I'm NVK, CEO of Coinkite. AMA.
Hi everyone! I’m @nvk, Founder and CEO of Coinkite and fulltime shitposter. I learned about Bitcoin from the SlashDot release post. Coinkite is one of the oldest Bitcoin companies (renamed to CK on block 141,000). We make Bitcoin Security and Fun Devices, and focus on Bitcoiners.
You many know some of our products COLDCARD, BLOCKCLOCK, OPENDIME, SATSCARD, TAPSIGNER, SEEDPLATE, COLDPOWER and SATSCHIP (we love caps) and/or some of our websites projects like BitcoinTreasuries.net, BitcoinBinary.org, WalletsRecovery.org, Bitcoin.Holiday, BitcoinBounties.org and my newest thing the Bitcoin.Review Podcast.
Do you want me to stack less sats? If not, why can't you stop making so many cool products for me to spend my money on?
Can't stop, wont stop...
What future developments do you see coming in the Bitcoin hardware space?
It think the big phone manufactures will add bitcoin wallets natively to their secure enclaves.
two weeks ™ of course
I really hope so
Danny here from walletscrutiny.com, is there a specific reason why the ColdCard repository does not have a GitHub issue tracker?
Yes, it's too spammy and github doesn't have good moderation tools. We tried having it open but was a disaster. Please submit issues to support at coinkite dot com
with the release of ephemeral seeds on the Coldcard mk4 will they be able to import private keys starting with a 5, for an unsealed opendime for example.
how many uses can you do of ephemeral seeds, as I understand you can only generate 256 private keys with the coldcard?
WIF support is coming next (ie the OPENDIME private key)
For me the main use case was being able to transfer funds from older seed and/or other devices without exposing them. So loading these seeds as temp on mine and export electrum file for sweeping them. There is no limit on how many temporary seeds you can load, it's just one at a time. Once you reboot they clear and revert back to your stored seed.
Maybe you are confusing these with BIP85 seeds (deterministic seeds)
Favy Sci-Fi novel?
The book? I don't think that one is a novel, ser. Can't find it.
I don't read fiction :|
Really love the idea of using a hardware device for deterministic password management, since we as bitcoiners have gotten quite good at backing up and securing the single source of truth. Do you see priortizing that more or getting it to a point where the basics are all there in the coldcard and then letting the market fill the gap with third party password software providers?
I guess in general that's one of the challenging aspects to historically focusing on the HWW part and being dependent on external software out of your control filling the gaps.
We are experimenting more, but I think PW management needs to be it's own solution. Better a third party puts the needed effort into it. We like what we offer at the moment with BIP85 for Seeds and PWs.
I would rather people keep their Bitcoin separate from their other activities. Maybe get two CCs.
Nice to see you take that approach NVK. More software, more attack surface!
Thanks for the answer!
And oh trust me I'm all for people having many CCs haha
Have you considered making or selling Lightning hardware devices? Remote signing devices, battery powered cellular nodes, etc?
Yes, we have a side project. We just don't think the market is quite there or needs it at all. Because LN txns are low value, phones are perfectly good for it.
If you're still around - What are the greatest wallets that integrate nicely with CC?
Nunchuck, Electrum, Sparrow, Wasabi, Cold Core and Core come to mind.
Yo NVK thanks for doing this SN ama?
Got a couple questions I hope you can answer?
First one is related to bitcoin hardware.
What really is the distinguishing factor between all the bitcoin hardware wallets out there, besides great branding and marketing?
Second question is related to bitcoin businesses.
With over a decade of running and starting a bitcoin company, what has been the best advice someone has given you to navigate the space?
asking this now I realize I might have answered my first question
COLDCARD was a totally new idea, using Secure Elements AND being Open Source. Then there is a ton of inventions and new features, like splitting the PIN for anti phishing, adding transaction checks, air gap signing, PSBT push, BIP85 implementation, Trick PINs, paper wallet generation, Address explorer, proper multisig support and air gap multisig wallet creation, encrypted backup, number pad, clear case and proper supply chain security bags, and lots more https://coldcard.com/docs/compare-wallets
I don't think was advice, but a few realizations; mange your cash right on bear markets, don't ask permission but do make industry friends outside twitter, ship often, experiment as we are still very early.
ya def looking forward to getting some more coldcard wallets in pleblab, also making industry friends outside twitter have also heard before, great answers!
I get why general hardwired USB is a security risk. But if you control 100% of the hardware, as with Coldcard, why can't you just support the most limited subset of USB functionality, and not allow it to do anything weird?
Hey slush! We do support USB use both via E2EE direct HWI or by VirtualDisk emulation, we just don't like it and recommend the better safety of SneakerNet.
USB spec and implementations are a cluster f., it's hard to guarantee it (on the host side) and we just don't know bugs we could have exposing ppl with the added attack surface.
This presentation goes over my opinion about USB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p69ACzYQQys
I love my coldcard. But there's no way I could get my parents to use one. It would just be too intimidating for them! Could we expect a wallet tailored for non-techies from Coinkite any time soon?
We are working on many things, but I think the best is to start people with TAPSIGNER. It's very easy and natural to tap to sign.
When will we be able to tap our satscard on our blockclocks? :-D
We are playing with it but still no guarantees as the hardware might be capable enough.
Why is coldcard not open source?
COLDCARD is MIT + CC, this means it's free to view, alter, share, gift, sell. The only restriction is commercial, ie you can't clone the code raise VC and compete with the original code makers. COLDCARD has always been greatly single source, this means not community code, but written by us.
Where are you from in Brasil, and what did you study to get the programming/hardware know how to build CC and the likes?
Sao Paulo. I don't have formal technical background. Also very lucky to have a extremely talented co-founder.
What is your vision on Fedimint? And since your world spins around hardware devices, do you picture any new class of hardware device coming into life because of Fedimint?
Chaumian banks are not new, but they become more interesting with the advent of Bitcoin/LN as onramps. I think it's a very interesting model to be tried in the market, specially in the developing world with lower value transactions. as for hardware, I can see the need for a federation signer HSM and maybe the Tapsginer model could work too if/when support added.
You da man NVK!👊🏻
How has your background coming from and being raised in Latam shaped and helped with your understanding of bitcoin?
I’m from Latam as well, left when I was around 14yrs old!
If you are from Brazil/Latam you immediately understand debasement and bail-ins. LOL
Nothing like being taken for a ride by the government a few times to get why separating money and state is so important.
According to you which kind of Bitcoin-related products or services might help to achieve mass adoption?
Better client software and more accessible onramps, bitcoin's volatility will still be too much for the developing world's pocket to be able to handle. They don't have enough float, so for now I see stable coins as their best tool.
Shoutout from Sudbury Ontario. where up North are you located?
Undisclosed location, eh ;)
What was the inspiration behind the name Coinkite?
Also I own 6 ColdCards and a Blockclock - your products always exceed my expectations 😘
Way back then, we thought of the concept of UTXOs suspended in the sky being controlled by a signer on the ground. Like a Kite...
Thanks for being a customer <3
Are there any hardware projects you think more Bitcoiners should focus on?
I'm biased to say yes, but realistically speaking what we need right now is better client software. More app and desktop wallets trying different UXes and goals. That to me is the current bottle neck.
Before succeeding with Coldcard, what other bitcoin products did you try and fail at?
Oooof, so many, we have boxes full of prototypes and other ideas. We tried Debit Card and PoS, we were very successful being Bitgo before Bitgo, as backend to companies like BitMex and Coinapult but holding ppl's bags was not our dream in life so we closed that down. We designed a COLDCARD much earlier but never made it. We even released but never launched a web file selling site using bitcoin. There was also a CloudFlare replacement "CloudFire" with in browser proof of work, but that never went anywhere. That's at least what comes to mind right away...
The co-sign pages with m-of-15 multisig API sure was useful in 2014/15, why did it die out?
Because we didn't want to run "services"
Why are you such a failure...at being boring?
I blame the Brazilian upbringing...
What's the most surprising thing you've learned building bitcoin products?
I think how incredible the invention of the Difficulty Adjustment was and how it solved the two general's problem. And how ignorant about economics and money I was. Bitcoin's best gift is an economics education.
Well said! People come for the fast money but don't realize the greatest gift is the education!
How many pairs of Crocs do you own?
one with holes and one without at each location.
When Opendimes with USB-C?
Unlikely, it's been superseded by SATSCARD
Stuff me roughly - I'd not seen those - they look excellent! Thanks :-)
When I purchase products from the store using BTC, could you give me a rough idea of what happens to that BTC? Not prying for sensitive numbers, just wondering about what an epic company like coinkite does in terms of HODLing/spending/selling to pay the bills/etc
Love my coldcard. Great to have you on SN
FreeBSD is written by people who gets triggered by virtual hugs. Stop shilling it.
What's something you believe about bitcoin's future that few bitcoiners agree with you on?
Bitcoin is not for everyone, it's simply available to everyone. Unfortunately we will see a similar distribution of people getting screwed by banks, they will just be bitcoin banks. Only thing is now people have an option, but fewer than ppl think will take that personal responsibility choice.
What countries you can send the wallet ,easily without any complaining From shipment company or customs
We can send ECC calculators pretty much to the whole world, excluding sanctions list.
How has your view of bitcoin changed from the early days to now?
I came for the tech, very early days bitcoin didn't have much economic point. So payments was the obvious use of it. We built Bitcoin payment terminals and debit cards around that idea, that was both too early and the wrong use. As I went from being ignorant about economics to having a better a grasp it became clear Bitcoin was the perfect Store of Value, predictable supply and uncesorable. And as expected all the MoE properties take a back sit to that, but are now being extremely well developed on L2.
Oh my goodies. I have to check out those websites. I'm always looking for interesting Bitcoin related projects to follow. BitcoinBounties.org seems interesting af, not gonna lie.