Nine long months of anticipation will soon come to an end for users of MetaMask, the primary gateway to the Ethereum blockchain.
MetaMask, backed by Ethereum incubator ConsenSys (which also funds Decrypt), announced on Tuesday that its mobile browser and crypto wallet combo is finally set for a public beta release on July 22. MetaMask Mobile will be available on both Android and iOS and promises to be more than “just another wallet.”
Already, MetaMask is the most popular Ethereum wallet and web browser available. The web-based application has more than 1.3 million users and growing, recording 1 million transactions in April and roughy 89,000 new wallets created at the end of May.
Now, the idea is to bring its “bridge to the decentralized web” to mobile, according to the company’s announcement, with an emphasis on creating a user experience that ushers in a new wave of consumers to the world of blockchain-based applications.
MetaMask isn’t alone in recognizing the importance of browser-wallets (browletts, if you will) for the future of Web3. Several other major companies in the crypto industry, such as Coinbase, Binance, and Brave, are developing their own versions. Just last week, the Norwegian software company Opera released its own crypto-ready mobile browser on iOS. And there’s a race developing that has led some to wonder whether the tech industry is in store for the second coming of the Browser Wars of Web1.
More than two decades ago, Netscape and Internet Explorer duked it out to establish the on-ramp to the Internet, and companies involved in next iteration of the web are keenly aware of the value in establishing the Web3 equivalent: a cryptocurrency wallet that securely stores the literal keys that connect users to decentralized applications and other services, integrated through a familiar browser interface.
MetaMask’s lead developer, Dan Finlay, said he believes that browser-wallets are the “central piece that will come to define what crypto means to its users,” in an interview with Decrypt earlier this year. “The keys are the heart of the security, but also of all the power in any cryptographic protocol, and so I believe the wallet that defines the space will be the one that most accurately models the ideal of the user’s will,” he said.
Finlay, however, doesn’t view the landscape as a competitive battleground and noted that MetaMask is, after all, an open-source project.
But that won’t stop other companies from taking a different, more combative approach.