With my stash of Bitcoin, I'm the only person who knows my keys and can access my stash. That's the same generally for everyone who's got their stash in a non-custodial wallet.
But there are an number of companies that own Bitcoin1, as well as countries. Tesla's had a huge amount of BTC (and in spite of how it's run, it's a corporation and not just Musk's plaything). All those ETFs own plenty. El Salvador's got tons of it, but the US has even more from assorted seizures.
So who's got the keys to all this?
In the world of fiat, there are plenty of scenarios where multiple people might have access to corporate funds. It might be only at a spending level -- corporate credit cards, the ability to submit purchase orders -- or it might mean access to actual bank accounts. But there's a check on this access because it's password-based and can generally be tracked. If I, as an employee, use my password to get into our bank account and transfer money, it's probably traceable to me because either I've got a unique password, or I had to log in to my work computer or corporate VPN, or because my bank account itself is trackable.
But if I have access to the keys to the corporate BTC wallet, I can transfer those coins to another wallet I own without ever going on any system that's trackable. And while those coins can be followed, there are still mixers (even if fewer than before), and hell, if I never touched those coins, they'd still be out of reach of the original owners.
Obviously, there are safeguards like multisig and transferring to new wallets and other things I probably don't know about. But all of those seem like things that could have holes in them (does anyone believe for a second that Bukele doesn't have all the keys, for example? And thus someone else might be able to find out his keys if he's ever written them down?). And ensuring that only one person has the keys leads to a potential Quadriga situation, and even with dead man switches in place, would slow business down a lot.
So how do corporations/countries ensure that their BTC stays in their own wallets?


  1. This probably applies to "crypto" as a whole, but obviously BTC is my interest here.
Coinbase is a big custodial solution for almost every ETF and probably most corporates.
Unchained is pushing corporate solutions too (and is a much more responsible approach).
Would love to see a more informed answer on this topic and any documentation available.
Man, I wonder if those corporations and ETFs list "Coinbase might rug" as a risk when they release their quarterly reports.
Would love to see this!
Thanks for asking. I've wondered the same thing.
The options all seem pretty messy for institutional ownership.
The custodians that hold the Bitcoin for them hold the keys. Hopefully eventually these custodial services offer corporations, nation states and large institutions vault services with multi-sig but I don't think that's the case right now.
That would be the ideal solution for a corp. You have the custodian with 1 key, the corp with 1 key and a third party (accounting or legal frim representing the corp) with the third.
I don't know, man. They might just be using a device that unlocks with a 4 digit password and they keep it safely inside a locker that opens with hundreds of thumb impressions or thousands of retina scans.
But, corporations also have heads/owners, I'm sure only they have the code.
The proof lies in the fact that Musky's Tesla stopped accepting (now even talking) Bitcoin, for they tried it to do corporate thing with Bitcoin bit it didn't make sense. So, now they only show balnce sheet with Bitcoin and the key is there in Musky's mind. TBH, he is no kid.
I think it is a group of people holding the key. So one person cant just run away with it.
I'm sure the highest ranked hold the key. It's the custom here iny country at least.
I believe that the custody of bitcoins by institutions and countries will not differ much and can be based on three basic security principles: cold storage, multi-sig wallets, and infrastructure security.
Extremely popular opinion. Way to put yourself out there.