This year has been brutal in the cryptocurrency markets so far. Among the developments in the recession have been a slew of centralized entities filing for bankruptcy, the most high-profile of which was Celsius.
Against this background, the mantra of “not your keys, not your coins” rings truer than ever. As contagion ripples across the industry, there is only one way you can be absolutely sure that your bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) are safe. And that’s cold storage – something I warned about the day the UST peg started slipping.
$18B stablecoin can’t get worse without outsiders popping up elsewhere
For example, #bitcoin Might be the safest money in the world, but only if you have the key.
Is Your Custodial Lender Definitely Not Engaged $UST,
Terra might be going over here, it’s not over
— Dan Ashmore (@DannyiAshmore) 11 May 2022
A few months down the line, we’re not out of the woods yet, despite an initial wave of bankruptcies now in the back mirror – including Celsius, Voyager Digital, Three Arrows Capital.
Today, I write a review for bitbox02 hardware wallet. With the aim of making it as simple as possible, this will be an objective review of the wallet outlining its pros and cons.
Description and unboxing
Made by Shift Crypto, which is based in Switzerland, the Bitbox02 wallet retails for $128. The version I’m trying out allows the storage of multiple assets, including bitcoin, litecoin, ethereum, and ERC-20 tokens. However, for you Bitcoin Maxis sweaty palms reading the word “Ethereum”, a Bitcoin-only version is also produced. It retails for the same price of $128.
There are many additives in the box. First, the wallet comes with a USB-C to USB-A adapter, so there’s no problem if your laptop is too old for the now ubiquitous USB-C slot. It also comes with an extension wire, so you can plug it into your laptop while holding the device in your hand, while connecting it to the laptop via a cable. This is far from necessary, but a good option.
Lastly, there’s a clasp that allows you to hook your device to a keyring, belt or whatever else you want. Apart from the hardware wallet, there is also a microSD card.
Oh, and don’t forget the bitcoin stickers!
how to use bitbox02
First, I downloaded the app from https://shiftcrypto.ch/app/,
Then, I inputted the microSD backup card into the device. The point of a microSD card is to back up your wallet in case of loss or damage. A universal 2FA option is also an excellent but simple feature to set up, a neat bit of security.
On the app screen, I hit “Install Firmware”. Also, a nice touch – you can hit “flip screen” and it flips the screen around on the wallet, making it easier to read (my laptop only has a USB-C slot on one side) . Next, you verify that the code on your Bitbox matches the code on your laptop screen.
I hit “create wallet”.
I want to type a password. To do this, you use invisible touch sensors on each side of the device. This is a really cool feature, and probably one of the standouts in the wallet. You can touch, swipe and hold the sensor to perform all actions on the device. It adds a nice futuristic feel to the whole thing.
In setting the password, it takes a while for the sensor to work as you need to click each button multiple times. So, there was a lot of time peeping around and it’s quite tedious. Still, the process is intuitive and becomes easy once you get used to the settings. Aside from the password – which is manageable – the sensors work really well.
using the device
The options on the app are great. I can set up 2FA, manage my backups, view my wallet balance, view my transactions – all the basics, in other words. It’s simple and easy to navigate, which is exactly what I need for a wallet – I don’t need my cold storage wallet to have a shiny interface similar to most well-built websites on the Internet.
Next, I send some bitcoins to my device, simply scanning the QR code on the app. Unfortunately for me, it’s the bitcoins I left out from my recent trip to El Salvador – I was probably too ambitious with my expectations of how many merchants there would accept bitcoins – but I really can’t blame Bitbox for that. Can I do? So my $360 in bitcoins goes into the hardware wallet.
Once there, I send it back from the device, just so I can tell my dear readers what it’s like to have it back (the things I do for you!). And well, it’s… easy. There isn’t much to say. You type in the transaction and then you hold the (invisible) button to sign the transaction via the touch sensor on the device.
That’s all in it.
- Nice screen makes it very easy to use
- Comes with USB-C, USB-A adaptability
- Comes with backup memory card
- Excellent 2FA Option
- The app provides all the information you need to set it up with ease, even for crypto nobies.
- Far from a dealbreaker but setting the password is a bit tedious on the touch sensor
The Bitbox02 doesn’t do much, but it does everything it should. It stores your bitcoins well. It’s easy to set up even for people with no prior knowledge (I tested it with a friend of mine, who said the start-up guide was excellent).
Signing a transaction couldn’t be easier. The backup option to the microSD card (which is completely optional) is also great. And the 2FA option is something I love.
To wrap things up, at the $128 price point this wallet does exactly what it needs and I really can’t think of anything to stop people from buying it. In the current environment, it is important to take ownership of your coins if you either intend to hold for a long time or intend to hold significant amounts. Against the myriad potential downsides of not keeping your coins cool, your $128 investment and your 10 minutes to set it up are drops in the ocean.
Sure, if you only hold a small amount or don’t expect to hang on to your crypto for long, secure exchanges are fine. But otherwise, cold storage is safer, easier and more sensible. The BitBox02 is built for exactly that – and it delivers.
Lastly, it’s open-source, which is good. And shout out to anyone who decided to include stickers in the box!