Cryptocurrencies: They’re kind of a big deal. Bitcoin, one of the most popular digital currencies on the market, had a market capitalization of $118 billion in the first quarter of 2018, a little less than half the market value of Wells Fargo. And thanks to startups like ManageGo and Purse.io, it’s never been easier to exchange virtual coins for electronics, groceries, and even real estate.
To lower the barrier to entry even further, Norwegian software company Opera is introducing Opera Crypto, a browser-based cryptocurrency wallet for smartphones. It’s built into the latest version of the Opera browser for Android, and the private beta kicks off today. Interested users can sign up for access on Opera’s website.
“Having a Crypto Wallet in the browser brings the cash experience to the world of online payments,” Charles Hamel, product lead on Opera Crypto, said in a press release. “Paying with the Crypto Wallet is like sending digital cash straight from your phone, and we’ve just made it easier.”
Here’s the gist: Opera Crypto supports the Ethereum Web3 API, a collection of libraries that allow developers to interact with local or remote Ethereum nodes (the computers that participate in the Ethereum network). It supports tokens — digital assets with some sort of value attached — plus popular crypto-collectibles like CryptoKitties.
The problem with most cryptocurrency wallets, Opera said, is that they aren’t very user-friendly. Most require users to install browser extensions or generate lengthy, complicated passphrases. By comparison, Opera Crypto doesn’t need an extension or a separate app, and it secures the wallet’s contents with Android’s system lock.
“This opens up new possibilities for merchants and content creators alike,” Hamel said.
Sending and receiving cryptocurrency is as easy as tapping a QR code-generating button. And thanks to integration with digital currency exchange Coinbase, users can pay for goods in supported online stores (like the Opera Crypto Store) directly from Crypto Wallet.
“Having a Crypto Wallet in the browser brings the cash experience to the world of online payments,” Hamel said. “Paying with the Crypto Wallet is like sending digital cash straight from your phone, and we’ve just made it easier. This opens up new possibilities for merchants and content creators alike.”
There’s also a shortcut to a showcase of Dapps (decentralized apps) leveraging the power of the Ethereum network, like Crypto Racing League, a racing game, and CryptoGoods, a market for cryptocurrency-branded T-shirts, coins, pillows, socks, and more.
Opera Crypto isn’t Opera’s first foray into cryptocurrency. In March, it updated the browser’s currency converter with support for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin. And in January, it refreshed Opera Mini and Opera for Android with an anti-cryptocurrency mining feature that stops web scripts from overloading the processors in smartphones.