After attending 2 major conferences in 2 major countries over the past 2 months, the proverbial phrase of “we are still 2 early” continues to ring true. From Bitcoin2021 in Miami to the World Blockchain Conference 2021 by 8BTC in Hangzhou, there were many instances of naive questions/comments from passerbyers that just completely struck us in awe. Crypto is still so new and isn’t mainstream yet. Heck, there were even people there at these conferences that didn’t own any crypto. Therefore, it isn’t our agenda to judge them but rather to educate them on what makes the Ballet wallet different and innovative from all other wallets out there.
Both conferences were not only exhausting as we metaphorically fought off the enemies of self-custody but also rewarding to see the increase of crypto interest year after year. Well without further ado, here are the takeaways/questions/comments that stood out the most to us.
“If I drop and lose the Ballet wallet then what would happen?”
What would happen if you drop and lose your cash? What would happen if you drop and lose your phone? What would happen if you drop and lose your regular wallet? The notion of having control of a physical bearer asset still is hard to conceive for most people as every aspect of our life has been integrated into a centralized controlling entity. Comfort and laziness has led us to trust others with our most prized possessions with some for the good and some for the bad. Bitcoin has been able to give control of money back to the people and Ballet has been able to make it easier to have physical control over one’s private keys. If you put importance on something in your possession, the chances of you losing it is significantly small. We believe the benefits of true financial sovereignty massively outweighs its risk. And in fact, if the encrypted private key and passphrase of the Ballet wallet have already been revealed by its owner, there is nothing stopping them from writing those down somewhere else as a backup.
No, the Ballet wallet is not a credit card, nor a gift card.
The Ballet wallet is a physical offline crypto wallet on a stainless steel made card with the user’s private keys printed on in a tamper evident proof manner. Although the card itself is shaped as a plastic credit card, the function is entirely different. There is no swiping of the card at a POS machine nor PIN number needed to access the card. It has no electromagnetic components nor a required signature on the back. The shape of the Ballet wallet is just an improvement over older attempts at physical crypto wallets as one is able to slide the Ballet wallet into the slit of a traditional cash wallet. The Ballet wallet’s metal stern physicality also makes it easy to hold in the palm of one’s hand. So please don’t try to swipe this at a credit card POS device.
“Are the bitcoins on the actual physical wallet?”
Well yes and no. Bitcoin is not something that one can physically or digitally possess. We think about it that way because that is how the monetary technologies we are accustomed to work, but the reality is that bitcoin is something of a completely different nature. A bitcoin, according to Satoshi Nakamoto (the guy who invented it, in case you haven’t heard of him), is “a chain of digital signatures” that is recorded in the globally-distributed public ledger. Bitcoin is not a physical substance, nor is it ordinary digital information — it cannot be altered or deleted.
A common misconception is that people who own bitcoin think that they have bitcoin “in” their wallet. In their wallets are the cryptographic private keys that allow you to own bitcoins. And those private keys are what is in every bitcoin owner’s possession and are on the actual physical Ballet wallet. So a Ballet wallet owner is in possession of the actual private keys that are cryptographically connected to the bitcoins recorded on the Bitcoin ledger.
The lack of knowledge between hot and cold wallets.
It’s still appalling to hear people saying that ALL of their crypto is still stored on an exchange or on a mobile wallet, let alone people thinking that their hot wallet on their mobile is a cold wallet. The redundant reminder of “not your keys, not your crypto” is still necessary as people seem to be still oblivious to the annual mishaps of exchanges. And although mobile wallets are mostly self-custody, they are still prone to digital accidents such as damage, obsolete technological components, or even just simply dropping it in water. The Ballet wallet is completely air gapped with no moving electronic components making it ideal for long term apocalyptic HODLing.
With a precarious trepidation of a hidden agenda amongst governments to monitor hosted wallets, aka wallets on exchanges, it’s only a matter of time where people realize these encroachments are a literal countermeasure to the ethos of crypto.
The topic of Trust.
How can I trust you guys that you don’t have a copy of my private keys? How can I trust that Ballet won’t run away with my crypto? This is a topic that can go way deep into the weeds of human societal principles but we don’t want to venture off too much out of scope. Considering that our wallets utilize the open-source standard of BIP38, which is the technology component undermining our patent pending Two Factor Key Generation Process, we have been openly transparent about our processes and companies. Our Founder and CEO, Bobby Lee, wrote a blog article last year on this topic which you can find here, but we’ll leave you with a excerpt from that piece which hopefully can add more light to this topic of trust:
“What does that say about all wallet companies in general? In the end, you have to trust them. There is no such thing as a trustless wallet or a trustless wallet company, despite what they might try to make you believe. All wallet makers will claim that their software stack & hardware chips are secure, and that it can be proven so, by vetting their open source code, etc.
The reality is much more complicated. Yes, open source software can be vetted, but in practice, what percentage of open source software is vetted thoroughly? How about open source hardware designs? Open source firmware code? In the end, most people just prefer to trust, and don’t actually verify. It’s not because they don’t want to verify, but rather, it’s time consuming, resource intensive, and just plain too hard for many people.
Are you surprised? There is no such thing as a trustless wallet provider! Yes, let me repeat that: whatever crypto wallet you’re using, whether it’s a desktop app, a mobile app, or a hardware wallet, you implicitly have to trust the vendor and/or maker. You can only verify so much, and you can never verify all 100% of anything (unless you did it and created it all yourself, 100%). In the end, people tend to verify things to the extent that they’re comfortable with, because every subsequent decimal percentage of verification gets exponentially more difficult.”
All in all, the past 2 conferences were exhausting physically and mentally for the whole team at Ballet, but also immensely rewarding as our mission of educating users on the importance of self-custody is not yet over with. But we are taking strides in that realm by making it easy to understand what it means to control your own digital financial assets in the form of private keys.
In both conferences, the buzz and gathering around our booths were none matched by any of the other projects there. This is not to dismiss the other projects as all projects in the space are unique in their own way, but the fact that our booth was packed with long lines is a testament to people’s curiosity of what we are doing here at Ballet with our Ballet wallets. It also helps to have our Founder and CEO, Bobby Lee, also in the trenches with us evangelizing the importance of self-custody in the form of cold physical wallets. Not too many project’s founder/CEO would do the same.
Although we believe all crypto wallets can co-exist, the underlying message is clear: take self-custody of your crypto in the form of an air gapped physical wallet. It doesn’t hurt to put a portion of your crypto offline on a Ballet wallet.