S15 E20: Bastien & Baudoin on Satochip, Satodime, Seedkeeper & Bitcoin Self-Custody

With the power of smart card security technology, Satochip offers an affordable way to self-custody your bitcoins, turn them into a bearer asset (physical cash, like Casascius coins), and/or secure your passwords. The best part of it all is that everything about the hardware design and software is open source – so that you don’t have to trust in the security model, you can verify it yourself. If you don’t want to purchase the products, you can get a Java Card DIY kit and make use of the freely-available code to run everything on your own device.

Bastien and Baudoin, the architects of Satochip, are working to make security accessible in terms of costs and ease of use. They created integrations in desktop wallets such as Sparrow (with plans to work with Electrum and Blockstream Green) and they also developed mobile applications that make use of the NFC technology. This way, conventional card readers and USB ports are no longer necessary: making payments or verifying the balance in your card is as easy as tapping a card.

The Satochip is the most affordable hardware wallet on the market, with a starting price of only €25. It comes with the advantage of looking just like any bank card in your wallet – therefore posing little to no risk of getting identified by hostile border agents.

Satodime is the truly open source bearer asset technology, which allows anyone to turn their bitcoin into cash. It’s basically the better version of the popular Opendime, with NFC features and a form factor that’s more OPSEC-friendly. You put it in your wallet next to your bank card and you trade it for cash whenever you want, without leaving any permanent record on the public blockchain. Pretty cypherpunk for meat space transactions.

Seedkeeper lets you store all sorts of secrets on the smart card – including BIP39 seed phrases, passphrases, and everything else you don’t want to have lying around. It’s part of a longer tradition of password managers which run on Java cards, and it embodies what might just be the most popular use case for these cards. Put it in your wallet between your bank cards, add stickers to it or paint it, and get cypherpunk-level OPSEC. You can also use it for inheritance purposes.

Technologically speaking, Satochip is the spiritual successor of BTChip – the first iteration of the Ledger hardware wallet. But unlike the 2014 version of Ledger, it modernizes the user experience with a better user experience which includes a mobile wallet and NFC scanning. Furthermore, Satochip has full Taproot support… something which the BTChip could not have.

In this episode, Bastien and Baudoin don’t just talk about the technology behind Satochip and its use cases. They also make a live demonstration that’s meant to highlight how easy it is to get started with one of these cards. Given that these devices look the same as your average bank card, it’s definitely useful to have practical showcases of their might. And if you’ve made up your mind about buying one, use promo code BTCTKVR at checkout for a special discount! They’re only €25 a piece and unlock lots of interesting use cases.

Season 15 of the Bitcoin Takeover podcast is sponsored by Wasabi wallet, Cryptosteel, Satochip & IVPN!

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Time stamps:

Introduction (00:00:48) Introducing Bastien and Baudoin, creators of Satochip.

Creation of Satochip (00:02:46) Explaining the decision to start a bitcoin business, the use of smart card technology, and the development of Satochip.

Defining the Product (00:06:31) Defining Satochip as a hardware wallet and discussing the security measures and convenience of using it.

Comparison with Other Wallets (00:12:02) Differentiating Satochip from Trezor and Ledger, focusing on security and convenience.

Product Differences (00:13:41) Explaining the differences between Satochip, Seedkeeper, and Satodime in terms of use and purpose.

Security Measures (00:14:46) Detailing the security features of Seedkeeper for storing seed phrases and the benefits of using Satodime.

Live Demo (00:18:26) Bastien does a live demonstration of initializing and using Satochip with Sparrow Wallet.

Seedkeeper Tool (00:25:33) Bastien demonstrates the Seedkeeper tool for generating and importing seed phrases onto the secure element.

The secure element and mnemonic phrase (00:29:02) Explanation of how the secure element stores and protects the mnemonic phrase, including the ability to export and backup the phrase.

Open source software and firmware (00:32:05) Discussion of the open-source nature of the software and firmware used in Satochip, including the ability for users to compile and load the firmware on their own Java card.

Seedkeeper and offline usage (00:33:47) Explanation of the offline usage and support for BIP39 and Electrum seeds in Seedkeeper, emphasizing the security measures in place.

Backup solutions and open-source software (00:36:33) Discussion of the importance of open-source software for long-term maintenance and the need for proper backup solutions for seed phrases.

Durability and longevity of smart cards (00:39:15) Explanation of the durability and longevity of smart cards, highlighting their potential to outlive other hardware wallets with batteries.

Comparison with BTC Chip and new features (00:40:22) Comparison of Satochip with BTC Chip, emphasizing the new features and support for taproot using Schnorr signatures.

Sparrow Wallet demonstration with Satochip (00:42:14) Demonstration of setting up a hardware wallet using Sparrow Wallet and Satochip, showcasing the simplicity of the process.

Integration with mobile applications (00:49:19) Discussion of the ongoing work to integrate Satochip with mobile applications, aiming to provide a convenient and secure experience for users.

Convenience and security of hardware wallets (00:53:36) Discussion of the convenience and security offered by hardware wallets, emphasizing their potential for day-to-day transactions and the assurance of true ownership of private keys.

Open-source secure element and ongoing efforts (00:56:02) Explanation of the limitations in achieving 100% open source for hardware wallets using secure elements, with a mention of Tropic Square‘s ongoing efforts to develop an open-source secure element.

The difference between smartcards and secure elements (00:56:53) Explanation of the standard Java card and interoperability between smartcards vendors.

Comparison of Satochip and ledger in terms of open source (00:57:55) Discussion on the open-source nature of Satochip and the ability to build one’s own hardware wallet.

Updates and firmware support for Satochip (01:00:14) How Satochip gets a firmware update and why this process is needed.

Elevator pitch for Satochip (01:03:39) Explanation of how to explain Satochip to someone who is not familiar with hardware wallets.

Misconceptions about the use of Satodime for spending Bitcoin (01:05:36) Clarification that Satodime is not for spending Bitcoin but for securely storing it.

Support for Taproot and third-party wallets (01:07:23) Discussion on the support for Taproot and integration with third-party wallets like Sparrow and Electrum.

Backup solutions for Satochip, Satodime, and Seedkeeper (01:12:58) How to backup Satochip, Satodime, and Seedkeeper in case of loss.

Creative use cases for Satochip, Satodime, and Seedkeeper (01:19:19) How to hide a hardware wallet, plausible deniability, and creating a tip jar.

Bitcoin Heads cards and potential risks of NFTs on the Bitcoin network (01:22:55) Discussion on the selling of Bitcoin Heads and the potential risks associated with NFTs on the Bitcoin network (Counterparty).

Use case for avoiding dishonesty in miners through asset trading (01:24:51) Explanation of how trading assets on physical cards can avoid incentivizing miners to act dishonestly via MEV.

NFTs and Collectibles (01:25:08) Discussion on creating and collecting NFTs on Counterparty and Bitcoin, and making them into collectible cards.

Device Purchase and Pricing (01:28:36) Information on purchasing Satochip, Satodime, and Seedkeeper from the web shop, including pricing and shipping options.

Security and Screen Importance (01:31:18) Explanation of Satochip’s security features and the absence of a screen, along with the option for extra security through a mobile application.

Project Updates and Open Source (01:32:35) Platforms to follow for project updates, discussion on the open-source aspect, and access to GitHub repository.

Inheritance and Use Cases (01:36:14) Exploration of using Seedkeeper as a secure way to transmit Bitcoin in the event of the owner’s death, emphasizing the importance of inheritance.

Conclusion and Gratitude (01:37:21)

The Genesis of Satochip

Bastien and Baudoin, the two creators of Satochip, embarked on a mission to create a hardware wallet that not only met their stringent security standards but also addressed their personal needs for Bitcoin storage. Their journey led to the development of a suite of products, including the Satochip, the Seed Keeper, and the Satodime. All of them are based on robust smart card security technology.

Satochip: A New Era of Hardware Wallets

The Satochip is the company’s flagship product: an open-source hardware wallet that stands out for its discreetness and durability. Unlike most of its competitors, Satochip offers a dual interface which seamlessly integrates with both computers and mobile phones. This feature alone sets it apart from popular hardware wallets like Trezor or Ledger, which are typically optimized for desktops.

Seed Keeper: The Ultimate Seed Phrase Protector

For those who are looking for creative ways to secure their seed phrases, Seed Keeper is a game-changer. It’s specifically designed to store seed phrases and important passwords. The setup is straightforward, ensuring that even newcomers to the world of Bitcoin can figure it out. Furthermore, Baudoin argues that the Seed Keeper’s killer app is inheritance.

Satodime: The Versatile Vault

Satodime is another innovative offering from Satochip, capable of holding up to three different vaults. This flexibility is ideal for users with diverse storage needs, whether they’re managing personal holdings or multiple investment portfolios. Also, it’s the kind of technology which scales Bitcoin as cash at the local level and adds a layer of privacy against the rest of the world – you can transfer NFC-verifiable BTC amounts to someone else in person, without leaving a trace on the public blockchain.

Demonstrating Security and Convenience

During our podcast, Bastien demonstrated the ease of setting up a new wallet with Satochip using Sparrow Wallet. The process was impressively simple, involving just the hardware wallet and a chip card reader. Bastien also showcased how Seed Keeper generates a master seed on the chip, which can then be exported to initialize a hardware wallet, ensuring a secure and user-friendly experience.

Open-Source: A Commitment to Transparency

A core principle of Satochip is its commitment to open-source software. This allows users to verify the functionality of their tools, fostering trust and transparency in the products. While the secure element itself is not currently open source, the team is closely watching the development of the Tropic Square TASSIC chip.

Beyond the Wallet: Practical Applications and Security

The creators of Satochip envision a variety of use cases for their products, from creating a tip jar to serving as a piggy bank for children. They also discussed the potential for trading NFTs on Counterparty, emphasizing the offline nature of Satochip transactions to mitigate security risks.

The Road Ahead

As we wrapped up our conversation, it was clear that Bastien and Baudoin are dedicated to enhancing the security and convenience of Bitcoin storage. They are eager to work with developers to integrate Satochip into as many wallets as possible, both mobile and desktop, ensuring that their innovative solutions reach a wider audience.

Vlad Costea

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