Bitcoinist spoke with KeepKey CEO Darin Stanchfield on what makes this hardware wallet different from the Trezor; why sales are increasing in India; and how hardware wallets can boost security for both users and exchanges.
‘Large Uptick’ in Sales to India, CEO says
Bitcoinist: KeepKey costs $99. Why should Bitcoin users store their funds with the KeepKey hardware wallet instead of a piece of paper that costs zero?
Darin Stanchfield (DS): Paper wallets are a great way to secure your digital assets with two big caveats:
First, you need to generate the paper wallet securely. This means private key generation and printing via offline machines with a clean OS install. Second, when it comes time to spend, transactions need to be generated offline and in secure environments while only using connected machines for transaction broadcasting.
These caveats are potential deal breakers for less sophisticated users and also make frequent transactions burdensome. Thats why KeepKey exists. The device ensures proper security practices and makes doing the wrong thing difficult. You can transact with the device as you would a wallet on your phone or computer while maintaining peace-of-mind that your assets are safe and secure.
So for many, the price of a KeepKey is well worth avoiding the pitfalls and hassles of paper wallets.
Bitcoinist: With a similar price point just as the popular Trezor, are the differences between the two merely subjective such as KeepKey’s bigger screen or is there more?
DS: Appearance is only one difference. Here are some more:
* KeepKey supports ShapeShift natively on device. This means you can exchange one type of digital asset for another directly on KeepKey. The device makes sure that ShapeShift is performing the exchange, and that the exchanging assets are stored and protected by KeepKey.
* As of today in our Chrome App, you can transact with Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum. Many more are coming soon.
* Direct and secure account-to-account transactions. You can move digital assets around on your device securely.
* Private key recovery uses a rotating cypher to provide much better protection for your recovery sentence during recovery.
* KeepKey can sign existing Bitcoin transactions and about 20% of the time it would take on Trezor using its streaming transaction abilities.
Bitcoinist: Can you share how many units you have shipped already? What was the best and worst customer review you’ve received so far?
DS: We don’t publish our sales numbers, but I can say we have seen phenomenal demand for KeepKey this year.
We pride ourselves on the reviews we have received for KeepKey, and it speaks to our commitment to our customers. Unfortunately there are just too many great reviews to single out the best.
The main complaint we have received is our international shipping charges. Going into the new year, one of our primary goals is to strengthen our distribution channels so that customers can enjoy KeepKey worldwide at the same price.
A very large uptick in our sales to India […]probably speaks to the currency problems that are currently going on there.
Bitcoinist: Do you ship globally? Have you noticed any increased demand for hardware wallets by region?
DS: We do ship globally, and it represents a large portion of our business. We have noticed a very large uptick in our sales to India recently, and it probably speaks to the currency problems that are currently going on there.
Bitcoinist: How does KeepKey ensure that the private keys are never exposed when transacting?
DS: The private keys never leave KeepKey. The device signs transactions on behalf of the user, and it is the signed transaction that is sent from KeepKey to the connected computer. KeepKey uses a limited protocol with a restricted set of commands, and there is no way to get KeepKey’s private key except during setup when you write down your recovery sentence.
Bitcoinist: If someone gets their hands on your KeepKey, is the 4-digit PIN the only thing stopping them form moving your funds? Can it be made longer?
DS: PINs can be as long as 9 digits, and we do recommend using more than 4. If someone gets ahold of your KeepKey, after each failed attempt at your PIN there is an attempt delay that doubles. Realistically you can only get a few failed attempts before your locked out of the device.
For those that wish for added security beyond a PIN, you can use a passphrase. A passphrase deterministically changes the private keys on the device, therefore an unlimited [amount] can be used. Think of it as hidden volumes for your KeepKey.
The promise of currencies like Bitcoin is that you can transact without counterparties.
Bitcoinist: Besides the Chrome application, will we see a standalone UI client in the future?
DS: We working to break free from Chrome as there are many users who don’t want to have to install Chrome to interact with the device.
I’d like to add that MultiBit (software we acquired earlier this year) supports KeepKey out of the box, and there exist several Chrome-free clients that work with KeepKey as of today.
Bitcoinist: When will the Chrome application support altcoins such as Dash and Namecoin, which can already be technically stored on the device?
DS: These can already be stored on device but require using a third party client to use them. That said, Dash and Namecoin will be coming to our Chrome App very soon.
Bitcoinist: Bitcoin has been plagued by centralized exchange hacks and stolen funds. Is/can KeepKey be used by exchanges to prevent, and even deter, cyber attacks?
DS: Absolutely. Effectively, our partnership with ShapeShift seeks to solve this very problem. The promise of currencies like Bitcoin is that you can transact without counterparties. We are working on solutions to make this streamlined for the user, with the same convenience they get from a centralized exchange without the custodial risk.
…it is very likely that in 5-10 years the technology that is Bitcoin will be widely used and be mainstream
Bitcoinist: How do you see people using Bitcoin in 5-10 years?
DS: I’ve learned while being involved with Bitcoin is that it is very difficult to predict how it will progress and what it will look like in the future. We are seeing rapid innovation.
I will go out on a limb though and predict that adoption will continue to grow and it is very likely that in 5-10 years the technology that is Bitcoin will be widely used and be mainstream. We already see this with larger financial institutions embracing the idea of a blockchain.
Have you tried KeepKey? Would you recommend it it? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of KeepKey, Dash