Hive, a startup specializing in cryptocurrency wallets, recently released Hive Web, a browser-based wallet that can be used on any device that supports HTML5, a feature now common on most smartphone devices.
Hive Web complements two other wallets in Hive’s lineup: one for Mac OS X and a mobile version on Android.
CEO Wendell Davis told CoinDesk his company started working on Hive’s HTML5 wallet in February after Apple removed all wallet apps with bitcoin sending functionality on iOS.
Apple has since updated its policies to allow bitcoin apps, though Wendell believes Hive Web has a lot to offer consumers, even those who may now have a broader range of wallet apps to choose from.
Davis believes that Hive has created something not previously available in the cryptocurrency space with its latest release.
In a crowded industry full of cryptocurrency wallets, no other company has yet issued an HTML5 product built for ubiquitous, standalone cryptocurrency storage and payments, he argues:
The HTML5 offering is a fairly minimalist wallet so far – partly because the initial version still needs to be integrated with contacts and Hive's own app store. But, Davis says those features are coming soon.
This should give a boost to the product, since Hive’s integration of third-party cryptocurrency applications within its internal app store is a big differentiator from other wallets on the market.
The ability to transmit payments with a brand-new feature called 'Waggle' is also unique to the web wallet. Waggle uses location-based services to allow easy payment within the wallet, a feature that attacks a major consumer pain point.
Bitcoin is excellent as a remote digital payment, but is still seeing growing pains at the traditional point of sale. While many wallet users transact bitcoin with the use of QR codes, Waggle frees people from the often-onerous task of scanning these tools at the point of sale.
Clicking on the Waggle button from inside the wallet will bring up a map that shows nearby Hive users. This makes it easy for one party to pay another.
Access to 'tokens'
Bitcoin is and will continue to be king, but the Hive team also strongly believes in alternative cryptocurrencies.
As a result, the company plans to make its wallet cryptocurrency agnostic – the first wallet from the company to offer support for an altcoin, with its implementation of basic litecoin support.
And litecoin is just the beginning. In Hive’s view, all block chain technologies are 'tokens'. As such, the company’s product roadmap is to allow for the addition of more altcoins.
Hive plans to offer its users a distributed API that will be able to access the web wallet’s GUI, a preview of which is here:
The API will enable developers to add tokens – an enticing feature for organizations that might be looking for a custom-tailored cryptocurrency wallet.
Davis says that he believes there is a bright future not just for coins as payment, but also things like digital contracts and other assets. In essence, the company is ensuring it is prepared to support new block chain technologies as they come along.
New wallet technologies
Hive Web is a BIP32 hierarchical deterministic (HD) wallet. An HD wallet has a few advantages. One of them is that it allows a user to generate large numbers of key pairs from one master key.
The master key in an HD wallet is able to recover all child keys, which eliminates the need to backup a wallet as long as a user controls the master key. This only requires the safe storage of a password, Davis says:
The concept is similar to having separate bank accounts. It’s quite normal to have a checking and a savings account, for instance.
Hive believes that HD wallets are the future and that it is clear that the technology surrounding cryptocurrency storage has been improving over the past year as more people are using various wallets.
Both HD and multi-signature technologies will be important for cryptocurrency wallets going forward.
Hive's products and its use of HD are squarely focused on consumers being able to access different stores of coin from any location or device.
, another startup focusing on wallet tech, is using multi-signature concepts, and aims to cater to enterprises, another nascent yet promising market.
With the addition of Hive Web, Hive now has three separate products. Each exists on a different platform: PC, smartphone and now the browser, and they all are different in design and functionality.
Davis says that Hive plans to consolidate the company’s wallets down to a unified software version. "All these products are going to start to come together. It’s difficult to gauge on a roadmap when that’s going to happen. But it is on our agenda," he said.
What’s important for Hive, according to Davis, is to focus on mobile functionality.
Because of this, Hive believes that creating a wallet for everyday spending is key for the company’s success.
Davis says that other wallet providers such as Kryptokit and Blockchain are rumored to be working on HTM5 wallets, so the company does expect to have some competition in this particular space at some point soon.
With competition in mind, and in order to remain well funded, the company is planning to launch a crowdsale to raise money. Davis says the crowdfunding effort is going to happen "soon", with the funds raised being used to keep pushing the company's wallet technology forward.
Hive wants to continue building ubiquitous access to cryptocurrencies, whether its tokens, coins – no matter what specific name users want to use for distributed forms of value.
Whatever the future holds, Hive wants to be there to enable users to spend these digital assets in any form.
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