The Norwegian-developed Opera browser has been competing with Microsoft's Internet Explorer since the 1990s, and in more recent years the likes of Chrome, Mozilla, Safari, and the new Brave browser. Since 2017 it's had more users than Internet Explorer.
Announced this week at the Hard Fork Decentralized event in London, UK, Opera now has a built-in cryptocurrency wallet for Ether and ERC20 standard-based tokens. So far, the new browser version is only available for Android devices, with the desktop version still in beta.
Project lead Charles Hamel explained: "We've decided to support Ethereum, as it has the largest community of developers building Dapps and has gathered a lot of momentum behind it."
Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin was complimentary, saying, "We see this as an important moment in improving dApp accessibility, opening Web 3.0 to mainstream audiences, and encouraging developers to build on Ethereum."
Though Opera's crypto wallet is Ethereum-specific, support for other coins is planned for the future.
Generally, crypto wallets and access to dApps is made possible by browser add-ons, like MetaMask, which still does not have a mobile wallet. In November 2018, Metamask unveiled its own dedicated mobile client at Devcon4 in Prague, but it has yet to be released.
Hamel illustrated the issue to Hard Fork:
"One major hurdle in all this is that you need a special browser or special browser extensions to even start exploring the decentralized web and even then, users are faced with lots of new terminology that is sometimes confusing."
Opera's Android browser will now allow users to access their dApps, manage their digital identities, and through the wallet, make cryptocurrency transactions.
The Opera wallet uses Android's secure key storage, protecting wallet keys via a mobile user's device lock screen.
Developing a mobile cryptocurrency iteration certainly doesn't seem to have been simple for Opera. The company had to "build competence" in different blockchains, cryptography, and distributed networks, said Hamel, as well as dealing with variations in code for Web3 features. He added: "One of the biggest challenges was to define what a browser wallet should look like and how it should behave."
In the end, it was important to Opera that its wallet be seamlessly integrated, rather than functioning like an application-within-an-application.