80-year-old South Korean electronics giant Samsung shocked the world recently by announcing a push into blockchain and crypto technology.
With its horns firmly locked in the battle of the smartphones on all fronts in the shape of Apple, Huawei, and other cheaper competitors, Samsung’s decision to embrace blockchain might just be what sets it ahead of the pack.
The battle for the smartphone market
Everyone knows it’s been a pretty dismal few months for Apple lately. With its stock plummeting by as much as 30% in October last year and dwindling sales at home and overseas, the world’s most innovative company seems to have lost its way.
Meanwhile, Samsung finds itself seeking a competitive advantage, focusing on cutting-edge features like 5G and foldable phones. Everyone wants faster internet on the fly. Whether or not they need a chunky phone that can be converted into a tablet remains to be seen.
When Samsung unveiled its latest product line, it didn’t exactly leave the crowd trembling with anticipation. In fact, it seemed as if Samsung was simply making the same mistakes as its biggest competitors by launching expensive phones that customers don’t want.
But Samsung had one more trick up its sleeve.
The Samsung Blockchain Keystore
For some, the Samsung blockchain decision may come as a surprise. But when you take a step back, it makes perfect sense. By officially introducing the Samsung Blockchain Keystore along with a trailblazing native crypto wallet in its Galaxy S10, the company just shot ahead in the innovation stakes once again.
The S10 device contains a “Token Transfers” section in its Ethereum wallet that currently features ERC-20 tokens including Enjin Coin and Basic Attention Token (BAT).
According to the Korean media, Samsung will be developing its wallet further. It will soon integrate full support for all ERC-20 tokens in its crypto wallet.
It’s also rumoured that Samsung has integrated the wallet in the S10 because the company believes in the tremendous potential of blockchain technology, particularly in the payments domain.
The South Korean blockchain revolution
While regulation may still be on the fence in South Korea when it comes to ICOs, cryptocurrency exchanges are a very developed ecosystem. South Korea is home to some of the industry’s largest exchanges, including Bithumb and Upbit.
Moreover, South Korea leads the way in cryptocurrency adoption, with as much as 30% of all salaried workers owning or trading crypto assets of some kind. In addition to that, roughly one-third of all users of cryptocurrency come from this Asian economy. The government is also investing over $1 billion in blockchain technology innovation over the next three years.
When you consider this context, it seems only logical that the Samsung Blockchain Keystore should open up here – and the unveiling of its crypto wallet as well.
And with more industry players entering the blockchain space, from consumer goods giants like Walmart to financial institutions like Santander and Barclays, other smartphone providers would do well to take a leaf out of Samsung’s playbook.
Ahead of the innovation curve
With dire sales forecasts from Apple and the realisation that there simply isn’t such high demand for the latest versions of its products as before, if Apple doesn’t pull some innovation out of its sleeve soon, it will be left behind.
While its latest product line may incorporate AI technology, adding a crypto wallet would give Apple and other providers a fresh edge.
Appealing to a younger generation
The cryptocurrency industry is dominated by millennials and Gen-Z. Many of the younger generations have words like ‘cryptocurrency’ and ‘Bitcoin’ incorporated into their vocabulary already. And Generation Alpha will grow up with cryptocurrencies, maybe even seeing the end of fiat cash as we know it.
So rather than appealing to an ageing and dwindling market, keeping up with the trends makes sense for smartphone providers.
Blockchain is getting more institutional support
The cryptocurrency markets may be volatile, with prices pretty much free falling over the last 12 months or so, but blockchain technology has advanced at an amazing pace. Infrastructure is being built and plenty of projects are coming to fruition.
Just consider the Lightning Network, which went from a few nodes at the start of the year to a capacity of over $2.5 million. Then there are Wall Street heavyweights entering the space in the form of Nasdaq and Bakkt.
Loeffler @Bakkt: "If you think about commodities or equity indices, the S&P500, that price is established in a federally regulated market, we don’t have that in the crypto market today. That’s what we’re focused on bringing along with a myriad of other features." #ConsensusInvest
— CoinDesk (@coindesk) November 27, 2018
With Wall Street and Walmart getting in on the game, it’s time that other smartphone providers follow suit as well.
Wrapping it up
The Samsung Blockchain Keystore in South Korea will be the start of many around the world. And the integration of its crypto wallet will surely spark a new trend. For the cryptocurrency industry to get closer to mass adoption, this can only be a good thing.