Complex Made Simple

Mobile and crypto: A match made in heaven?

Smartphones might have just found their new best friend: cryptocurrencies.

Mobile provides potentially the best platform for cryptocurrency trading There are plenty of parallels between mobile banking and mobile crypto management and trading “Smartphones are a part of people’s daily lives,” Ihab Al Yaman, Managing Director at MEmob, told AMEinfo. “They are a seamless way for blockchain integration in people’s lives.”

Just like back during the dot com bubble, where every sparkly-eyed startup and mega corp rushed to get in on the internet craze, we find ourselves today in a different kind of bubble: the smartphone bubble. More specifically, everyone is offering their services on phones.

In the second quarter of 2019, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 48.91% of global website traffic, consistently hovering around the 50% mark since the beginning of 2017, according to Statista. In 2018, 39.6% of retail commerce was mobile, and that figure should jump to 44.7% in 2019, research firm eMarketer discovered

Mobile is here to stay, and it might have just found its new best friend: cryptocurrencies.

The origin of crypto mobile apps?

At the turn of the century, traditional banks began realizing that this new “world wide web” would forever change how they would do business with their customers. The smartphone wave, coupled with improving internet speeds, gave rise to mobile banking apps where multiple financial functions were available at the tap of a finger. 

Fast-forward a few years, to 2009, when the world’s first decentralized cryptocurrency was created: Bitcoin. People were welcomed by a virtual currency not buoyed by any real assets or controlled by any government or federal bank. It was virtual, clean and completely traceable through the permanence of blockchain. 

In retrospect, this virtual, fully digital currency, with its use of digital wallets and online transactions, immediately drew parallels to online banking. The only difference is, the currency behind the screen with online banking involves solid, hard cash that exists somewhere, susceptible to market fluctuations and political influence. Bitcoin, however, is completely virtual, and despite its massive value, doesn’t really exist in the real world at the end of the day. 

So if mobile banking and crypto trading were not so different, why not merge the two concepts? Why not deal in mobile crypto trade and blockchain? 

That is exactly what happened. Cryptocurrencies found a new home on smartphones, following the precedent of mobile banking. Today, banks have also learned a lesson from crypto and blockchain, utilizing the distributed ledger system to let users verify their identities using a blockchain mobile app.

“Various banks and payment providers have already started to use blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies,” Ahmed Jacob, Dubai-based Managing Partner and CTO of INVAO, told AMEinfo.  

“Some cryptocurrency enthusiasts will lead you to believe that there is a hidden war between blockchain and the banking sector,” Alain Aoun, Co-Founder of Blockchain Leaders, told AMEinfo. “But that is not true and the main proof on this is the inclination of big banks, such as JP Morgan Chase, towards blockchain technology. Quorum blockchain, developed by JP Morgan Chase, tries to build a blockchain solution that can cater to the needs of the financial and banking industries.”

“The industry is being disrupted by many fintech projects,” said Julien Hawari, CEO – InfakCorp, the first Islamic Fintech Ecosystem, and Advisor – Capital Crypto Bank, a Crypto Advisory Firm. “Banks are and will adapt to some of the technology. Some of the projects will be taken over by existing financial institutions that will leverage on it to get to the next level. In our case on Infak, the first Islamic Fintech ecosystem, we work with the financial institutions and leverage their existing power with tech to create greater results for everyone.”

Mobile meets crypto

Smartphones offered the best opportunity for users to manage their crypto holdings on the go. Plenty of digital wallet apps have popped up as a result. Some of these include Jaxx, Coinbase and CryptoPay. 

Mega corporations such as Samsung and Huawei have begun dabbling with the concept themselves. Last month, CoinBase reported that Samsung was now offering 17 crypto apps in their Blockchain Keystore, a specialized, decentralized app store. 

Huawei, on the other hand, partnered last year with BTC.com to roll out a mobile cryptocurrency app for the tech giant’s newly launched app store. 

BTC.com’s app is also available on Google Play. Browsing the included promotional screenshots and you’d be remiss to mistake it for a regular mobile banking app. 

Today, crypto-focused apps offer their users multiple functions. Some serve as digital wallets, allowing users to manage their coins. Others allow for trading of crytocurrency on the go. Other lets you keep tabs on your mining activity at home. We’ve only just seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these apps. 

“Smartphones are a part of people’s daily lives,” Ihab Al Yaman, Managing Director at MEmob, told AMEinfo. “They are a seamless way for blockchain integration in people’s lives.”

A word of advice

Unlike other forms of crypto wallets, such as paper or hardware wallets, however, digital wallets such as these mobile ones cannot guarantee 100% impenetrability when it comes to hacks. Your private keys could be stolen, so keep that in mind. It’s better to use these mobile wallets to store smaller sums, like you would a regular wallet, while keeping your savings on a hardware or paper wallet that is disconnected from the rest of the world. 

Then comes the question of whether to opt for a first- or third-party wallet. A first-party wallet is very similar to self-hosting your own website or blog. You have to manage all of its maintenance, updates and technical aspects. The payout, however, is that you maintain full control and enjoy the peace of mind knowing that no one has access to your private keys. 

Third-party wallets offer you convenience and extra services, at the cost of security. By allowing a third-party app to manage your coins, you forfeit a certain degree of control for the sake of convenience. With these apps, you aren’t the sole holder of your wallet’s private keys, so keep this risk in mind when deciding which to pick.