Opera Software, makers of the Opera web browser for desktop and mobile platforms, announced on Thursday that it had released a new version of its browser for Android which features an integrated cryptocurrency wallet.
Initially, the wallet will only support Ethereum, but it will serve as the foundation for continued expansion by Opera in the area of “Web 3,” the blanket term to describe technologies which intersect blockchain, decentralized applications, and the web.
According to Krystian Kolondra, Executive Vice President of Browsers for Opera, “We are empowering Android smartphone users with an innovative browser that gives them the opportunity to experience Web 3 in a seamless way.”
Bridging the Technological Divide
As far as cryptocurrency has come from the days of command-line interface (CLI) tools to fully developed graphical wallets, there remains a roadblock for many casual users who are hesitant or reluctant to juggle multiple applications to use and spend cryptocurrency.
Opera’s move to integrate a crypto wallet natively within their browser is a way to tear down the seams between the next generation of e-commerce and blockchain.
“Our hope is that this step will accelerate the transition of cryptocurrencies from speculation and investment to being used for actual payments and transactions in our users’ daily lives,” said Kolondra.
No Third-Party Add-ons
Giving web browsers the ability to interact with blockchain is not exactly a new breakthrough, but doing it natively within a browser and without the need for a third-party extension or add-on is the key that Opera believes will be the difference-maker.
Google Chrome, along with Firefox, both rely on third-party options which give users the ability to interact with a variety of blockchains. While there is nothing inherently wrong with funneling users through the Chrome store, there are extra steps involved in installing a browser add-on which still create a disconnect between native functionality and the requirement of adding extra abilities which many users may not familiar with. Imagine being forced to install an add-on or extension to make a purchase at Amazon.com. The concept now seems absurd given how ubiquitous online shopping has become.
For reference, Chrome and Firefox combine to make up about 73% of total browser market share, while Opera currently sits at less than 2% of the market.
Ethereum First, Others to Follow
The Opera update will initially support Ethereum simply due to the large development pool afforded to it as the first-mover on blockchain Dapps. Opera hopes that demand from users coupled with developers now having the ability to allow easy interaction within the browser will give them a leg up in the highly competitive web browser market.
Joseph Lubin, Ethereum co-founder and founder of ConsenSys, said that Opera’s move to build-in native wallet support is a monumental step toward mainstreaming cryptocurrency use and will be a boon to ETH in the process.
“We see this as an important moment in improving dapp accessibility, opening Web3 to mainstream audiences, and encouraging developers to build on Ethereum,” Lubin said.
The “Dapp Store”
Users are familiar with the concept of an “app store,” and now Opera will let them browse a “Dapp store” if they wish to use the built-in Ethereum wallet.
There will be a selection of Web 3 apps which Opera will categorize for users looking for ways to use this new feature and test the functionality of seamless blockchain integration.
Opera believes that all browsers will soon be implementing these features since user demand and technology evolution are moving toward greater decentralization in payment processing and computing.
Opera was also among the first to implement anti-cryptojacking capabilities into their browser, another area where competitors at Microsoft and Google have not yet caught up.
The latest update is limited only to the Android version of the Opera browser, but the company says that the Web 3 features will also be available in the desktop version sometime in 2019.