Blocktrail has just launched a multi-platform Bitcoin wallet (iOS, Android and web) which it claims is more secure than some existing alternatives, owing to implementing multi-signature and HD wallet, which earlier-to-market Bitcoin wallets may not have. It is more in keeping with the decentralized spirit of Bitcoin — since users of its wallet create and store their own private keys, rather than trusting in it to be a central key control and coin repository.
The advantage of a decentralized wallet, according to BlockTrail co-founder and CEO Boaz Bechar, is that the BlockTrail wallet user retains control over their Bitcoins, and can’t be locked out by a centralized service provider should that entity decide they need to freeze your account, say, or be told to by the authorities. Or should they be hacked. Or else vanish into the ether taking your coins with them.
A decentralized wallet does have some potential draw backs though, on the usability front — given the service can’t carry out certain actions immediately as it does not hold the coins itself. So there’s likely more back and forth between the wallet and the user when they want to do things with their coins, say like sending them to someone else or instantly selling them. Although BlockTrail argues that multi-signature and HD wallet now make it easier for a decentralized wallet to smooth out these sort of usability wrinkles.
BlockTrail’s decentralized approach is clearly a lot leaner than others. The team is only around six staff at this stage. It also claims it does not need to shell out such big sums on regulation and compliance, and so doesn’t need to have as much investor capital in the bank.
BlockTrail is not ‘zero knowledge’. It can see your transactions and knows how many Bitcoin you are storing in the wallet. Given its wallet is a mobile phone app, it’s not the kind of place a clued up Bitcoin user would want to store huge amounts of coins.
If you have serious BTC wealth you’d be storing the majority in an offline desktop client with two-factor authentication enabled, and likely other limits such as on which IP addresses can access it and where coins can be sent. So a mobile Bitcoin wallet like BlockTrail would only be useful as a repository for a subset of your coins.
The wallet is free to use, with the business model focused on monetizing via — as Bechar puts it — “added-value financial services”, via third party partnerships with Bitcoin brokers. The aim being to make it easier for newbies to buy and sell Bitcoins — and for BlockTrail to take a small per transaction fee for that added convenience.
At this stage BlockTrail has “a few” such partnerships inked in Europe, and none in the U.S. as yet, so will be looking to build out this partnership network — assuming it can first galvanize a solid user-base behind another decentralized Bitcoin wallet play.
Blocktrail is a powerful Bitcoin wallet, developers platform and block explorer. Founded in 2014 and based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, BlockTrail B.V. is dedicated to delivering better tools for the bitcoin economy.