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Samsung launches preemptive attack by combining blockchain with smartphone

LG ready to counter Samsung’s moves, having meetings with startups

  • Janice Yunji Kim
  • 2019-03-05 18:05:06
Samsung launches preemptive attack by combining blockchain with smartphone

Which of global smartphone makers is going to dominate the blockchain service? As Samsung Electronics installed the Blockchain KeyStore function at its Galaxy handset for the first time, public attention is shifting to Samsung’s next moves and competitors’ countermoves.

Industry sources praised Samsung for being bold enough to install a new technology at this time when the global smartphone market is declining. “Samsung appears to have launched a preemptive attack and succeeded in taking the initiative in building a blockchain platform ecosystem in the smartphone market,” an industry official said.

Is Samsung killing two birds with one stone?

It’s no exaggeration to say that Samsung has killed two birds with one stone: renewing its brand image and securing an infrastructure for a blockchain ecosystem.

Samsung has been touted as the strongest in hardware but failed to stand out in software. “Samsung has taken the lead in hardware but fought an uphill battle in software. Installing the blockchain technology is Samsung’s bid to differentiate itself from its global competitors,” said Han Jung-seop, head of Chain Partners’ research center. Samsung seems to have succeeded in portraying itself as a leader befitting the Fourth Industrial Revolution with its latest blockchain stint. Han said, “Blockchain can be used as a weapon for Samsung to surge ahead of Apple and other global competitors.” “Such Chinese companies as Huawei have caught up with Samsung closely and there are certainly limits in setting itself apart in hardware like foldable phones.”

Some analysts say Samsung got off to a good start in establishing an infrastructure for the sake of the blockchain ecosystem. An industry watcher, who asked not to be named, said, “Samsung does not target any specific field. The company is showing interest in the blockchain ecosystem itself,” adding that the installation of the Blockchain KeyStore is a basic infrastructure to build the blockchain ecosystem. Samsung appears to set its eyes on linkage with Samsung Pay in payments in addition to overseas remittances and settlements.

Samsung’s extraordinary moves are sparking interests in how the electronics giant would expand its businesses. Another industry official predicted that Samsung will join hands with a few blockchain startups to create an ecosystem for decentralized applications (DApps). “Samsung’s coin issuance is a non-starter, given our financial authorities’ skepticism about cryptocurrency. But it’s true Samsung’s blockchain task force is ready to push for blockchain actively like devising a large-scale project,” the official added.

LG ready to fight back; meetings with blockchain startups are under way

How other smartphone makers would react is drawing interest too. LG Electronics is highly likely to unveil a smartphone where blockchain is installed like Samsung. Asking for anonymity, an industry analyst said, “LG is recently asking a few blockchain startups to have meetings for strategic partnerships. Such requests are alleged to be partnerships related to smartphones.”

Another industry analyst confirmed this. He admitted to having received an offer to hold meetings regarding “the installation of DApps.” The analyst said, “LG also seems to be interested in the blockchain DApp ecosystem like Samsung,” refusing to elaborate further.

Even as LG fell a step behind Samsung in combining the smartphone with blockchain services, the company has shown keen interest in creating the blockchain ecosystem since last year. Unveiling its enterprise blockchain platform “Monachain” last year, LG Group won a project to build a blockchain platform from the Korea Minting, Security Printing & ID Card Operating Corp. (KOMSCO) and conducted a mock test associated with the central Bank of Korea’s fund transfer business.

In fact, LG Group has been active in blockchain research and development, having joined the world’s top three blockchain consortia. More recently, LG signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with KB Financial Group to push for joint projects based on digital new technologies including a local currency project at the LG Science Park in Magok.

An LG Group official said, “The pilot local currency project is in full swing now,” adding that he knows nothing about the development of the blockchain smartphone. Yet he acknowledged that the local currency project in Magok is part of its blockchain project, saying it will be used as an app linking the smartphone. His remarks are taken as meaning that the project is not unrelated to the smartphone. /yjk@decenter.kr


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