SK Telecom launches blockchain-powered 5G phone

South Korean telecommunications giant SK Telecom has launched what it describes as the world’s first 5G phone that is powered by blockchain technology. The phone, developed in partnership with Samsung Electronics, uses blockchain to protect the users’ identity and secure the user data.

Known as the ‘Galaxy A Quantum’, the new phone is retailing at KRW649,000 ($528). It’s available for pre-sale from May 15-21, with the official launch scheduled for May 22.

Security is the phone’s major highlight, relying on a quantum random number generation chipset built by Samsung. The chipset generates encryption keys for the phone’s services, with all the phone’s services having to go through encryption when data is stored or exchanged.

Blockchain is utilized in a number of ways, one of which is on a mobile electronic authentication service known as ‘Initial’. This service will allow the phone’s users to store all types of documents, from graduation certificates to insurance claim documents, securely.

In its announcement, the mobile carrier stated, “’Initial’ is a service that prevents forgery and falsification by applying blockchain DID (Decentralized Identifier) ​​technology and strengthens self-sovereignty, and can issue and submit various personal certificates with one smartphone without offline procedures.”

Blockchain will also help secure the users’ payment data when they pay using SK Pay. This is a payment service by the carrier that allows both online and offline payments through credit and debit cards, account transfers and mobile payment. SK Pay relies on biometric data such as fingerprints for authentication. This data will be protected using blockchain technology.

SK Telecom intends on advancing its blockchain and quantum technology capabilities in the future, including expanding the services offered by Initial. It plans on open sourcing some of the technology used to enable developers to advance it.

SK Telecom, one of South Korea’s big three mobile phone carriers, has been working on blockchain projects for years now. In July 2019, the company announced that it was working on a blockchain identity service in an initiative known as the ‘Initial DID Association’. It partnered with some of Korea’s largest firms on the project, including Samsung, IT firm Koscom, KEB Hana Bank, Hyundai and LG U+, electronics giant LG’s mobile carrier.

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