Hardware wallet

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Revision as of 13:03, 13 August 2014 by Slush (talk | contribs) (TREZOR The Bitcoin Safe)
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A hardware wallet is a device that stores a part of a user's wallet securely in mostly-offline hardware. They have major advantages over other wallet types:

  • the key is often stored in a protected area of a microcontroller, and cannot be transferred out of the device in plaintext
  • immune to computer viruses that steal from software wallets
  • can be used securely and interactively, as opposed to a paper wallet which must be imported to software at some point
  • much of the time, the software is open source, allowing a user to validate the entire operation of the device

This page is an attempt to summarize all the known developments of hardware wallets that can use Bitcoin as part of their operation.

Purchasable hardware wallets

Piper - Standalone bitcoin paper wallet printer


Piper wallet from the front

Piper is the easiest way to store bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies securely.

  • Easy: Simply press the button to print a new paper wallet. You can choose to have Piper store your keys. Backup is as easy as plugging in a USB drive.
  • Secure: Paper wallets are the most secure way to store your Bitcoin. Piper is the only offline wallet to pass all 26 Dieharder tests to ensure secure private key generation.
  • Customizable: Plug in a display, mouse, and keyboard and customize Piper to do whatever you want. It's Linux-based, open source, and powered by the Raspberry Pi. You can even use your own printer!

TREZOR The Bitcoin Safe


Confirming the transaction with TREZOR

TREZOR is a secure bitcoin storage and a transaction signing tool. The private keys are generated by the device and never leave it thus they cannot be accessed by a malware.

It uses a deterministic wallet structure which means it can hold an unlimited number of keys (BIP32/BIP44). A recovery seed is generated when the device is initialized. In case TREZOR gets lost or stolen, all its contents can be recovered using this seed (private keys, bitcoin balance and transaction history) into a new device or another BIP39/BIP44 compatible wallet.

TREZOR also introduced a unique way of PIN entering preventing keyloggers from recording it even when entered on a compromised computer. An encryption passphrase can be set on top of the PIN protection. More passphrases can be used for plausible deniability.

e-Shop BuyTrezor.com | TREZOR Documentation

Pi Wallet - cold storage


Pi-Wallet Shop

Further informations about Pi-Wallet

The Pi-Wallet is comparable to an offline Notebook.

However it combines all features of the Armory bitcoin client (e.g. offline transaction signing) with the advantages of a tiny computer.

To sign offline-transaction you will need an (unused) USB stick.

Not purchasable hardware wallets

BitcoinCard Megion Technologies-Card based wallet

Bitcoin Card

Bitcoincard Home Page

Excellent review by evoorhees

Incorporates a e-paper display, keypad, and radio (custom ISM band protocol.) Unfortunately it is fairly limited in terms of transaction I/O, requiring a radio gateway or another bitcoincard wherever funds need to be transferred.

BitSafe - allten/someone42's hardware wallet

Bitsafe wallet

BitSafe Hardware Wallet Development - BOM Ready - 50 kits being prepared

Signing transactions only, requires USB host software for transactions & USB power. Has a OLED display and Confirm/Cancel buttons. Evolved out of someone42's prototype below, and has significant contributions from someone42 as well.

someone42's original prototype

someone42's original prototype

Hardware Bitcoin wallet - a minimal Bitcoin wallet for embedded devices

Signing transactions only, requires USB host software for transactions & USB power. All work is rolled into the above BitSafe wallet currently.

BTChip btchip USB based transaction signer and private key holder


ANN Smartcard wallet project + btchip implementation (no reader required)


USB smartcard dedicated to bitcoins, no keypad or display so trust in the host device is required. An improvement has been implemented that uses a secret value known to the user during the transaction for additional security.

Other/Defunct but with good discussion:

Seems to have gone defunct around Dec 2011. Some good ideas though and seemed to have started on execution.
Great discussion and good ideas from jim618. Also linked the following video:
Clemens Cap of Uni Rostock explains the Electronic Bitcoin wallet device he's working on. It's based on adafruit microtouch device.
The use of Yubikeys. They only support symmetric crypto, so you'd have to trust the host device.

Smart Card based wallets

This type of device requires complete trust in the host device, as there is no method for user input. See Smart card wallet

Related Resources