One of the biggest flaws with crypto, NFTs, and Web3 in general is its lack of easy-to-use products. Crypto wallets are tough to manage, security is difficult, and actually using decentralized applications is far too hard.
Most crypto activity is done through clunky browser extensions on Chrome, which is a workaround, at best. Even if you think the blockchain could revolutionize technology, improve privacy, decentralize finance, or have another justification, it’s not going to happen if normal people can’t actually use these products.
Last week, Solana (SOL -1.67%) may have taken a big step forward with the introduction of executable NFTs, Solana Mobile Stack, and the Saga phone. Together, the intention for these developments is to make using the Solana blockchain easier, and I think it clearly gives Solana another leg up on Ethereum as a usable blockchain for regular people. It may even provide a roadmap that Apple and Alphabet will follow into cryptocurrency.
Taking NFTs to the next level
Today, non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, live in a crypto wallet and get very little day-to-day use unless the owner of the wallet signs into a website, or app, with the wallet. But this can be easier.
Imagine if there were an app where you could just click on an NFT and access the site the NFT unlocks. This is what an xNFT does, and it’s a new application operating system created by Coral — a Web3 development start-up — through a product called Backpack. Coral explains it like this:
Like a wallet, Backpack manages your private keys and connects to apps. But unlike anything else, it’s asset and protocol agnostic. Everything in the wallet is an xNFT. This is a big deal. Most wallets only show your tokens. Some don’t even show your precious JPEGs. Backpack, however, is a home for everything. It’s an open, programmable system built for Web3. And like any other application operating system, it has a set of developer frameworks and APIs associated with it, allowing anyone to build their own xNFT apps for any protocol on any blockchain — without permission.
The idea is to make NFTs easier to use and give developers tools to innovate and hide clunky technology in the background away from users. If devices and operating systems adopt this framework, it could open up tremendous opportunity in the Web3 ecosystem.
Imagine what this could do for music as NFTs, newsletters as NFT, or even video as an NFT if the NFT itself was executable.
The Solana phone
I’m going to start with the Saga phone before getting to the Solana Mobile Stack. Saga is a new smartphone developed by Solana Labs that includes a “Secure Element” for private key management. The idea here is to make the security piece of cryptocurrencies easier for users, the same way the Secure Enclave made security easier for Apple iPhone users.
Very little about the rest of the phone is notable. It runs a version of Alphabet’s Android and aims to make the Solana ecosystem more usable, but I doubt it will gain much market share.
That’s not the point. The point is to push Apple and other hardware makers to build private key security into their secure hardware. If they do that, it will make Solana easier to use for everyone and drive further adoption.
Solana Mobile Stack
The Solana Mobile Stack is an SDK, or software development kit, that’s available for developers and is open source, so it can be used on any other smartphone in the future. It has a mobile wallet adapter, seed phrase value, and Solana Pay, which together will make using the blockchain much easier.
Like the Saga phone, it’s not being developed to make money for Solana Labs directly. The entire idea is to increase adoption of the Solana blockchain and thereby increase the value of the entire Solana economy, which should lead to a higher cryptocurrency value.
Solana is building technology for the rest of us
The criticism of Solana has always been that the blockchain is unstable and it’s traded security for speed. The reality is that no blockchain has a perfect security history, and Solana has done more to make the blockchain usable for the average person.
Over the last two weeks, the combination of executable NFTs, a Solana smartphone, and the Solana Mobile Stack has made me think the team at Solana Labs is putting usability at the forefront, which should drive more adoption and innovation. This is why I’m so bullish on Solana and continue to think it’s a future-leading cryptocurrency.