We live in an increasingly mobile world where I can order a vehicle driven by a complete stranger to take me anywhere, I can get food delivered in minutes, and I can conduct almost all my immediate banking needs — all via apps on my phone. We’re in a decade when firing up a computer to do these tasks would seem tedious compared to quickly swiping on a phone. Computers are no longer required, let alone optimal over mobile access, and this innovative trend has big implications for the future of Ethereum.
Mobile applications are the future, and they’re increasingly showing promise over desktop and web technologies. Today, we spend 42% of our time online using mobile devices rather than computers, a massive transition from 10 years ago. This move to mobile is coming to crypto, and tech giants like Samsung and HTC are already leading the charge with blockchain phones, and large-scale blockchain companies like Coinbase and Ledger have released mobile apps. Continued research and innovation are what’s opened mobile to become a secure place to store and transact with digital assets.
Recent global events like the COVID-19 pandemic illustrate how interconnected and reliant we are on digital networks for goods and information. In this context, being able to communicate, transact, conduct business, take out loans and manage assets from a mobile device is a great advantage, if not a necessity with social distancing. Mobile access to Ethereum and decentralized finance can make a big difference as we all weather this pandemic.
Opportunity in emerging markets
Anyone under 40 likely has just as much experience or more with smartphones than they do with computers. Globally, people use their phones for basic banking tasks, and many of them don’t own computers at all.
Two years ago, there was practically no such thing as open decentralized finance. DeFi allows anyone to create and access a host of new financial tools that have sprung from the Ethereum blockchain. Payments, commerce, banking, lending, capital markets, insurance and asset tokenization are all part of DeFi. Its reach disrupts every major area of the global financial infrastructure. Today, there is just under $700 million invested or staked in the DeFi ecosystem, which has generated over $50 million in premiums.
Mobile access, and the fact that these financial tools are open to anyone, without the restrictions of central bankers, means that people in emerging economies have more access than ever to banking instruments — even people who can’t open a bank account in their home country. Reduced friction across borders and less volatility than local fiat currencies make it particularly attractive in these markets.
But are phones actually safe?
These devices offer convenience and access, but should you be worried they’re not as secure as desktop applications? The reality may shock you, but the security of a desktop app is only as good as its design and maintenance. If a computer desktop app is not regularly updated by developers (because they don’t have enough resources for three different desktop platforms) and by users (because they forget to do so), it becomes less secure than a mobile app that is updated regularly by developers and updated automatically for users.
Besides, in terms of security, what really matters for storing your Ether (ETH) and transacting in the Ethereum ecosystem is key management. That is, how private keys are stored and transactions are signed. For these purposes, today’s smartphones can offer a much greater level of security than has ever been available on a PC.
On modern mobile devices, crypto wallet apps can generate keys, put them through several layers of encryption incorporating unique biometric data, and then place them in secure local storage that is architecturally separated from the rest of the system. Keys are always kept away from the internet, making them practically immune to hacks and malware. In addition, some phones, like Samsung blockchain devices, are specifically designed for secure key management, much like a hardware wallet. Mobile apps have fewer vectors for attack and more layers of security compared to a PC, eliminating many instances of user error.
Ethereum should go mobile
Combining the access of DeFi on Ethereum with the increasing global use of smartphones, the future of Ethereum hinges on mobile access. There are more than 5 billion smartphones in the world and with online banking becoming the norm, it only makes sense for Ethereum’s biggest access point to be mobile.
More than 30% of the United States population has an account at an online-only bank or plans to open one. DeFi services will soon become the new norm in emerging economies. How can we make DeFi mainstream? We need to make it even more accessible than traditional financial services. DeFi projects must go mobile to make it easier for people to buy digital assets and participate. A large percentage of the unbanked population that stands to benefit most from decentralized finance has never and will never own a computer. In the meantime, the developing world has hit 98.7% mobile phone adoption.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Kosala Hemachandra is the founder of noncustodial wallet MyEtherWallet. Since 2015, MEW has been a leading wallet interface for the Ethereum blockchain. Today, MEW provides convenient and secure access to the entire Ethereum ecosystem, including DApps, DeFi and beyond.