A new hardware provider is entering the Bitcoin fray with the launch of a cold storage wallet and some ambitious plans to serve Bitcoiners with a full stack of sovereignty tools.
The Boston-based Foundation Devices announced today its new Passport hardware wallet, an air-gapped device that sports a camera for scanning QR codes, a physical keypad, open-source software and a screen with circuitry etched into the glass — all in the name of creating the most secure solution on the market that is also easy for newbies to use.
“Hardware wallets are the most established consumer hardware market in the Bitcoin space, with an assortment of companies competing for market share,” Zach Herbert, the CEO of Foundation Devices, told Bitcoin Magazine. “But in our opinion, none of these incumbents have made a product that, one: strikes the right balance between security and design and, two: makes it easy for new Bitcoiners to self-custody their coins.”
On the security front, perhaps the most notable feature is the Passport’s complete lack of USB or wireless communication, minimizing the attack vectors through which malicious actors might try and access the device. The only ways that data breaches the wallet is through its built-in camera or via a microSD card. This puts the Passport in the same league as the Cobo Vault, which is also air gapped.
On the usability front, the Passport does not ask users to maintain a 12- or 24-word recovery seed in case they need to recover their wallet. Foundation instead stores the recovery seed on a microSD card and encrypts this with a password. This means that users can more easily recover their bitcoin, by simply inserting the card and entering the password, but that this recovery is still relatively secure, as an attacker would need to access both the card and the password to steal funds. Foundation Devices includes two microSD cards with every wallet.
“We believe that the recovery seed is a challenging concept for new Bitcoiners and also represents a significant attack vector — no matter how secure a user’s hardware wallet, if an attacker finds the recovery seed, then it is game over,” Herbert explained. “We feel strongly that this will enable a better user experience and reduce user error.”
But Foundation Devices doesn’t want to stop at offering an intuitive and secure hardware wallet. Herbert envisions the company as a full stack provider for those who hope to achieve sovereignty through technology that protects their privacy. He said that he hopes to add phones and computers to its roster by the end of this decade, but will be focusing on more Bitcoin-specific hardware next.
“Our next product will be a Bitcoin full node that’s elegant, easy to use and more functional than existing offerings,” he said. “We are also interested in open-source security chips and meshnet hardware.”
As it continues down this path toward a suite of hardware offerings, the Foundation Devices team emphasizes its domestic manufacturing. Not only does this mean the company can maintain tighter control over its supply chain, but this makes it fairly unique in the hardware wallet space and Herbert pointed out that users may leverage that fact to gain a new level of multisig security.
“Multisig users may want to protect against supply chain risk by purchasing hardware wallets made in different geographic locations,” he said. “For example, a Coldcard made in Canada, a Trezor made in Europe and a Passport made in the U.S.A. could make for a more secure multisig setup.”
Foundation Devices is offering the first 1,000 unit run of Passport wallets for reserve on its website. It expects to launch the device for preorder in August and to ship them by the upcoming holiday season.
Peter Chawaga is a senior editor at Bitcoin Magazine. He HODLs BTC.