Hardware wallet

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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.

Hardware Wallets

Some of the more feasible (prototype stage or better) wallets are:

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.

Trezor - slush/stick hardware wallet

Trezor Wallet (case)

Hardware wallet project

A simple transaction-signing device, requires software on the receiving side to send and receive transactions. Talks over USB, OLED display, confirm/cancel buttons.

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