Opera is betting on blockchain technology to reach new audiences keen on or curious about cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum.
The browser maker today announced that Opera for Android is a now a 'blockchain browser' with bolted-on access to the Ethereum blockchain that builds on its existing built-in cryptocurrency wallet.
Opera rolled out a private beta of the Opera for Android crypto-wallet in July, which can be used to store Ethereum and access Ethereum-based decentralized apps, or 'Dapps'.
The idea is to lay the groundwork for Web 3.0 where apps aren't installed on a phone but instead are powered by decentralized networks and use cryptocurrencies for transactions.
It's hoped the features will push the mainstream use of cryptocurrencies beyond just speculation -- something that could be more likely after bitcoin's price crash. Thanks to that, Ethereum is also a lot cheaper, down from $1,400 in January to $88 today.
To experience the new Web 3.0 features Opera is enabling, users will need to buy some Ethereum currency and store it in the browser's wallet. Users can then access Dapps from inside the wallet.
"I would like to invite all tech enthusiasts who may have heard of blockchain but haven't yet experienced it to simply give our new browser and Web 3.0 a try," said Krystian Kolondra, EVP Browsers at Opera.
"We have made it extremely easy. 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."
Opera accesses the Ethereum blockchain through a startup called Infura, which has gained backing from Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin's venture firm, ConsenSys. ConsenSys backs Ethereum-based apps to grow the Dapp ecosystem.
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Lubin describes Opera's new Ethereum feature as a 'Dapp explorer'.
"We see this as an important moment in improving Dapp accessibility, opening Web 3.0 to mainstream audiences, and encouraging developers to build on Ethereum," said Lubin.
Opera's move on blockchain follows fellow Chromium-based browser Brave this week becoming the default browser for HTC's Exodus 1, a niche phone aimed at cryptocurrency fans. Brave was co-founded by Brendan Eich, a co-founder of Firefox-maker Mozilla.
As noted by CNET, Brave is attempting to tackle online advertising with BAT, or a basic attention token, the underpinning of its alternative ad system that allows users to users, advertisers, and publishers to exchange BAT tokens. The payment system also relies on the Ethereum blockchain.
Brave's role in the system is to measure user attention on ads and content in the browser's active tab. Users viewing ads are rewarded with BATs, which can be used to access premium content on the BAT platform. Publishers would also receive the tokens based on user attention.
Later this year, BAT will be used to send advertisers' payments to Brave and to Brave users who opt into the system. It also plans to partner with publishers.
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