Samsung has revealed more details about the cryptocurrency capabilities of the Galaxy S10, its new flagship phone. The most striking detail? Its native wallet won’t support bitcoin, at least not out of the gate.
The phone’s wallet, known as the Samsung Blockchain Wallet, will instead initially support only Ethereum and Ethereum-derived tokens, according to a Coindesk report. This follows leaked images of a purported crypto wallet in January, and official confirmation in February that the Galaxy S10 would support the secure storage of crypto private keys through a function called Samsung Knox.
Limiting the wallet to Ethereum assets is sensible enough from a technical perspective, allowing unified onboarding of a large number of tokens with interchangeable back-end requirements. That reduces the chances of a security flaw or other bug in the wallet.
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Whatever the technical reasoning, the exclusion of bitcoin from the app, which Coindesk says is already available in the Samsung app store, is surprising. Leaving bitcoin out of arguably the highest-profile mass-market crypto product yet is a significant slight to the original blockchain-based currency, and the so-called “maximalists” who believe (more or less) that bitcoin will someday become the world’s dominant currency. Prior phones have featured built-in crypto key storage, but have had much smaller markets than the S10 is likely to achieve.
As if to pour salt in the wound, Samsung’s wallet does include support for two unproven, little-known crypto-tokens—a game-focused coin called Enjin Coin (ENJ) and a cosmetics (yes) token called Cosmee (COSM). Enjin Coin is tied to Enjin, a well-regarded web services platform for gamers, and the coin is pitched as a universal micropayments and digital collectibles system for gaming. That’s a use case that has been widely discussed in the crypto sector, and the Samsung integration could make it seamless to integrate with mobile games that use the currency.
Both Ethereum-based tokens have seen massive price rallies in recent days, comparable to the impact new exchange listings once had on obscure tokens. For better or worse, that conjures up memories of the manic hype and compulsive day-trading rampant during the 2017 crypto-bubble.
There is some unambiguously positive news, though. In addition to supporting Cosmee and Enjin, the S10’s Blockchain Wallet will interface with established applications including the CoinDuck payment portal and the CryptoKitties collectible/game system. Making payments accessible to newbies has huge potential to drive real-world crypto adoption, while collectibles—as totally without real utility as they may be—have more than proven their ability to get people excited about blockchain.