Lionel Messi – the Barcelona playmaker that is often described as the most naturally talented Soccer player of all time, is to endorse the world’s first blockchain mobile phone, as reported by UK newspaper The Independent. The organization behind the project, Swiss-Israeli-startup Sirin Labs, claim to specialize in multi-layer cyber security through the utilization of blockchain technology.
The smartphone, which is labeled as the “Finney”, is supported by a Google Certified fork of Android, which it calls Sirin OS. On top of having the underlying technology secured by blockchain technology, the Finney handset will also will also have a cold wallet application that allows users to safely store their cryptocurrency. Furthermore, the in-built Sirin app store will facilitate a range of decentralized applications (dApps). One such example is a dApp that will allow Finney users to exchange mobile data or battery power in return for digital tokens.
The Finney is set for an official launch date of November 29th, with an estimated price-tag of $1,000.
Sirin Labs have already had success in the smartphone space, with the 2016 launch of their “Solarin”. The device, which was at the time labeled as the “world’s most secure phone“, retailed for a substantial $16,000. The Solarin project also had an A-list celebrity tie, with both Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio attending the London premier launch event.
Celebrity Endorsers Beware
With the endorsement of Messi – who by the way, has just under 90 million Facebook followers, is excellent news for the cryptocurrency industry, insofar that it further supports the long-term goal of mass awareness. However, it is also important to note that the marketing strategy of employing a celebrity to endorse a blockchain-related project does not necessarily guarantee success.
For example, in late 2017, Floyd Mayweather, who is often dubbed as the best “Pound-for-Pound” boxer of all time, endorsed the now defunct initial coin offering of Centra Coin. The project – which claimed to provide a gateway for users to spend cryptocurrencies via a Visa or MasterCard backed debit card, raised close to $32 million before being shut down by U.S. regulators.
It remains to be seen how much money the project would have raised without the endorsement of Mayweather, however it is highly likely that his link to the ICO created an element of artificial legitimacy.
Then there was the case of John McAfee, the controversial founder of McAfee anti-virus software. McAfee recently admitted that he charged close to $100,000 to Tweet support for up and coming cryptocurrency projects, subsequently motivating unsuspecting individuals to invest in the recommended token.
Nevertheless, recognizing the slightly dampened history of celebrity endorsed blockchain projects, the team at Sirin Labs state that “If you’ve followed Messi’s career at all, you’d know he doesn’t just put his name on anything to make a buck,”
Is it Only a Matter of Time for Mass-Adoption?
Announcements such as the Finney product further illustrates the fact that although the cryptocurrency markets have been somewhat bearish since the turn of late 2017, much is going on behind the scenes. Whilst the value of most cryptocurrency portfolios are worth a fraction of what they were just 12 months prior, blockchain entities are churning out new and exciting ventures across multiple industries, indicating that the phenomenon is far from a short-term fad.
However, it remains to be seen just how long global adoption will take, especially when one considers the vast amount of projects now in existence.
Sirin Labs raised more than $157 million during their late-2017 ICO, with $110 million of this received in the first 24 hours. However, as with the vast majority of cryptocurrencies, the Sirin Labs token has lost the vast majority of its value since it was issued. Reaching a remarkable all-time high of just over $320 million at the start of the year, the token currently has a total market capitalization of $18 million.