CCN, in association with Brazilian industry outlet Criptomoedas Fácil, interviewed Nimrod May, CMO of Sirin Labs, to discuss the startup’s development of the world’s first smartphone to integrate blockchain technology.
Codenamed ‘Finney’, the $1,000 smartphone will be manufactured by global giant Foxconn and will use Android as the operating system.
CCN: Following your partnership with Foxconn, how do you see the world’s largest electronics manufacturing company help drive innovation with blockchain in the smartphone era?
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N The Go Crypto revolution is growing. By choosing Foxconn to build the FINNEY, we’re demonstrating the public’s desire to have a mass-market smartphone that is able to safely and securely operate within blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
The combination of the top-tier manufacturing of Foxconn, and the innovative, agility of SIRIN LABS, who specialize in security, creates an incredibly synergistic relationship which will enable the FINNEY to flourish in a mainstream marketplace.
Q: One of the main characteristics of Finney, with plenty of hype, is to be the first cell phone in the world to integrate blockchain technology. What is the big benefit of using this technology?
Nimrod May: Currently, there are very few (if any) uses for cryptocurrency or blockchain within a mobile environment. There are 2 major factors preventing bringing cryptocurrency to a mobile environment, and by extension, preventing mass-adoption of the technology:
- Ease of use. Cryptocurrency is currently incredibly complicated to understand. The learning curve is incredibly steep and most people have very little interest in learning it.
- Security. Phones are hacked all the time and people are apprehensive to use and utilize cryptocurrencies on such devices.
The SIRIN OS will create a simple, secure, and streamlined user experience for both cryptocurrency and blockchain so that anyone can pick up a device and function within the world of crypto without needing to learn any additional information. Additionally, the FINNEY will contain a cold-storage wallet which is separated on both hardware and software levels from the rest of the phone. It will also have significant security built into it, such as a Machine Learning Intrusion Prevention System.
Finally, our proprietary Token Conversion Service (TCS), will be able to securely and automatically exchange between tokens and coins in the background of the phone in order to complete mobile purchases, without the need to visit an exchange to purchase tokens or coins you don’t currently own. Simply put, the TCS will enable users to use the currencies they have to complete transactions that require currencies they don’t.
These improvements have the ability to bring the technology to the masses and finally bring mass-adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Q: The Finney operating system will be Android, which opens up Google’s entire app ecosystem. Will Finney support all Android apps or will app developers have to make adaptations for your phone?
Nimrod May: The SIRIN OS will contain 2 pre-installed app stores. There will be the regular Google Play store and the SIRIN LABS Decentralized App store. The Google Play store will give users the ability to download all of the apps that they are currently using on their device, without the need for the developers to make any changes. Additionally, we will be releasing an SDK so that developers will be able to release apps within the DApp store that will accept cryptocurrency as payment.
Q: With the recent scandal involving the Facebook, a debate has resurfaced on data protection and how data is obtained/stored. How will a blockchain cell phone address this issue?
Nimrod May: SIRIN LABS will be overseeing the security for the phone and the wallet in order to prevent, in real-time, malicious intrusions. However, any legitimate application’s access to your data is derived through the Android ecosystem. Ultimately, users need to be responsible for their own personal information. Apps can only have as much access as the user provides to them. When an app is downloaded, it requests permissions, and it’s up to the user to grant or deny those permissions. If your flashlight is requesting access to your contacts, maybe that’s not the best app to install.
Q: At the beginning of the project, Sirin announced that it would use ITAA’s Tangle in his project. This was reworked with a blockchain implementation announced later. Will the technologies work together or there will be a substitution entirely to blockchain?
NM: No final decisions have been made yet. We are currently working with the dev teams for IOTA, Cardano and a number of other blockchain protocol platforms in order to evaluate which would most benefit our users.
Q: Recently Lighting Labs has launched Lightning Network, a layering solution 2 that promises to solve the problems of the scale of Bitcoin and to allow Atomic Swaps, among other things. Since Finney, by design, has an integrated cold wallet is it possible to integrate LN in the future?
NM: Our development team is already exploring the Lightning Network for both the SIRIN OS and FINNEY.
Q: How will P2P transactions work in Finney? For example, I’m out of battery on my cell phone, how, through Token, can I buy power and charge the battery?
Nimrod May: The battery sharing was simply a “use case” for the secure P2P protocol. What our team has built within the SIRIN OS is a way to safely and securely monetize your phone’s resources through the blockchain. When activated, you will be able to trade anything from battery power through a direct connection, to processing power through the cloud, to WiFi through a local network, without fear of putting your phone’s data or security at risk, while being paid in SRN tokens through the blockchain.
Q: One of the great issues being debated by governments around the world is the regulation of the crypto-coins market. How do you think Finney can be benefited or even harmed by regulation, particularly with efforts in Europe?
Nimrod May: As stated on their website: “ The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.” To this extent, we don’t see how this initiative would affect us in any way. We are a growing technology company, focusing on producing mainstream products, and who operate in complete transparency. If there are individuals who are using cryptocurrency for money laundering and terrorism, rooting those individuals out can only help cryptocurrency in general by bringing more validity to those who operate in cryptocurrency legitimately.
Q: Much has been speculated, including among governments, that blockchain technology can help reduce social inequalities and empower people and people living today the margin of society, including promoting a revolution among the unbanked population. What do you make of blockchain’s potential for inclusion?
Nimrod May: We believe that the FINNEY and SIRIN OS have the ability to aid the unbanked population tremendously. This blockchain revolution is the first time in the modern age where society will be able to safely and securely maintain their own savings without the need for a bank. Further, our proprietary secure P2P protocol has the ability to not only allow individuals within these communities to sell their products without incurring costs from distributors or retailers but will also provide a brand new revenue stream where these individuals can monetize their device’s resources.
Featured image from Shutterstock.