Thanks to the growing number of exchanges, resellers, and ATMs, buying cryptocurrencies has never been easier. When I first heard about bitcoin, the crypto industry wasn’t evolved. Fast-forward to 2019 and my options to choose between all the altcoins and storage devices out there seem limitless.
When talking about storage, I personally recommend hardware wallets. I have explained why I prefer them over hot wallets in my previous write-ups. In today’s review, I will take a closer look at the BC Vault hardware wallet, which advertises as the most secure wallet for cryptocurrencies – or a vault, as the creators call it.
BC Vault Review: Everything You Need to Know
One of the first noticeable things about the BC Vault wallet is that it has a very good build quality. The packaging is tamper-evident, so it is impossible to break into the device without causing noticeable damage. The sleek design with a large display and a D-pad gives a premium feel to the device.
Its size is quite refreshing – it is not unnecessarily tiny to complicate the use, and yet still small enough to be as practical as any credit card. While it may not be a true vault, it certainly inspires more confidence than some other flimsy-looking cold-storage devices.
2. User Experience
BC Vault connects to an online device with a reversible USB type-C cable. As part of the set-up, you choose a Global Password for the native app installed on a connected device, and a Global PIN for the vault. The main feature that distinguishes BC Vault from other cold-storage devices is the way it generates wallets. With an integrated gyroscope, the device generates random keys when you shake it.
You can create more than 2000 independent wallets, and lock each of them with a separate wallet password and PIN code. Sounds a bit complicated or exaggerated, but this optionality proves practical if more people wish to share a single vault to lower their costs. If you know trustworthy people who also hold crypto long term, you can all share global login details, then have your own wallets encrypted with private passwords and PINs.
BC Vault supports all major cryptocurrencies and all ERC-20 tokens. As of writing, it is the only multi-currency wallet where you can store coins and tokens on a single device and use a single app to transfer them around. Native support is a great advantage for those who currently still rely on different 3rd party wallet providers and apps.
Every BTC wallet in the BC Vault supports seamless use of SegWit and Legacy addresses, while BCH wallets support the Legacy and the new Cashaddr address format.
Wallet setup, password input, menu navigation and transaction confirmation are made easy with the large display and D-pad, which make the vault a practical payment device, not limited to long-term storage use. Any device that fits the whole receiving address on screen scores high on the security scale, and with BC Vault you also have other valuable transaction information on hand, such as high-fee warnings. This feels quite important if you think about stories like the one 2 months ago when a user accidentally spent 2730 ETH on fees.
The vault can be used on a daily basis for other functionalities as well. With the random number generator, you can not only create wallets but also U2F tokens. U2F or two-factor authentication is a must-have security layer for any online account, from email and social media accounts to exchanges. The number generator is not susceptible to any malware, so BC Vault is a safer alternative to authenticator apps installed on online devices.
The motto of the REAL Security Inc. company is: “Wallets are for pocket money and Vaults are for safekeeping”. Their BC Vault does seem like a safe haven for cryptocurrencies. Private keys are stored in a secure FRAM chip, which can keep data intact for more than two generations. FRAM is incomparably faster than NAND Flash the other hardware wallets use and lasts more read/write cycles.
As far as storage on any device goes (even if it is called a vault), relying on a single storage medium is never a smart move. A huge advantage of the BC Vault is that you can back up encrypted wallets by default. Any wallet encrypted with a password and PIN code can be backed up on a microSD card or on paper as a QR code.
Trezor, Ledger or Keepkey wallets use the BIP39 or BIP44 standard (seed phrase words) to restore data, and since the words you receive are not encrypted, you need to keep them somewhere safe. But with BC Vault you can encrypt wallets with your own passwords, and recover your backup versions with the passwords you know.
If you are afraid you might forget those, you can still create unencrypted backup versions, but be sure to keep such backups in a secure place as they will not be password-protected. Conveniently enough, one 1GB microSD card is already included in the package.
As mentioned at the beginning of my review, BC Vault wallets are generated randomly. Each private key is unique and anonymous, never based on or linked to another wallet on the same device or to a single BIP39/44 seed, so if any wallet gets hacked, others remain safe. Wallets can be individually backed up and locked with a unique password and PIN code.
Together with global login details, this allows you to protect each wallet with up to 4 different codes. If the global and individual wallet passwords/PINs are distributed among several people, the vault can be used as some sort of a conceptual MultiSig wallet.
When talking about almost any feature or advantage of the BC Vault, they are all essentially connected with security. While a large display seems like practical feature, it is primarily related to security. A warning against the man-in-the-middle attack is always in order, so it is important to see all transaction information on screen before sending it out.
The wallet currently sells at 131 EUR, and does not range as the cheapest among available hardware wallets. It should be pointed out, however, that the BC Vault offers several features the others don’t and seems like the most secure device currently on the market. The latest Trezor Model T (with a comparably large screen) sells for 229 EUR together with Cryptosteel, an extra steel backup for the unencrypted recover seed.
BC Vault enables encrypted backups by default, so it sells for less with no hidden costs, all functions in one device. Ledger Nano X will cost you 119 EUR, no encrypted backups nor large display included. If used as a safe payment device on a daily basis and a reliable long-term storage device at the same time, the price of BC Vault seems more than reasonable to secure your investments.
BC Vault: Redefining Hardware Wallets?
BC Vault is a new hardware wallet that introduces a lot of great features that the first generation lacks. With native support of numerous cryptocurrencies and top-notch security, this cold storage/payment device is perfect for both long-term storage and daily crypto transactions.