What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cryptocurrency wallets?
If your like most people, you probably think it is merely a basic tool to hold your keys and do basic functions like send and receive tokens; at most you want it to be secure and easy to use.
In this article, I will show you why we believe a wallet is so much more than that and give some insight into how we at AlphaWallet plan to make the humble crypto wallet all that it can be.
Your window into blockchain services
No matter your tenure into cryptocurrencies, you are probably aware of an array of different crypto wallets.
If you want to buy some tokens, speculate with them or HODL, your wallet is the first door you walk through on your way to using cryptocurrencies.
There are many new wallets coming out that have such rudimentary features but lately there has been a movement toward wallets that contain DApp browsers so that you can surf a catalog of DApps and interact with them.
While we agree that such basic functionality is necessary, it is only exposing a small glimpse into the potential of what a wallet can be. Just like in the early days of the internet, it was hard to get online and do anything absent a browser, and likewise, we view the wallet as an analogy to what google chrome is for the internet.
With a wallet, you should be able to do many things including natively holding and interacting with your DApps, send tokens to your friends, safely trade tokens with complete strangers, cryptographically prove you are above 21, buy a plane ticket, unlock your car, login to facebook and much more without ever leaving the app.
While a DApp Browser allows you to explore DApps, it is not nearly enough. To get the full experience, we need to build native functionality directly into the wallet.
Our first experiment involved selling FIFA WC ticket vouchers on the ethereum blockchain. This was natively implemented in the wallet using customizable XML files and allowed our users to directly trade their tokens via atomic swap links. Our ticketing vendor was able to eliminate fraud, as each ticket was on the blockchain and could be easily checked for it’s authenticity whilst atomic swap trading via links prevented the users being cheated in the secondary market.
DApps like our FIFA WC experiment can be run natively inside our app, allowing for a better and more advanced user experience than a conventional DApp browser.
Likewise, we have taken the same approach with collectables like Cryptokitties; our wallet allows you to see and transfer your kitties natively inside the app.
You don’t use facebook inside your mobile google chrome browser, so why should you play with your cryptokitties inside a browser? At AlphaWallet, we allow such DApps to run directly in the wallet.
A place to identify and authenticate yourself seamlessly
Not only do we believe that a wallet should allow you to seamlessly use tokens natively but it can also extend itself out to such tasks as identification both on chain and off.
Going forward, we believe it will be possible to hold cryptographic attestations that allow you to buy restricted items inside a smart contract (think beer tokens) and can also be used to seamlessly login to your online services like facebook.
With Merkle tree attestations, a wallet user has the ability to prove they are above a certain age without having to expose their full identity to the enquirer, enabling better privacy and easier access to restricted services. This same logic can apply to buying real estate in a country that requires citizenship or being able to participate in an ICO that requires you are from a list of countries.
A natively global application that works no matter where you are
If you are anything like me, you are on the go frequently.
One thing that strikes you immediately when you go overseas is that a lot of the payment applications you used to use are incompatible with the locale. The perfect example of this is China; China has the most advanced payment services like WeChat and AliPay but both are completely closed off to the outside world. My friend and I even tried to subvert the system by sending a red packet, but to no avail, I had to have a Chinese ID or bank account to take part.
Fast forward to a world where blockchains like Ethereum have taken over the mainstream and allow anyone to participate, your wallet will be an instant gateway to services both local and abroad.
A seamlessly integrated suite of applications
In a previous article, I went into detail about the power of apps like WeChat that allow you to run essentially anything inside it via mini apps.
With WeChat, it is possible to do almost anything, whether that be ordering a pizza, a taxi, a holiday vacation or even paying a fine for jaywalking. While this is amazing, we can leapfrog the innovation with a wallet platform like AlphaWallet.
The classic example I like to give is the process of buying a business class ticket. Let’s say that Singapore airlines wants to give each business class passenger free rides with Uber once they land. Let’s also imagine that a hotel chain like the Hilton is interested in servicing a business class flyer for obvious reasons.
For this to work, Singapore airlines, the Hilton and Uber need to build a special portal to merge the services together. This is not only technically expensive but also requires countless meetings and agreements. If you are a small time vendor who targets business class flyers, good luck even getting your foot in the door with these three giants.
In this classic example, even amazing apps like WeChat fall short, as such a platform cannot allow for such integrations to happen seamlessly between services.
Now let’s reimagine the scenario with Ethereum and a wallet platform like AlphaWallet. The AlphaWallet user purchases a business class ticket as a token on a smart contract and the airline’s contract immediately calls the uber contract to purchase ride credits. These ride credits can be automatically credited to the users wallet.
Hotel chains like the hilton only need to watch the blockchain for such transactions and instantly airdrop a credit to the user. Such a benefit can also be extended to any small time vendor and none of this requires any portal or agreements to be made between service providers.
These are only small examples, imagine the kinds of integrated services we could see in future?
What we are building at AlphaWallet
At AlphaWallet, we are striving to become the wallet platform that enables anyone to use any blockchain service from their mobile phone.
We are working on open source protocols for cryptographic attestations, off chain scalability and native token integration inside our wallet.