S8 E9: Ben Arc on Bowser Wallet, LNBits, and Open Source Development

Ben Arc is the creator of the Bowser hardware wallet, the mastermind behind Lightning service LNBits and decentralized social media project Nostr, and an overall open source wizard who contributes to dozens of projects. But if you ask him what he does, he will humbly say that he’s an open source hobbyist.

I’ve decided to get him on the show after he took his Bowser hardware wallet out of beta, as I thought that the project was unique and interesting. Bowser is basically an open source hardware wallet which also works as a portable video game console to provide an extra layer of OPSEC and plausible deniability. It’s also something that you must build yourself from general-purpose parts (an M5 stack and a couple of hours are enough to get you set up).

However, building your own hardware wallet isn’t for everyone and there are certainly risks involved. Also, if you’re very concerned about security and using the most tested code, you should probably build a Trezor instead. Yet there’s something special about the Bowser wallet and it has some unique use cases – when fleeing authoritarian countries that ban bitcoin, you certainly don’t want to use a well-known and easily recognizable hardware wallet.

Also, in its current form, the Bowser hardware wallet uses Morse code to type the PIN. And it’s very likely that no policeman or border agent will figure out how it works, even if he discovers the secondary functions of the otherwise strange Tetris game which uses a Super Mario Bros background. Take a look at the code on GitHub and judge for yourselves whether or not this is something that you might find useful.

Throughout this lengthy interview, Ben and I also talk about LNBits and how it can revolutionize everything from bar tipping to video game streaming. And inevitably, we extent the conversation towards the realm of open source software. You’re definitely going to have a blast listening to Ben Arc, as he is a brilliant guy who always comes up with great ideas and spends a whole lot of time conceptualizing the open source applications that will change the future of payments.

The episode was first aired on Bitcoin Takeover Radio as a hidden track. You can also listen to it on YouTube and Twitch.

Listen to Ben Arc of Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

If you’re privacy-conscious and/or do not have an account on these streaming platforms, then you can use my free RSS feed. Not only that you have a direct download button so you can copy the audio file to any offline device that you may use for listening (such as an old school iPod Shuffle or Microsoft Zune), but you also benefit from better privacy because I’m not going to process or sell any kind of data about your listening patterns and behavior.

Also, I use Podcast Generator: a free and open source tool for generating an RSS feed and playing audio. So if you’re a huge open source enthusiast, then you’re going to love the fact that you don’t use a big corporate platform.

Furthermore, I strongly recommend you to use the Tor browser while listening on my page. This way, I will not know anything about who you are and where you come from, so you benefit from the highest level of privacy.

But if you do use Apple Podcasts or Spotify, then I would really appreciate it if you could leave feedback. Not only that it helps me understand what you like (or dislike) about my work, but you also make it easier to find for people who search for topics such as Bitcoin, hardware wallets, and open source. Unfortunately, there is no quality filter outside of the voluntary rating system and the content that doesn’t get rated might also get buried by algorithms.

This Episode is Sponsored by Vaultoro and Wasabi Wallet!

Want to learn more about the values of the two companies? I have recorded episodes with both Joshua Scigala (Vaultoro CEO) and Nopara73 (Wasabi Wallet creator).

If you would like to support the show and you’re into trading hard money like bitcoin, gold, and silver, then sign up to Vaultoro using my referral link. Vaultoro will help you forget about shitcoins and focus on sound money. They also allow you topick up your gold bars or have them shipped to your address, so you don’t have to trust any custodian with your money. Keep in mind that you are responsible for your own decisions and I am not providing you financial advice.

And if you would like to increase your network and transaction privacy, you should download Wasabi Wallet on your computer. It routes your connection through the Tor network to hide your IP, it downloads block filters so you validate your own transactions locally without appealing to a trusted third party, and it also connects to your own full node to boost your financial sovereignty. Wasabi is best known for its link-breaking CoinJoins, which are giving a hard time even to the EuroPol. Use the wallet to increase your financial sovereignty, but don’t do any illegal stuff – use your financial sovereignty with responsibility (also read the Wasabi terms of service).

Vlad Costea

I'm here for the freedom, censorship-resistance, and unconfiscatability. What about you?

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