Crypto phone maker Sikur wants you to bank through your mobile carrier

The security-focused company is launching its own mobile banking platform, along with the Sikur Android app store at MWC.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
3 min read

Sikur is setting up its own banking platform.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The mobile banking revolution might be underway, but the trustworthiness of mobile banking applications still has a question mark hanging over it for many phone owners.

Maker of security-focused phones Sikur launched its own mobile banking platform on Tuesday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that it hopes will change all that.

The platform is designed to combine all the user-friendly aspects of digital banking apps already on the market with premium security features. Sikur's aim is to use its expertise in security to protect users from the weaknesses of payment apps and point-of-sale data breaches that have affected companies including Ticketmaster and British Airways.

In 2018, analysts from Juniper Research predicted that 2 billion people, or 40 percent of the global population, would be using mobile banking by the end of the year. This number incorporates people using digital tools provided by their own banks, but also those embracing new banking systems and tools such as Monzo, which has grown in popularity in the UK and may have a US launch on the cards soon.

"People are moving from the traditional banks and this kind of platform, so you can easily open your account and do all the transactions as you do in a regular and traditional bank," Alexandre Vasconcelos, CEO of Sikur, said in an interview with CNET.

In the past, Sikur has focused solely on making its own devices, controlling both hardware and software to provide a totally locked-down experience for customers. At last year's MWC, it unveiled its own "unhackable" phone with built-in cryptocurrency wallet. But in September 2018, Sikur showed that it could also equip other phones with the same levels of security when it loaded its SikurOS onto two Sony phones.

Now it wants to provide more phone users around the world with access to the secure technology it is known for. The first way it's doing this is through Sikur Bank, which it hopes will be delivered to phone users through partnerships with carriers.

In partnership with fintech company LogBank, the Brazilian company has built its end-to-end platform that's fully compliant with financial regulations. Sikur will release a software development kit that will allow carriers to develop their own banking apps based on its secure technology. It's currently in talks with carriers in Brazil, but is also keen to take advantage of the willingness to adopt new banking models throughout Europe and the US.


The Sikur App Store.


The second way it's bringing a more secure experience to phones is through the Sikur App Store. Most Android phone owners download their apps through Google Play, but there've been many documented problems with developers pushing Android apps out into the world with security flaws or malicious code on board.

"We are building our own store where we do all the security verifications apps right before publishing them," Vasconcelos said.

Using a Sikur SDK, customers will be able to create their own siloed app stores and fill them with pre-selected apps that Sikur will screen on their behalf. The customer base isn't so much individual phone users but businesses and governments that want to keep devices used by their employees as secure as possible.

"They can have their own app store and deliver those apps to ride on their own devices and they will be able to manage that," Vasconcelos said.