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Review: BC Vault Is an Unorthodox Hardware Wallet With a Random Key Generator

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One of the biggest responsibilities of cryptocurrency owners is safely storing their digital assets. Over the last few years, hardware wallets have become an extremely convenient security solution that has helped in this regard. The BC Vault is a new hardware device with a number of distinctive features.

Also read: The Struggle to Buy Bitcoin in Crypto-Starved Botswana

The BC Vault Isn’t Like All the Rest

The BC Vault (short for Blockchain Vault) is a new hardware wallet that was designed by a Slovenia-based firm called Real Security Inc. Its creators believe that the BC Vault is “the safest way to store your cryptocurrencies,” refusing to even refer to the gadget as a wallet. “Wallets are for pocket money and vaults are for safekeeping,” Real Security asserts. The BC Vault costs $155 plus VAT for EU customers and the firm will ship to customers around the world. My BC Vault arrived this weekend in a box sealed with tamper-resistant holographic tape which I removed after inspection with a pocket knife.

Review: BC Vault Is an Unorthodox Hardware Wallet With a Random Key Generator
Both the box and the device itself are sealed with tamper-resistant holographic tape.

Inside the box is a piece of paper that explains the BC Vault setup process and the device itself which sits in a foam enclosure. Under the device is a few stickers and a long USB cord to attach the BC Vault to a computer. One end of the cord is a traditional USB insert, but the other side of the cord that fits into the device itself is the new USB-C standard. The machine is similar in size to the Keepkey wallet but has a four-way control pad and a 2.42 inch OLED screen. The USB connection is also taped over with tamper-resistant tape which needs to be peeled off gently. The D-pad reminded me of an old Sega Genesis controller. The USB-C cord, as is customary with devices of this nature, needs to be inserted with a forceful push.

Review: BC Vault Is an Unorthodox Hardware Wallet With a Random Key Generator
BC Vault uses a global password and PIN.

It was after plugging the BC Vault in that I observed just how different the device is compared to other hardware wallets. This is because the BC Vault generates each wallet with a random number generator (RNG) which uses an integrated gyro sensor. The process obliged me to shake the Vault for at least a minute and a half in order to begin the setup process. The scheme is similar to moving your mouse around or typing random keys in order to create a paper wallet. Essentially, the RNG mechanism inside the device created my private key after I’d shaken the device enough and from there I proceeded to the Vault’s quickstart guide.

The guide offers standalone software for Linux, Mac OS, and Windows. The application I downloaded for Mac OS was around 29.9 MB in size and the process took only took a minute. I was prompted to use my computer’s administrator password for the install and the software wound up taking around 62 MB of disk space. After launching the software, you will be asked to agree to an end-user license agreement.

Review: BC Vault Is an Unorthodox Hardware Wallet With a Random Key Generator
The main BC Vault dashboard display.

Unlike the Trezor or Ledger, the BC Vault does not use an unencrypted BIP39/44 seed phrase, instead opting for a global password, PIN, and encrypted backup. In order to back up the funds, the device gives the option of saving encrypted wallet data on an SD card or backing up the encrypted wallet data by printing out a series of QR codes. Competitors use hierarchical deterministic wallets which means the funds and addresses can be traced back to the seed.

Review: BC Vault Is an Unorthodox Hardware Wallet With a Random Key Generator
Ethereum wallet dashboard.

BC Vault claims it brings higher security to the table because the non-deterministic wallets on the device cannot be mathematically linked. While browsing the software I noticed I can add a variety of different digital currencies, with bitcoin core (BTC) available by default. BC Vault can hold BTC, BCH, ETH, DASH, XRP, LTX, XLM, DOGE, and a bunch of ERC20 tokens as well.

Review: BC Vault Is an Unorthodox Hardware Wallet With a Random Key Generator
Bitcoin cash wallet dashboard.

An Integrated Gyro Sensor, Random Key Generation, and Encrypted Backups Provide a Different Approach to Security

The BC Vault device I received was built well and the seed creation by shaking the RNG was an interesting experience. The product reminded me of a cross between Shapeshift’s Keepkey and the Swiss-made Digital Bitbox because of the SD card backup. Unlike the Bitbox, however, the BC Vault does not come with an SD card and you have to purchase one. The standalone software was also a nice change to having to use a Chrome extension.

Review: BC Vault Is an Unorthodox Hardware Wallet With a Random Key Generator
Choosing to add another wallet.

Similarly to the Trezor model T and the Keepkey, I found that inserting the cord needs a forceful push. The BC Vault will actually make a clicking sound so you will know the device is securely connected. The wallet interface worked well and things like network fees can be customized. One issue I had found with the BC Vault is that it still uses legacy addresses for bitcoin cash (BCH). It would be nice if they added the Cashaddr format to make things less confusing for wallet sends.

Review: BC Vault Is an Unorthodox Hardware Wallet With a Random Key Generator
The application settings panel is where most changes can be made.

The BC Vault is fairly intuitive to use and a beginner could master this wallet without much difficulty. Even though the device doesn’t use a mnemonic seed, users must remember to back up the encrypted key on an SD card or print out the QRs for recovery purposes. If the global password, PIN, and encrypted backups are lost, the funds held inside the BC Vault can never be retrieved.

Overall, the BC Vault, much like the simple Bitbox, offers cryptocurrency users something different and people may enjoy the alternative security aspects it incorporates. A built-in random number generator definitely sets the BC Vault apart from the rest of the hardware wallets on the market.

What do you think about the BC Vault? Let us know what you think about this device in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned company, software or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com or the author is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article. This editorial review is for informational purposes only.


Image credits: Jamie Redman, and BC Vault.


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Review: Crypto Is a Surprisingly Fun Movie About Compliance

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“Fuck” is the first word uttered in Crypto. It might also be yours after watching John Stalberg Jr’s claustrophobic movie about an anti-money laundering agent caught in a web of deceit, intrigue, and bad beer. Copious cryptocurrency references have no tangible impact on the plot, but serve as a running gag for bitcoiners intent on scrutinizing the movie for the slightest sign of inaccuracy.

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Beau Knapp Makes Compliance Look Sexy

Just as the shark’s arrival is heralded by that seat-clenching “dun-duuun, dun duuuun” music in Jaws, you’ll have no trouble deducing the bad guys in Crypto. The blast of Russian opera music every time their white van appears saves you from having to think for yourself, which is exactly how we expect our Hollywood movies to be packaged. In Crypto, the music builds the tension rather than the tension building the tension, and the movie’s sins don’t end there. Yet for all its flaws, including a nonsensical plot, Crypto is a fast-paced thriller that simmers nicely before spilling over in a ferocious finale.

Review: Crypto Is a Surprisingly Fun Movie About Compliance
Crypto was shot in better times for the cryptocurrency market

AML agent Marti, played by Beau Knapp, is the very personification of the New York Bitlicense. Lines such as “I demand a culture of complete compliance in my department” are prone to make the skin crawl for every bitcoiner watching. Marti gets booted from his big city job for being too good at compliance, whereupon instead of being appointed to the Ripple board, he finds himself exiled upstate to the small town where he was raised.

There, he discovers something has taken root, and it’s not dad’s (Kurt Russell) potatoes. With glamorous art gallery hostesses, sexy assistants, and Russian mobsters skulking about, upstate New York is more NY than NY itself. Upon arriving to find his father’s farm failing, Marti is all set on restructuring loans and bringing in silent partners to save the day. Kurt just wants him to grab a shovel. Metaphors for the gulf between old money and new are all over Crypto.

Review: Crypto Is a Surprisingly Fun Movie About Compliance

A Cornucopia of Cryptocurrency References

Five minutes into Crypto and you’ll be praying that goodie two-shoes Marti winds up on the wrong end of a Kalashnikov, such is his toe-curling obsession with doing everything by the book. Marti is so square that when bitcoin bro Earl (Jeremie Harris) who runs the liquor store tells him the beer’s on the house, he drops a 20 on the counter anyway. Naturally, Marti drinks Bud Light. He’s the sort of guy who’d show up at your party and then call the cops cos some people were smoking pot by the pool. Marti mercifully gets some of those square edges rubbed off him as the movie progresses, and it’s hard to find fault with Beau Knapp’s portrayal of the AML agent. In fact it’s hard to find fault with any of the acting in this movie, which is more than can be said for some of the plot points.

Review: Crypto Is a Surprisingly Fun Movie About Compliance

Everything has labels in Crypto. It’s like the whole film is an exposition, because the trouble with treating audiences to a movie about cryptocurrency and money laundering is that you have to explain things as you go. Thus we encounter Earl logging in to a cryptocurrency exchange named “Cryptocurrency Market,” in between dropping crypto bro lines such as “Hang on – time is of the essence. I’m getting in on this ICO!” The scene in which Earl explains to a woman how Bitcoin works is a particular highlight.

Early in the movie, Earl shills the hottest new ICO to Marti like it was a brand of potent crystal meth but Marti demurs, presumably because he hasn’t performed compliance checks on the company, and what if they haven’t filed a CTR exemption for those funds? You can tell Crypto was shot in the last throes of the 2018 bull market, incidentally, because XRP is still trading at 60 cents.

Review: Crypto Is a Surprisingly Fun Movie About Compliance
Crypto features a BTC logo that looks surprisingly similar to that of Bitcoin.com

Don’t Think – Just Roll With It

It’s not a classic by any means, but there’s plenty to enjoy in Crypto. My nocoiner mate described it as a “really good film” that was “solid” which, if nothing else, suggests that appreciation of the movie doesn’t call for a grounding in cryptocurrency. As Crypto progresses, we learn that Omni bank, which Marti is dutifully investigating, secretly invested $10 million in cryptocurrency in the previous quarter. The significance of this is unclear, but judging by the ominous music, it’s clearly A Bad Thing.

Review: Crypto Is a Surprisingly Fun Movie About Compliance
Omni’s dubious looking investment portfolio

“I’m not entirely satisfied with the way the DD was handled,” spits Marti, always a stickler for doing things by the book, even as the Russians begin circling and the body count rising. He’s a fast learner though, to give him credit: at the outset, Marti confesses to have only understood 5% of Earl’s ICO spiel; by the midpoint, he’s effortlessly dropping insights such as “My guess is they’re buying Bitcoin over the counter to avoid market slippage.”

Director John Stalberg Jr. captures the essence of a small town where everyone’s got a secret to hide, and as the movie nears its climax, there’s no denying that whatever the hell is happening, this is hella fun. It would be asking too much for a movie about compliance to end with anything other than an American three-letter agency riding in to save the day; the Russian mobsters never stood a chance against the barbed quills of Hollywood. Whether you read Crypto as an allegory for Bittrex’s struggle to obtain a Bitlicense, or a brainwashing exercise on why money laundering is bad is your call. Despite having very little to do with cryptocurrency, Crypto is compelling fare for bitcoiners. If only real life compliance was this fun.

Have you watched Crypto? If so, what are your thoughts on the movie? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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