Better late than never? That could be the emerging story when it comes to smartphones and cryptocurrencies, given Samsung’s recent entry in this area of digital payments.
Samsung earlier this year presented its first blockchain partners for its Galaxy S10 smartphone during the Samsung Mobile Business Summit session at MWC Barcelona 2019, “with the world's most popular smartphone maker confirming that it will support bitcoin, ethereum, Cosmee and Enjin, together with a range of decentralized apps (dApps),” according to a report. “But it is perhaps the presence of an in-built cryptocurrency wallet that represents the most significant departure from past devices” when it comes to the Galaxy S10. South Korea-based Samsung has indicated it wants to add more cryptocurrency support to that mobile device as well.
The move represents the latest tie between cryptocurrencies and smartphones, according to a recent analysis from Best Bitcoin Exchange. “One of the first attempts to create a handset designed around the blockchain actually came from a startup called Sirin Labs,” it said. “Last November, the company launched its first product, the Finney handset. Powered by an Android-based operating system called SirinOS, the ‘blockchain phone’ features a built-in cold storage wallet, dApps support and a token conversion service, among other functions.”
Not only that, but Taiwan-based HTC late last year included a cryptocurrency wallet, Zion, on the company’s new Exodus 1 phone. “That makes the phone function as a hardware digital currency wallet that can also store private keys,” the report said, adding that HTC is marketing the privacy aspects of the mobile device.
The cryptocurrency moves on the part of the smartphone makers comes as they strive to stand out from a crowded, saturated field. “Thus, the search for the next big trend has begun,” Best Bitcoin Exchange wrote in what amounts to a cautionary tale. “The smartphone era is riddled with cautionary tales of how ignoring emerging trends can have severe consequences in the tech sector. The failure to recognize the upcoming paradigm shift caused many of the phone giants of the pre-smartphone era, such as Nokia and Motorola trying to catch the market leaders.”
The Samsung cryptocurrency push also comes amid declining profits for the company. For the first quarter of 2018, profits declined nearly 60 percent compared to last year, brought on by weakness in displays and its memory chip unit, according to Samsung’s preliminary financial report. The bad news for the first quarter isn’t likely the end of it for Samsung, according to analysts.
Bad Year for Bitcoin
Meanwhile, cryptocurrency is emerging from a rough 2018, the year of the bitcoin crash. Despite more digital payment wallets and services enabling the use of cryptocurrencies, they are not really a big part yet of daily consumer life, and that goes for bitcoin, the most famous of those currencies. “It’s not actually usable,” said Nicholas Weaver, a senior researcher at the International Computer Science Institute. “The net cost of a Bitcoin transaction is far more than a credit card transaction.” Also, the transactions have a sticking point, as they remain irreversible and there seems no way to address fraud.
Still, there has been positive news recently regarding bitcoin.
Earlier in April, an anonymous buyer helped bitcoin rise to its highest level in nearly five months. The crypto broke $5,000 for the first time since mid-November on April 2. The surge is the result of an anonymous order for about $100 million divided among crypto exchanges Coinbase, Kraken and Bitstamp.
It’s a long path still for cryptocurrency to gain mainstream acceptance — assuming it ever does — but it certainly couldn’t hurt that effort to tie those digital payment methods to more smartphones.