Sirin Labs is quite a unique and controversial project. It is the company behind the recently released “Finney” smartphone, which has been billed as the first commercially available blockchain phone.
The company is also behind one of the largest crowd sales in recent history which raised over $150m in exchange for their native SRN token. Since then, the project has faced a number of challenges. Some of these relate to delays and others to the management team.
So, should you consider Sirin Labs token?
In this Sirin Labs review, I will take an in-depth look at the project, the technology and its team members. I will also analyse whether there is any potential use-cases or adoption of the SRN token.
What is Sirin Labs?
As mentioned, Sirin Labs is the company that is producing a commercially viable blockchain smart phone. Priced at $899 it is a competitor to other high-end smartphones such as the Samsung S10 and the iPhone X.
The Finney blockchain Phone. Image via Sirin Labs
Sirin Labs is not a new venture by any means, and the Finney follows in the footsteps of the “Solarin”, which was the first and most secure blockchain phone and was released back in 2016. Of course, with a price tag of $14,000 not many people got their hands on a Solarin, but it did prove that Sirin Labs could deliver a blockchain phone, and now the Finney makes the blockchain phone available to the mass consumer.
The big question though is whether the Finney is worth its cost and whether there is demand for the blockchain phone, especially as it now faces competition from the HTC Exodus 1 and more importantly from the Samsung S10.
Sirin Labs Background
Sirin Labs has become the leader in mobile blockchain security, first with the Solarin phone, and most recently with the Finney blockchain smartphone that includes an embedded cold storage wallet for cryptocurrencies, and a dedicated dApp center.
Sirin Labs is incorporated in Switzerland, but also has offices in London and Israel, which is where nearly all of the staff is located. Founded in 2014 by Moshe Hogeg the vision of the company is to provide a bridge in the gap between the current niche blockchain economy and the mass market.
Image via Sirin Labs
It is doing this by removing the greatest barriers to user adoption of blockchain technology – security and the user experience.
Sirin Labs is focused on providing products for the mass market that ensure security, and make using blockchain technology and digital assets easy. The first iteration was the Solarin smartphone, followed recently by the release of the Finney smartphone and cold storage wallet. Also in the works is a blockchain focused PC.
Sirin Labs Technology
One of the cornerstone’s of the Sirin Labs technology is the Sirin OS, which is a “fork” of Google’s Android operating system. Sirin Labs claims that the Sirin OS is the only mobile operating system that is secure enough to use in the storage and use of cryptocurrency on mobile devices.
Besides being secure, the Sirin OS is meant to give users the same experience they are familiar with on Android devices. Finney users will also be able to easily use the Play store and all Android apps but will enjoy the security provided by the Sirin OS fork.
Users will be able to access and use their digital assets and have a familiar smartphone experience, which Sirin Labs believes will allow Finney to begin the mass adoption of blockchain technology and the cryptocurrency economy.
Image via Sirin Labs
In addition to the security and familiarity offered by the Finney blockchain smartphone, the Sirin ecosystem also contains a cold storage crypto wallet, encrypted communications, and access to the Sirin dApp Center on the Finney. They will enjoy top-level security that includes such proprietary technologies as MAC Address Randomization, IP Address Hiding, and the trusted wallet display.
Furthermore, the Finney will provide users with the proprietary Token Conversion Service, which enables the seamless and automatic exchange between supported tokens and coins, eliminating the need to visit external exchanges.
Finney Blockchain Smartphone
The Finney blockchain smartphone went on sale in November 2018, and units have been shipping since then. The Finney uses Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor, has a 6-inch 18:9 display screen, 128 GB of internal storage and comes with an external storage slot that can support up to 2TB of Secure Digital Memory Card.
It also features a small wallet display called the Smart Screen that slides up from the back of the device and is not connected in any way to the operating system of the phone. This keeps coins secure and safe, similar to a cold storage environment.
The only time there is a communication channel opened between the wallet and the phone is when the user wants to transfer or exchange coins. The Smart Screen may need some additional design work, however. Users report it can be difficult to slide up, and entering information on the Smart Screen can be difficult.
The smartphone is a solid contender, but similarly priced offerings from Samsung and Apple are superior in design and technology. The Finney phone only really excels when it comes to blockchain technology. In addition to the built-in wallet, the Finney also includes the Sirin dCenter, where dApps are curated and displayed.
Finney Phone use cases and advantages
This is also the home of the promised coin airdrops and Learn & Earn offerings. Eventually Sirin claims these opportunities will allow the Finney to pay for itself, but currently, you won’t make more than a few dollars worth of crypto. Unfortunately, there has been little adoption of dApps so far, and there isn’t much to see in the dCenter.
The Finney also includes the Sirin Cyber Security Center, which includes a real-time machine-learning-powered IPS (Intrusion Protection System), app white-listing, an App Lock feature for individual apps (secured via password or fingerprint), secure communications and secure email. A Cointelegraph app is also installed and gives you the latest blockchain and cryptocurrency news.
The Finney is admittedly well built, but for the price, you can get a better smartphone. Unless you’re a hardcore cryptocurrency enthusiast there’s probably little reason to get a Finney, especially with the Samsung S10 now sporting its own built-in cryptocurrency wallet.
And that’s likely what most people are thinking too, as sales of the Finney have been less than anticipated by Sirin, who initially said they would be selling hundreds of thousands of Finney handsets. Instead, the company had to lay off 25% of its workforce this past April due to the weak sales of the Finney.
The Sirin Labs Team
The founder and co-CEO of Sirin Labs is Moshe Hogeg, a serial entrepreneur who previously co-founded Singulariteam, a prominent Israeli tech venture capitalist vehicle. Moshe has played an active role across the development of SIRIN LABS, specifically in defining product functionality and underpinning the technology.
The co-CEO of the Sirin Labs project is Zvika Landau who has a strong history in the consumer electronics and telecom infrastructure industry. Prior to joining Sirin Labs, he was Director of Operations for Apple in their Israel location.
Some of the Sirin Labs Team Members
The team also has the backing of a strong group of advisors, including the co-founder of Ethereum Steven Nerayoff. Jeff Pulver is also an advisor of the project. He is the founder of Vonage, and the founding chairman of the Blockchain Token Association, among other cutting edge internet and telecommunications projects.
Moshe Hogeg Lawsuits
Sirin Labs isn’t without controversy as its founder and co-CEO Moshe Hogeg has several lawsuits pending against him.
One was filed in California by Canadian internet entrepreneur Adam Perzow and alleges Hogeg, Sirin’s chairman Kenges Rakishev, and Chinese-American Singulari team manager Joseph Chen defrauded himself and hundreds of global investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Two additional lawsuits have been filed in Tel Aviv, and the most recent is by a Chinese national who alleges millions were taken from him in a “well planned sting” orchestrated by Hogeg through his involvement with the Stox.com venture. That lawsuit is pending a settlement of $2 million.
A further lawsuit brought against Hogeg by 17 shareholders of the AOH binary options company operating as AnyOption alleged that Hogeg had smuggled assets from IDC Holdings through his Invest.com website. That lawsuit was settled with undisclosed terms.
Finally, a lawsuit by billionaire Shlomo Rechnitz was filed in March 2018 in U.S. courts and alleges that Rechnitz bought $5 million in Mobli shares as the result of a fraudulent presentation by intermediary Jason Lyons.
Rechnitz is suing Lyons and Hogeg for violations of securities laws and unjust enrichment, and is also suing Lyons for fraud, false and negligent presentation, and violating the brokers registration law in California.
The SRN Token
Sirin Labs has also released a token with the ticker SRN which is meant to give users discounts on Sirin products, and eventually will be used throughout the Sirin ecosystem. When offered in an ICO in December 2017 the SRN token raised $157.8 million, making it the fourth largest ICO of 2017. The funds were meant for the development of the Finney phone, and the upcoming Sirin OS computer.
Tokens were sold for $0.47 each during the ICO period and immediately shot up, finally reaching an all-time high of $3.80 on January 22, 2018. The token then got caught up in the 2018 bear market and fell for most of the year, although there was a brief bounce in late April 2018 as the price dropped to the ICO level.
SRN Price Performance since ICO. Image via CoinCodex
As of May 28, 2019, one SRN is worth just under $0.03. Unlike the rest of the cryptocurrency market, the SRN token hasn’t seen much appreciation in 2019. This is likely due to the lack of Finney sales and the potential troubles coming from lawsuits against Moshe Hogeg.
Moreover, one has to wonder whether there are still many use cases for the SRN token at all? The main rationale behind SRN and the need for an ICO is that they would be used as a utility token in the Sirin network. However, if there are not that many phones that have been sold, there is not really any ecosystem and hence very little adoption of the tokens.
So, in other words, a “utility” token with very little utility….
Buying & Storing SRN
If you are still considering SRN tokens then there are over 10 exchanges that list the token. However, only a few of them have any significant volume.
The exchange that has the most volume is Upbit which has over 57% of the total. The second biggest market is that Dcoin with about 30% of the volume. However, perhaps the safest places to purchase SRN are from Bittrex or Huobi Global.
Given that Upbit has most of the volume, SRN is likely to face quite a bit of volatility in general. This is because the Korean crypto markets are known for being highly susceptible to negative news flow and FUD. Even if the news has nothing to do with Sirin Labs or the Finney, it could still have a major impact on price.
The SRN token is an ERC-20 token, so if you don’t own a Finney phone to keep your SRN tokens you can safely keep them in any ERC-20 compatible wallet. These include the likes of MetaMask, MyEtherWallet or MyCrypto.
While Sirin Labs has managed to develop their Finney phone and it is on the market, we cannot forget that this is still a blockchain based project. SRN tokens were issued in the crowdsale as a utility token in a decentralised protocol.
As such, it is helpful to take a look at the amount of work that has been done on the protocol. There is no exact measure of how to determine this although one of the best rules of thumb is to look at their GitHub activity.
Therefore, I decided to dive into the Sirin Labs GitHub and observe the level of activity that they had going on there. Below are the total commits to their three most active repos in the past year.
Sirin Labs GitHub commits for select repos, past 12 months
I think we can all see that there is almost no activity going on here. There are a further 6 repos but they all have similar levels of activity.
It is hard to believe that this is a project that raised over $150m in its crowdsale. There are blockchain projects which have raised absolutely nothing that commit more code in a day than Sirin labs has committed in a year.
Of course, they have been working on the hardware and operating system of the phone and perhaps a great deal of their time was devoted to this. However, to have no open source code on a decentralised protocol is quite unfortunate…
There’s no doubt that Sirin Labs has been instrumental in pushing the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry forward through the invention and release of its blockchain cryptocurrency wallet smartphone. What’s uncertain is whether that phone will prove profitable for the company.
It seems more likely that industry giants such as Samsung and HTC will have far greater success as they have years of experience designing and marketing smartphones and can offer consumers products with better designs and more features.
That’s not to say Sirin won’t be successful in its own right. The Sirin OS is a good opportunity for the company, who could license the use of the secure OS to other mobile phone manufacturers.
That doesn’t really bode well for the SRN token though, as it can’t gain traction if there isn’t a Sirin ecosystem based on the company’s own product.
There’s also the question of all the lawsuits pending against Hogeg, and whether there was any wrongdoings associated with Sirin Labs, and most notably its huge $158.7 million ICO.
With the SRN token down over 90% from its ICO price, and little signs of its recovery, will more lawsuits start to emerge against Hogeg and his current company Sirin Labs?
Featured Image via Fotolia