The world has no shortage of cryptocurrencies these days, but surprisingly few of them are mobile friendly. That’s a major stumbling block for mainstream adoption, because more than two billion people worldwide have smartphones, but far fewer have computers. Electroneum is a cryptocurrency that’s aiming to address that discrepancy with by offering a simplified, mobile-first crypto experience that also improves on some of the features of Bitcoin and its ilk.
Official Website Reference: http://electroneum.com/
Electroneum ($ETN) is a cryptocurrency, and at a basic level it functions like one: you can mine it, trade it, send or receive payments with it, and that’s pretty much it. Much like Bitcoin and other traditional cryptocurrencies, the Electroneum blockchain uses a Proof-of-Work consensus algorithm where miners validate transactions in blocks and are compensated for their machine’s work with $ETN tokens.
So is this just another Bitcoin? No, there are some key differences.
First, Electroneum uses a CPU-friendly mining algorithm, meaning it can be mined in browsers and on regular PCs, Macs, and even smartphones.
Second, Electroneum’s security obfuscates users’ wallet contents and transaction histories, so while transactions themselves are publicly validated, nobody can look at your wallet and see how much Electroneum you have.
Finally, Electronuem boasts faster transactions and lower transaction fees than Bitcoin. Granted, that’s something nearly every blockchain project can claim these days, but Electronuem’s fees really are low: on its first day, for example, over 690 million ETN was traded for a total of less than 500 ETN in fees.
None of that is particularly unique, of course; Electroneum is based on the Monero (XMR) codebase, so its stock features are essentially the same as Monero. But what’s special about Electroneum isn’t so much the core technology behind its blockchain as the way that technology is being implemented on the user side.
A Cryptocurrency for Everyone
Think about the ways you can access a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. You can mine it, but you’d need to own a PC, and to generate any kind of meaningful return, you’d need to build an expensive mining rig. Or you can buy it on an exchange, but that typically entails sending identity documents, bank details, and other information to set up an account, and then accessing a PC to trade.
Neither of these options works well for somebody in a third-world country who may not own their own PC.
Moreover, most exchanges have geographic restrictions. If you don’t live in the right country, you’ll have a tough time even getting an account set up. Coinbase, for example supports mobile trading, but if you live in South America, Africa, or anywhere in Asia that isn’t Singapore, you can’t have a Coinbase account. No Bitcoin revolution for you.
Electroneum aims to solve this with a globally-accessible mobile app that works simultaneously as a wallet, payment platform and miner. In theory, anybody can download the mobile app and use it to mine $ETN, make and receive payments, and even track the currency’s fiat value. Through its website (which is also accessible via mobile), the company also offers an offline wallet generator and a relatively simple “import from offline wallet” feature to make cold storage user-friendly.
What’s the Deal With Mobile Mining?
Longtime cryto enthusiasts might be skeptical about the prospect of mobile mining on a Proof-of-Work algorithm. Wouldn’t that drain the batteries and overheat the hardware pretty quickly?
In a word: yes. While you could mine Electroneum on your phone, it would burn through your battery quickly and the profits would be minuscule. The mining feature in Electroneum’s app is really virtual mining, where users play a simple game and are rewarded with $ETN. Smartphones aren’t really being used for much of the Electronuem network’s consensus, and the mobile mining feature is really just intended as a way of allowing anybody with a smartphone to engage with cryptocurrency in what feels like a direct manner.
So although there is a mobile mining feature, real Electroneum mining is still done using PCs. A small percentage of the ETN mined on PC is then split amongst mobile “miners”, but anybody serious about mining ETN is still going to want a traditional PC or even a full-on mining rig.
Electroneum’s approach to its coin, ETN, also reflects the company’s desire to build a simpler, more user-friendly cryptocurrency. There’s a maximum supply of 21 billion ETN, which should help ensure the price for a single ETN stays low compared to other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Monero, which are available in much smaller numbers.
ETN is also only divisible to two decimal places, just like most fiat currencies. That makes dealing with ETN easier for people who can be put off or confused by other cryptocurrencies’ long chains of decimals.
ETN is currently only available via mining or through a single exchange: Cryptopia. But the company has already announced that additional exchanges are coming soon.
The Other Side of the Coin
As is often the case with newer cryptocurrency projects, there is currently quite a bit of difference between what the company promises and what it can currently deliver. Its Android app is live, for example, but an iOS app is still “coming soon,” and the mobile mining feature is still in closed beta.
Even with the products Electroneum does currently offer, there are signs of growing pains. Its website and signup process move slowly, and some users (including your humble author) have encountered bugs with the PIN verification system it uses. Similarly, there are reports of issues with the mobile wallet, issues with sends not going through, etc.
These aren’t unusual issues for a new cryptocurrency to face, especially one that has generated so much interest and is probably struggling to keep up with the demands on the network. But there are issues Electroneum will need to resolve, particularly given its primary selling point is that it’s simple and easy to use compared to other cryptos.
If it can solve those problems, Electronuem is definitely well-positioned to become a top currency. It’s more private than Bitcoin, and more mobile-friendly than any of its higher-ranking rivals.