The other evening I was going through some old documents, getting rid of the ones I no longer needed and having a lot of fun shredding. Not so much a Spring cleaning, more like a Summer one.
Notwithstanding that I have to get a life and should have been out there on the Brighton sea paddleboarding in the dusk towards the Solstice, I did find something that I hadn’t seen for a very long time.
It was a printed-out version of my public and private keys for Myetherwallet, previously a private key wallet where personal horrors happened and in 2019 more than 163 ETH was stolen from me and spirited away via the Binance exchange and then to Monero and mobile phones across Europe.
I wrote about my naivete for the BBC, a piece that received more than one million views; something I regret. I still, weekly, get requests from victims of crypto theft asking me to help them… when I want to move on.
Clearly, by writing about it here, I may never move on. I’m buying a house at the moment and it would be a considerably bigger house if I was able to cash in that 163 ETH.
So my attention turned to crypto security and how things may or might not have improved in the ensuing four years since the heist.
Myetherwallet seems to have upped its game, there are way more options than logging in via a private key and seeing a link to hardware wallets, it reminded me of a conversation I had at Prague BTC last week with Matěj Žák, the CEO of hardware wallet provider Trezor.
He has a very different take on whether crypto security has improved over the last four years and believes that self-custody will be the catalyst for the next crypto bull run.
Being somewhat nonplussed by this statement, I asked him to clarify and he posited the company’s previous experience in this regard…
“Each bear market has been different for us with successive bears having less of a negative impact on sales. This time around we’ve seen a massive shakeout of the centralised exchange model, led by the collapse of FTX, which has been the catalyst for a structural shift towards self custody.
Aha, now it all makes sense. Not so much a security issue as a cultural and economic one. If the SEC seems intent on bringing Binance and Coinbase to heel, it seems obvious that crypto holders will take their money from these exchanges and protect it in a wallet. Doh.
“Given these structural and behavioural changes, it’s clear that self-custody will underpin the next bull run and we’re scaling up supply to meet the expected demand. The next bull run will be the biggest ever and we plan to sell multiple devices more than what we sold in the 10-year history of our company,” concluded Žák.
That’s confidence for you. I now don’t doubt him for the moment.
Trezor is now forecasting a faster and higher recovery in sales for the next bull market (twice as many more devices to be sold than the total number shipped in its entire 10-year history) and is already increasing production to satisfy expected demand.
After speaking with others in the hardwallet game, Trezor’s claim that its sales are correlated with BTC prices, with peaks and troughs tracking bull and bear markets closely, holds water. It’s an industry thing that I didn’t know about.
Rather like my late knowledge of self-custody, it can be assumed that other consumers are also waking up to the idea that crypto is only secure when it’s in a hardware wallet and not left on the exchange where it was purchased.
Strangely enough, that’s exactly what I did more than four years ago when I chose Myetherwallet rather than an exchange because the number of hacks on exchanges in those days.
That didn’t work for me, but Trezor seems to be a much better alternative, even to the likes of Keplr and Metamask. Let the change over begin; let the bull run begin.
PS: Binance, I’m still open to offers for that missing 163 ETH. Maybe we could do a deal, 50% to me and 50% to your charity arm. You know it makes sense. Either that or I’ll call my mate at the SEC. Know what I mean?