In early June, Jack Dorsey revealed that Square was looking into the possibility of launching its own Bitcoin hardware wallet, one that, he said at the time, would be built “entirely in the open, from software to hardware design, and in collaboration with the community.” Fast-forward a little more than a month and Dorsey is back with an update on the plan.
Dorsey, who is CEO of both Twitter and Square, revealed the potential Bitcoin hardware wallet plan in a Twitter thread on June 4. At the time, he’d said, “Bitcoin is for everyone,” explaining that if Square proceeded with a product, it would need to meet the needs of mobile users, be secure, and offer Cash App integration, among other things.
In a simple update to that tweet thread, Dorsey said, “We’re doing it.” He linked to a larger statement by Square’s hardware lead Jesse Dorogusker who said the team will “build a hardware wallet and service to make bitcoin custody more mainstream.” In a longer thread, Dorogusker said the first step will be to “build a small, cross-functional team” to “start with a strong foundation.”
The decision isn’t surprising given bitcoin’s enduring popularity, the overall growth in the cryptocurrency market (its current troubles aside), and Jack’s own Twitter profile, which merely lists the Bitcoin hashtag. Though cryptocurrencies have entered the popular domain in the sense that many people have some level of awareness of them, the ability to use these digital coins in a simple, secure, and practical way remains elusive.
A number of mobile-first financial apps have added support for cryptocurrencies. Square’s Cash App, for example, allows users to directly buy and sell Bitcoin from one’s account balance, promising transactions that generally happen “in seconds.” PayPal has likewise added support for buying, selling, and holding certain cryptos including Bitcoin.
Though these apps may be fine for small purchases and transactions, anyone holding a larger amount of cryptocurrency will need to turn to more secure options. Most people store their coins on their laptop or on a riskier cloud-based service, but hardware wallets remain one of the most secure and popular options.
A hardware wallet is a physical device that resembles a flash drive and is used to store the user’s private crypto keys. The idea is that these hardware wallets are isolated from your network and make it harder for crypto-thieves to access your digital coins, at least compared to cloud-based services and personal computers that may be connected to the Internet.
Square’s effort is in its infancy at this time and it’ll likely be a while before we see an actual Bitcoin hardware wallet launch. Until them, some popular alternatives remain, including Ledger’s Nano X and Nano S wallets.