Samsung Integrates Bitcoin Wallets And Exchange Into Galaxy Phones
According to Gregory Blake, who released several screenshots of a suspected Galaxy S10 prototype, the new model of the South Korean mobile phone manufacturing giant has an integrated feature called “Samsung Blockchain KeyStore” that enables users to have full control over their private keys and crypto funds. If Samsung Integrates Bitcoin Wallet Into Galaxy S10, Bullish For Bitcoin?
Once the Blockchain KeyStore is authenticated and enabled on the device, users are able to begin sending and receiving cryptocurrency using the native crypto wallet on the mobile phone.
The screenshot shared by Blake revealed Ethereum as the only supported cryptocurrency on the device, possibly because the phone is still a prototype. However, one image included graphics that appeared to be bitcoins, so it’s likely more currencies would be included at launch.
Galaxy s10 with crypto wallet? pic.twitter.com/6IICujXEnm
— Gregory Blake (@GregiPfister89) January 22, 2019
Verifying that the phone in question is a Galaxy S10, a technology journalist at BGR Chris Smith explained:
We know it’s a Galaxy S10 phone because the punch-hole camera is placed near the top right corner. The A8s’ selfie cam is on the left side. Also, we know it’s a Galaxy S10 phone rather than a Galaxy S10+ model because it features a single-lens selfie camera. It’s clear the handset isn’t the Lite version, because the screen has curved edges, rather than flat.
Previously, CCN reported on Dec 13, 2018, that Samsung plans to integrate a crypto cold storage into its S10 model following the company’s filing of trademarks for Samsung blockchain.
At the time, SamMobile executive editor Adnan Farooqui confirmed that the company is developing a cold storage crypto wallet and intends to integrate it in the Galaxy S10.
Why it Makes Sense for Samsung to Integrate a Bitcoin Wallet
In July of last year, Samsung Insights reported that the most secure device to run a cryptocurrency wallet on is a mobile phone due to the presence of a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE).
Dissimilar to laptops, PCs, and other types of devices, smartphones have a native environment that operates independently of the memory and storage. As such, data stored in a TEE cannot be altered by the operating system, completely eliminating the possibility of a security breach affecting data stored in the trusted environment.
By utilizing a TEE on a mobile phone, a crypto wallet can operate much more securely and efficiently than laptops and desktops, which still remain as a popular platform for wallets and exchanges.
“This is why smartphones have an edge over laptops and desktops for cryptocurrency wallets: without the benefits of the hardware-based TEE, the keys are more vulnerable,” Joel Snyder, a senior IT consultant and Samsung Insights contributor, said. “There is a significant caveat: a naïve wallet developer might choose to simply store the keys on the normal internal storage of the phone, in which case there’s little additional protection from using the smartphone platform. Or the wallet itself might be malware, in which case all bets are off.”
But with the right wallet leveraging the benefits of smartphone TEE, there’s no place safer to store your money.
If the official Galaxy S10 model launches with a native Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet, it may pose a significant threat to companies such as HTC and projects working on blockchain phones that exclusively support cryptocurrencies.
A user may transfer an existing cryptocurrency wallet or create a new cryptocurrency wallet with Samsung Blockchain KeyStore
Newly leaked images of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S10 device show support for cryptocurrencies within the device. The “Samsung Blockchain KeyStore” is described as both “a secure and convenient place for your cryptocurrency” and a place to “secure and manage your blockchain private key.”
A user may import an existing wallet to transfer existing cryptocurrency. The image shows that multiple cryptocurrencies are supported, although only Ethereum is named directly. Additionally, a user may create a new cryptocurrency wallet with Samsung Blockchain KeyStore.
Previous leaks in December had implied that Samsung’s Galaxy S10 would include a wallet app with two parts: 1) a cold wallet for storing cryptocurrency and private keys and 2) a hot wallet for crypto transactions.
The inclusion of a cryptocurrency wallet in Samsung’s flagship smartphone line would likely provide a boost to mainstream adoption and awareness.
The Galaxy S line phones typically move tens of millions of units worldwide. The company is looking for new features to attract buyers amidst a recent slump in sales, with the Galaxy S9 underperforming its predecessors.
The Galaxy S10 will officially be revealed at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event on February 20th, celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Galaxy Android smartphone line.
Samsung’s Blockchain SSD Patent Could Disrupt Crypto Mining
Electronics giant Samsung filed for a patent in May 2019 titled, “Programmable Blockchain Solid State Drive and Switch.” Even though few details are known about the newly designed system, a surge in patent applications filed by large corporations on blockchain is clearly visible.
Any great invention from the past century has a history of some kind of patent war, but the digital age has accelerated this phenomenon. From the PC wars between Apple and Microsoft to the smartphone wars of the past decade, patents have been used for both offensive and defensive measures.
It has been clear since the beginning that blockchain would see an increasing interest from corporations, which would turn to securing their patents as soon as possible. In just over a year, IBM has tripled the number of blockchain patents secured in the United States to over 100, while Alibaba leads the way with over 260 patents related to blockchain.
The number of global blockchain patent filings now considerably outpaces the patent filings for other technologies. However, Samsung has stayed relatively restrained with blockchain. That is, until it registered for a programmable blockchain SSD.
Technical Details About The Samsung Patent
This programmable data storage device consists of a nonvolatile memory and a storage controller that is configured to control the system. It has a network interface and a field programmable gate array that is configured to implement a blockchain algorithm. While doing so, it stores at least a block of a blockchain corresponding to the blockchain algorithm in its nonvolatile memory through the storage controller.
Moreover, the gate array will be configured to a processor that has a memory with instructions stored. When executed, the processor sends and receives one or more blocks of the blockchain via the network interface. Additionally, the processor controls the programmable gate array to execute the blockchain algorithm on one or more blocks of the blockchain.
Advantages Of The New Patent
To understand the significance of this new patent, the drawbacks of general purpose computer devices and ASICs should first be examined.
General purpose computer devices (usually GPUs) must be combined with the right software, drivers and configurations to execute a moderately efficient mining algorithm. Even though one GPU can mine multiple coins through this technique, its efficiency is very low. What’s more, to change the coin being mined is a hassle and very few miners are able to do so, while the cost of GPUs can vary significantly, as their price is influenced by the gaming and virtual reality industries.
On the other hand, ASIC miners are professional mining equipment designed for computing a specific algorithm. This narrowed scope gives the hardware the ability to mine efficiently compared to general-purpose computing devices. However, the rigidity in mining algorithms makes the miner obsolete once a newer, more efficient device becomes available, and many coins are specifically designed to be incompatible with ASICs.
Sam Town, an independent crypto analyst told Cointelegraph that Samsung’s patent doesn’t necessarily mean that the company is going to develop the product:
“Patents are not necessarily a tool to just protect your idea. It can be a defensive weapon to stop other companies from making similar products. Moreover, it can be used to send a signal to the market about the company’s intentions. This is most likely the case with Samsung”
However, Nicolas Kokkalis, the head of technology at Pi, the first digital currency compatible with mobile mining, doesn’t agree with Town. Kokkalis stated:
“Flexibility comes at the cost of speed and power consumption. FPGAs can be re-programmed with software, but they are slower than ASICs and they consume more electrical power. So for consensus algorithms, like Bitcoin’s proof of work, where speed and power consumption is critical, ASICs will always be the choice of miners when possible. There are, however, attempts of consensus algorithms that aim to be ASIC-resistant, e.g., by producing memory-limited algorithms, GPU-hungry functions or by periodically changing the algorithm leaving no-time for ASIC designers to create ASICs in time before the next algorithm rotation.”
Cointelegraph reached out to the inventors of the patent — Rajinikanth Pandurangan and Vijay Balakrishnan — for their comment on the matter, as well as Samsung, but each refrained from commenting on the matter.
Crypto Mining And Samsung
The aforementioned patent is not the first time Samsung has tried to disrupt the crypto mining space. The company has been designing and manufacturing three nanometer and five nanometer chips for Bitcoin mining since the first quarter of 2018.
The manufacturing process is based on extreme ultraviolet lithography technology, which makes the new 7LPP chips more dense and energy efficient. Samsung states that 7LPP will enable the development of other emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, networking, 5G, automotive as well as technology for enterprise and hyperscale data centers.
Samsung has also entered into a strategic partnership with MicroBT — the third-largest designer of Bitcoin ASICs. MicroBT’s latest device, the M20S WhatsMiner, has 68 terahashes per second (Th/s) and a power efficiency of 48 watts per terahash. To compare this with industry standards, Bitmain Antminer S9 achieves 13.5 Th/s with a power efficiency of 98 watts per terahash — making Samsung’s chips allegedly five times more powerful than those used by Bitmain.
Samsung’s potential pivot toward crypto mining should not come as a surprise, as it is the world’s second-largest producer of semiconductor, just behind Intel, which has actually been making its own mining chips.
In November 2018, Intel filed a patent for “energy-efficient high-performance Bitcoin mining.” The patent for a system-on-a-chip includes hardware that accelerates Bitcoin mining, reduces power consumption and is optimized to reduce the space and energy utilized during the mining process.
What Is The Impact Of Big Players Entering The Market?
The sheer size of Samsung’s semiconductor plant could give the firm an automatic advantage, and the same goes for Intel — and this is only taking its existing infrastructure into account. Samsung is one of the biggest spenders on R&D, spending over $8 billion during the first half of this year alone. With the ever-changing mining algorithms and the need to be continually efficient, new tech from these giants could easily supersede existing hardware.
Town Believes There Is No Way Around This Problem. In His Opinion, Unregulated Capitalism Is Bound To Create Monopolies:
“It is the very nature of competition. There will be a winner (or a few) and most will either be acquired or they will die out. The idea that companies will compete in perpetuity and benefit consumers as a result is flawed. The advantages that Samsung has over miners like Bitmain and Canaan can never be overcome.”
However, Samsung’s foray into mining could also have positive impacts on the ecosystem. Being one of the largest companies in the world, the tech giant can make an impression on regulations worldwide. Theoretically, Samsung possesses the influence and resources to lobby governments and even change the public perception around crypto.
Samsung Hopping On The Crypto Bandwagon
Hardware manufacturing is not the only front in which Samsung has shown interest in blockchain technology. In 2019, Samsung invested around $8.1 million in the blockchain-based company Blocco and $4 million in KZen Networks. The tech company even confirmed that it is in the process of developing its own blockchain mainnet based on the Ethereum platform. Moreover, the company announced it was working on its own crypto token: the Samsung Coin.
President and CEO of Samsung SDS Hong Yuan Zhen disclosed in May 2019 that blockchain can improve productivity in the manufacturing industry. He even praised the productivity gains that real-time data analysis and predictions could bring in conjunction with blockchain technology.
In July 2019, the company announced that Samsung Galaxy S10 users could add the Pundi XWallet app to their Samsung Blockchain Wallet. Customers can move cryptos in the Samsung Blockchain Wallet into the XWallet. XWAllet now supports 33 different cryptocurrencies and has seen integration of decentralized applications (DApps). Over 10 DApps Are Already On The Wallet.
Samsung Keeps Cryptocurrency Functionality In Galaxy S20 Models
South Korean technology giant Samsung recently unveiled its latest smartphone series, the Galaxy S20, at the Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco.
While the headline feature is undoubtedly the new camera, according to the official marketing material the phone will also improve on the integrated blockchain security features introduced a year ago on the Galaxy S10.
Security Is Still A Highlight
After copious details regarding the new camera, and briefly mentioning 5G, battery life and storage, Samsung highlights the new phones’ security features. These build on the Knox platform, a defense-grade security solution which stores private keys in a secure isolated area.
“We created a secure processor dedicated to protecting your PIN, password, pattern, and Blockchain Private Key. Combined with the Knox platform, security is infused into every part of your phone, from hardware to software. So private data stays private,” Samsung states.
From Small Acorns…
Following the unveiling of the Knox platform in the Galaxy S10 last February, Samsung further developed its mobile blockchain offering with the release of a software development kit in July 2019. This included a toolkit for the Samsung Blockchain Keystore, which holds users’ private keys.
Later that month PundiX announced that it had integrated its XWallet app into Samsung’s blockchain ecosystem, allowing users to link the app to their Samsung Blockchain Wallet.
Samsung then added Bitcoin-support to its Blockchain Keystore, along with several other advances. Previously it had only officially supported Ethereum.
In September 2019, the company released an edition of the smartphone/tablet hybrid Galaxy Note 10 with cryptocurrency functionality.
Confirming Commitment To Blockchain
With the imminent release of the Galaxy S20, along with its big brothers the S20+ and S20 Ultra, Samsung is confirming its commitment to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
It also plans to roll-out its Knox platform beyond mobile devices, and into network connected devices like 5G and Internet of Things end points and equipment.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 will be available from March 6, in the United States, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, and from March 13 in the United Kingdom.
Samsung’s New Chip To Secure Crypto Transactions On Mobile Devices
South Korean electronics corporation Samsung continues its commitment to crypto technology with its latest security chip.
South Korean tech titan Samsung announced a standalone turnkey security solution that secures cryptocurrency transactions on smartphones and tablets, according to the press release issued earlier today.
The solution consists of a Secure Element (SE) chip S3FV9RR and “enhanced” software. It is designed to secure the booting process, isolated storage and mobile-based payments.
The new SE chip is certified with Common Criteria (CC) EAL 6+ security standard, which is used in applications with the most rigorous security requirements, namely e-passports and cryptocurrency hardware wallets. It can thereby be used in any mobile device, and will work independently from the device’s main processor.
Notably, the announcement mentions cryptocurrency transactions as one of the primary purposes of the S3FV9RR chip, which is expected to be available in Q3 2020. Dongho Shin, senior vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics, said:
“In this era of mobility and contact-less interactions, we expect our connected devices, such as smartphones or tablets, to be highly secure so as to protect personal data and enable fintech activities such as mobile banking, stock trading and cryptocurrency transactions.”
Samsung’s Latest Crypto-Related Developments
Samsung’s interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain is well known, as the corporation has invested in numerous DLT startups, and has integrated the technology in its own products.
Earlier this month, Samsung Pay teamed up with cryptocurrency Visa card platform Swipe, allowing users to make crypto payments with their Samsung Pay-enabled devices.
In February, Samsung presented its latest smartphone series, the Galaxy S20, which reportedly improved on the integrated blockchain security features introduced a year ago on the Galaxy S10.
Samsung Phone Support For Gemini Exchange Can Further Crypto Adoption
Samsung and Gemini’s joint efforts may help to overcome some of the roadblocks facing the global adoption of cryptocurrencies.
In a major new partnership, Samsung has announced that the Samsung Blockchain Wallet will be integrated with Gemini, a New York-based crypto exchange. This integration will allow owners of newer Samsung Galaxy phones to not only use their devices as cold storage wallets but to buy and sell crypto via the Gemini exchange as well.
Samsung is the global leader in the smartphone market, with 298.1 million units shipped and a 21.8% market share in 2019, according to tech analytic firm Canalys. Adding support for Gemini will lower the barrier to entry to cryptocurrency use for millions of people.
Previously, owners of Samsung Blockchain Wallet-compatible devices were able to store crypto on their phones, send and receive crypto, and use decentralized applications. However, with this latest addition, Samsung owners will now be able to buy and sell crypto via Gemini too, making it easier for those new to crypto to get their hands on their first tokens.
Both Samsung and Gemini hope that by streamlining the crypto acquisition process, they will be able to overcome some of the roadblocks that have led to the somewhat underwhelming adoption of cryptocurrencies. Tyler Winklevoss, CEO of Gemini, stated in a press release:
“Crypto is not just a technology, it is a movement. We are proud to be working with Samsung Blockchain to bring crypto’s promise of greater choice, independence, and opportunity to more individuals around the world.”
The Rocky Road To Widespread Crypto Adoption
From Bitcoin’s (BTC) mysterious origins as the brainchild of the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto to the sudden rise of crypto in 2017, cryptocurrency has experienced a wild ride over the past decade, with roadblocks at every turn.
At the beginning of its journey, cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, was largely viewed as a means to conduct illicit affairs and, in some ways, that reputation has stuck around. From ordering drugs online to cryptojacking malware (malicious software that uses a computer’s resources to mine crypto), cryptocurrencies have earned something of a bad reputation.
Unfortunately, because cryptocurrency is accessed through computers, which are always vulnerable to cyberattacks, many people are also concerned about the security of their funds if they were to adopt crypto as their go-to currency.
Although cryptocurrencies use complex cryptography to stay secure, and there are many ways to further improve the safety of your funds — such as switching from cloud storage to cold storage — many people may be slow to switch over to digital currencies out of fear of being hacked.
While these concerns haven’t stopped the growing public interest, it has made it more difficult to obtain crypto in some countries, hampering its ability to become a global currency.
With several governments banning crypto outright and a lot of people not using a VPN to sidestep those bans, that reputation has put a dent in its user base — especially given that China, one of the largest consumer markets, is one of the countries making an active effort to suppress cryptocurrency.
What’s more, even when people are not worried about cryptocurrency and aren’t legally prohibited from acquiring tokens, many crypto exchanges are simply too complex for the average user to navigate.
While there has been an uptick in user-friendly exchanges over the past few years, of which Gemini is one, this lack of easy-to-use exchanges may have significantly hindered the early adoption of cryptocurrencies.
Throughout all this turmoil, Samsung has been one of the largest proponents and supporters of cryptocurrency. In 2019, the company rolled out the Samsung Blockchain Wallet, which supports sending, receiving and storing ERC-20 tokens as well as using DApps built on Ethereum.
This was viewed as one of tech’s biggest moves toward crypto adoption, along with Facebook’s digital currency, Libra. However, without the ability to purchase cryptocurrencies on exchanges, there was still somewhat of a barrier to Samsung owners who didn’t already own crypto.
Samsung And Gemini Partner To Bring Cryptocurrency To The Masses
While the complex mathematics behind cryptocurrencies may be hard for consumers to grasp, the benefits of a global currency are not. With support for Gemini built into new Samsung Galaxy models, widespread adoption of cryptocurrency may be inching closer and closer.
Unlike some other crypto exchanges such as Binance, Bittrex or Poloniex, Gemini focuses on providing a streamlined and intuitive crypto buying and selling experience for its users instead of an environment designed for active trading. It’s comparable to Coinbase in its beginner-friendly nature and its focus on buy-and-hold investment strategies.
Gemini is also one of the few exchanges to be awarded a BitLicense, which is required to operate an exchange in the state of New York. This exposes Gemini to a potential market of over 19 million people that not all of its competitors have access to.
By natively supporting Gemini with Samsung’s existing cold storage wallets, the two companies are making it exceedingly easy for new blood to enter the crypto space and safely secure funds in cold storage. Jeanine Hightower-Sellitto, managing director of operations at Gemini, said:
“For millions of Samsung users across the U.S. and Canada, being able to store crypto directly on their phones lowers another barrier to entry.”
While this alone likely won’t be enough to completely change the landscape of cryptocurrency, it sets the stage for other groundbreaking developments yet to come.
Although Samsung Pay continues to lag behind Apple Pay in market share, it still maintains a sizable user base that is expected to hit 100 million users this year. While Samsung Blockchain Wallet doesn’t currently integrate with Samsung Pay, it seems to be just a small step away from allowing Galaxy owners to exchange fiat for tokens, or vice versa, on Gemini and then immediately use them for everyday purchases.
With Samsung Pay so deeply integrated into the daily life of several Asian countries, the impacts of a development like this could be truly massive. Although such an integration is purely speculative at this point, the combined forces of Samsung and Gemini do seem to show that the future is bright for crypto.
Indeed, regardless of whether this recent partnership has an impact, it’s clear that blockchain and similar cryptographic technologies are here to stay. From cryptocurrency to DApps, these technologies are poised to change the world.
While the vision of cryptocurrency as a truly global currency is still far off in the future, these recent developments are drawing us ever closer.
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