Opera today announced the beta launch of its new “Crypto Browser Project.” As you might imagine, Opera’s Crypto Browser comes with a built-in, native cryptocurrency wallet, and while that might be an obvious talking point for it, the browser is also a way for Opera to jumpstart its Web3 ambitions. While the browser is launching in beta today on a handful of platforms, Opera has also outlined the way forward as it moves through this beta test.

Image: Opera

As Opera explains in a lengthy blog post to its website, the new browser comes with a native, non-custodial crypto wallet that can be used to manage cryptocurrencies, including buying crypto “via a fiat to crypto on-ramp.” It’ll also allow users to swap cryptocurrencies, send and receive crypto to and from others, and check wallet balance and gas fees.

Opera says that users can opt for the built-in crypto wallet or add another Metamask, Coinbase, or Binance wallet through the browser’s wallet selector tool and use those instead. The browser also comes outfitted with secure copy and paste, with the clipboard “securely monitoring itself” to ensure “no other apps have modified your wallet address or sensitive data.” In the end, Opera is positioning this browser as a more fully-featured alternative to using a standard browser with a wallet extension.

Image: Opera

But the native crypto wallet is only one part of the equation here, with Opera also using this as a springboard to dedicated Web3 support in its products. For the uninitiated, Web3 is envisioned as a new iteration of the internet, much like Web 2.0 was before it. However, while Web 2.0 transitioned the internet to focus on user-generated content and participation from users (distinct from the Web 1.0 days of users visiting mostly-static webpages), Web3 envisions a future where the internet is based on blockchains and decentralization puts a larger emphasis on user privacy.

It’s an interesting idea for sure, and Opera seems to be trying to get ahead of the competition in launching this browser. With that focus on Web3, much of the browser will be themed around blockchain technologies, cryptocurrencies, and decentralized apps. The browser comes with what Opera calls the “Crypto Corner,” which users will see on the main screen when they open the Crypto Browser. The Crypto Corner will serve up information on crypto prices, crypto news pieces, and even an NFT gallery.

Of course, not everyone will be familiar with Web3 concepts or even cryptocurrency in general, so the browser also comes with a Crypto Pinboard that offers tutorials on how to use the Crypto Browser Project and what each component of the browser does. The browser will also feature default bookmarks to Twitter, Telegram, and Whatsapp on the sidebar, which is also where users will access their crypto wallets.

Image: Opera

A big area of concern for cryptocurrency skeptics comes in the energy consumption associated with blockchain, and while the Opera Crypto Browser won’t address those issues right from the start, the company does say that it’s “working toward implementing Layer 2 in our browser as quickly as possible.” Layer 2 is something of a stopgap solution as we wait for the more energy-efficient Ethereum 2.0, and it’ll allow users to trade cryptocurrencies and run decentralized apps with a smaller environmental impact.

In the end, Opera says that it plans to pursue a multi-chain strategy with its Crypto Browser Project, and it has already forged partnerships with companies like Polygon, Solana, Nervos, Celo, Unstoppable Domains, Handshake, and ENS with that goal in mind. While it sounds like the Opera Crypto Browser has a long way to go – not only toward offering a full decentralized Web3 experience but also in convincing those skeptical of cryptocurrencies and blockchain as a whole – this seems like a good first step.

The Opera Crypto Browser is available in beta today for Android, Windows, and Mac, with iOS support coming in the “near future.” You can find download links for each version of the browser at the end of the blog post linked above.

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