If the opening paragraph was gobbledigook to you, allow me to elucidate. Bitcoin is the first (and most well-known) of a group of new forms of digital currencies. Bitcoin (et al), is essentially a decentralised protocol for transmitting transactions (based on cryptographically signed messages) across the internet. All things being equal, there's no chance of "double spending", and you can send money anywhere in the world within just a few minutes. And just in case my absence on the All About sites has been noticed, you can follow my latest work, on CoinDesk.com, where I've been reporting on issues surrounding "cryptocurrencies" for the past three months.
The first application that we came across was cuteCoin. This app aims to provide you with an "eWallet" (an outdated term), the latest stats from your mining pool, and the latest trading information on the (then) two largest digital currency exchanges.
Let's just recap here, "mining" is the process by which new bitcoins are released into the system – they are released by the protocol to members of the network ("miners") for confirming transactions between two parties. That is – miners are responsible for maintain a public ledger (the "block chain") of the currency, and their reward is the release of new bitcoins. Mining is a difficult business requiring lots of processing power, and so many people team together into mining pools, where the rewards won by a member of the pool are split evenly between all members.
That all sounds great, if it had worked. However, I found that cuteCoin sat forever trying to create a wallet, without success. As for the mining pool stats, I'm not equipped to be a Bitcoin miner, and so I couldn't test this. Of the two exchanges it was designed to track, only "Mt Gox" is still operating – "Tradehill" is currently closed while it works with FinCEN, the US "Financial Crimes Enforcement Network" to fulfil regulatory requirements. All of that means that cuteCoin is ultimately only useful for tracking the USD/BTC exchange rate on Mt Gox.
An alternative to this app could be BitWatch which – on paper – does all the things that cuteCoin claims to do. However, after downloading and attempting to install the .SIS file, it refused to install. Therefore, there was either a problem with our test device or the application itself was at fault.
One more alternative I tried for this post was the mobile website of blockchain.info. This website serves as the block chain explorer for Bitcoin, but it also hosts cloud-based wallets. However, I could not get Symbian Web to log into that either. It was, however, possible to log in to the mobile website for Mt Gox – so it would be possible to do some bitcoin trading via your Symbian browser.
Comments welcome if you've had more success or if you know of other bitcoin-related software for Symbian...