Juggling work on too many ideas, even if they are all great ones, ultimately compromises how much you can get done and how well you can do it. I acutely learned this lesson while finishing my doctorate in neuroengineering, and we at Shift are finding out how much this lesson applies in business as well.
Last June, we decided to build one thing and build it really well. We announced that Shift would focus on its core products: the BitBox02 hardware wallet and the companion BitBoxApp. So, did that work out? Was putting some of our beloved research projects on hold, like our full node BitBoxBase or the tamper-evident packaging BitBoxTep worth it? We believe the answer is a definite "Yes!".
Now that the year comes to an end, we look back at our achievements. With the whole team focused on equipping you with the best hardware wallet in terms of both security and usability, without sacrificing either, we released updates about once a month that gave significant advancements. This seems to be paying off as we have been getting great feedback from our customers about the BitBox.
We hope you’ll enjoy reading about our progress. In turn, if you get inspiration for future BitBox improvements, please let us know! Let’s dive in.
Security doesn’t have to be hard
One of our main goals is to make financial independence accessible to everyone, from the expert and tech savvy Bitcoiner, to the first time crypto investor. We want to take the complexity out of the process and offer you the most straightforward tools to empower you with self-custody and financial sovereignty.
We already get great marks for ease-of-use thanks to an instant and stress-free setup and recovery process, an innovative invisible touch slider interface, a large-pixel OLED screen for improved readability, and the in-app guide, among other things.
We are driven to take ease-of-use to further heights. For example, one can easily get lost in the details of individual transactions, fees and currencies. Having a single place that gives you the gist of your holdings makes the experience whole. The Accounts summary in the BitBoxApp now welcomes you with a clean chart of how your funds have been doing over time, both in terms of “stacking sats” and “mad gainz”. We’ll continue to make this welcome screen more powerful and interactive.
When using Bitcoin, why should anyone have to worry about the script type of their transactions? The Unified Accounts feature hides under-the-hood all the technical terms like “legacy”, “wrapped Segwit” or “native bech32 Segwit” and you’re now using the most efficient address type available. If other services don’t support sending you coins to a modern Bitcoin address, you can simply fall back to receiving coins on a “compatible address”.
Do you live your digital life on a mobile phone, or maybe do not even own a desktop computer? No problem. We published the full-featured BitBoxApp for Android after testing it for several months through the Android “early access” program. It is plug-n-play and built from exactly the same open-source code as the cross-platform desktop app. This means you will never need to connect your BitBox02 to a desktop computer in order to gain your financial sovereignty.
We’ve also released many smaller fixes and improvements, because providing a good user experience is a continuous process. To name a few: editable fields for transaction notes, better scaling for high-res computer displays, a bigger font on the hardware wallet screen, additional BitBoxApp translations to give a total of 15 languages, and localized buy & sell recommendations.
And we’re not done yet! Next up on our roadmap is a more flexible framework for crypto accounts and also the option to buy your coins directly from within the BitBoxApp.
Grow stronger together
With its minimal design and straight forward setup experience, our BitBoxApp is perfect for beginners, and yet it offers some powerful tools for advanced and advancing users such as Tor support, full node support, and coin control for privacy; optional BIP39 passphrase for plausible deniability or added security; and the ability to set transaction fees manually. But of course, use-cases in the Bitcoin and crypto financial system are aplenty, and we can’t possibly cover everything. This is why supporting integration into specialized third-party wallets is important.
We started off with the godfather of all Bitcoin wallets: Electrum. The BitBox02 is now fully supported for easy and complex setups, including multi-signature. We’ve also written a three-part blog series that guides you through all aspects of this power-user wallet.
The BitBox02 also supports more than 1500 altcoins and tokens, but not all are available directly in the BitBoxApp. The integration of the BitBox02 with MyEtherwallet gives you the best in terms of features and flexibility while still keeping your keys secure and offline.
Other specialized Bitcoin wallets like Specter Desktop, Sparrow Wallet or Wasabi use the Hardware Wallet Interface (HWI) to communicate with hardware wallets. This is why we integrated the BitBox02 in this framework as well. Due to some unique security features of the BitBox02, like the encrypted communication between software and hardware, this was no easy feat, but we pulled it off anyway. General functionality and signing of single-signature transactions became available with HWI release 1.2.0 in October, multisignature is ready as well and will be part of the next HWI release.
The Swiss like privacy, and we’re no exception. This is why the BitBoxApp has supported connecting to your own Bitcoin full node for years. We improved that feature to make it easier to use with all full node projects like Nodl, RaspiBlitz, myNode or Umbrel, even on your mobile phone, with or without connecting through the Tor network.
Avoid the pitfalls with a new approach to multisig
One of the topics capturing our attention recently has been secure Bitcoin transaction signing using multiple “M-of-N” signatures instead of a single signature (aka multisig). Multisig is often touted as a silver bullet for added security, but most users are not aware that a multisig setup with multiple hardware or software wallets can be less secure than a single-signature solution. We’ve dissected potential pitfalls in our article How nearly all personal hardware wallet multisig setups are insecure.
We’ve been researching multisig for some time, and during this process found and responsibly disclosed vulnerabilities in hardware wallets of other manufacturers (for example Ledger, Trezor, and Coldcard). Our research allowed us to design and implement our own multisig feature in the BitBox02. And what did we do differently? The key security principle is that additional setup data of a multisig account must be stored on the BitBox02 device itself. Only this allows the hardware wallet to securely verify both incoming receiving addresses and outgoing transactions. Otherwise, you’re just trusting the software wallet not to cheat, and that’s exactly what a hardware wallet is supposed to prevent.
BitBox02 multisig is available for Electrum and will become available through many specialized wallets with the next HWI release.
IT & data sovereignty
Last but not least, you can’t preach sovereignty and then simply hand over all your essential data to some cloud provider. While we do use cloud services for non-sensitive use cases, we take great care to run our own self-hosted, open-source tools for services like our webshop (we use Saleor), processing Bitcoin payments (BTCPay Server), data analytics (Metabase) or our dedicated support system (Zammad).
It’s not only because we want to keep control over our data, open-source tools are simply great and cost-effective. For example, our Affiliates program runs on Raider, where we also contributed some improvements upstream. And our blog is now under our own control, thanks to the awesome Ghost project. At Shift we value open source, not only when it comes to external services, but as core part of our product development and general philosophy. Our software is fully open-source and auditable by anyone, and we always welcome contributions to our code.
Only after writing this recap did the title of this blog post become apparent: focus is a real boost. It’s what pushed the whole team towards working on the same goals, to hear what our customers are saying more clearly, and then build a product faster and better than ever before. We are all proud of working in an amazing team in a revolutionary field. We are thankful to work on something meaningful, something that can empower all of you towards financial independence. We are thankful for the amazing community that is continuing to build, and, most of all, for your support. It is what makes all of this possible.
Don’t own a BitBox yet?
Keeping your crypto secure doesn't have to be hard. The BitBox02 hardware wallet stores the private keys for your cryptocurrencies offline. So you can manage your coins safely.
The BitBox02 also comes in Bitcoin-only version, featuring a radically focused firmware: less code means less attack surface, which further improves your security when only storing Bitcoin.
Shift Crypto is a privately held company based in Zurich, Switzerland. Our international team of specialists across engineering, cryptosecurity and Bitcoin core development build the BitBox products and provide consulting services. The BitBox02, a second generation hardware wallet, equips individuals to easily store, protect, and transact cryptocurrencies. Its companion, the BitBoxApp, provides an all-in-one solution to securely manage your digital assets with ease.