This article, which first appeared in Issue 16, takes a brief look into Tim Fillmore's TitanBTC project and what makes his cold storage coin unique from the others on the market.
Before TitanBTC, Tim Fillmore previously worked on making a humor brand called ShutUpImTalking.com.“During the 2010 elections, ShutUpImTalking.com had more hits than the Presidential debate. Even when you combine both candidates data,” he said reflecting on his previous venture during our late morning call.His experience in pursuing niche markets would eventually spill over into his current venture, TitanBTC, a coin minting company whose products double as cold storage wallets. This has been done before with the Casascius coin, but with their crackable holographic protection shown to be vulnerable at Defcon 2013, the market for cold storage coins is still wide open.
Ruben Alexander: How were you introduced to Bitcoin?
Tim Fillmore: Early in 2010, I was an engineer for a company that does research and development for startup companies. It was late 2010 and I was working with a client working on cryptographic techniques. It looked like play money at the time, but I didn’t look into it more at this point and time. I don’t think I gave it a second thought until the big spike and crash. Then I realized at that point and time, that money couldn’t have value. I realized virtual currencies were just as real as cash. I had a friend who was designing digital models for Second Life and he was making 30 of his income with virtual assets.I realized if people are working in a virtual world with virtual currencies, there’s no reason virtual currencies can’t have value in the real world.
What type of metals do you use to make the coin? The coins available now are made out of goldine. It’s essentially a copper alloy, but has the look and feel of 14 karat gold. There are different metals for different denominations. The next step down is a half bitcoin made of nickel. The quarter Bitcoin is going to be a copper color. And another nickle like metal for the .1 Bitcoin. The 5 BTC will be silver and the 10 BTC coin will be gold.
How long are these coins expected to last? They are durable. That’s one of the criteria we have. I don’t expect that they’ll tarnish unless they get exposed to toxic fumes.
How do you store these coins?We store them in their case at the manufacturer. Every coin that we ship out comes in a polycarbonate case.
What humidity, light exposure, temperature is ideal for these coins?We don’t recommend they [be] kept in direct sunlight, but the polycarbonate case will block the UV rays and keep them airtight.
The Casascius coin was cracked using a non-polar solvent to reveal the coin’s private key. I know your coin uses 2 factor authentication to add an additional layer of protection. Can you describe your methods of keeping the coin secure?In order to prevent our coin private keys being compromised with a solvent hack or counterfeit coins, we use a coin registration process so the current owner of the coin has to have an email address registered to the coin. Even if the redemption code was compromised, they still would be the only ones who have access to the code.It is a step in the right direction. We are interested in moving forward the development to have more secure and decentralized solutions.
With the hardware and software creating the private keys for the coins, what measure are you taking to make sure no one can hack into the computers making the private key used with these coins?The redemption coins and the private key are made within a batch on offline computers, the hard drives in those computers are securely wiped and the operating system is reloaded on the computer.We’re pretty sure that there is no way to recover the private keys at this point.
I also saw you will recover 110 of the losses if someone’s coin is hacked?Yes.
What type of coverage allows users to claim this 110 loss.The bottom line is… if someone hacks our system, or has their key compromised with any type of attack. Any compromise of our end-to-end system has access to this warranty. We offer it because TitanBTC is all about trust. And any breach will help us be more secure and earn that trust.
Is the software used to make private keys on the offline computers open source?We are using the same random number generator Casascius is using with a modification to our random generator that hashes the result based on a variable for atmospheric noise.
It seems like you are targeting coin collectors. How are you making a product that will attract the current coin collector market? Will you be releasing coins that aren’t available on your website?Right now there’s only 1 coin available, but we will be releasing 6 denominations.
Is the TitanBTC going to change the design year to year?We will probably change the design. We have gotten a lot of people who like the first design. So we may keep one the same.
Have you done any research as to what coin collectors are looking for?I have done some research and I am an amateur collector.The intrinsic value in the currency is one thing. We will be releasing precious metal versions of our coin as we go. Scarcity is another thing. The coin has to be a limited edition or a known scarce quantity. Each coin will show which number it is and which year after a production run is complete. The third item is getting coins that reflect a certain theme. Our Titan brand will continue to use mythological themes. We are also building on the advantages Bitcoin has to quickly deliver money by allowing the coin to dual as a cold storage wallet.
Do y ou ship internationally?We’ve shipped to Germany, the UK, and Spain. We looking to ship all over the world.
Cold Storage is one of the most secure ways to keep your Bitcoins safe from online hacks. Here’s a list of other cold storage options including TitanBTC.
Casascius Gold Plated Bar Gold 2 Factor metal bar that looks like gold. Weighs 12 ounces.
TitanBTC 1 BTC Coin Goldene, Silver, Gold Metal coin associated with a bitcoin wallet loaded with 1 BTC.
Casascius 1 BTC Silver Coin Silver Single Silver Physical Bitcoin (2013 with Gold Plated B and Rim)1BTC on 1oz Silver.
Trezor USB Secure offline digital wallet.
PaperWallet Paper Open Source paper wallet on Github
Bitcoin PaperWallet Paper Website Generated paper wallets. Hologram tamper-detect stickers are available.
Brain Wallet Brain Website generated public and private keys based on your input phrases.