Apple may be prepping to turn your iPhone into a crypto wallet

Apple is likely preparing to let iPhone owners turn their devices into hardware wallets that allow them to store and use bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for mobile purchases of everything from a cup of coffee to clothing and groceries.

Unlike other announcements at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last week, Apple’s new CryptoKit for iOS 13, got little attention. But it will allow developers to easily create hashes for digital signatures and public and private keys that can be stored and managed by Apple’s Secure Enclave. Those keys, which can represent cryptocurrencies, can then be exchanged by iPhone owners as a form of payment through an app.

Apple did not return a request for comment on CryptoKit and whether it is indeed part of a plan to introduce a cryptocurrency wallet.

If Apple is going down the cryptocurrency path, it would be following HTC and Samsung, who’ve announced their intention to create native cold storage wallets on their smartphones. HTC last year announced that its Exodus 1 smartphone would be able to natively store bitcoin or Ether cryptocurrencies and Samsung is making a big push for the same feature on its flagship Galaxy 10 phone, expected to arrive in February.

A new study from Juniper Research found that the number of people using digital wallets for all types of currencies is expected to increase from 2.3 billion this year to nearly 4 billion, or 50% of the world’s population, by 2024. This, in turn, will push wallet transaction values up by more than 80% to more than $9 trillion a year. The study argued that increases would be driven by a greater volume of transactions conducted via stored credentials.

The report highlighted the challenge posed to NFC-based contactless wallets, such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, by the emergence of wallets based on QR codes. QR codes are already being used by merchants to access cryptocurrency wallets for payment.

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