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Disruption in Telecoms — Blockchain powered Phones

Blockchain has impacted almost every sector of the economy directly or indirectly as it slowly becomes an integral part of the Global financial Ecosystem. Significant strides have been made by it in sectors like Banking, Technology, Automotive, Transportation & Logistics among a host of others. Telecom sector has perhaps been one of the most innovative sectors of the global economy in the past decade or so by providing its huge 4+ billion user base with Fintech solutions accessible at their fingertips they had no access to previously. Of course the invention & widespread adoption of the cell phones has played a key role in this effort. The associated Apps ecosystem built around the cell phone proliferation was a very important component of this equation.

An in-depth Marketwatch Report on Blockchain’s share in the Telecom states that market size would increase from $46.6 million in 2018 to $993.8 million by 2023 with an annualized compound growth rate of 84.4%. What’s surprising has been the fact that a sector which has been a global leader in innovation has lagged behind till now in attracting a disruptive technology like blockchain. Perhaps one of the main factors holding this partnership back has been the lack of uniform standards in blockchain, security concerns & the whole clout over the regulatory framework. The driving factor for blockchain growth in Telecom sector would be an increasing support for OSS/BSS (Operations Support Systems/Business Support Systems) processes. This might all be about to change — Enter blockchain powered phones.

Major players in the Cell phone industry like Apple & Samsung are always trying to move ahead of each other by improving on technology & innovative features with each new upgrade. However, this sector is getting congested with other players who want to integrate the blockchain/Cryptocurrencies support to their devices. With smart phones being popular among the booming millenials population it might as well prove to be the new craze. Let’s review some of the blockchain powered cell phone initiatives that are under development right now.

Sirin Labs, a Swiss based startup developing smart phones intends to launch the first blockchain powered smart phone Finney by November 2018. The funding of this project was raised through an ICO in Dec. 2017 to an amount of $157.8 million. Sirin Labs is the same company which had earlier released a privacy-centric smart phone Solarin with a price tab of $16,000 — needless to say the project was doomed to die. The company pivoted to a new product line and Finney was born whose price has been set to a much more competitive $1,000 which they still claim will be one the most secure phones out there. The phone will be manufactured by the Foxconn Technology group (Taiwan) — manufacturer of similar devices for other tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Google, Huawei etc.

Here are some of the specs. & features of this blockchain enabled cellular device:

  • It will run on the proprietary Sirin OS which is a hard fork version of Android 8.1 OS
  • 6GB of RAM & 128GB of extendable storage
  • 12-megapixel rear camera & 8-megapixel selfie camera
  • 6-inch screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio
  • battery life of 3,280mAh
  • Includes a cold storage Crypto wallet accompanied by a Token Conversion Service (TCS) which you will need to convert your fiat into the native SRN digital coin
  • A multi-blockchain decentralized applications (DApp) store
  • It will run on a multi layered cyber security suite offering strong protection

Apart from this flagship device, Sirin Labs has ambitious plans to launch a blockchain powered personal computer as well with an even lower price tab than the phone. With a thin track record & the restriction of using their own digital coin on the device only, I would like to see how their phone performs before having the faith jump on their bandwagon.

The Tiawan based HTC has been in trouble lately with the layoffs in the company, ever since they announced the launch of their competitor to Finney — HTC Exodus. They are banking on the success of this device to bail them out of the financial troubles after the failing of their last flagship project. I apologize but the following skeleton based diagram, is the best one I could find on the project since HTC hasn’t released any official images of the phone yet.

Also the company has been conspicuously quite about the specs of the phone, however one good thing that has happened recently is the inclusion of the Litecoin founder, Charlie Lee as an adviser to the Exodus team.

Here’s what we do know about the phone so far:

  • It is slated to be released sometimes in the Fall — date has not been announced yet
  • It will come with a built-in support of Bitcoin & Lightning network powered transactions for Litecoin natively
  • First of its kind to support smart contract functionality along with handling of DApps
  • The price hasn’t been revealed with but the indication by the team point it to be competitive with Finney
  • Comes with a Crypto wallet & a partnership (sole mobile distributor) with the popular blockchain game CryptoKitties

A lot of secrecy around this project scares me. Let’s see if they reveal any other details anytime soon to put our mind at ease.

Motif — A simpler but effective blockchain enabled phone has been launched for the U.S market by a mobile tech company called Zippie. The phone works on the native Zippie operating system(OS) & will be priced between $350-$395. The phone comes with a monetary incentive program where you get rewarded with the native ZIPT tokens which are safely tucked away in the secure digital wallet of the phone.

The major specs are as follows:

  • It is a 5.99 inch (Full HD screen) dual SIM Android based device
  • Will be available to purchase in the Fall of 2018
  • Comes equipped with a Qualcomm SD 450 Octa core processor
  • Fingerprint sensor & 16 megapixel camera
  • Wireless charging & NFC capability
  • The device comes pre equipped with Black Emoji chat platform

Looks promising & much more believable with its claims. Still have to wait for a few months to see how it pans out though.

Honorable Mention here of the Chinese Mobile giant Huawei who is seeking to get a license for the open source SIRIN OS to develop their own blockchain powered phone. Perhaps a good sign that a major player of cell phones is attempting an entry in to this uncharted territory.

With the Major players still staying out of the game these pioneers might be onto something big which would define the growth & innovation in this sector for years to come. For now, it remains to be seen, whether any or all of these phones will live up to the hype & promised potential.

Related Articles: TechFin vs. FinTech — What’s the difference?, The rise of P2P Finance model, Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies & the shifting Paradigm, The ABCDs of Fintech

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Originally published at www.datadriveninvestor.com on August 2, 2018.

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