Audacious Move to Build Handset Would Give Solana a Mobile Payment App
In an audacious move to jump start web3 adoption, Solana announced on June 23 it is developing a smartphone.
Yes, that’s right, Solana, one of a handful of Layer 1 smart contract platforms, is making a telephone.
Called Saga, the smartphone is part of Solana’s new mobile-first effort which the company is calling Solana Mobile Stack (SMS). And 829 of the phones have already been pre-ordered as of June 23, according to a Dune Analytics query.
Building For Mobile
“It’s time for web3 devs to start building for mobile usage rather than around mobile usage,” wrote Solana’s co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko on the launch. “The blockers for achieving this goal are clear: The appstore policies of Google and Apples haven’t evolved for web3.”
Yakovenko went on to criticize the current lack of custody solutions on mobile as well as general lack of software-hardware integration.
Manufacturing smartphones is no easy thing. It involves supply chains, accessing raw materials, managing labor, and executing design and software projects that even giants such as Apple and Samsung find challenging.
Solana’s network has suffered periodic outages. In May, it went down for seven hours after it was besieged by a swarm of bots trying to mint NFTs. The project, which has a market cap of $13B, said it plans to release the phone in 2023 but did not disclose how much capital it will invest in the project. The Solana Foundation is establishing a $10M fund for developers.
Yet with SMS and the Saga phone, Solana appears to be trying to take matters of web3 adoption into its own hands. Crypto has generally been a desktop-first experience, partially because of security concerns with interacting with protocols on mobile devices.
Moreover, mobile phones have become a primary method for making payments and money transfers. Solana is developing a payment app as part of its tech stack for mobile.
Securing such operations is critical. To address those concerns, Solana is releasing a protocol called Seed Vault, which Yakovenko wrote will keep private keys partitioned from wallets, apps, and the new Android operating system.
Hardware Wallet Security
The popular DeFi voice who goes by Comet Shock is wary of security issues when dealing with hardware. “I am very cautious about hardware wallet security,” Comet Shock told The Defiant. “Hardware wallets need to be very diligent with delineating what is trusted hardware and what isn’t.”
Comet Shock said an unsecured display can show a transaction processing as a user intended while the actual transaction is a fraudulent one. They gave the example of a hack of Hugh Karp, founder of Nexus Mutual, in which an attacker was able to obtain Karp’s hardware wallet’s signature.
The attacker was able to do so without the display on Karp’s computer changing. This made it hard to detect that signature on the hardware wallet would actually transfer funds to the attacker’s wallet.
As a part of SMS there will also be a “dApp Store,” for decentralized apps. Apple has received significant flak for their combative stance towards crypto, specifically for preventing users to earn through DeFi applications. Google notably banned mining apps from its Play Store.
The market’s response to the news of Solana’s mobile-first efforts appears to be positive — SOL is up 7.1% in the last 24 hours in mid-morning trading U.K. time compared to a 4.6% uptick in Ether.