In May 2018 the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer hTC announced the development of a phone customised for the emerging market of cryptocurrencies. The hTC Exodus, which will serve as a hardware wallet and therefore promises to increase the security standards for mobile wallets and accelerate the user adaption of the distributed ledger technology.
Until now the available information regarding specific functions addressing the blockchain technology are scarce. To get a better understanding what the company is developing I visited the Exodus team at the company’s headquarter in Taipei.
As stated on the website https://www.htcexodus.com/ the product introduces completely new features to the crypto market. I ordered them according to their importance based on my opinion:
TrustZone: is a trusted execution environment for storing and executing crypto related information. Basically, it executes security related tasks to get a safe distance from the permissions of the Android system. This doesn’t mean, that your funds will be 100 percent safe, however it introduces a new security barrier for attackers, which requires serious skills to overcome.
Trusted UI: is a TrustZone based user interface, which displays information and handles user input. Should the phone be infected by a virus e.g. a screen scanner, the malware will not be able to access crypto related information displayed on the screen or inserted by the user.
Social Key Recovery: Instead of writing down your 12 or 24 word passphrase you can select a few trustworthy contacts. Every trusted contact must download an hTC key management App. Your seed then gets split apart using the secret sharing algorithm by Adi Shamir and is sent to the trusted contacts during the setup process. Should you lose your phone you can contact your trusted contacts to obtain a subset of your distributed secrets to successfully regain access to your funds.
DApp integration: The wallet will support DApps including ERC721 tokens for crypto collectables like CryptoKitties. Currently, the only mentionable mobile wallet, which supports such applications on a wider scale is Coinbase wallet (previously known as Toshi DApp browser).
Universal API’s: The Exodus team wants to develop an application program interface (API), which will enable other wallet providers to use the TrustZone to store private keys and crypto assets. However, this feature won’t be available until Q1 2019.
Consequently, the phone with above mentioned elements will merge soft- and hardware aspects to provide increased security and smoothen the user experience for crypto related offerings.
The audience for the early access are developers and community members, which are curious about the innovative character of the device. Obviously, it currently addresses a niche market, however this market is not only expected to grow rapidly, but also gives the company a competitive advantage once other smartphone manufacturers jump on the bandwagon of devices made for decentralisation.
What can be expected by the consumer?
The wallet initially will support Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether and selected ERC20 Tokens. The selection of the ERC20 tokens is depended on future partnerships, which will be announced by hTC sooner rather than later. Since the tech savvy developer team is aware of the privacy demands of its target audience a partnership with Brave or identity provider Civic seems likely. Yet, on the part of hTC none of my assumptions concerning potential partnerships were confirmed. Of course, one can assume that the support of different tokens will increase greatly over time.
If you’re in crypto only to make some fast money, then you should stay with a Trezor or Ledger for now, however if you’re passionate about the underlying technology and want to be at the forefront of innovation, this phone will be a perfect fit. Interested consumers can pre-order the hTC Exodus within the end of this year and delivery is expected within this year.
This article solely represents the opinion of the author. For further information about the product contact the HTC Exodus team via its community channels:
Youtube channel of Phil Chen (Chief Crypto Officer hTC): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-HcGOmhn0s6vd15y-nbQbg
Medium (Phil Chen): https://medium.com/@phil_chen
Reserve your phone now: https://www.htcexodus.com/#reserve-now