Samsung Electronics is releasing a new edition of its Galaxy Note 10 smartphone that will come with a pre-installed cryptocurrency wallet in its bid to boost adoption of blockchain tech.
According to a Wall Street Journal article on Thursday, the new product is a variant of Samsung’s flagship product Galaxy Note 10 but marketed as a “KlaytnPhone,” named after a blockchain network developed by messaging giant Kakao.
To be sold on Thursday only in South Korea, the new edition’s hardware specification will not differ from existing Galaxy Note 10, but will come with blockchain apps and a crypto wallet, the report said. Buyers of KlaytnPhones will also obtain a certain amount of the Klaytn blockchain’s native cryptocurrency Klay.
While blockchain apps on the Klaytn network are now available for non-Samsung phones via Google’s Android system, only the Klaytn edition will support full-scale transactions on the Klaytn network.
The KlaytnPhone is another step taken by Samsung to widen its efforts on boosting cryptocurrency adoption. According to the report, Samsung has joined Ground X to launch the edition, a firm set up by Kakao to develop the Klaytn network.
While the Klaytn network has been live since June this year, its native crypto Klay has not yet been listed on exchanges for trading.
Samsung first revealed a crypto-friendly flagship smartphone in March this year, the Galaxy S10, which comes with digital wallets that support cryptocurrencies like ether (ETH) and ethereum-based ERC-20 tokens.
The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) is charging full speed ahead with its digital currency plans, hoping to beat Facebook’s Libra to market.
A dedicated team from the central bank’s Digital Currency Research Lab is now developing the system in a closed-door environment, away from the PBoC’s downtown Beijing headquarters, a person close to the bank told CoinDesk.
The team has been working in this separate location since early summer so they could fully concentrate on the project, this person said.
The work has been expedited as Facebook unveiled in June its vision for Libra, a global cryptocurrency to facilitate payments, the source added.
The Libra announcement rattled governments around the world, spurring Congressional hearings in the United States and bold new thinking by central bankers such as Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.
Much about the PBoC’s project remains under wraps, and there have been conflicting accounts about the timetable and the degree of involvement by major Chinese companies.
According to a Sept. 4 report by state-owned media outlet China Daily, “closed-loop testing” has begun for the central bank digital currency (CBDC) to simulate payment scenarios involving “some commercial and non-government institutions.”
If things go well, the project could launch sooner than Libra, which is targeting the first half of 2020 for its debut, China Daily said in an earlier report.
Forbes reported last week that China’s big four state-owned commercial banks, as well as fintech giants Alibaba, Tencent, Union Pay, and an unnamed company, will be the first batch of organizations to receive the CBDC. It could be launched as soon as November, Forbes said
The four commercial banking giants are Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which is one of the largest banks in the world by total assets.
But hours following Forbes’ report, Chinese publications Tencent News and Sina said the timeline and scope of the eight institutions were “inaccurate speculations,” citing people close to the central bank.
And yet, a second source who is familiar with the PBoC’s CBDC efforts told CoinDesk that organizations mentioned in the Forbes report have indeed participated in the development of the CBDC initiative. But the source would not say whether all or only some of the mentioned institutions will be receiving the state-backed digital yuan upon the launch.
A third person who works for one of the mentioned institutions said there’s such work ongoing inside his organization but it’s unclear what the actual contribution is since the details are confidential due to non-disclosure agreements. The mentioned organizations did not respond to CoinDesk’s request for comment.
Whenever the CBDC launches, the central bank may not roll it out nationwide on Day One.
Chinese state-owned publication Global Times said last week, citing industry sources familiar with the matter, that the system may be launched in Shenzhen first to test the waters. There, local companies including Tencent and state-owned financial institutions are researching technical frameworks to support the development of the CBDC.
The PBoC’s Digital Currency Research Lab previously launched an entity called Shenzhen Fintech Research Institute with Shenzhen’s local government and financial regulator to undertake fintech and digital currency-related projects.
The institute has also been on a hiring spree with job advertisements looking for various technical experts including blockchain architects and cryptography specialists to be based in Shenzhen and Beijing.
The PBoC’s Digital Currency Research Lab has filed more than 50 patent applications to detail the potential design of the state-backed digital yuan.
CoinDesk reported previously that based on the patent filings, the envisioned CBDC may only resemble a cryptocurrency at a surface level as a peer-to-peer transaction system but will strip off most cryptocurrencies’ anonymity and decentralization features.
Rainforest Foundation US is a New York-based, non-profit NGO working in Central and South America, which is now hoping to support anti-deforestation efforts with crypto and blockchain tech.
Deforestation and fires in the Brazilian Amazon
On Sept. 4, the Rainforest Foundation reached out to the crypto and blockchain community to ask for their support to fight against deforestation and forest fires in Brazil. The post on the foundation’s website states:
“Since Bolsonaro took office in January, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is up 75% and forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon have doubled compared to the past year. As guardians of our rainforests, its animals and its people, we are working with The Giving Block to form a coalition of crypto sponsors, donors and media partners who will help stop this devastation.”
Using blockchain to assure transparency
The Rainforest Foundation, which has musician Sting as one of their founders, is currently working on a blockchain pilot to assure continued transparency, which will allow donors to track the work done by the foundation in the Amazon rainforest and reward local communities who are protecting their forests with crypto.
The foundation is also researching the use of smart contracts to stop illegal logging, land trafficking and safeguard forests from gold mining.
Suzanne Pelletier, executive director at the Rainforest Foundation, said that the dire situation in the Brazilian rainforest has pushed them to come up with innovative solutions. She added:
“Business as usual has gotten us to this point. Philanthropy as usual won’t get us out. We need innovative solutions, and no one is more innovative than cryptocurrency users.”
Crypto and charity go hand in hand
Cointelegraph has previously reported that crypto and blockchain technology are increasingly being applied to support a wide variety of charitable organizations. In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, a blockchain company headquartered in the Bahamas is asking the crypto and blockchain communities to help them bring relief to the hurricane victims.