Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Huobi announced on Tuesday that it is moving into the blockchain phone space with the launch of an Android-based mobile phone, the “Acute Angle,” made by Whole Network, a blockchain project partly funded by the company’s venture capital arm, Huobi Capital.
Why it matters: While blockchain phones are still a niche product that likely appeals primarily to cryptocurrency traders, the entry of large companies into the space including Samsung, HTC, and China Telecom along with smaller players including Swiss-based startup Sirin Labs, indicates that this could change.
- The prospect of combining next-gen mobile broadband and blockchain is increasingly appealing to phone makers and telecommunication providers around the world, including those in China. With 5G, blockchains can increase node participation and decentralization, reduce block times, and drive on-chain scalability, among other benefits.
“As the industry develops and as innovations like 5G become increasingly integrated into our telecommunications systems, we believe more and more crypto communities will want to trade and transact from mobile devices.”
—Livio Weng, Huobi Global CEO, said in a statement to Coindesk.
Details: The new Android-based blockchain phone is already available in China, but Huobi plans to officially launch on September 11, the same day as the launch of Whole Network’s NODE token.
- The device is priced at $515, significantly lower than the competition’s. Rival Sirin Labs’s blockchain phone “Finney” is priced around $1,000.
- The phone, which can be purchased with Huobi’s native token, includes built-in crypto trading-friendly features like a push notification function to alert users of market conditions and a crypto wallet app. The device also includes an optional plug-in cold wallet, which is stored on a platform that is not connected to the internet for security purposes.
- Acute Angle is the first in an upcoming lineup of blockchain-based phones from Whole Network, according to Huobi, which will have 5G capability.
- Whole Network’s NODE token will be the sixth to list on Huobi Prime, Huobi’s initial exchange offering (IEO) platform.
What to expect: Huobi plans to launch the blockchain phone in Southeast Asia in the fourth quarter. It also has plans to bring it to Europe and the US in the future, the company said, though it did not specify a timeline.
Context: Founded in 2013, Huobi quickly attracted a horde of Chinese retail investors and at one point was the largest cryptocurrency exchange in China by trading volume. China’s tightened grip on cryptocurrency activities in 2017 drove the exchange to the more crypto-friendly Singapore.
- Chinese state-owned telecommunications company China Telecom has expressed interest in developing blockchain-enabled 5G SIM cards. The company’s research arm released a white paper (in Chinese) about its plans last week.