HTC unveiled its flagship blockchain-focused smartphone on Tuesday, the Exodus 1, as the struggling manufacturer looks to shift its strategy to focus on new technology.
The Taiwanese phone maker said it developed its own cryptocurrency wallet called Zion to make its new phone function as a hardware cryptocurrency wallet.
The Exodus 1 comes with a secure enclave — a secluded area on the phone’s chip kept separate from the Android operating system (OS) it runs on — that uses technology made by SoftBank’s Arm Holdings to keep a customer’s cryptocurrency safe.
“Think of it as a micro OS that runs in parallel with Android,” Phil Chen, HTC’s decentralized chief officer, told CNBC over the phone. “It basically is a wallet, but the wallet, what it does is hold your private keys.” Private keys are lines of code which are meant to be known only to the owner of a cryptocurrency to allow them access to their funds.
Chen said the benefit of keeping this area of the phone separate from Android was that Google’s OS is “fundamentally insecure with a centralized system,” and therefore storing cryptocurrency using Android would make a user’s funds more vulnerable to a hack.
He said the significance of integrating blockchain technology in the phone is that it bolsters the security and privacy of a user’s assets, and will in the future help with protecting a customer’s data and identity. Blockchain can be thought of as a tamper-proof digital ledger that records cryptocurrency transactions and other data across a distributed network with no central authority overseeing it.
“The dominant companies in our world today are Google and Facebook, and in China, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, because they basically own all our data,” Chen said.