A few days ago, I got an email from a reporter asking me this:

What is needed to help bring Bitcoin security and ease of use to mainstream Bitcoin users?

I was in a hurry, trying to get through my email, and wrote back this:

i think wider use of multisig would be a good thing

Mutisig is a technology that was added to the Bitcoin protocol in 2011 and 2012. This article on Multisig by Vitalik Buterin is a good description of the technology. This is from Vitalik’s article:

In a traditional Bitcoin account, you have Bitcoin addresses, where each address has one associated private key that grants the keyholder full control over the funds. With multisignature addresses, you can have a Bitcoin address with three associated private keys, such that you need any two of them to spend the funds. 

In principle this is a lot like the check-writing policies that many of our portfolio companies have. For checks below some number, say $5000, one signature is fine. But for checks above that number, two signatures are required.

Multisigned transactions are more secure. I would like to see more Bitcoin based systems implement multisig, as I explained to the reporter.

Yesterday our portfolio company Coinbase announced that their Vault service supports multisig. I use a Coinbase Vault and like to think of it as my “savings account” and I use it in combination with my primary Coinbase wallet, which I like to think of as my “checking account.” In addition to a Multisig Vault being more secure, it also allows the user to store their own private keys, something that has not been possible with the Coinbase wallet service. You can increase the number of required signatures from two of three to three of five. The latter service is great for family vaults or group vaults.

The reaction to Multisig Vault has been very good, as evidenced by this Hacker News thread. I particularly liked this comment:

the mere fact that a major Bitcoin exchange is allowing users to hold their own private keys really puts a smile on my face today.

It is completely unheard of in the financial industry (and usually technically impossible before cryptocurrencies) to have a bank give away their “middle man” access of people’s money and empowering their customers with complete control over their finances.

This is what Bitcoin is all about. Giving us control back over our money and taking it away from the financial institutions. It is not a coincidence that Bitcoin was invented in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008. But you can’t take control back from the financial institutions without providing trust and security. And multisig is a big part of that.

#hacking finance

Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    Makes cents.

    1. fredwilson


      1. Guest

        Appears to be designed by a 3rd party. I’ll go for it anyway. Thx

        1. fredwilson

          there is a long story about that. it is for all intents and purposes the official app

          1. Dylan Lingelbach

            Can you tell the story? I’ve hesitated installing the app because the publisher is not Coinbase

      2. JimHirshfield

        Nah. Just coiny humor.

  2. John Pepper

    Fred, do suggest any app to access Coinbase wallet/vault from a mobile device?

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, the coinbase app

      1. John Pepper

        Looked like a 3rd party created it so I was ironically worried about security, but I’ll go for it. Thx

      2. awaldstein

        btw–good chat support.

      3. Pete Griffiths

        Good answer.

  3. Kurt Kumar

    A great help in pushing this mainstream would be to ask few of your portfolio companies to start giving bonus in Bitcoin and eventually moving entire paycheck in phases :).

    1. fredwilson

      i think some of them pay offshore devs in bitcoin

      1. Kurt Kumar

        Nice. I would just sign-up as an ‘Off-shore’ resource just for that even though I am here onshore.

  4. William Mougayar

    The banks have brainwashed us for years that they are the most secure CENTRALIZED places for our money. Bitcoin shatters that myth because security AND decentralized access are now possible. Multisigs actually re-enforce the Bitcoin security aspects even more.

    1. awaldstein

      Actually for years they were the most secure–no?It appears less a matter of brainwashing and more a matter of change.And today–for the majority of your assets in cash-bitcoin is not yet the answer.But coming potentially.

      1. William Mougayar

        Correct. Diversification is still advised. Ironically, you could store your private keys in a bank’s physical safety box if you think it’s more secure than in your home.

        1. awaldstein

          Your talking like today you are putting some real percentage of your net worth in Bitcoins.I don’t believe it.It’s a great future play. I’m going to start buying and playing but as part of my portfolio–not a chance.

          1. Richard

            Currency or Commodity, you can’t market it as both. and that’s what the bitcoin community is trying to do. No one in business wants volatility in their currency. Yet, the bitcoin community continues to market asset appreciation bitcoin /$ rates.

          2. awaldstein

            Interesting…I am more and more becoming interested in bitcoin and block chain actually.Have a wallet finally and starting to play around.To developers and investors, market it as you will.But its a mess positioning wise.I’d love to hear what people who are advising these companies are recommending from a positioning perspective and why.

          3. Richard

            According to Peter Thiel, one basic lie you tell as a false monopoly is the market you’re in is much bigger than it looks. He argues that true monopolists tell their story in terms of a small market.

          4. William Mougayar

            Give it some time. It’s still early days. Immaturity prevails. The Bitcoin startup ecosystem is barely a year old.

          5. awaldstein

            How many dollars in Bitcoin today?With waiting for your answer I bet the size of the pile and language of the companies targeting it are out of sync.

          6. William Mougayar

            See this deck on the state of bitcoin and the slides about the VC landscape in it. About $300 M have gone into bitcoin startups so far, which isn’t a lot, but a good number when compared to the Internet in 1995.

          7. awaldstein

            Super–thanks.And is there a number of how many dollars of actual bitcoins are being held at today’s price?

          8. William Mougayar

            $5B at today’s price, roughly.

          9. LE

            I am more and more becoming interested in bitcoin and block chain actually.Ask yourself if that would be the case if you didn’t read this blog.You know the answer to that.The question is how do you get people who don’t read AVC or are in tech circles to “get a wallet and play with it”.

          10. awaldstein

            You are too myopic on this one I think. The world is way larger than this community.

          11. LE

            By the way along the lines of my comment about “if you didn’t read this blog” I am way more likely to pay attention to wine and think about it simply because I am constantly reminded of it just by seeing your avatar.It’s kind of like that effect where you notice something at the point you start to shop for it. [1] (Right now with us it’s quartz countertops which before we had a near blind spot for..)[1] Quite common with automobiles.

        2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Nat West Bank in the UK actually LOST my fathers Last Will and Testament. (They had a flood in their vault). Happily the verbal version was uncontested (and not worth so much) – but I admit I was so enraged I wanted to do harm to someone !Word to the wise – Banks can failLook at how squirrels cache valuable troves (they diversify) after all they they aren’t nuts !

          1. JimHirshfield

            Upvote for the pun every time.

          2. William Mougayar

            Wow. Good point.

          3. JamesHRH

            One of the most prestigious law firm in Canada lost my father’s will as well. Comes down to people & process not PR.Do we really want to hold our own assets? Likely yes.Still a long way from warm & fuzzy though.

    2. Salt Shaker

      Investor confidence in banks is eroding with increasing incidence of identity theft and credit card hacking, although the onus w/ the latter prob falls more to the retailer (e.g., Target).Curious if anyone has published anything on the increase in annual bad debt major companies ( e.g., financial and/or retail) have had to carry on their books say over the past 10-15 yrs.

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      Sure, as of yet, bitcion’s potential remains largely “PIE IN THE SKY” but the potential use cases seem obvious.1- reduce the $500 billion overhead of global transaction charges.2- dis-intermediate self-serving centralized currency-diluting neo-cheaters both governmental and corporate.3- generate a currency who’s Validity-Volume-Velocity inherently maintains an effective organically-distributive internal stasis because its reserve value leverages the reality of being rooted directly in the sum total of all global goods/services exchange.Every breakthrough in human transactional organization starts as “PIE IN THE SKY” !

  5. awaldstein

    I finally get the excitement.This is basically rebuilding economics of exchange from the ground up.Value is value–how you share and sell it is turned on its head.

    1. Pete Griffiths

      there are 2 developments that are often conflatedblockchain which has many applicataionsbitcoin which is an application (cryptocurrency)both are interestingboth depend on a very significant technological advance that isn’t going to go away

      1. awaldstein

        Is it not correct that bitcoin is a superset of blockchain–that is blockchain is the underlying technology? That is my assumption.I don’t personally know anyone who is build a business that using Bitcoin as a key transaction piece. My experience only.I know two (one for certain) that are using block chains today in their development.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          It is an application of blockchain – yes. But basically, (as I know I have iterated to the point of boring everyone to death) its a way of doing distributed trust. So any application where you would prefer that users transact directly between themselves and can do so with confidence that the transaction is authentic and is executed properly is a potential blockchain application. So there are two very different questions which are typically conflated. (i) Are crypto currencies (like bitcoin) relevant? (ii) Are there other interesting applications of blockchain?It would be interesting to know what those developers you know that are using blockchain are using it for. Are they using it for bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, or something to do with currencies.

          1. awaldstein

            Thanks! That is what I thought but not as eloquently articulated.I’ll see if the individuals want to share.I can say though that I know the people who are doing many of the local currencies in Europe and there is interest in Block Chain as part of their systems.

          2. Pete Griffiths

            ‘local currencies in Europe’I’ll bite! What’s that about? Sounds interesting.

          3. awaldstein

            Brixton pound for one. Many others. One of my best buddies, also a fellow wine writer and technologies, is deeply involved.

          4. Pete Griffiths

            Brixton pound – had never heard of it before. It’s brilliant. Thanks for that.

          5. awaldstein

            There’s a few, more than a few, in Europe.I agree very interesting stuff.

    2. LE

      I finally get the excitement.Isn’t it, in all honesty, a warning signal that you didn’t get the excitement initially? Sort of like your gut is telling you one thing but now how sure are you that you aren’t just being brainwashed into thinking something that isn’t any better than your initial reaction?(A question, not a statement as always..)

      1. awaldstein

        Not at all.

  6. LIAD

    1/ pace of development at coinbase is stunning. non-stop new features & bus-dev deals.2/ multisig takes away all risk of exchange/wallet absconding or govt agency confiscating.3/ interesting to see how many customer support emails coinbase will get along lines of ‘i know i lost my key but what do you mean i can no longer access my coins!! why can’t you just reset it for me like a password???’

    1. Pete Griffiths

      3 LOL

  7. jason wright

    why .uk banking industry disregards coinbase

  8. William Mougayar

    The gotcha with private keys is that if you lose your key, you lose access to your Bitcoins. They are gone.The other implication of multisigs is they enable smart contracts with or without money involved. When we were told that Bitcoin is “programmable money”, Satoshi wasn’t kidding.

    1. jason wright

      what’s the solution to that nightmare?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Security question: Who was your favorite teacher in elementary school?(I think not)

        1. William Mougayar

          These are simple brain passwords. Some bitcoin wallets are asking you to remember a whole unique phrase.

          1. JimHirshfield

            So my security question is a “whole unique phrase”. Done.

          2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            Muuaaahhhaaahhaaa – Well done William – You unlocked the toughest puzzle of them all !

          3. JimHirshfield

            Help yourself to a fraction of a bitcoin.

          4. William Mougayar

            some customer support reps ask you for a passcode now so you don’t have to verify your identity, zip code, dob, etc.

      2. William Mougayar

        Well…managing your keys is part of it. I think there are apps that can do that, but then you have to manage them. It is nightmarish to some, but much needed to others.Another way to overlay further security is to have a unique “brain pass phrase” which then generates your key. You’re not supposed to write that phrase anywhere, but you keep it in your memory, and it could be unique to you, e.g. “jasonpwright and william mougayar had this great conversation on oct 20 2014” or something else. no one can really guess what you stored in your mind…..unless they torture you of course 🙂

        1. Pete Griffiths

          People I know have brainstormed this problem a lot. It’s tricky.

        2. jason wright

          in principle perhaps a personal sidechain would solve the lost key issue. create the sidechain. populate it with a disparate group of personal contacts. allocate chunks of the key to each. when needed recover the chunks and reassemble the key.

    2. JamesHRH

      Good of you to point out this absolutely idea killing issue.As always, I believe the idea of a suable 3P middle man is of value in modern asset transactions & that there is no mainstream problem to be solved / value to be created here.

      1. Pete Griffiths

        Do you believe in 3rd party escrow like middle men guaranteeing trust in all transactions or do you think this is particularly applicable to financial transactions?

        1. JamesHRH

          Here in Canada, the government Land Titles office acts as escrow. My private banker and my credit card company provided assurance for financial issues.There is value there for people that BTCers do not seem to see,

          1. Pete Griffiths

            By ‘value’ you mean – there is the possibility to disintermediate, for example, the government Land Titles Office?People who are heavily invested in Bitcoin aren’t necessarily looking at non-bitcoin applications for blockchain. But there are most definitely people out there looking at such applications.

  9. sigmaalgebra

    While my knowledge of the BitCoin block chain is next to zero, it does appear that BitCoin is now another reason to be interested in the questionP versus NP!Ah, entrepreneurs need to focus! So, when I get some more software written, maybeI’ll look into BitCoin!

  10. kidmercury

    the only thing bitcoin needs to succeed is an actual use case.for all the glorification of steve jobs it surprises me that the bitcoin faithful haven’t asked themselves what would steve do? WWSD. probably the same thing jeff would do. build an end to end solution so that ecommerce and banking are under the same roof. done properly it lets you control the x-rate issue, the ultimate issue and the key to unlocking the golden age.eventually someone will figure it out and it will be seen as obvious in hindsight. i think we’ll just be waiting until then……

    1. William Mougayar

      Well, Bitcoin needs time, that’s for sure.

    2. JimHirshfield


      1. kidmercury

        what would kooks do? always a question worth asking! 🙂

        1. JimHirshfield

          hahaha.What Would Kid Do?

    3. JLM

      .The invention of the hammer did not occur like this.Guy #1: What’s that thing?Guy #2: I call it a hammer.Guy #1: What do you use it for?Guy #2: No idea.Guy #1: Think it will catch on?Guy #2: Yeah, as soon as we figure out what the hell to do with it.When someone makes a compelling case for a real world use that is neither cointrived (little pun y’all) or currently able to be done by Wells Fargo, USAA or Schwab then bitcoin will sprout wings and soar. Not before then.That day may never come. It may be tomorrow.JLM.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Dang. Someone smashed their thumb with a blockchain this morning.

        1. JLM

          .Keeping it fun and real?JLM.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Levity and brevity, my friend.Regards to the Big Red Car on this beautiful day.

      2. Richard

        The Bitcoin HammerBitcoin.org01 Nov 2008Bitcoin is a new design for a fully peer-to-peer electronic cash system. A C++ implementation is under development for release as an open source project.Main properties: – Double-spending is prevented with a peer-to-peer network. – No mint or other trusted parties. – Participants can be anonymous.

        1. JLM

          .Well that clears it up for me. But, then, what exactly am I doing or not doing today that will be made so much better by using bitcoin?Real world examples, please.JLM.

          1. Richard

            Exactly. Who does this appeal to? The double spending, untrusting, anonymous crowd, of course.”Who are these people.” Jerry Seinfeld

      3. PhilipSugar

        But that might be the invention of the wheel.

        1. JLM

          .And it would also be totally dependent upon being able to demonstrate a real world use case to drive its implementation.JLM.

          1. PhilipSugar

            You and I know this fact: If Walmart required you to have enough money in your bank account to buy a big screen (much less something else)….commerce in the US as we know it would come to a halt. Ships crossing the Pacific would be scuttled.So complain about fees, live the pain, live the fraud, and give me a better answer.

      4. JamesHRH

        Have you see this? What about you Mr Bartender @fredwilson:disqusTotally unrelated.

  11. Herr Hur

    Can I do multisig transactions with anything beside the official bitcoin implementation?I haven’t seen it in the wallet.

    1. JimHirshfield

      The sky’s the limit.

      1. Herr Hur

        So all wallets implement BIP16? I haven’t found any way to do a multisig transaction with my wallet. Where is it?

  12. Evan Van Ness

    I’m surprised that you managed to cite an article by Vitalik without mentioning Ethereum.

  13. pointsnfigures

    Andreessen has been tweeting and talking about two factor notification for a bit now. This is the smart way to make Bitcoin more secure. At #stocktoberfest, the talk was Bitcoin, and dethroning centralized banks. That opens up lots of opportunity.

  14. Pawel Turczynowicz

    I think that the biggest threat for bitcoin is attempt of ambassadors to cover two functions: mean of transaction and store of value.When you are absolutely sure and promote that bitcoin will be worth more in the future, you don’t spend it and discourage others from transacting.While bitcoin is amazing for transacting, for store of value it is just sentiment and evaluation of beliefsNext threat is potential collision with p2p lending.More in my blog post….(in the other post I argue with one of directions presented by @fredwilson:disqus at Leweb for banking disruption – unbundling)

    1. Pete Griffiths

      There is no difference here between bitcoin and any other currency.During times when asset values are crashing cash is king and people hoard it because it is increasing in value in real terms.During times of inflation or hyperinflation, people spend it as fast as possible to acquire real goods.

      1. Pawel Turczynowicz

        Exactly. But people tent to believe that bitcoin will ‘always’ keep value better then any fiat currency because of fixed maximum amount.In parallel monetary units people spend the one, which they believe will lose value.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          Good god. If they believe that they deserve to lose all their money.

          1. Pawel Turczynowicz

            :DSeriously.It kills transactions.

  15. JLM

    .One has to wonder what world the author of this statement is living in if he actually believes it to be correct.”It is completely unheard of in the financial industry (and usually technically impossible before cryptocurrencies) to have a bank give away their “middle man” access of people’s money and empowering their customers with complete control over their finances.”For the record, I am able to visit and speak with my money, securities, credit card, insurance policies 24/7 with the ability to make account to account transfers, wire funds, pay bills, direct new investments and ask questions whenever I want to. I cannot think of a single thing that is POSSIBLE to be done with money I cannot do in my pajamas or even naked.This notion that any financial institution — mine being Wells Fargo, USAA, Schwab — somehow impedes access to funds is nonsense.Bitcoin has to fight fair in the gathering debate and not keep attempting to spot unicorns with koolaide rhetoric and fairy dust.JLM.

    1. Alf

      Sorry JLM, but you are mistaken if you believe you have complete control of and access to your finances if you are using traditional financial services. I agree that there may be the perception of control but using your logic – where you believe you have total ownership of your funds already – you are effectively arguing that a run on a bank is impossible. Not the case in reality. What Coinbase (and others, it must be said) are doing with multi-sig is truly innovative when viewed through the lens of traditional financial services.

      1. JLM

        .Two signatures on a check is “innovative”? I’ve been doing that for 35 years in business. You may need to get out more, my friend.Change your shirt first, that one’s got some koolaide stains on it.If a “run on the bank” is the base case for getting excited about bitcoin, you’ve got some hills to climb. The big threat is actually the Internet crashing.JLM.

        1. Alf

          Ha, a run on the bank is hardly the key value of the blockchain – although I suspect we both know that 😉 I do find it hard to understand why some people don’t seem to see that there’s value in digital scarcity and a distributed consensus mechanism powering the Internet of Things, if nothing else – but I digress…So, to your points:- the protection from cryptography is *slightly* stronger than signing by hand 😉 To try to equate an imperfect system that judges two signatures on a check with a multi-sig capability (2 of 3 – or any greater number that you like, signed authoritatively at distance) is hardly comparing like for like – whether that’s in terms of security or general corporate governance.In any event, the big threat (in this context) is not simply the internet crashing. The real threat is what happens when the next shakedown comes with an inevitable financial contraction in the future (i.e. when some of these CDO’s etc start to get unravelled during that crunch) and we realise that we didn’t actually fix any of the problems back from the 2008 financial crisis. I accept that for many who trust implicitly in the present financial system that this could appear to be some form of scaremongering – but there’s something about actually owning what you think you own that’s, I don’t know, appealing in some way…. 🙂

          1. JLM

            .Banks can provide a “positive pay” program in which they run every check by you for a second approval. I used to use this all the time and never had any fraud issues. This is an example of the utility of middle men — fraud protection.Checks do not have to be “fire and forget” financial instruments with positive pay.JLM.

          2. LE

            why some people don’t seem to see that there’s value in digital scarcity and a distributed consensus mechanism powering the Internet of ThingsFirst they’d have to understand exactly what you even mean by that. I don’t.

        2. Sebastian Wain

          It is not just that. I can connect my retinal scanner as a signing party even if the bank doesn’t offer this service.

          1. JLM

            .I have a device that uses my fingerprints and I love that technology.I used retinal scanning — experimentally — for building security decades ago. Now it is a hundred dollar technology.Fingerprints & retinas — future of security.JLM.

        3. LE

          If a “run on the bank” is the base case for getting excited about bitcoin,Humans are such a dichotomy. It’s like people who put all this effort into where their food is grown (and that it’s fresh and sustainable and free of harmful additives) and then they hop in an airplane and take a huge risk flying off to some obscure foreign country where the danger is actually much greater. You have to wonder sometimes, eh?

      2. Pete Griffiths

        I don’t think that is the point being made JLM.The distinguishing factor is not wether you can control transactions but that there is no need for a centralized institution that ‘underwrites’ those transactions so that users can trust them.

    2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Too much information 🙂

    3. JimHirshfield

      Banking naked is just a fig leaf of your imagination without the fig leaf.

      1. JLM

        .I was a boxer in college and never really go about without my boxers, truth be known.JLM.

        1. JimHirshfield

          “…go about…”? Or did you mean “…go a bout…”?

          1. JLM

            .Haha, very clever. Witty by half. A half wit?Just kidding. Very clever.JLM.

    4. William Mougayar

      You hit the nail on the head :)Bitcoin’s first beachhead is not for people like yourself in developed countries. Andreas Antonopoulos was observing yesterday that Bitcoin isn’t better than your credit card. Actually, it’s worse.But there are billions of people in this world that don’t have access to a sophisticated and modern banking infrastructure and services, and for them, Bitcoin represents a pretty good alternative and open access to the world. Kind of like when cellular networks bypassed archaic or non-existing land-based telco infrastructure and allowed some countries to leapfrog into wireless. Same thing is happening slowly around bitcoin.That said, developed countries may be adopting blockchain-based technology for more sophisticated implementations faster than just consumers using bitcoin for shopping.

      1. JLM

        .I completely agree with you observations about the introduction of cell phone systems in countries which never had legacy hard wired systems. It is true.What is difficult to embrace is the actual use case. In the case of the cell phone, people had a use which was universal — the desire to communicate. It was not a new use. It was as fundamental as mankind itself.What is a stretch is the idea that bitcoin — which currently appears to be held hostage to Internet delivery and connections — is going to be “the” choice of folks when they do get access to it.Why?If it takes the Internet to deliver bitcoin, aren’t the folks going to use the same Internet connection to access traditional financial services? Bitcoin can’t make you a loan which is what many undeveloped locations desperately need even if it is part of a micro loan program.It is difficult to see how an unsophisticated part of the world is going to be the first mover on a very sophisticated use case. It is unparalleled.Color me as a skeptic, not an opponent, a skeptic.JLM.

        1. William Mougayar

          Think simpler…Think using a text message on a plain cell phone for such transactions. Like M-Pesa which has proven it does get adopted, i.e. transferring money with your mobile device.

    5. barry

      Yes, sitting in your house you may have unfettered access. But if you travel overseas banks often block transactions as suspicious (even if told beforehand). Add to this any SAR scenario and you only have this access because a middle man allows it.Think about timezone differences, international money transfer processing delays, the sheer bulkiness of the SWIFT system.Complete control is not yours unless you stick within certain boundaries. This is not always a bad thing and not important for everyone, perhaps yourself, but it is important.Bitcoin allows you complete control. Again, not always needed, wanted or a positive for everyone, and at the moment it does not run as smoothly as it needs to, but it serves a purpose that works very well for some and potentially for many.

      1. JLM

        .Not one of the things you catalog as a problem is a problem for me. I want my credit card company to be skeptical about weird charges. USAA calls me constantly and I want that to happen.The boundaries you describe are both reasonable and legally significant — meaning if you follow the rules, you may be entitled to a legal recovery should something go astray.In this manner, no transaction is truly a “fire and forget” transaction. I can get redress of grievance after the fact including if the transaction goes through correctly from an administrative perspective but the good or service is somehow defective or fails to meet my expectations.I am unable to identify a single current or proposed bitcoin or blockchain based use case that would be a new or improved service to me.JLM.

    6. SubstrateUndertow

      Wasn’t 2008 a wakeup call on all those access assumptions ?If things had gone just a little more badly how would have those institutions divvied up yours vs their access rights ?

      1. JLM

        .Of course, that is NOT what actually happened, is it?The Germans might have won WWII but that didn’t happen either.JLM.

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          My point is that it is a serious risk that can very well still happen leaving you exposed to the morale hazards implicit in the arbitrary panic behaviours of said institutions.

          1. JLM

            .Nobody particularly cares about the “moral hazards” but rather the real financial hazards.JLM.

          2. SubstrateUndertow

            The “moral hazards” that are allowed to persist in banking and stock markets are the root cause of those “real financial hazards”.Same animal different labels!

        2. LE

          Here is the yiddish saying that you need to use in these situations:”If my bubba had batsim she’d be my grandfather”.

    7. Tom Labus

      Well, too many people think Bitcoin is inevitable so I almost have to set up on the other side. I was thinking of the Morgan Stanley deal on Columbus Day 2008. Mitsubishi actually wrote a check since the wires were closed. Could that transaction have been done in Bitcoin?

      1. JLM

        .I think Bitcoin is like Segway — huge advance in technology, very interesting idea but it won’t replace any existing system and will survive as a novelty.A mountain of money was spent on Segway and now nerds use them to tour Austin but it didn’t revolutionize transportation.Some of the smartest people on the planet were involved.JLM.

        1. LE

          Some of the smartest people on the planet were involved.That is the problem. People who are viewed as smart because one of or several of the things they did happen to hit it big. So then they are worshiped and nobody questions them.Part of that is probably the effect that caused a 2 billion casino that is now bust to be built in Atlantic City 2 years ago.

  16. curtissumpter

    What Bitcoin needs for wider adoption is for people to understand it. Einstein said “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” No one is able to explain Bitcoin in a simple way and most people inherently distrust what they don’t understand. And right now that’s the end of the story. Until it becomes easy to use and easy to understand (not even widely acceptable) BC is a tool of the technorati.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      “Until it becomes easy to use” Agreed buteasy to understand Not so much !Try explaining the hidden mechanics of money and credit to a six year old ?My point is that most of us don’t fully understand the mechanisms behind traditional money/credit/exchange but have through experience come to somewhat trust in its stability as sold to us via superficial mass-culture banking metaphors and language.The same could easily become true of bitcoin as it matures into a more stable, more widely used and trusted set of easily used mechanisms simply sold to us via its own well established superficial mass-culture metaphors and language.

      1. curtissumpter

        I agree with you to a point. But I’m not saying full understanding. I know basically how my credit card works. Swipe the card. It talks to a computer somewhere that has my bank data and the computer sends back a yes or no. Ask me the basics of how BitCoin works? I have no idea. There are miners and there’s some kind of chain … wha??? That’s all I’m saying. I don’t need to understand cryptography. I just need to understand basic functionality. Plus you’ve got to take into account credit cards used to be a big deal. They only had credibility because they were only offered to affluent customers and the banks (because they owned the system) endorsed them. BitCoin is lacking that. That makes it more important that people understand them.

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          I think we agree here.Just emphasizing that “public understanding” need only be a workable superficial-characterization tied to an experiential trust factor.

  17. Salt Shaker

    Multisig certainly helps to address security issues and investor confidence, obv a very big concern, although potentially problematic if one forgets or loses access to private keys. Is there a way to reset? Is Google’s 2-step verification system or the use of fobs that continually deliver secondary passwords that many financial companies today are using a better system?Any incremental step in transacting is a bit of an inconvenience, but certainly worthwhile to insure investor confidence and security. That’s one big hurdle leading to acceptance, although market volatility is a far larger one.

  18. Twain Twain

    The banks also use multisig systems so it’s unclear how this would be a user differentiation point for BTC.Developers on Hacker News understand multisig on a “par for the course” basis since private and public key generation is a norm for any developer with an iOS Developer / AWS / Google Play account.However, for Joe-Jane Public multisig has to be communicated in a different and more visual way than that.Someone needs to do a mashup of the scene from ‘Da Vinci Code’ where they visit the Swiss bank vault with their private key and the scene from ‘Imitation Game’ with a voice-over like so: “If you think these are hard to crack…you should see the Bitcoin security system.”

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      Seems like very weak sauce full of rear view mirror augments ?Example:”Furthermore, these people are very attached to the concept of decentralization as a matter of ideology. But I would guess if you walk down the street and ask 100 people if they care about decentralization, they’d say, “What are you talking about?” The ideologues say it should matter, that you don’t want the government or corporations in the middle. But what evidence is there that anybody besides a small, small group of people care about this kind of stuff?”Decentralization or distributive-dynamics are not and ideology any more that gravity is and ideology. Everything interesting/complex all the way up the reality stack, from subatomic-particles to social-structues, fundamentally relay on recombinant distributive-dynamics. That is simply a fact of material reality!That mass-culture, as of yet, still experiences such fundamental abstract-organization-patterns(informational-synched ogranizational-entities) as an un-comprehended hidden ground is irrelevant to their accelerating importance to everyone’s daily lives in a network based social reality.Such abstract informational-entities will obviously become well visualized mass-culture name-recognition-memes as a matter of practical necessity moving forward for the same reason Eskimos have 23 names for different types of snow. We all need to be able to name the key features of our world around which our survival-strategies pivot.Sure, “bitcoin” may not reach the critical mass required to create a stable global currency but ultimately some similarly distributive-monetary-vehicle seems inevitable given the necessity to stabilize the sheer complexity/interdependancy of a globally networked economy ?But what evidence is there that anybody besides a small, small group of people care about this kind of stuff?”Think about that statement in the context of history’s breakthrough concepts !

      1. Twain Twain

        The 100 random people on the street may not know it by the label “decentralization”. They probably know it by terms like “your life in your hands”, “information at your fingertips”, “your money, your choice” and even “local government” (as opposed to central government).The currency part of BTC is less interesting than the contracts ledger potential of the block chain.

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          “The 100 random people on the street may not know it by the label “decentralization”. They probably know it by terms like “your life in your hands”, “information at your fingertips”, “your money, your choice” and even “local government” (as opposed to central government).”To recognize an “instantiation” requires recognition of the attributes set that defines its belonging to said class. Without that recognition no reusable knowledge accrues to the user.”The currency part of BTC is less interesting than the contracts ledger potential of the block chain.?”That may well be true !Still, global currency stabilization in the face of ever more volatile accelerating economic interdependencies seems like a fundamentally pivotal use case of the blockchain !

  19. ShanaC

    …..I just don’t have much to say about bitcoin

    1. ShanaC

      actually, let me change that – it doesn’t really get interesting to me unless we can talk about it in terms of I go to guy on the corner store in ye old town in middle of nowhere and pick up under a dollar pack of gum equaivlent in bitcoin with no problems

      1. Mario Cantin

        Give it 20 years, it’s going to happen one way or the other. How can it not?

      2. JamesHRH

        Shana – not having anything to say says a lot.

  20. Sebastian Wain

    I would like to point to another use. It is the possibility to connect third party services as a signing party. You can do this with Copay too (with some code modifications) but other multi-signature wallets are more restrictive and only live inside a specific service (i.e. BitGo).

  21. Pete Griffiths


  22. LE

    In principle this is a lot like the check-writing policies that many of our portfolio companies have. For checks below some number, say $5000, one signature is fine. But for checks above that number, two signatures are required.Maybe this is obvious but in any system that is setup like that (check writing I mean) the 2nd signature in many cases becomes simply a rubber stamp of the first. In theory it should mean something but in practice it doesn’t.This appears to be one big difference from multisig where it’s not approval or review (which is more or less the purpose of the 2nd physical signature that fails, as mentioned, in actual practice) but an actually security measure.I would say the analogy is more like requiring two keys to access a safe deposit box. One you have in your possession and one the banker has in the bank office.

  23. JLM

    .I don’t get your point, Sage of Lancaster. Illuminate me.JLM.

  24. JLM

    .Higher probability that Slippery Rock wins the national football championship?Thanks. Be well.JLM.

  25. LE

    It could, conceivable, replace all currencies and eliminate the need for central banks.You know the saying “you can name the price if I can name the terms?” so we can add “you can make the prediction if I can name the time frame”.

  26. William Mougayar

    It’s one of the underlying innovations that Bitcoin enables. It’s not for all apps and use cases, but that doesn’t mean it’s not needed. If it sounds geeky today, there might be ways to hide that geekiness in the future, while preserving its capabilities.

  27. Pawel Turczynowicz

    p2p lending for bitcoin already exists.When people will be offered interest rate, they will trust some sort of bitcoin-bank. BTW then the problem begins.Instead of fixed M0-only money, there will be standard M2, M3 and money creation mechanism.For fiat money there is central bank who provides supply / liquidity for additional money created by banking system. And for bitcoin?Gold standard history?

  28. JLM

    .Weak special teams or they would be a top 5 team.JLM.