As blockchain is seen as the future by many analysts, technology firms have been hard at work integrating this technology into the most important devices in our lives — our smartphones.
Big names have already joined the fray: Taiwanese innovator HTC released the blockchain-centric EXODUS lineup of smartphones in 2018; and South Korean technology behemoth Samsung has integrated a wallet that stores Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other recognized cryptocurrencies. But it seems that another big name in electronics will be joining the two: the state-owned enterprise China Telecommunications.
Bringing Blockchain Mobile
According to a report published by cryptocurrency outlet 8BTC last week, China Telecom, one of the larger telecommunication providers in its namesake nation, has just released a white paper on blockchain mobile technology in the “5G era” — whatever that means.
The paper, first spotted at China’s International Intelligent Industry Expo, purportedly outlines an ecosystem of blockchain applications to be created by the firm. China Telecom’s blockchain and digital economy division writes that the premise of this ecosystem is to use the power of decentralized technology to provide more secure hardware for 5G-enabled smartphones and to enable a network of digital value transmission.
You see, 5G, a telecom network standard that is much faster than the current 4G/LTE model, is expected to enable the transmission of much more data and at faster speeds, creating a wide array of applications not possible using the traditional infrastructure.
China Telecom believes that by implementing blockchain technologies into mobile phones, issues with trust can be minimized and the human and financial cost needed to run applications will be reduced.
The white paper proposes five primary applications for blockchain technologies on mobile devices: digital identity authentication, digital payments and finance improvements, supply chain tracking, e-commerce fraud reduction, and electronic data security.
While this project seems to be staving away from cryptocurrencies themselves, the 8BTC report does mention a potential integration with Ethereum technology.
Some Catchin’ Up to Do
China Telecom seems to be serious about its foray into blockchain technologies. But, it may have some catching up to do.
Samsung, as aforementioned, has its own cryptocurrency wallet solution, currently integrated into its latest Galaxy line devices. The company is expected to soon begin development on blockchain-centric applications for identification and “local currencies” through partnerships with local telecom firms, like SK Telecom and KT. These two firms have purportedly already begun prototyping “blockchain-based ID cards”. And, there have also been rumors of Samsung Pay integrating some form of blockchain technology, with Business Korea writing that such an integration would reduce reliance on “value-added network operators” and “payment gateway operators”.
Also in Asia, HTC has been hard on at work on its EXODUS roster of smartphones. The HTC EXODUS 1 was launched last year, giving users the opportunity to interact with the digital economy on their smartphones. Speaking at a recent event in Los Angeles, Phil Chen, the head of the EXODUS division, revealed that the EXODUS 1s will launch soon with support to activate a Bitcoin full node on mobile and potential support for a Lightning Network node.
Aside from the two aforementioned firms, smaller startups have been pushing blockchain mobile applications or fully-fledged smartphones. PundiX is looking to improve the adoption of cryptocurrency in payments through its soon-to-be-released device; Sirin Labs brought hardware-level crypto security onto its Finney phone.
Of course, China Telecom is trying to tackle the blockchain smartphone industry with a different approach than its competitors, having seemingly targeted blockchain use cases over storage and payments. But it is likely to be butting heads with players like Samsung, HTC, and others down the line.