Digital BitBox Review 2018 – A crypto wallet from Switzerland

The Digital Bitbox is a plug-and-play wallet and second-factor authenticator that combines the highest security of cold storage with the convenience of software wallets. It is very different to the common products we think of when talking about crypto wallets – such as Ledger and KeepKey.

Upon plugging the Bitbox into your USB, the software will automatically pop up, prompting you to enter your password. The software is simple, intuitive, and easy to navigate, making it one of the easier cryptocurrency wallets to use. It literally took me less than 5 minutes to be up and running. I sent Bitcoin from my phone wallet using the QR code function and the transaction hit the Bitcoin blockchain within seconds. Importantly, both the software and firmware are open sourced, while a wide array of platforms is supported with additional apps for iOS and Windows.

What differentiates it from competitors on the market is the fact that the Digital Bitbox uses a micro SD card to backup your wallet as opposed to traditional seed phrases or paper wallets. For additional security, the backup and recovery can all be done offline and the native software client also fully operates not connected to the internet.

The hardware wallet also incorporates a feature known as “plausible deniability.” If you are being forced to open your wallet, you can intentionally enter a wrong password. Instead of rejecting the password, the device creates a new, empty wallet, creating the illusion your wallet is not holding any crypto.

One downside of the Digital Bitbox is that its software only supports bitcoin, which makes it difficult to move around your altcoins. To be exact, it supports any cryptocurrency that uses ECDSA as a signing algorithm – so the hardware itself provides altcoin support and can store them, but you can’t send funds through the software at this time, which is a shame. This is due to the Digital Bitbox being unlike any other hardware wallet, as it is just a signing tool, therefore you have to have software that understands the transactions and prepares them to be signed (unlike Trezor and Ledger which do the preparation on device and the reason they have to support individual altcoins).

So the BitBox is a signer-on-a-stick, as it actually acts just like a “gateway” providing a second layer of encryption for signing messages and transactions. It holds private keys and gives you an ECDSA signature for whatever data is provided to it – and it does not matter if you are signing messages, transactions or arbitrary data.

But it is not perfect – there have been multiple reports of the product being shipped in a not-very-safe way with only one tamper-proof seal and even pictures posted on forums of the item flat out falling out of the packaging with the seal intact. As such, the product with its minimal design is nice and does not attract unwanted attention – sadly, little attention is also given to it in the cryptocurrency community, as the Swiss company behind it is seemingly unable to get the user base knowing about the BitBox, much less be familiar with it.

With the talks of a major rebranding – rename of Digital BitBox and its parent company, as well as a major app expansions it is safe to say that if the BitBox was not on your radar before, it quite possibly should be in the future, at least for Bitcoin exclusive or advanced users, as it offers little value to altcoin users seeking a user friendly way to keep and use their funds.


Interview with the creators of BC Vault, a new crypto wallet from Slovenia

BC Vault is a brand new crypto wallet from a information security distribution and engineering company headquartered in Slovenia, which aims to disrupt the market with better user experience when handling the device and application, higher level of security with per-wallet encryption, better backup options with encrypted SD card exports, support for over 2000 simultaneous wallets and more.

KeepKey Review – The Sleekest Hardware Crypto Wallet

KeepKey is the flashiest of the cryptocurrency wallets that offer you a safer place for your Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Namecoin, Dogecoin, Dash and some other currencies’ private keys. Its basic functionality is the same as its competitors, most notable are Ledger Nano S, Trezor and Digital Bitbox. Why use a hardware wallet? When you entrust your private keys to KeepKey for example, each and every transaction must be approved via its screen and confirmation button, making it much more difficult for attackers to steal from you.

What makes it different from the competition is the premium feel that it has throughout – be it quality black-and-neon-green packaging with a tamper-proof seal, shiny plastic design with a 3.2” OLED screen, tactile button feedback, sleek application and more.

To get started, users are expected to write down their passphrase enabling a one-time password that will help you in the event that the device is misplaced or your PIN forgotten. Once completed, KeepKey will request a name for the wallet and prompt for a 4-digit PIN to access the wallet in the future. The last step is to install the official KeepKey Chrome extensions – which is as great, as it is frustrating.

A major drawback is the number of supported currencies – as of this video, over 14.000 exist and to support just a dozen is simply not enough to be fully competitive. On the other hand, the KeepKey also integrates with Shapeshift, converting tokens between one another via Shapeshift Decentralized Exchange API. Then again, the inside of the application does not display how much of a processing fee is imposed for every transaction, while on the other hand it is fully open-sourced, so anyone can access the code to authenticate code paths and contribute to the development. The development team was very slow in implementing Bitcoin Cash for example, having only released the support for it 5 months after the hard fork, much less can we expect timely support for SegWit, if at all. And that is the experience that we get when using the software – that is the heart of any hardware wallet – that it’s an abandoned project that is just not competitive on the market.

While I was praising the build of the device, it is far from perfect – while the elongated display is practical for displaying long keys, it has an abysmal resolution given it size and suffers from a slow refresh rate that is most apparent when holding the wallet in your hand. The glossy plastic design is prone to scratches and is too big to pocket and take with you, if that’s something that would be important to you.

All in all, while promising and certainly very sleek, we get the feeling that for every thing the KeepKey gets right, it gets a thing or two wrong – and therefore it does not impress and we would recommend you look elsewhere if you keep anything but the most common currencies and can’t resist glossy plastic. To each his own.