Bitcoin News – The Bitcoin Mobile App Gap Waiting to Be Filled

NEW YORK (InsideBitcoins) – Last week, Coinkite celebrated their one-year anniversary by giving away free service to prospective bitcoin users. The company says one of the main reasons behind their decision to offer a complimentary basic package was to make multi-signature wallets more accessible to everybody, pushing the industry standard away from trusting companies and back to its “trustless” roots.

“We offer a high availability hot wallet that’s ultra-fast; we have specialized software to sign transactions. Then you have the multi-sig stuff that helps you not have to trust us,” Coinkite CEO Rodolfo Novak told Inside Bitcoins. “You choose what solves your problem.”

When will multi-sig go mobile?

To date, multi-signature wallets aren’t an industry standard, especially on mobile devices. While Coinkite has simplified the multi-signature process on their website, they have yet to create a native app on either iPhone or Android. Novak said that the notion of a multi-signature wallet on a Coinkite app is “very, very likely.”

“Our website works on phones, right? We’re looking into making a native app for some of the platforms. I can’t talk too much, but we have iOS capabilities in-house. Our main developer used to make iPhone apps, so that should help,” Novak added.

He says the company is looking to build an app that’s straightforward, reduces the confusion of multi-signature wallets, but still leverages all of the Coinkite features in the back end.

“It’s all about making something that’s super quick to use for what the phone really needs, which is out-of-pocket payments — and give you all the security controls from the website,” he says. “If your phone gets taken or something happens, you’re safe.”

The critical importance of multi-signature wallets

Copay
Illustration: copay.io
It’s not an opinion that multi-signature wallets provide bitcoin users with one of the highest levels of security possible today; it’s a fact.

Before any money can move out of a multi-signature wallet, the wallet needs to be provided with, typically, two of three different keys. For instance, one private key is kept on a computer or mobile device, with all the necessary security precautions. A second could be kept in a safety deposit box, away from prying eyes. A third is held by the wallet provider.

If someone with a multi-signature wallet wanted to spend money, the wallet provider would enter the first key to release the funds; however, this would not send the bitcoins. Instead, the user then needs to input one of the other two keys in their possession to initiate the transaction. Once the two keys are used in combination, the funds are released.

The multi-sig landscape

Bitpay unveiled a multi-signature wallet this year called Copay – which includes a mobile app. Copay can be used as a family fund where two of three family members need to agree on a purchase before the funds are sent. It could also be employed in a business setting, where three of five members need to input their keys before money is spent on business ventures.

The bottom line: stolen bitcoins could be thwarted with mass multi-sig adoption — there’s no need to trust a third-party with the user’s bitcoins. If someone compromises the wallet provider and initiates a transaction with the intent of moving your bitcoins, they can’t finalize the transfer without one of the two keys that only you control.

Multi-signature wallets aren’t new but they can be confusing. Wallets from Coinkite, Copay and Bitgo all simplify the multi-signature experience with as much added security features as possible; even offline key generation. If multi-signature wallets make additional headway into the mobile market, responsible spending and banking could be a dream that all bitcoin users could experience.