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In this episode of “Bitcoin, Explained” (formerly known as “The Van Wirdum Sjorsnado”), hosts Aaron van Wirdum and Sjors Provoost discussed the Chivo application, the Bitcoin wallet and payment terminal provided by the government of El Salvador.
This episode is a little bit different from other episodes of “Bitcoin, Explained,” because the Chivo app is closed-source software. Instead of analyzing the source code and design of the application, van Wirdum and Provoost had to rely on van Wirdum’s personal experience with the wallet and payment terminal or what he remembers of that personal experience.
“It’s nice when it’s open source and transparent,” said Provoost. “The Chivo system is not really that.”
The episode opens with some general information about the Chivo wallet, such as why it was developed and who developed it (insofar as anything is known about that). Van Wirdum and Provoost went on to discuss van Wirdum’s experiences with the wallet and speculated what that means for the design. After that, they discussed the design of the payment terminal that’s included in the application, and also briefly touched on the Chivo ATMs that have been deployed across the country.
“You could send [bitcoin] to another Chivo Wallet, but not to an external wallet, so any merchant using Chivo would be able to accept it, but any merchant not using Chivo would not be able to accept it,” Provoost said. “Which is the exact opposite of the point of being interoperable.”
Finally, van Wirdum and Provoost discussed the difference in philosophy between the design of the Chivo application and Bitcoin’s free and open-source software culture.
Preserving your Bitcoin wallet recovery seed is critical to self sovereignty. Here’s how to do so with the BitPlates Domino steel backup plate.
This article demonstrates how to use the Domino stainless-steel Bitcoin seed phrase backup plate, by BitPlates, to secure the recovery information for a Bitcoin wallet against fire, flood or other disaster.
Congratulations on taking the leap into bitcoin self custody. By doing so, you no longer need to rely on third-party permission to access and use your bitcoin however or whenever you see fit. An added benefit of self custody is mitigating third-party risk — you no longer need to worry about an exchange hack depleting all of your bitcoin from your trusted custodian’s control. Self custody puts you in control of your bitcoin, ensuring that you maintain access to your bitcoin in case of a catastrophe.
By stamping your BIP39 Bitcoin wallet recovery words into a stainless steel medium like the Domino®, you can rest assured that you have the necessary information secured to restore your Bitcoin wallet and regain access to your funds whether you lose your mobile, desktop or hardware wallet and/or you are the victim of an environmental hazard such as fire or flood. If you secured your Bitcoin wallet with an added passphrase during initial setup, it is possible for you to purchase multiple Domino plates to secure that information as well.
BitPlates offers several different options in two different grades. The industrial grade is made of 304 stainless steel and the marine grade is made of 316L stainless steel. There are three sizes available in each grade: pocket, original and grande.
The larger the plate, the more space there is in each square for stamping the appropriate dots.
Each plate is 3 millimeters (mm) thick and 100 mm tall, but the widths vary depending on model:
The generation two line of plates feature an etched alphabet on the left side, as compared to the generation one plates which did not include the alphabet. Every Domino also includes a 3 mm hole which can be used for a range of storage techniques, like hanging the plate behind a picture on your wall or attaching the plate to a lanyard.
For this guide, I will be demonstrating the industrial grade, original Domino. I used a 24-word seed phrase generated by a ColdCard, which is the hardware wallet I recommend for reasons I outline here, but you can use any BIP39-compatible Bitcoin wallet. If you are looking for guidance on the available choices, here are recommendations I make for getting started with Android, iPhone and desktop. The Domino can be used for any BIP39-compatible seed phrase such as those with 12, 18 or 24 words.
Only the first four letters of each word are necessary, as no two words on the BIP39 word list share the same sequence of the initial four letters. Start with a permanent marker just in case you make a mistake and then double check your work before proceeding with the spring-loaded punch. The alphabet template can assist in keeping the letters properly aligned while moving across the grid.
On the first side of the plate, use a single dot for words one through six and a double dot for words seven through 12. If any words share a common character, stamp three dots in that square. Some words from the BIP39 list are only three letters in length so the fourth square in those instances will be left blank if not needed. Use the reverse side of the plate and repeat the process for words 13 through 18 and 19 through 24. Ensure that the words are kept in order of one through 24.
Here is a video demonstrating the process:
Once finished, you can clean the permanent marker off of the plate with rubbing alcohol or acetone and the results are a clean, legible and organized backup.
Now that the Bitcoin wallet recovery seed words are secure, let’s test the durability of the Domino against white-hot temperatures of about 1,500°C, just below melting point. Then we can verify that this backup method is guaranteed to withstand a house fire. After you have checked and double checked your backup by restoring your wallet, consider safely burning the paper copy.
The Domino survived the test and all 24-words are 100% recoverable!
In conclusion, the Domino is a robust Bitcoin wallet backup method. One of my favorite features is that it is thicker than most steel backups at 3 mm. I also like that it is available in multiple sizes to fit a wide range of needs or hiding places. Multiple plates can be used for backing up more advanced security methods, such as an additional passphrase, a SeedXOR or multisig. For example, a secondary Domino could be used to stamp a second set of words from the BIP39 list and this could even generate a decoy wallet with some duress funds stored in case of emergency. Then the first six words, for example, could actually be the passphrase for the primary wallet secured by the first Domino. This video demonstrates the technique.
There are many clever solutions you could implement to secure your Bitcoin wallet using a high degree of entropy.
To learn more about BitPlates and its line of secure Bitcoin backups, check out its website, follow it on Twitter or check out its how-to video guide here.
This is a guest post by Econoalchemist. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
This article demonstrates using a stainless-steel backup plate for securing bitcoin against fire, flood and other disaster. This backup will work for securing any BIP39 word-phrase and it is specially-tailored for use with Samourai Wallet.
Self custody of your bitcoin is serious business, it is a radical responsibility. You and you alone are responsible for the security of your bitcoin.
The majority of wallets used for securing bitcoin will provide the user with a 12- or 24-word seed phrase. This goes for mobile wallets, desktop wallets and hardware wallets. But storing the wallet information in digital media such as a text document or image file is risky, because anyone with access to that digital file will be able to withdraw the bitcoin from that wallet.
Writing down these words in order on a piece of paper is a great way to ensure that the information necessary to restore the wallet is secure in a way that is never accessible by internet connection. But how secure is paper, really? What happens if there is a fire where this paper is located? What about a flood? Preventing loss of bitcoin by securing the seed words in a steel medium is a great way to protect against such incidents.
A passphrase can also be used to add additional wallet security. Passphrases are kind of like having a 13th or 25th seed phrase word, but only you know what the passphrase is. The passphrase can be any combination of letters, numbers or special characters. And remember: No one can help you recover your passphrase, so be sure to take care and secure it accordingly. If you lose your passphrase and need to recovery your wallet, the 12-words alone will not be enough.
The RoninSteel backup plate, designed by the RoninDojo team, is a steel plate for storing your Bitcoin seed phrase and protecting it against disaster. While its tailored for Samourai Wallet users, it will work with any BIP39 seed phrase.
Upon receiving the RoninSteel backup, you will find:
If you’re using Samourai Wallet, then the 12-word seed phrase will be punched on one side of the plate and the passphrase will be punched on the other side of the plate.
Alternatively, there are other sticker templates available for 24-word seed phrases. The idea with these is that you would use both sides of the steel plate for the words and a second plate for the passphrase, if applicable. You will notice that there are places to indicate the word number and whether or not a passphrase is used.
I’ll demonstrate how to generate a new seed phrase and passphrase using Samourai Wallet and then how to secure them.
The basic steps to create a new wallet are:
Once the wallet is set up, the 12-word seed phrase and passphrase can be transferred to the steel backup. First, gather the steel plate, the 12-word seed phrase sticker, a sharpie, a spring-loaded punch and also the 12 words by navigating to the three-dot menu in the upper right-hand corner of the Samourai Wallet application, then “Settings,” “Wallet,” “Show mnemonic.”
Carefully place the sticker on the steel plate so that all of the edges are aligned. Then, use the sharpie to mark the corresponding circles on the sticker. The A-Z alphabet runs horizontally and the 12-word columns run vertically. You only need the first four letters of each word, as all words on the BIP39 list have a unique sequence of the first four letters.
Double check your work before using the spring-loaded punch. Make sure to also indicate if you are using a passphrase in the lower right-hand corner. Then peel the sticker off.
Once the sticker is removed, the information is obfuscated and just looks like some random dots. If someone were to gain access to this steel plate, they would not be able to determine the information contained here without a recovery sticker.
Next, you can stamp your passphrase on the reverse side of the plate. Double check that your passphrase is correct by navigating to the three-dot menu in the upper right-hand corner of the Samourai Wallet application, then “Settings,” “Troubleshoot,” “Passphrase/backup test.”
Then, carefully place the passphrase sticker on the steel plate so that all of the edges are aligned. Again, use the sharpie first and then double check you work before using the spring-loaded punch. You will notice that there are rows on the top and bottom edges indicating which column the character for a particular row belongs.
Then, peel the sticker off and the information is obfuscated.
Now, all of the necessary information to restore your wallet is secured in a durable, stainless-steel medium and it is obfuscated. You can use the included red envelope and seal it with the included tamper-evident sticker. Then, store this securely as if it were gold or jewelry.
Let’s see how well this stainless steel plate withstands white-hot temperatures near melting point, 1,500°C:
The plate survived the fire test, but let’s see if the information is recoverable:
The information was 100% recoverable! Even after the fire test, by applying a recovery sticker, the 12-word seed phrase and the passphrase were both recovered. The recovery stickers are clear in the little circles so it is easier to see the divots. Using the tip of the spring-loaded punch, I was able to locate the divots and impress the sticker to make it more visible.
Wallet Recovery Check:
In conclusion, the RoninSteel backup plate is durable enough to withstand white-hot temperatures and still secure your wallet recovery information. The plate is small enough to be easily concealed anywhere in your home.
One plate can be used for a Samourai Wallet 12-word phrase and passphrase or multiple plates can be purchased for 24-word seed phrase/passphrase combinations. The tamper evident seal on the envelope adds some peace of mind in knowing if anyone has accessed the steel plate.
By removing the stickers, the information is obfuscated in a way that makes it useless to anyone who doesn’t know exactly what it is and doesn’t have the stickers to use. All in all, I thought this was a cool way to secure Bitcoin wallet recovery information.
To learn more about Ronin Dojo check out these resources:
This is a guest post by Econoalchemist. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
El Salvador’s president announced the country’s official bitcoin wallet, Chivo, to be launched in September and give $30 in BTC to users.
The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, has announced Chivo, the country’s official Bitcoin wallet, which will allow Salvadorians to hold both BTC and USD balances as a mobile app. The government will also give a $30 bonus in bitcoin for those who download and register for Chivo after it launches in September.
El Salvador will give this bitcoin bonus for two reasons, according to the announcement.
“First, to promote the use of bitcoin in the economy,” Bukele said. “Second, so that the people have an incentive to use the application and download it, and in this way start the system … so that you can go to a local store and everyone will have bitcoin, because everyone will have the same incentive to have downloaded the app.”
The $30 bonus will be given in bitcoin, based on the market value of the BTC/USD pair at the time of registration. Furthermore, users will be able to hold both USD and BTC balances in Chivo and convert funds between the two balances at any time. Chivo will display the amount held in each balance in both USD and BTC terms.
Additionally, the bitcoin wallet will allow users to make payments and send money with QR codes. But Bukele also stressed that nobody will be obligated to accept BTC. For instance, if a user wishes to pay for their groceries with bitcoin but the merchant wants to receive dollars instead, Chivo will allow for both to use their preferred currency. The user can send BTC, and the wallet will convert and deliver the corresponding USD amount to the merchant, based on the bitcoin spot market price.
Chivo wallet’s announcement follows the recent approval of bitcoin as legal tender in El Salvador. The bill, which was approved by the country’s congress earlier this month, regulates bitcoin as “unrestricted legal tender with liberating power, unlimited in any transaction, and to any title that public or private natural or legal persons require carrying out.” The law will come into effect in September.
The technical implementation behind El Salvador’s new official bitcoin wallet is still unclear. But it might be a product of the partnership the country has ensued with Lightning payments platform Strike. The startup, which initially went to the Central American country to help empower the Bitcoin Beach community, rapidly started meeting with Bukele and later helped the president announce the forthcoming law at the Bitcoin 2021 event.
Chivo also marks a response to the World Bank, which recently refused to help El Salvador accomplish its bitcoin goals. Furthermore, with El Salvador showing the world that it is possible to implement a bitcoin standard, other countries might follow.
Hardware wallet manufacturer SatoshiLabs has announced a new user interface platform for its Trezor product, called Trezor Suite.
SatoshiLabs, the manufacturer behind bitcoin hardware wallet product Trezor, has announced a new user interface platform called Trezor Suite, launching on July 14.
In a video announcement shared at the Bitcoin 2021 event, the SatoshiLabs team explained that its forthcoming desktop app offers a new layout for users to interact with the bitcoin protected by the private keys stored on their Trezor, as well as new technical features.
“It’s sort of like a new stack from the technological point of view, but also it comes with a new design,” explained Matěj Žák, head of product at SatoshiLabs, in the video announcement.
Trezor Suite also offers new features like a replace-by-fee (RBF) button, which lets users replace a version of their unconfirmed bitcoin transactions with versions that pay higher transaction fees and thus incentivize miners to confirm them. And through an integration with SatoshiLabs’ Invity exchange, users can also buy, sell, exchange or spend bitcoin using the app.
It also integrates anonymous web software Tor at the click of the button, and offers a “discreet mode” that obscures the sensitive information presented on the screen.
The SatoshiLabs team also noted that it plans to add more features soon, like support for CoinJoin bitcoin mixing and a mobile version.
Trezor will be hosting a Twitter Spaces talk with Unchained Capital and Braiins to discuss the ongoing Bitcoin 2021 conference.