In December last year rumors hit the web that Samsung will be including cryptocurrency functionality when it launches its next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S10. The tech giant initially dismissed them but a formal launch of the device this week confirmed those rumors to be true.

On Wednesday, the Korean conglomerate confirmed that its latest smartphone will include a dedicated and secure storage function designed for cryptocurrencies. “Galaxy S10 is built with defense-grade Samsung Knox, as well as a secure storage backed by hardware,” which it said can house the private encryption keys for what Samsung called “blockchain-enabled mobile services.”

The move is significant as it signals a major shift into the crypto space by one of the world’s largest tech companies. This week is an important one for Samsung. The smartphone technology leader held its “Unpacked 2019” event on Wednesday to showcase its latest offerings.

The highly anticipated Galaxy S10 took the limelight at the event, with its raft of new features and “new era” 5G connectivity but although the specific terms “crypto” and “wallet” were not mentioned during the keynote launch presentations – the release announcement indicates that the term “Blockchain KeyStore” will be used – it was crypto inclusion that generated the most excitement with the Korean press.

The news could also move the price of Bitcoin and other crypto assets by introducing them to millions of potential users that otherwise would not have known how or where to buy digital currency. A number of observers have linked the expected announcement to the recent crypto market rally that has boosted digital currencies by 20% this month alone.

The Galaxy S10 joins a slowly growing line of smartphones designed with cryptocurrencies in mind and these now include the Korean HTC Exodus 1 and the Swiss Sirin Labs’ Finney, both of which were announced last year. Both are truly crypto-centric devices. The Exodus 1 can only be bought using Bitcoin or Ethereum and the Finney can only be purchased using the maker’s “Sirin token.” Samsung will not be offering the ability to buy phones using crypto but trading and storing them will now be possible.

The clear observation from those in the smartphone industry? Where is Apple?

Watch this space.