Huawei is considering a blockchain-ready smartphone

Huawei Technologies Ltd, the world’s third-biggest handset maker, is considering developing a mobile phone that will be able to run blockchain-based applications, according to two people familiar with the plans. Shenzhen, China-based Huawei is in talks to license Sirin Labs’ operating system, called SIRIN OS, to run blockchain applications alongside Alphabet Inc’s Android system, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. Talks are preliminary and no agreement has been signed, the people said. Representatives of Huawei and Sirin Labs confirmed the companies have met, though they declined to comment further.

The plans would mark the first foray of a major smartphone maker into blockchain, the decentralized ledger used to record cryptocurrency transactions, potentially bringing the technology closer to the mass market. Even after slumping this year, the cryptocurrency market has grown 15 times to about $350 billion in the past 12 months, but everyday use of digital assets is still limited.

Huawei executives have met with Sirin Labs’ team over the past two months, the people said. A caption under a February 28 picture on Sirin Labs’ Telegram chat group reads, “Amazing meeting just concluded between Sirin Labs and Huawei. Among other things discussed was the possibility of cooperating together to bring blockchain technology to the masses in a secure way.” Sirin Labs is also working to develop its own blockchain-based smartphone. The company is planning to sell its Finney phone for about $1,000 after the second half of this year and has pre-orders for more than 25,000 units, according to Sirin Labs spokesman Nimrod May.

Among its crypto-ready offerings, Sirin Labs plans for its phone to have an embedded cold storage crypto wallet and a system to automatically convert fiat money to the digital tokens needed to run different blockchain-based applications. Cold storage wallets allow users to store digital assets offline. Huawei holds leading positions in telecoms gear, smartphones, cloud computing and cybersecurity. It’s now stepping up an expansion into overseas markets such as Europe and is said to be in talks with US carriers about selling its phones on Apple Inc’s home turf.

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