HTC, the mobile phone manufacturer that has taken a special interest in the application of blockchain technology for mobile phones, has now decided to cross into the realm of mining. HTC Exodus, its flagship blockchain phone, has partnered with Mida Labs, to bring cryptocurrency mining to the mobile phone arena for the first time.
Using the DeMiner app, developed by Midas Labs, the app will be available for download in Q2, 2020.
The immediate concern is that the notion of mining cryptocurrency brings to the fore high computing power and energy consumption. But HTC and Midas Labs maintain that they have made it const effective on mobile devices using the privacy-focused cryptocurrency, Monero (XMR).
The DeMiner App is reported to be comparable to regular desktop computers in terms of its hash rate ability, but its energy consumption for such computing power is far less. This enables mobile devices to be suitable for cryptocurrency mining (in a plugged-in state) for the first time.
Midas Labs empowers EXODUS 1S users to mine at least $0.0038 of XMR per day on average, while the electricity cost is less than 50% of that. Part of the reason for this endeavour is to deepen the process of decentralization by providing hardware-related solutions for the mobile industry.
Translating mining to mobile
The traditional idea of mining cryptocurrency evokes images of either powerful GPUs at a minimum, or in a day of ASIC chips, massive purpose-built hardware for the express purpose of solving those equations. Mining on a mobile phone seems to go against the grain. However, as Phil Chen, Decentralized Chief Officer at HTC, says
“Bitcoin and mobile phones are the most important and impactful technology inventions of recent times. I am lucky enough to be involved on the frontlines of both these technologies. What drives our decisions around these technologies is our values; specifically, the question of how we can further decentralize and create a more inclusive monetary system.
“Mining on mobile is an important research topic in understanding the development of secure crypto networks. The number of mobile phones in 2020 is approaching 3.5 Billion, which would further decentralize and distribute the hash rate and mining power of such crypto networks.
“Monero is an important and crucial experiment resisting the trend of centralized mining. It utilizes an algorithm called “Random X” that is suitable for CPU-based calculation. The use of this algorithm is actively fighting some of the centralizing forces that create the mining pools in Bitcoin.”
“Furthermore, the mature development of power-saving software on mobile, as opposed to power-hungry laptops or desktops, amplifies the effectiveness and efficiency of the profitability of mining on mobile. “
“At HTC, our position is to use the mobile phone to drive further decentralization. The mobile phone has become the primary computing device of the people and making it accessible to everyone empowers the people.”
“In other words, the question is not should we use an ASIC or a CPU. The question is how can we further decentralize and ensure a more inclusive monetary system?”
Dr. Jri Lee, founder and CEO of Midas Labs and Professor at National Taiwan University, echoes Chern’s thoughts on a higher degree of decentralization.
“Cryptocurrency mining should never be limited to centralized farms or giant miners. Mining on mobile or other personal devices perfectly meets the main spirit of blockchain, i.e., decentralization. Today, the most valuable cryptocurrencies are still based on proof of work. That is, mining is the indispensable part of these cryptocurrencies,” he told me.
“Mobile mining will meaningfully add to decentralization as it will increase the security of the network. If we’re helping to secure the networks, then all cryptocurrency users benefit from it. We should also bear in mind that there are billions of smartphones in the world. Using Monero as an example, the mobile hash rate could easily exceed the existing hash rate if only 1% of smartphones conduct mining. Bringing mining to mobile is a very important step for blockchain.”
Concerns about Monero
Monero is the chosen cryptocurrency for HTC to begin this journey towards further decentralizing cryptocurrencies through the proliferation of mobile devices, however, it is a coin that courts quite a bit of controversy.
Being a privacy-focused coin, it is one that has uses outside the realms of what is legal. The added anonymity on Monero sees the coin rubbing regulators up the wrong way, and has seen businesses react negatively towards it.
Estonia-based BitBay announced Monday that Monero (XML) will no longer be tradeable in February due to regulatory concerns about its potential uses in money laundering. This followed from OKEx also dropping the coin. Coinbase in the UK has also dropped Zcash, a similarly inclined privacy coin.
For Chern, the issues with Monero’s privacy aspects should not impact its technical ability to be mined as a breakthrough for mobile.
“Any issues with Monero’s privacy does not impact on its technical ability to be mined in this first important step and breakthrough.
“The privacy and fungible aspect of Monero is mostly irrelevant to the AML and KYC of banks. In other words, banks can still properly perform AML and KYC with a privacy coin like Monero. Asking the customer, for example, where your Monero came from is an off-chain problem. Further, I’d argue that the fungibility aspect of Monero makes it even more antifragile as a medium of exchange as opposed to a piece of property with clear provenance,” he added.
“Zooming out a bit, this is fundamentally about financial institutions, not just banks. It’s all financial institutions that are required to do AML, KYC, and other regulations.”
“The distinction to be made is that we should be regulating people and companies. We should not be fooling ourselves into thinking money should become a titled property. That experiment was already run hundreds of years ago.”