Cardano is working on a crypto-native microchip that would enable crypto transitions without the internet access. It can potentially deliver fiat-like experience to the hundreds of millions around the world.
IOHK when began exploring supply chain use cases realized that there were no chips on the market that could satisfy its requirements such as embeddability, ability to store cryptographic keys, and being inexpensive to produce:
“Really what we noticed is that there’s unfortunately no market standard right now for open-source trusted hardware that’s sufficiently powerful that it could be used with cryptocurrency, but also could be used in the supply chain.”
All the work being done on the chip will remain open source and will not only benefit Cardano alone, but rather the entire crypto community.
One of the most far reaching projects would involve, a counterintuitive transformation from virtual currency to physical currency:
“You know, the whole point of Bitcoin was to go from cash to something that’s like cash online. But what if you want to go in the opposite direction? What if you wanted to go from a native cryptocurrency to something that has a cache like user experience? It’s very difficult to do without a hardware component.”
Cardano believes that the developing world is one of the key markets for the future success of cryptocurrency.
For instance, in Africa only 2% percent of the six million farmers own smartphones:
“So when you look at that, you say, well, OK, 98 percent are mostly offline and not banked or digital. So if I was building a money system for them, it would probably be a bad idea to say, ‘oh, you have to use an always online, purely digital currency.’ You need some other thing. And so how do I replicate the cash money experience but still have a blockchain backend? Well, what you do is you create a hierarchy where those two percent basically become like micro banks and then they can manage the issuance of these tokens to people and then their local phones or infrastructure can verify.”
This would work when the private key from one chip would be transferred to another. It would also provide the proof of erasure, making sure that the key only exists on the new device.
The chip could be embedded into a phone case and would not require the internet for transferring of cryptographic keys:
“So if you can do that, you can basically just tap phones locally with no Internet connection to each other and move value. Like you would a twenty dollar bill from one actor to another actor, and you’ve replicated the cash experience. Now, what’s nice about the solution is it’s infinitely scalable because these transactions actually don’t occur on the blockchain. So from the blockchain perspective, nothing has happened.”
However, this is a long-term project that will take years to perfect.