This blog series endeavors to introduce merchants to bitcoin, with the goal of familiarizing those now entering the space with no experience using or managing bitcoin.

Continuing with our theme of not taking up too much of your day, here is a 3 minute look at the KeepKey Bitcoin Hardware Wallet; they were nice enough to send us a couple and this is what we thought. Once again, many re-writes as not to lose the audience…you!

3 minutes…GO!

“The KeepKey is a USB device that secures bitcoins.” That is written on the packing slip and is about as concise a definition as this blogger can think of. The question then becomes, why? Why would such a thing be needed?

The first thing that we need to understand is that in bitcoin there is a key. When you download a wallet to hold your bitcoins, that wallet contains the key to all the bitcoins you put in that wallet. So there is a kind of “lock” on your bitcoins, and when you want to send those bitcoins to someone else, you will need that key.

In bitcoin there are software wallets and hardware wallets. Software wallets keep the key to your bitcoins on your computer. The software wallets are safe, as well as your bitcoins in that wallet; however, the key in that wallet is as safe as the computer using the wallet. If your computer gets hacked, someone may get your key, and possibly your bitcoins. Software wallets have security measures as well, but the key to the lock of your bitcoins is still on your computer. For some people, ultimate security is keeping that key off of the computer.

The KeepKey is like a bank vault for your bitcoins.

A hardware wallet only does one thing, stores your bitcoins. Your computer does lots of things, which may or may not be a good thing for keeping your bitcoins safe. A hardware wallet also keeps the key on the device rather than the computer, and the key never leaves this device. This dramatically minimizes the possibility of someone getting the key to your bitcoins. There are a handful of bitcoin hardware wallets on the market, such as Trezor and Ledger, which function similarly, but differ in user experience.

The KeepKey offers a sexy design, and is probably the most aesthetically pleasing device on the market. It features an aluminum case, about the size of an iPod nano, that connects to your computer with a nice nylon USB cable. Getting the wallet working is pretty easy; two Google Chrome extensions need to be installed, and then it needs to be initialized. It will prompt you for a PIN code and a recovery sentence. Once that information is saved, the wallet is available from a button that shows in your chrome browser. The two stand-out features of the device are the display and the confirmation button. If anyone can relate to being paranoid about sending bitcoin to the right address, this device helps mitigate that anxiety.

There is a rather large display that shows the bitcoin address for verification. The device will prompt you to make sure this address is correct, so it helps that the display is large enough to read that big long string. You must confirm by holding down the button on the top of the device. The device will prompt you a second time to make sure that you are doing what you have intended. The second button press, which is a 5 sec hold as to avoid any accidents, will complete the transaction. This device really helps calm those compulsive tendencies to make sure you didn’t just send off $100 into outer space, or rather the outer internets. The device will also integrate with the Electrum and Multibit HD software wallets, to offer a bit more control over your wallet experience. But for quick, easy, and secure, this wallet is high on the list of worthy competitors.


For more info you can visit the website or consult with one of our integration consultants. Below is a quick video on initializing the device to give some context on how this hardware wallet is set up:

Disclaimer: This has been read out loud within three minutes. But it may have taken a couple tries…


For those interested in connecting their KeepKey with a supported software wallet, contact our integration team or consult for more information.


The comments above are not intended to be taken as an endorsement of any company or service. BIGbtc has no contract nor affiliation with any company mentioned in this post, unless explicitly credited. For clarity and understanding many technical concepts have been heavily generalized, and may conflict with current consensus in their general form, but the intention is to offer basic understanding, which may or may not be at the expense of technical correctness. Attribution for claims made above may be available upon request. I noticed that I used Bitcoins, a pluralization of bitcoin the token or Bitcoin the protocol. This was done for generalizing the concept of holding bitcoin as a currency like a dollar bill in a wallet, which is a common analogy used. This should technically be bitcoin rather than bitcoins.

Toby Algya – VP, US Payments & Integration –