Crypto Support in Samsung Galaxy S10 Could Fall Flat

The Samsung Galaxy S10, scheduled for launch on Feb. 20, likely will incorporate a cryptocurrency wallet.

Samsung last month filed applications in the EU for trademarks on three terms:

  • Blockchain Key Store
  • Blockchain Key Box
  • Blockchain Core

Samsung also filed applications in Korea for the same three terms.

Live images of the Samsung Blockchain Keystore app running on the Galaxy S10 were posted on Sammobile. The app is in the phone’s “Biometrics and Security” portion of the S10 “Settings” menu.

The wallet setup screen shows that users can import an existing wallet or create a new one. The wallet supports the Ethereum cryptocurrency, but it reportedly also will support Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and ERC20 (derived from Ethereum).

There will be a cold wallet for saving digital currencies and public and private keys, and for signing private keys for transactions. There also will be a crypto wallet for viewing account information, transfers, and transaction history, according to Sammobile.

“Samsung has a long history of throwing everything it can think of, technology-wise, into its flagship Galaxy S series smartphones,” remarked Ken Hyers, research director at Strategy Analytics.

“The reviewer guide Samsung sends out with their latest releases to document all the features are often well over 50 pages long,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Hyers “would not be surprised to find that Samsung adds a crypto wallet to the Galaxy S10, even if 99.9 percent of people who buy the phone never use it,” he said, noting that the majority of users “never use, or are even aware of, all — or even most — of the capabilities of their Galaxy S smartphones.”

Samsung is expected to announce the three main Galaxy S10 phones and a foldable smartphone, all with 5G support, at the Unpacked press event in San Francisco on Feb. 20.

The cryptocurrency applications also might be on the coming Galaxy A30 and A50, according to Dutch e-zine Galaxy Club.

Size Matters More Than Pole Position

Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC became the first company to launch a device that supports cryptocurrency, with its Exodus 1, which hit the market last month.

However, Samsung’s release is likely to have more of an impact on the market.

“Samsung is the segment leader,” noted Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“If they do something, every other smartphone vendor will certainly consider following,” he told the E-Commerce Times. That said, “whether they actually follow will likely have a lot to do with how safe cryptocurrency looks when the decision is made.”

Crypto and Security

Hackers have stepped up attacks on crypto sites. A record-setting number of crypto crimes took place last year, according to Chainalysis, including the following:

  • Etherum-based scams fluctuating with crypto prices;
  • Darknet markets, which show resilience against market trends; and
  • Hacks carried out by professional organizations with distinct tactics and methods.

Two hacker groups stole about US$1 billion last year — at least 60 percent of all publicly reported hacks, according to Chainalysis. They took about $90 million per hack on average.

Cryptomining malware took the top four places on Check Point Software’s December Top 10 Most Wanted Malware list, and accounted for a fifth.

Cryptocurrency-related malicious activity will increase dramatically this year, Proofpoint has predicted. Many banking Trojans and information thieves have built-in coin mining modules and wallet-stealing capabilities.

Hackers already have begun targeting smartphones to mine cryptocurrencies, through a technique called “cryptojacking,” which involves the installation of cryptocurrency mining malware via an infected or malicious app. Games are a favor attack vector because of their popularity.

“If you put enough resources on anything you can breach it, and cryptocurrency has been a very attractive target for some time,” Enderle said, “but you’d expect full encryption [from Samsung], and that it would likely use the technology they have in Knox and the technology they’ve licensed from BlackBerry.”

The large number of expected breaches may reduce the lure of Samsung’s crypto support as a marketing tool.

“Before the breaches, [a cryptocurrency wallet] could have been the killer app for the Samsung Galaxy line,” Enderle said. “Now there’s a lot of concern and fear surrounding this technology, which has undoubtedly eroded its attractiveness to the average smartphone user.”

Crypto and E-Commerce

The impact a crypto wallet in smartphones might have on e-commerce is not yet clear.

“Cryptocurrency is about what you can do with it,” Enderle said. “Uses are pretty limited, but you’d think it would play well with pot stores, which likely would be the ideal retail target for this wallet.”

The carriers “may or may not allow Samsung to include [a crypto wallet] on the devices sold through carrier channels” in the United States, observed Strategy Analytics’ Hyers.

On the other hand, if Samsung includes a crypto wallet in the international version of the new Galaxy smartphones, he said, “buyers of unlocked Samsung smartphones would have access to it.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.

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