In a major new partnership, Samsung has announced that the Samsung Blockchain Wallet will be integrated with Gemini, a New York-based crypto exchange. This integration will allow owners of newer Samsung Galaxy phones to not only use their devices as cold storage wallets but to buy and sell crypto via the Gemini exchange as well.
Samsung is the global leader in the smartphone market, with 298.1 million units shipped and a 21.8% market share in 2019, according to tech analytic firm Canalys. Adding support for Gemini will lower the barrier to entry to cryptocurrency use for millions of people.
Previously, owners of Samsung Blockchain Wallet-compatible devices were able to store crypto on their phones, send and receive crypto, and use decentralized applications. However, with this latest addition, Samsung owners will now be able to buy and sell crypto via Gemini too, making it easier for those new to crypto to get their hands on their first tokens.
Both Samsung and Gemini hope that by streamlining the crypto acquisition process, they will be able to overcome some of the roadblocks that have led to the somewhat underwhelming adoption of cryptocurrencies. Tyler Winklevoss, CEO of Gemini, stated in a press release:
“Crypto is not just a technology, it is a movement. We are proud to be working with Samsung Blockchain to bring crypto’s promise of greater choice, independence, and opportunity to more individuals around the world.”
The rocky road to widespread crypto adoption
From Bitcoin’s (BTC) mysterious origins as the brainchild of the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto to the sudden rise of crypto in 2017, cryptocurrency has experienced a wild ride over the past decade, with roadblocks at every turn.
At the beginning of its journey, cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, was largely viewed as a means to conduct illicit affairs and, in some ways, that reputation has stuck around. From ordering drugs online to cryptojacking malware (malicious software that uses a computer’s resources to mine crypto), cryptocurrencies have earned something of a bad reputation.
Unfortunately, because cryptocurrency is accessed through computers, which are always vulnerable to cyberattacks, many people are also concerned about the security of their funds if they were to adopt crypto as their go-to currency. Although cryptocurrencies use complex cryptography to stay secure, and there are many ways to further improve the safety of your funds — such as switching from cloud storage to cold storage — many people may be slow to switch over to digital currencies out of fear of being hacked.
While these concerns haven’t stopped the growing public interest, it has made it more difficult to obtain crypto in some countries, hampering its ability to become a global currency. With several governments banning crypto outright and a lot of people not using a VPN to sidestep those bans, that reputation has put a dent in its user base — especially given that China, one of the largest consumer markets, is one of the countries making an active effort to suppress cryptocurrency.
What’s more, even when people are not worried about cryptocurrency and aren’t legally prohibited from acquiring tokens, many crypto exchanges are simply too complex for the average user to navigate. While there has been an uptick in user-friendly exchanges over the past few years, of which Gemini is one, this lack of easy-to-use exchanges may have significantly hindered the early adoption of cryptocurrencies.
Throughout all this turmoil, Samsung has been one of the largest proponents and supporters of cryptocurrency. In 2019, the company rolled out the Samsung Blockchain Wallet, which supports sending, receiving and storing ERC-20 tokens as well as using DApps built on Ethereum.
This was viewed as one of tech’s biggest moves toward crypto adoption, along with Facebook’s digital currency, Libra. However, without the ability to purchase cryptocurrencies on exchanges, there was still somewhat of a barrier to Samsung owners who didn’t already own crypto.
Samsung and Gemini partner to bring cryptocurrency to the masses
While the complex mathematics behind cryptocurrencies may be hard for consumers to grasp, the benefits of a global currency are not. With support for Gemini built into new Samsung Galaxy models, widespread adoption of cryptocurrency may be inching closer and closer.
Unlike some other crypto exchanges such as Binance, Bittrex or Poloniex, Gemini focuses on providing a streamlined and intuitive crypto buying and selling experience for its users instead of an environment designed for active trading. It’s comparable to Coinbase in its beginner-friendly nature and its focus on buy-and-hold investment strategies.
Gemini is also one of the few exchanges to be awarded a BitLicense, which is required to operate an exchange in the state of New York. This exposes Gemini to a potential market of over 19 million people that not all of its competitors have access to.
By natively supporting Gemini with Samsung’s existing cold storage wallets, the two companies are making it exceedingly easy for new blood to enter the crypto space and safely secure funds in cold storage. Jeanine Hightower-Sellitto, managing director of operations at Gemini, said:
"For millions of Samsung users across the U.S. and Canada, being able to store crypto directly on their phones lowers another barrier to entry."
While this alone likely won’t be enough to completely change the landscape of cryptocurrency, it sets the stage for other groundbreaking developments yet to come.
Although Samsung Pay continues to lag behind Apple Pay in market share, it still maintains a sizable user base that is expected to hit 100 million users this year. While Samsung Blockchain Wallet doesn’t currently integrate with Samsung Pay, it seems to be just a small step away from allowing Galaxy owners to exchange fiat for tokens, or vice versa, on Gemini and then immediately use them for everyday purchases.
With Samsung Pay so deeply integrated into the daily life of several Asian countries, the impacts of a development like this could be truly massive. Although such an integration is purely speculative at this point, the combined forces of Samsung and Gemini do seem to show that the future is bright for crypto.
Indeed, regardless of whether this recent partnership has an impact, it’s clear that blockchain and similar cryptographic technologies are here to stay. From cryptocurrency to DApps, these technologies are poised to change the world.
While the vision of cryptocurrency as a truly global currency is still far off in the future, these recent developments are drawing us ever closer.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Sam Bocetta is a freelance journalist specializing in United States diplomacy and national security with an emphasis on technology trends in cyberwarfare, cyberdefense and cryptography. Previously, Sam was a contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense, working in partnership with architects and developers to mitigate controls for vulnerabilities identified across applications.