South Korean smartphone maker Samsung has officially added bitcoin support to its line of blockchain-enabled Galaxy S10 devices. Samsung’s Blockchain Keystore SDK allows developers to access the device’s Secure File system to store certain kinds of blockchain data — such as private key-generating Master Seed phrases — enabling the phones to be used as secure hardware wallets. The Blockchain Keystore was launched in March, but blockchain support was limited to Ethereum’s ETH and ERC-20 tokens.
Samsung has been relatively quiet about their Blockchain Keystore initiative, and access to the SDK is currently limited to developers who complete an application process. In fact, the company didn’t even publicize their development kit’s newly added support for bitcoin. The update was quietly added to Samsung’s Blockchain Keystore SDK developer page on August 8, and remained unnoticed for two days until it was discovered by a Reddit user.
It’s not entirely clear why Samsung is playing their bitcoin support so close to the vest, but it may be as simple as avoiding unwanted attention. Samsung’s microchip foundry division has invested heavily in the development of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for cryptocurrency mining. Given that cryptocurrency use and mining is discouraged — or even outright illegal — in many countries where their phones are sold, Samsung may simply be downplaying their investment in the industry while also attempting to future-proof their hardware. At present, the SDK’s use is limited to Canada, Germany, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, United States of America, and the United Kingdom
In addition to bitcoin, the SDK update also included support for the Klaytn blockchain used by South Korean social media app Kakao. Known informally as KaTalk, Kakao is an extraordinarily popular app in its home country, and is believed to be installed on around 93% of South Korean smartphones. Samsung’s planned support for Kakao’s KLAY payment token was announced earlier this year.