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Blockchain Browsers — How DLT Could Affect Web Surfing

iOS also gets a blockchain browser in Opera. Freedom of privacy vs. corporate control: Users have to choose what is more important for them…

The appearance of blockchain technology can be compared with the emergence of internet at the initial stage of its development: Users were cautious about a decentralized system and failed to understand many of its subtleties. But just as firms opened up to the internet, almost all corporations are now working on integrating blockchain into their processes — at least as a trial. And there are some reasons for this trend: With the acceleration of data transfers, globalization and the amount of information, the security questions concerning personal data are becoming more acute for users. 

Personal information, in a way, is becoming valuable — and thus, monetized. Most can recall a series of scandals involving Facebook and Google, which have been plagued by allegations of misusing the data of millions of users. Therefore, the idea of ​​a “Web 3.0,” which would provide people with control over their content and digital identity, is gradually gaining popularity. Traditional internet browsers are still the gateway to internet for users, but will they retain their place in the new order? And what role will blockchain play in the future of internet browsing?

It all started with the notion of ​​decentralization, and Bitcoin became the embodiment of this phenomenon. Cryptocurrencies are designed to preserve the anonymity and financial independence of users. That is why the most active companies are already undertaking cryptographic developments in this area. 

Recently, the Opera browser officially launched a blockchain browser, called Opera Touch, for gadgets operating on Apple’s iOS software, as it was initially available for only PCs and Android devices at the end of 2018. A distinctive feature of the browser is the presence of all the necessary infrastructure to work with the Web 3.0. In particular, the program is equipped with a built-in cryptocurrency wallet and provides support services for decentralized applications (DApps) working on Ethereum. The Opera browser allows users to search blockchain apps via URLs and has a built-in virtual private network (VPN). However, multiple other platforms already have different and established solutions. A representative of the Opera browser, Julia Szynzielorz, explained what Opera Touch can give to its users:

“We believe that the Web of today will be the interface to the decentralized web of tomorrow (Web 3.0). With built-in crypto wallet, the browser has the potential to renew and extend its important role as a tool to access information, make transactions online and manage users’ online identities in a way that gives them more control. That’s why integrated blockchain technologies across our browsers — on Android, iOS (Opera Touch) and in the PC browser which accesses the crypto wallet in one of the mobile browsers.”

She added that blockchain can be used in the new browser not only for saving digital assets but also for helping users to ease their searches on the web, saying:

“Already now, we also have a dapp explorer and Web 3 integration, which means that, using Opera you can browse web 3.0 and use dApps seamlessly, by typing in or searching for their web address, and simply accessing them via the browser.”

Brave browser and BAT reward

The Brave browser was launched in 2015 by co-founder of the Mozilla Project Corporation and JavaScript creator Brendan Eich. It operates on the basis of Google’s Chromium engine and its source code is fully open. The browser removes ad banners and blocks pop-ups. In addition, it is integrated with a system by which users are compensated with BAT coins for watching ads that have passed the browser’s screening. For these purposes, a crypto wallet is integrated into the browser. In August 2018, the browser boasted on its Twitter page that, in just four months after its launch, the number of downloads of its app in the Google Play Store has doubled and exceeded 10 million downloads: 

“Thrilled that Brave for Android now has over 10 million downloads! For privacy and safer privacy protection!”

According to its developers, in January 2019, the number of users exceeded 5.5 million people. 

Brave is constantly growing and cooperates with different partners. The company has collaborated with the Dow Jones Media Group to test the usage of blockchain technology in digital publishing, and has established partnerships with Townsquare Media to monetize ad-blocking traffic and test digital advertising solutions on the BAT platform.

In September 2018, the company entered into an agreement with the search engine Quantum, which is the default search engine of Brave in France and Germany.

In December 2018, Brave joined the AdLedger blockchain consortium with Publicis, Omnicom, IPG Reprise Digital, GroupM, MadHive, Coindesk, Meredith, TEGNA and IBM to reform the future of digital advertising.

At the same time, in December, an agreement was made with the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC. Brave will be the default browser for the HTC Exodus, the world’s first integrated blockchain phone for decentralized applications.

The program is now available as a mobile app for iOS and Android, and there are also versions for Windows, MacOS and Linux. In addition to the crypto wallet, the browser has a built-in VPN service, an integrated Tor browser and a Bitcoin micropay system.

Anonymous orchid

The American blockchain startup Orchid Labs has been developing an anonymous browser since 2017, which could become an alternative to Tor and VPNs. According to data published on the website of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company has already managed to raise more than $43 million of the planned $125.5 million. 

Orchid’s main goal is to provide anonymous internet access for people all over the world, especially in regions and countries with excessive government censorship. In addition, the Orchid solution will allow internet service providers and users to exchange the Orchid coins. According to Stephen Waterhouse, co-founder and CEO of Orchid Labs, thanks to micropayments in the Ethereum blockchain, the Orchid network will be completely decentralized, unlike a VPN.

Open-source Beaker browser

One of the most recent examples of decentralized browsers is the open-source P2P browser Beaker. It was developed in 2018 in partnership with the team that supports the Dat Project and is based on Dat’s P2P protocol. The goal of the project is to provide the ability to create and host websites directly in the browser. To do this, a local folder should be created and shared through a corresponding URL.

Beaker allows visitors to copy their files into local folders that will appear as a torrent. Files will be transported with the P2P network instead of being locked away on a server, so everyone could explore all the files that make up a website or app. For a local copy, users can make forks and implement changes. The team behind the project also decided to link it with the real world, using its own Hashbase cloud service. This allows users to maintain constant access to Dat sites, even when its local copies are offline. Beaker does not offer the so-called “browsing privacy” — as all URL owners see the devices that hosts it or try to access it. One of the key features of Beaker is the secure file sharing using the Dat protocol.

And what about Google and Mozilla?

Google is working on a blockchain-based technology aimed at developing and supporting cloud business and a number of other projects, including plans to use blockchain to improve the security of user data storage — however, the company is not in any hurry to share the details regarding its blockchain products. Mozilla seems to be following a similar plan, as — for the moment — the browser supports plug-ins for the privacy and security of users, but no further information has been disclosed. In particular, Firefox blocks website owners from tracking the digital fingerprints of user devices, as well as scripts for the hidden mining of cryptocurrencies. The plan to introduce additional protection measures was announced in August 2018, but the use of blockchain has still not been mentioned.

Chrome vs. Brave

There are several key differences between the two types of browsers, perhaps best seen through the comparison of Chrome and Brave. The Chrome browser forces the user to confirm its account in order to make use of Google services, such as Google Docs or Gmail. This allows Chrome to collect and use the data of its users to synchronize with other devices, on which the browser and other Google services are also installed. Earlier, this required user consent; now, the corporation does it by default. This rule change was noted by cryptographer Matthew Green, who is a developer of the  Zcash anonymous cryptocurrency. In his blog, Matthew Green wrote that he was very worried about Google’s policy:

“If you didn’t respect my lack of consent on the biggest user-facing privacy option in Chrome (and didn’t even notify me that you had stopped respecting it!) why should I trust any other consent option you give me? What stops you from changing your mind on that option in a few months, when we’ve all stopped paying attention?”

Such an evolution of Google’s data protection policy opens the door for browsers such as Brave to protect the privacy of users. Brave also blocks advertisements by default and does not collect information about its users browsing history, which would usually be used for context advertising. Intead, it gives advertising content creators a larger share of its revenues. Users have an option in the browser’s settings to agree to view the displayed ads, for which they receive BAT tokens.

Speaking of efficiency, browsers always deliver obstacles, as most of the available test programs cannot be tied to real-world tasks. However, after conducting several tests, the Brave team claims its solution is significantly faster than Chrome. But Brave still has a number of significant problems: For example, some sites perceive Brave users as bots. Most likely, this is due to the function of tracker-blocking. Also, users regularly encounter additional security checks in comparison to when using Chrome.

Future for new browsers or not?

The era of the Web 3.0 promises to significantly change users’ experience. However, there are many unknown variables in this story: How will internet technologies like Big Data and artificial intelligence play a part? How exactly will the transition to decentralized data storage and processing occur? What will DApps’ structure look like and what role will browsers play in it?

At the moment, the so-called Web 3.0 browsers are hybrid structures, which are based on the software we are used to — but with the addition of extensions that support decentralized apps and crypto wallets. And this postpones the “third coming” of the internet.

Thus, various platforms and services can be developed on the basis of blockchain, and their potential could lure users from centralized companies — and possibly completely replace the services of major technology giants in the future.

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Opera Releases iOS Version of its ‘Blockchain-Ready’ Mobile Web Browser

Opera has released the iOS version of its Ethereum-friendly mobile browser, with an Ethereum wallet and support for Ethereum-based dApps.

Norway-based internet browser company Opera has launched the iOS version of its mobile web browser, Opera Touch, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph.

Opera Touch reportedly supports the Ethereum (ETH) protocol and the Ethereum Web3 application programming interface (API). This means that the browser accommodates Ethereum-based decentralized applications (DApps) and all ERC-20 tokens, stablecoins, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The browser also is said to feature a cryptocurrency wallet for storing Ether, the “Opera Crypto Wallet.”

Opera released the Android version of its mobile browser at the end of 2018, which offers these same Ethereum-related capabilities. Opera Touch, however, purports to be the first mobile browser on iOS with ‘Web 3’ support and a crypto wallet

The Head of Crypto at Opera browsers, Charles Hamel, commented on the release of Opera’s latest browser iteration, saying:

“We believe that all modern browsers should integrate a crypto wallet. This will enable new business models to emerge on the web. Opera is the first browser to make using crypto on the Web seamless and easy. Following a strong demand from the crypto- community, we are now making this experience available on iOS.”

For this new release, Opera says it has partnered with the crypto collectible dApp “Marble.Cards.” This application reportedly turns website URLs into unique collectible cards that are registered as NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, a crypto collectible released in a promotional auction for the blockchain-based game “F1 Delta Time” sold in May for 415.9 ETH—$110,600 at the time of the sale.

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Block.one’s EOSIO Labs Release iOS and Chrome Authenticator Apps

Block.one’s initiative EOSIO Labs has released Reference Authenticator Apps for iOS and Chrome.

Block.one’s EOSIO Labs has released Reference Authenticator Apps for iOS and Chrome. The development was announced in a blog post published on May 29.

Per the post, the newly implemented developments address improvements to the security, interoperability and usability of authenticators by contributing working code and examples. Authenticators are software-based tools that implement two-step verification services by generating a secret key for each user.

The EOSIO Reference iOS Authenticator App is purportedly designed to enable users to sign in and approve transactions from web applications running in Mobile Safari and other native iOS apps on the same device.

The EOSIO Reference Chrome Extension Authenticator allows users to sign in and approve transactions from web applications running in Google Chrome on desktop, while key management and signing take place in the Chrome extension secured by a passphrase, the post explains.

The company further notes that Authenticator Apps do not communicate with EOSIO nodes directly, being entirely agnostic. All the data which is required to display and sign a transaction is passed in by the app that proposes the transaction.

As previously reported, decentralization might be one of block.one’s cryptocurrency EOS’ weakest spots. In November 2018, its governance model was exposed, as evidence suggesting that some confirmed transactions were reversed surfaced on social media, which puzzled some pundits as well as ordinary crypto enthusiasts.

Further, in October 2018, allegations arose accusing the platform’s major Block Producers — entities that essentially get to “mine” the EOS blockchain after being elected — of “mutual voting” and “collusion,” suggesting that the entire model of governance might be corrupt.

As of May 20, white hat hackers reportedly earned $32,000 in bounties starting from March 28 by reporting security holes in cryptocurrency and blockchain projects, wherein block.one issued a $10,000 reward.

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Opera Web Browser Crypto Wallet to Expand Services to iOS Users

Opera plans to expand its built-in crypto wallet to iOS users after a successful experience with Android.

Major web browser Opera has announced the upcoming launch of Opera Touch for iOS, according to an official press release published Tuesday, March 5. Opera Touch is a Web 3 browser with an integrated crypto wallet and support for Ethereum (ETH) and interactions with decentralized applications (DApps).

Back in December, Opera launched its “Web 3-ready” browser with a built-in crypto wallet for Android users. Opera explains the decision to expand its services to iOS as the result of the successful integration of the crypto wallet and DApp explorer for Android.

Although the launch date of Opera Touch for iOS had not been stated, the press release notes that users can sign up to test the app through its site.

On Feb. 6, Opera added a new service that allowed users in  Sweden, Norway and Denmark to purchase Ethereum through the Android version of the browser. The new service was enabled via a partnership between Opera and brokerage firm Safello. Safello, according to Opera, is registered with the Financial Supervisory Authority in Sweden.

Back in July 2018, Opera announced the addition of a built-in cryptocurrency wallet to its browser. Product manager Charles Hamel then said that Opera was “ the first major browser to open up to Web 3.0.”

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Crypto Company Change Launches Zero Fee Trading App

As competition heats up in the crypto industry companies are increasingly cutting trading fees to lure new customers to their platforms.

Singapore founded Change has launched a crypto trading and conversion app with no fees. The firm, currently based in Estonia, is marketing the app under the name of “Change Wallet” for consumers based in the European Economic Area. The target market is interesting, according to an ING survey in June two thirds of Europeans had heard about cryptocurrencies and a quarter of them planned on owning some in the future.

Change raised $17.5 million in its initial coin offering last year and claims to have 5,600 contributors. Its mission is “To aggregate all financial services in one sophisticated platform, enabling payments, transfers, and investments worldwide. Change is set to simplify and modernise mobile finance, focusing on security, efficiency, and equal access to opportunities,” according to the website.

According to reports the app will initially support Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, and Tether. It will be available on Android and iOS. Change CEO Kristjan Kangro said in an interview that cryptocurrencies will soon be used just as much as traditional money by the people when paying for good and services.

Former CEO of DHL Global Forwarding and member of the Change advisory team, Roger Crook, added;

“I’m backing this project because I think it’s got an extremely great future, and I see that Change is going to have challenges going forward. I have no doubt that this business is going to thrive and grow globally over the coming years.”

Change has become the latest crypto startup to offer zero fee trading. US based Robinhood launched its zero fee trading platform in February and has recently added Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash support. The Robinhood app started off limited but can now be used across 17 states. The firm raised $363 million in May during a funding round to expand its crypto platform country-wide.

Other corporations such as Japan’s Line have offered zero fees for the first month as an incentive for new users. Line launched its crypto exchange Bitbox this week with support for almost 30 cryptocurrencies.

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Santander Chooses Ripple (XRP) for 50% of Its International Transfers

The momentum for Santander’s OnePay FX mobile application is growing by the day with the Ripple (XRP) team showcasing a live demonstration on how simple it is to use the app. From the get go, the user interface is simple with the app letting the user pick between US Dollars and Euros as the form of currency to perform the transaction in. After inputting the recipient’s details, the user now uses Apple Pay to make a selection on which credit card to use to complete the transaction. Once the selection is made and the user presses ‘pay’ it takes a few short seconds to complete the transaction from the U.K to the United States as demonstrated.

The complete video of the demonstration can be found on youtube. The App is currently available in the Apple App Store for free downloads.

The demonstration proves that Ripple (XRP) via its product of xCurrent, and Santander’s OnePay FX, have managed to make international transfers a safer, faster and cheaper affair. In a world where time is more valuable due to our busy schedules, the use of OnePayFX is sure to grow as more mobile users demand efficiency through fintech and with many of us having friends and family all over the globe.

It is with the customer needs in mind mentioned above, that Santander has rolled out OnePayFX to Euro Zone countries and the United States. Santander Group’s Executive Chairman, Ana Botín was quoted as earlier saying that 50% of the bank’s annual international transfers are currently being carried by the Ripple-powered blockchain.

The above evidence of Ripple products working in an efficient manner is the reason Ripple CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, was adamant that the days of Bitcoin (BTC) dominance in the crypto-market are numbered. His reasoning was that BTC only dominates due to speculation by users in the crypto-verse. The tide will turn for BTC when the same users embrace the use cases of Ripple and other cryptocurrencies that solve real life problems. What will then proceed is a massive correction with the latter cryptocurrencies flippening Bitcoin.

[Photo source, ripple.com]