Samsung, South Korea’s largest business conglomerate and the most prodigious smartphone manufacturer in the world at present, announced on Wednesday, February 20th, that its new premier smartphone, the Galaxy S10, would have in-built cryptocurrency wallet functionalities. The revelation comes after rumors have been swelling for weeks the S10 would be able to simultaneously serve as a crypto hardware wallet.
The S10 models, Samsung’s de facto answer to Apple’s Iphone X models, come 10 years after the Korean powerhouse’s launch of the first Galaxy S and 10 years into the cryptoeconomy’s existence.
Samsung Blockchain KeyStore
The sprawling international reach of Samsung’s smartphone market will ensure that millions of new users around the globe will have the ability to securely store their own cryptocurrencies, which could provide further inroads toward the mass adoption of digital assets. In Q4 2018 alone, the company shipped more than 70 million smartphone units around the globe.
“Galaxy S10 is built with defense-grade Samsung Knox, as well as a secure storage backed by hardware, which houses your private keys for blockchain-enabled mobile services,”
the company said in their announcement. Knox is the company’s “secure environment” mobile security solution.
At release, S10 models will range from $749.99 USD (Galaxy S10e) to $999.99 USD in price (Galaxy S10+).
Purported images of the latest Galaxy leaked online last month, and in those pictures cryptoverse stakeholders quickly honed in on a seemingly new app dubbed the “Samsung Blockchain KeyStore,” which offered to “secure and manage your blockchain private key.” At the time, the leaked images showed only ether, and thus ERC20 tokens, as being supported, but presumably the Blockchain KeyStore app will support bitcoin and further top cryptocurrencies.
The S10’s cryptocurrency wallet capabilities arrive after Samsung filed three crypto-centric patents with the European Union Intellectual Property Office in Dec. 2018. Those patents trademarked three proprietary offerings in “Blockchain KeyStore,” “Blockchain key box,” and “Blockchain Core.” It’s now clear they weren’t filed defensively, or at least the KeyStore’s patent wasn’t.
The Korean conglomerate had also published a blog post entitled “Why Smartphones Have the Best Security for Blockchain and Cryptocurrency” as recently as last summer. In it, the company argued that smartphones were ideal devices to store spendable cryptocurrency, i.e. crypto-assets that weren’t long-term holdings.
“Smartphone-based cryptocurrency wallets are the best approach to short-term and medium-term storage — that is, ‘spending money,’ the amount you might choose to carry with you in your real wallet,” post author Joel Snyder wrote.
“Meanwhile, long-term storage of cryptocurrency should be done with a backup (or several) of the private key, stored completely offline, and not on your smartphone — the same protection you might have for your personal savings account.”
Hardware Wallet Competition
In that vein, a massively popular smartphone series like the Galaxy embracing cryptocurrency storage doesn’t necessarily pose an existential threat to hardware wallet stalwarts like Ledger and Trezor, as these company’s offerings would still be ideal for offline, indefinite, and splintered holdings.
Conversely, Samsung is jumping into an arena where competition is mounting quickly. Last spring, Chinese smartphone manufacturing titan Huawei embraced pre-installed BTC.com bitcoin wallets in its Honor phone series. Taiwan-based smartphone maker HTC also recently released its Exodus smartphone, which boasts a universal cryptocurrency wallet. And Sirin Labs has also launched its Finney smartphone, an ode to early Bitcoin developer Hal Finney, which offers native crypto storage.
With that said, the S10 is already poised to achieve the most adoption among any of these smartphone offerings due to Samsung’s market dominance and reach. Of course, many who buy the S10 may never end up using its cryptocurrency wallet perks, but these perks bode a future where Samsung may simply put cryptocurrency wallets in all its future phones.