Innovation within the ecosystem spawned by bitcoin never ceases to amaze. From the folks at Coinkite comes Opendime‘s latest wallet project, Coinkite Coldcard. It’s funky and nerdy looking, beautiful in its own way, yet promises to have elegant security features as well.
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If cypherpunks could’ve designed a wallet, it would almost certainly be like the latest Opendime offering.
The first impressive project that blew my mind from them was the second iteration of their USB stick, allowing holders to store bitcoin more like cash in the sense of its physicality, and it could be used multiple times (see video below). An online spending feature required something like a bobby pin to poke out the seal in order to activate. It remains a killer design – and its hole in the self-contained keyboard made for a neat necklace or keychain charm.
Opendime’s parent, Coinkite, has A long history in the ecosystem, and the Canadian-based firm is known for its gritty, solid work.
So it was with some delight I happened across their bitcoin improvement proposal (BIP) BIP39-based coldcard. Right away, I was struck by the old school, 1980s calculator design. It has a fat organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen with a PIN keypad just below, inclusive.
Five Dollar Wrench
Standard security features abound, but one attack hackers are fond of reminding smug coders about is known as the five dollar wrench attack. Literally, all the protocols in the world seem unable to deal with analog reality: give me a cheap, blunt instrument, say a wrench, and as I beat you with it you’ll undoubtedly give up pass phrases and even your shoes to avoid another plunk on the head.
Opendime mitigates this with a secondary PIN code capable of unlocking a completely different wallet. Other storage wallets such as Trezor and Digital Bitbox have their own, roughly similar, answers. A wrench, however, is still pretty convincing in my opinion.
The company announcement reveals how no “specialized software [is]required. It looks like a hard drive, so you can drag and drop files into it. No companion ‘app’ on your computer, works with the major wallets already.” And it’s only about fifty bucks as of this writing, so it’s not going to break your bank if you decide it’s less than jake.
Another security aspect features a real “crypto security chip. Your private key is stored in a dedicated security chip, not the main micro’s flash,” they stress. If you’re prone to messing with devices, its software is open source (Micropython). Its “MicroSD card slot for backup and data storage” allows “truly offline signing, by transferring the unsigned/signed transactions on sneakernet,” they claim. A deeper dive into the specs can be had on its page, but the open platform could allow an enterprising developer to attach google 2FA in order to limit smartphone reliance. The possibilities seem pretty great.
Though due spring of next year, pre-orders are open.
Tell us what you think in the comments below about your favorite wallet.
Images courtesy of Pixabay, Coinkite, Opendime, Randall Munroe.
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Author: C. Edward Kelso