Ken Timsit, Managing Director of ConsenSys Paris, shares with us his confidence in the potential of the blockchain to solve the trust problems that arise today during the collaboration between peers in certain areas. He quotes for this some cases on which ConsenSys intervened. For example, he mentions their commitment with the French government agencies and their contribution to the AMF consultation on the ICOs regulation. The company also has consulting activities for large private companies with which it co-builds new platforms, new tools and products. In the Philippines, ConsenSys is working with The Union Bank of Philippines to link rural financial institutions in the Philippines with systems using blockchain technology. In the country, the sector is gaining momentum: the legalization of cryptocurrencies has been in process since 2017. Crypto-currency exchange services were also regulated last year as “funds transfer companies”. As a result, banks are free to use cryptocurrencies to facilitate funds movement.

Charles Hamel, Head of Crypto of Opera Browsers, explains that they consider the “user-friendly” aspect of web browsers a major issue for user adoption. Opera explains that they have identified the difficulty of obtaining cryptocurrencies as a major obstacle that has slowed down the adoption of “crypto” technologies. To solve this problem, Opera has proceeded in stages. Last year, they adapted their famous browser to include a cryptocurrency wallet. At that time, users were forced to install wallet applications separate from their browser. Therefore, by offering this fully integrated browser the company has solved a real irritant. After this first success, the Scandinavians are attacking the mobile operating systems starting with Android. Their innovation is now focused on the smartphones hitherto reserved for desktop browsers. This transparency experience will soon be offered to iOS users. To further enhance the experience, the browser also integrates the explorer “Ethereumdapp”, the AppStore of decentralized applications. The company hands over to the global Ethereum community to develop the dapps that will be on its store tomorrow.

Finally, the word went to Michael Wuehler, co-founder of Infura. He tells us about his company’s focus on the importance of blockchain scalability. This vision is a little different from those of his table companions. Probably because of his company main audience: Infura is for Ethereum developers Ethereum whom it offers a pool of nodes that, through caching and load balancing methods, achieve a level of performance more and more interesting.

What must be remembered is that today the goal of the technology’s major players is to overcome the many limitations that block blockchain adoption by the general public. The Taiwanese manufacturer “crypto-smartphone” has not revolutionized the telephony industry, but HTC has certainly achieved its goal of expanding the blockchain ecosystem by creating a smartphone dedicated to security and to decentralized applications. In addition, Samsung is also launching into the “crypto-smartphone” sector. This competition between smartphone manufacturers can only be positive to the blockchain ecosystem, allowing an acceleration of the construction and distribution of exclusive digital products with blockchain technology.

For more information :

· HTC and Exodus 1: https://www.htcexodus.com/eu/

· Samsung unveils cryptocurrency wallet: https://www.coindesk.com/samsung-unveils-cryptocurrency-wallet-dapps-for-galaxy-s10-phone

Note: On the performance side, the Exodus 1 is equipped with a 6-inch panel in Quad HD + definition in 18: 9 format, a Snapdragon 845 processor, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. The battery is 3500 mAh and everything runs on Android Oreo.

Consultant in IT Advisory @BearingPoint FR — Working in IT Transformation projects, implementing innovative and disruptive technologies. Blockchain enthusiast !