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Cryptocurrency wallet

An example paper printable bitcoin wallet consisting of one bitcoin address for receiving and the corresponding private key for spending.

A cryptocurrency wallet stores the public and private keys which can be used to receive or spend the cryptocurrency. A wallet can contain multiple public and private key pairs.[1][better source needed] As of January 2018[update], there are over thirteen hundred cryptocurrencies; the first and best known is bitcoin.[2] The cryptocurrency itself is not in the wallet. In case of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies derived from it, the cryptocurrency is decentrally stored and maintained in a publicly available ledger.[3]:93 Every piece of cryptocurrency has a private key. With the private key, it is possible to write in the public ledger, effectively spending the associated cryptocurrency.[4]


  • 1 Wallet access
  • 2 Backup
  • 3 Wallet characteristics
    • 3.1 Multicurrency
    • 3.2 Software wallet
    • 3.3 Hardware wallet
    • 3.4 Watch-only wallet
    • 3.5 Multisignature wallet
    • 3.6 Brain wallet
    • 3.7 Hot vs. cold wallets
    • 3.8 Deep Cold Storage
    • 3.9 Key derivation
      • 3.9.1 Deterministic wallet
      • 3.9.2 Non-deterministic wallet
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References

Wallet access[edit]

When choosing a wallet, the owner must keep in mind who is supposed to have access to (a copy of) the private keys and thus has potentially access to the cryptocurrency. Just like with a bank, the user needs to trust the provider to keep the cryptocurrency safe. Trust was misplaced in the case of the Mt. Gox exchange, who ‘lost’ most of their clients’ bitcoins. Downloading a cryptocurrency wallet from a wallet provider to a computer or phone does not automatically mean that the owner is the only one who has a copy of the private keys. For example with Coinbase, it is possible to install a wallet on a phone and to also have access to the same wallet through their website. A wallet can also have known or unknown vulnerabilities.[5] For receiving cryptocurrency, access to the receiving wallet is not needed. The sending party only needs to know the destination address. Anyone can send cryptocurrency to an address. Only the one who has the private key of the corresponding address can use it.[6]


A backup of a wallet can come in different forms like:

  • A (encrypted) file like wallet.dat or wallet.bin which contains all the private keys.
  • A mnemonic sentence from which the root key can be generated, from which all the private keys can be recreated. Preferably these words could be remembered or written down and stored on other physical locations.
  • A private key like: KxSRZnttMtVhe17SX5FhPqWpKAEgMT9T3R6Eferj3sx5frM6obqA (see the picture).

When the private keys and the backup are lost then that cryptocurrency is lost forever. When using a webwallet, the private keys are managed by the provider. When owning cryptocurrency, those trusted with managing the private keys should be carefully selected. An (encrypted) copy of the wallet should be kept in a trusted place. Preferably off-line.[6] Some people ‘write’ their mnemonic sentence or private key on metal, because it is robust.[7]

Wallet characteristics[edit]


Some wallets support multiple cryptocurrencies.

Software wallet[edit]

They come in different forms like:

  • An application installed locally on a computer, telephone or tablet (see the picture).
  • When using a web wallet the private keys are managed by a trusted third party. Some web-based wallet providers use two-factor (like Google Authenticator) for extra security. In that case a keylogger is not enough for a hacker to steal the credentials and get access to the wallet.[8][not in citation given]
  • Cryptocurrency exchanges link the user’s wallet to their centrally managed wallet(s). For example: When trading bitcoins between users on the Kraken exchange, the trades are written in their private ledger (off-chain transaction). Only when a user wants to enter his cryptocurrency into the exchange or when he wants to take his cryptocurrency out of the exchange, the transaction is written onto the public bitcoin blockchain (on-chain transaction).

In order to initiate or verify a transaction, the cryptocurrency wallet connects to a client or node on the network to process the request. There are several types of clients like: full clients, headers-only clients, thin clients and mining clients. Some of them can process transactions and some of them also have their own wallet functionality.[9] Full clients verify transactions directly on a local copy of the blockchain.[9] Lightweight clients consult full clients.[10]

Hardware wallet[edit]

An actual bitcoin transaction from a web based cryptocurrency exchange to a hardware wallet.

When the user of a hardware wallet requests a payment, the wallet’s API creates the transaction. Then the wallet’s hardware signs the transaction and provides a public key, which is sent to the network by the API. That way, the signing keys never leave the hardware wallet.[11]

If a hardware wallet uses a mnemonic sentence for backup, then the users should not electronically store the mnemonic sentence, but write it down and store in a separate physical location. Storing the backup electronically lowers the security level to a software wallet level. Hardware wallets like LedgerWallet and Trezor have models that require the user to physically press or touch the wallet in order to sign a transaction, the destination address and the amount of coins. The private keys remain safe inside the hardware wallet. Without the private key a signed transaction cannot be altered successfully. Some hardware wallets have a display (see the picture) where the user can enter a pin to open the wallet and where the transaction can be verified before being signed. When reading a mnemonic sentence from the physical display of the hardware wallet a screencapture of an infected computer will not reveal the mnemonic sentence.[12][not in citation given][13][14][not in citation given]

Watch-only wallet[edit]

With a watch only wallet someone can keep track of all transactions. Only the address (public key) is needed. Thus the private key can be kept safe in another location.[9]

Multisignature wallet[edit]

With a multisignature (multisig) wallet multiple users have to sign (with their private key) for a transaction out of that wallet (public key address).[15][16][17]

Brain wallet[edit]

With a brain wallet someone remembers the information to regenerate the private and public key pair(s), like a mnemonic sentence.[18][19]

Hot vs. cold wallets[edit]

Terms also used in the context of cryptocurrency wallets are hot and cold wallets. Hot wallets are connected to the internet while cold wallets are not. With a hot wallet cryptocurrency can be spent at any time. A cold wallet has to be ‘connected’ to the internet first. As long as something is connected to the internet, it is vulnerable to an attack. The short version is that software wallets (where the device is turned on or the wallet software is running) are considered hot wallets. A (not connected) hardware wallet is considered a cold wallet.[20]

Deep Cold Storage[edit]

Deep cold storage is the process of storing cryptocurrencies in cold wallets that were never connected to the Internet or any kind of network. Additionally the private keys associated with this system are generated offline.  The process gained main stream attention, when Regal RA DMCC[21], (the first cryptocurrency licensed company in the middle east) took it a couple of steps further by storing the cold wallets in the Almas Tower vault below sea level along with the company’s gold bullion and insured the cryptocurrencies for full value.

Key derivation[edit]

Deterministic wallet[edit]

With a deterministic wallet a single key can be used to generate an entire tree of key pairs. This single key serves as the “root” of the tree. The generated mnemonic sentence or word seed is simply a more human-readable way of expressing the key used as the root, as it can be algorithmically converted into the root private key. Those words, in that order, will always generate the exact same root key. A word phrase could consist of 24 words like: begin friend black earth beauty praise pride refuse horror believe relief gospel end destroy champion build better awesome. That single root key is not replacing all other private keys, but rather is being used to generate them. All the addresses still have different private keys, but they can all be restored by that single root key. The private keys to every address it has ever given out can be recalculated given the root key. That root key, in turn, can be recalculated by feeding in the word seed. The mnemonic sentence is the backup of the wallet. If a wallet supports the same (mnemonic sentence) technique, then the backup can also be restored on a third party software or hardware wallet.

A mnemonic sentence is considered secure. It creates a 512-bit seed from any given mnemonic. The set of possible wallets is 2512. Every passphrase leads to a valid wallet. If the wallet was not previously used it will be empty.[3]:104

Non-deterministic wallet[edit]

In a non-deterministic wallet, each key is randomly generated on its own accord, and they are not seeded from a common key. Therefore, any backups of the wallet must store each and every single private key used as an address, as well as a buffer of 100 or so future keys that may have already been given out as addresses but not received payments yet.[3]:94

See also[edit]

  • Bitcoin#Wallets
  • Ether (currency)#Wallets
  • Cryptocurrency and security


  • ^ Private and public keys in wallet on ISBN 1387139967
  • ^ McGoogan, Sara; Field, Matthew. “What is cryptocurrency, how does it work and what are the uses?”. The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  • ^ a b c Antonopoulos, Andreas (12 July 2017). Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain. O’Reilly Media, Inc. ISBN 9781491954386. Retrieved 14 September 2017. 
  • ^ Juchisth, Smith. “Wat is cryptocurrency? Een introductie in de blockchain”. Cryptostart (in Dutch). Retrieved 9 December 2017. 
  • ^ “Wallet vulnerabilities”. 
  • ^ a b “How to store your bitcoins – bitcoin wallets – CoinDesk”. 
  • ^ “Cryo Card Review: Nearly Indestructible Bitcoin Cold Storage – CoinAlert”. 
  • ^ “How Bitcoin Companies Keep Your Funds Safe”. CoinDesk. 25 November 2014. 
  • ^ a b c Skudnov, Rostislav. “Bitcoin Clients” (PDF). Retrieved 23 February 2018. 
  • ^ “Lightweight clients on” (PDF). 
  • ^ Gkaniatsou, Andriana; Arapinis, Myrto; Kiayias, Aggelos (2017). “Low-Level Attacks in Bitcoin Wallets”. Information Security: 20th International Conference, ISC 2017, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, November 22-24, 2017, Proceedings. Springer. p. 234. ISBN 9783319696591. Retrieved 9 February 2018. 
  • ^ Burton, Charlie. “So, you’ve bought Bitcoin. Now what?”. 
  • ^ “The 3 Best Hardware Wallets For Bitcoin of 2018 ( ++ Altcoins)”. 15 November 2017. 
  • ^ Torpey, Kyle. “Bitcoin Hardware Wallet Review: Ledger May Have Caught Up to Trezor With Nano S”. Nasdaq. Retrieved 5 December 2017. 
  • ^ “The best multisignature wallets for 2016 » Brave New Coin”. 13 January 2016. 
  • ^ “Zendesk”. 
  • ^ “Bitcoin, Litecoin, & Ethereum Vault”. 
  • ^ “How to create a brain wallet – CoinDesk”. 10 June 2013. 
  • ^ Matonis, Jon. “Brainwallet: The Ultimate in Mobile Money”. 
  • ^ “Bitcoin Glossary”. 
  • ^ “World’s First Deep Cold Storage for Crypto-Commodities Launched by Regal Assets in Dubai | News – DMCC”. DMCC. Retrieved 2018-04-02. 

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    Petro (cryptocurrency)

    The petro, or petromoneda,[2] launched in February 2018, is a cryptocurrency developed by the government of Venezuela.[3][4] Announced in December 2017, it is claimed to be backed by the country’s oil and mineral reserves, and it is intended to supplement Venezuela’s plummeting bolívar fuerte currency, purportedly as a means of circumventing U.S. sanctions and accessing international financing.[5]


    • 1 History
      • 1.1 Launch
      • 1.2 Petro gold
    • 2 Design
      • 2.1 Transactions
      • 2.2 Price and volatility
    • 3 Response
      • 3.1 Legal and governmental
        • 3.1.1 Governments
        • 3.1.2 Others
      • 3.2 Financial
        • 3.2.1 Investment
    • 4 References


    Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced the petro in a televised address on 3 December 2017, stating that it would be backed by Venezuela’s reserves of oil, gasoline, gold, and diamonds.[6][7]

    Maduro stated that the petro would allow Venezuela to “advance in issues of monetary sovereignty”,[8] and that it would make “new forms of international financing” available to the country.[6] Opposition leaders, however, expressed doubt due to Venezuela’s economic turmoil,[7] pointing to the falling value of the Venezuelan bolívar, its fiat currency, and $140 billion in foreign debt.[9]

    On January 5, 2018, Maduro announced that Venezuela would issue 100 million tokens of the petro,[10] which would put the value of the entire issuance at just over $6 billion.[11] It also established a cryptocurrency government advisory group called VIBE to act as “an institutional, political and legal base” from which to launch the petro.[2] Carlos Vargas is the “Superintendent of Cryptocurrencies”.[5]

    In a document leaked to and reviewed by Reuters, VIBE recommended that the government sell $2.3 billion worth of petros in a private offering at a discount of up to 60%, indicating that “Maduro’s valuation of the nascent petro faces significant market skepticism”, followed by $2.7 billion worth of petros offered to the public a month later, with the remainder “shared between the government and VIBE”. It also suggested that the government accept tax payments in petros as well as allow PDVSA, the country’s state-owned oil company, incorporate cryptocurrencies in its dealings with foreign companies.[12]


    The petro’s pre-sale started on Feb. 20 at -04:00 UTC and ends at Mar. 19 at -04:00 UTC.[13][14][4] 38.4 million tokens were made available.[citation needed] The white paper of petro initially stated that the currency would be on the Ethereum platform, though later on the launch date the white paper was changed and the platform was to be with NEM.[15] Even after the launch, white papers in various languages still shared conflicting information as to which platform the petro was part of.[15] Due to the unorganized launch by the Venezuelan government, scammers were able to establish their own “petro” currencies on various cryptocurrency platforms, though these schemes did not garnish much success.[15]

    Petro gold[edit]

    On February 21, 2018, petro gold, a gold-backed cryptocurrency, was announced in a televised speech given by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.[16] It was not clear whether the gold backing the tokens would be actual gold reserves or some kind of share of the country’s untapped mineral wealth.[17][18]


    The petro is a token based on the NEM blockchain. The design of the petro by the Venezuelan government has been controversial, with white paper changing by the day even after the petro’s pre-sale.[19] Petros are “pre-mined” by the Venezuelan government, meaning that new tokens cannot be created after the issuance.[5][19] Members of the Venezuelan Ministry of University Education, Science and Technology under advisory of the Russian government allegedly designed the petro to circumvent United States sanctions, with Russian president Vladimir Putin devising official involvement.[1]


    During the ICO petros could only be purchased from the Venezuelan government with Russian rubles, Bitcoin, NEM and Ethereum.[20] The minimum required investment to acquire the crypto-asset is 50 euros (or its equivalent) per digital wallet or 1000 euros (or its equivalent) per bank deposits.[21]

    Venezuela legally allows and encourages the use of petro for virtually any payment including oil trade, taxes, fees, real estate, gasoline, flights and more[22][23][24].

    Price and volatility[edit]

    Weiss Cryptocurrency Ratings states that the white paper shows no method as to how the Venezuelan government will base the petro on oil prices, concluding that the currency “is a worthless token”.[25] But according to the white paper, the base price of the petro is equivalent to the price of a single Venezuelan oil barrel: 1 petro = 1 oil barrel. The official Venezuelan oil price is defined by the Venezuelan Ministry of Oil and Mining and the current price of the petro (during the ICO) is referenced on its web page[26].

    According to the white paper, national and international licensed exchanges will be able to sell and exchange the petro, allowing the market to define its price[27]. While there is no mechanism to exchange petros for any other currency yet, the government is expected to back each petro with the value of one oil barrel, in Bolivares or other currencies[28]. The Venezuelan government hopes that this system will give the petro a “support price” (one oil barrel), but potentially a higher value, depending on the demand in the market. After the ICO, theoretically, the price of the petro will be determined by two main factors: the Venezuelan official oil price and its performance in the exchanges around the world.


    Legal and governmental[edit]


    In response to the petro, Venezuela’s National Assembly, headed by the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable, declared the petro to be an illegal debt issuance by a government desperate for cash, and has said it will not recognize it.[12]

    The United States Department of the Treasury warned that participating in Venezuela’s proposed initial coin offering for the petro cryptocurrency could violate U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, because it “would appear to be an extension of credit to the Venezuelan government”.[12] President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order prohibiting transactions in any Venezuelan government-issued cryptocurrency by a United States person or within the United States, effective 19 March 2018.[29][30]


    The Brookings Institution stated that “it is relatively unsurprising that a dictatorship with little reserve currency … has resorted to a deceitful means like introducing the petro … [t]he petro … exists to create foreign currency reserves from thin air”, further explaining that the creation of the petro has tarnished the reputation of cryptocurrencies and that sanctioned countries “might pursue the same fraudulent strategy as Venezuela: create a cryptocurrency tied to a government-controlled asset, raise money in violation of sanctions, and proceed to manipulate that cryptocurrency’s value to maximize profit”.[20]


    The cryptocurrency community’s response was generally negative. Economist Jean Paul Leidenz expressed concerns that the creation of the petro would encourage further hyperinflation.[2] Economist Steve Hanke stated that the petro was likely to wind up “in the graveyard”.[31] Other analysts point to its government control or centralisation as its greatest weakness.[32] Financial journalist Max Keiser expressed his support in light of the country’s hyperinflation.[33]

    According to Bloomberg, the organizations that rank cryptocurrencies have described the petro as a “scam”, with sites like ICOindex, ICObench, Cryptorated and ICOreview giving negative reviews or not even rating the petro due to its status.[34] Initially, from its white paper which was released in January, petro was missing some important information regarding its mechanism to its technology. After a couple of weeks, a new version of the white paper was released which announced a different blockchain platform on which petro would be built. [35]


    According to the independently-run financial advisory company Weiss Ratings, it does not recognize the petro as a cryptocurrency and instead as a fiat currency. Weiss Ratings further stated that the Venezuelan government lied about pre-launch sales of the petro, with the company using evidence from petro’s blockchain to reveal that the Venezuelan currency “hasn’t raised a dime”.[25]

    The Washington Post economic reporter Matt O’Brien said that “The petro might be the most obviously horrible investment ever… The petro is about creating something useless — that’s why only foreigners can buy them, but only Venezuelans can spend them”.[19]


  • ^ a b Shuster, Simon (20 March 2018). “Exclusive: Russia Secretly Helped Venezuela Launch a Cryptocurrency to Evade U.S. Sanctions”. Time. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  • ^ a b c Chappell, Bill (4 December 2017). “Venezuela Will Create New ‘Petro’ Cryptocurrency, President Maduro Says”. National Public Radio. Retrieved 2017-12-05. 
  • ^ Cryptocurrencies as Asset-Backed Instruments: The Venezuelan Petro. Banking and Insurance eJournal. Social Science Research Network (SSRN). Accessed 18 February 2018.
  • ^ a b (20 February 2018). Venezuela launches the ‘petro,’ its cryptocurrency. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  • ^ a b c Helms, Kevin (17 January 2018). “Venezuela Considers Selling Its “Oil-Backed” Cryptocurrency With a 60% Discount”. Bitcoin News. Retrieved 8 February 2018. 
  • ^ a b “Venezuela Plans a Cryptocurrency, Maduro Says”. The New York Times. 3 December 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  • ^ a b Ulmer, Alexandra; Deisy Buitrago (3 December 2017). “Enter the ‘petro’: Venezuela to launch oil-backed cryptocurrency”. Reuters. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  • ^ “Monetary Sovereignty: International Political Economy: Monetary Relations eJournal”, Cryptoanarchism and Cryptocurrencies. Social Science Research Network (SSRN). Date accessed 23 January 2018.
  • ^ “Venezuela unveils virtual currency amid economic crisis”. BBC. 3 December 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-03. 
  • ^ Gupta, Girish (5 January 2018). “Maduro says Venezuela will issue $5.9 billion in oil-backed cryptocurrency”. Reuters. Retrieved 8 February 2018. 
  • ^ “Venezuela Parliament Calls President’s $5.9 bln Petro Cryptocurrency ‘New Fraud'”. Cointelegraph. 10 January 2018. 
  • ^ a b c Wroughton, Lesley (16 January 2018). “U.S. warns investors over Venezuela’s ‘petro’ cryptocurrency”. Reuters. Retrieved 8 February 2018. 
  • ^ “Venezuela’s Cryptocurrency Petro Finds Foreign Investors, ICO To Take Place In March”. Cointelegraph. 8 February 2018. 
  • ^ Gallas, Daniel (January 30, 2018). “Venezuela presses ahead with Petro”. BBC. Archived from the original (html) on February 20, 2018. Retrieved February 20, 2018. Venezuela is to start selling its cryptocurrency “Petro” next month. In a meeting with cabinet ministers, President Nicolas Maduro (above) said it will launch the currency on 20 February. 
  • ^ a b c “Venezuela’s ‘Petro’ Launch Was Amateur Hour”. Vice News. 2018-02-21. Retrieved 2018-03-06. 
  • ^ Venezuela to Launch Second Cryptocurrency: ‘Petro Gold’, Caracas: teleSUR, 22 February 2018, retrieved 2018-02-23 
  • ^ Brian Ellsworth, Ana Isabel Martinez (February 21, 2018), Venezuela aims for crypto alchemy with new ‘petro gold’ token, Reuters CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  • ^ David Gilbert (February 22, 2018), “Venezuela is launching yet another cryptocurrency to save the economy”, Vice News 
  • ^ a b c O’Brien, Matt (2018-03-05). “Venezuela’s cryptocurrency is one of the worst investments ever”. Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-03-06. 
  • ^ a b West, Jack Karsten and Darrell M. (2018-03-09). “Venezuela’s “petro” undermines other cryptocurrencies – and international sanctions”. Brookings Institute. Retrieved 2018-03-12. 
  • ^
  • ^ “Venezuela launches presale of state-backed ‘petro’ cryptocurrency”. Financial Times. 2018-02-20. Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  • ^ “Venezuelans to Buy Homes and Property with State Cryptocurrency – Bitcoin News”. Bitcoin News. 2018-03-25. Retrieved 2018-04-18. 
  • ^ “Venezuelan President Orders Airlines to Accept Petro, Cryptocurrencies for Tickets”. CCN. 2018-03-02. Retrieved 2018-04-18. 
  • ^ a b “Bittersweet Story of the Petro”. Weiss Cryptocurrency Ratings. Weiss Ratings. 28 February 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018. 
  • ^ Ministerio del Poder Popular de Petróleo y Minería,
  • ^ “Venezuela May Limit New Crypto Exchange Launches – CoinDesk”. CoinDesk. 2018-02-26. Retrieved 2018-04-18. 
  • ^ Browne, Ryan (2018-02-21). “Venezuela’s oil-backed cryptocurrency raised $735 million in one day, president claims”. CNBC. Retrieved 2018-04-19. 
  • ^ “Executive Order on Taking Additional Steps to Address the Situation in Venezuela”. The White House. 19 March 2019.
  • ^ Lee, Matthew (19 March 2019). “Trump Bans US Use of Venezuelan Cryptocurrency”. U.S. News & World Report
  • ^ Hanke, Steve (6 December 2017). “Maduro’s ‘Petro’ Cryptocurrency Will Join Chavez’s Bolívar Fuerte, In The Graveyard”. Forbes. New York. Retrieved 2017-12-11. 
  • ^ Jon Markman (2 February 2018). “Trading Lesson: New Government Coins Pose Existential Threat to Cryptos”. MoneyShow. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  • ^ Adams, Colin (14 December 2017). “Meet the “Petro”, Venezuela’s New “Cryptocurrency””. Invest in Blockchain. Retrieved 8 February 2018. 
  • ^ “Crypto Rating Sites Are Already Calling Venezuela’s Petro a Scam”. Bloomberg. 2018-04-03. Retrieved 2018-04-05. 
  • ^ “Crypto Investors Should Stay Away from Venezuela’s Petro – CoinDesk”. CoinDesk. 2018-03-25. Retrieved 2018-04-05. 
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    The petro, or petromoneda,[2] launched in February 2018, is a cryptocurrency developed by the government of Venezuela.[3][4] Announced in December[…]

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