Anant Tapadia of BitHyve (the team behind Hexa Wallet and Keeper) joins me on the show to talk about what’s going on in India, and the efforts to spread good bitcoin education there as a community. We chat:
- Bitcoin scene in India
- Regulation in India
- Meetup groups
- p2p trading
- Keeper and multi signature
- b4i conference – aims
- Twitter: @anant_tap
- Conference site: https://www.conference.bitcoin4india.org/
- Keeper: Bitcoinkeeper.app
- Swan Bitcoin
- Unchained Capital (code LIVERA)
- CoinKite.com(code LIVERA)
Stephan Livera links:
- Follow me on Twitter @stephanlivera
- Subscribe to the podcast
- Patreon @stephanlivera
Hey, Anant, welcome to the show.
Speaker B – 00:03:14:
Hey, Steven. How are you?
Speaker A – 00:03:15:
Yeah, doing well. I’m actually here in Prague right now for another conference, but chatting with you about a bunch of things, the Bitcoin scene in India, as well as what you’re working on in terms of projects and software in the space, as well as Bitcoin4India. So do you want to just give a brief background on yourself? I know maybe you’re not super well known in the English speaking Bitcoin world.
Speaker B – 00:03:40:
Yeah, I’m not definitely not super well known. My name is Anant, and I’ve been working on Bitcoin stuff, Bitcoin software for the last four or five years. Started off with doing some Lightning projects on the side and then got interested in actually going in full time into Bitcoin. And I think that is where my journey started. And the journey of exercise, which was our first app, started a few years back. So I’ve been working in this space, as in the Bitcoin, building on Bitcoin space for the last few years, and then fast forward to 2022, we have launched another app Keeper that’s in a nutshell, my story.
Speaker A – 00:04:25:
Great. Yeah. And let’s chat a little bit about the Bitcoin scene in India, because as I understand, it’s had its ups and downs over the years, especially with the RBI’s comments and the government comments around Bitcoin and, quote, unquote, crypto. Do you want to just give us a flavor of what’s the Bitcoin scene in India like?
Speaker B – 00:04:46:
So the Bitcoin scene in India is not, like, fixed, as in, it’s different what it was six months back and different from what it was one year back. In short, it has been evolving and rapidly changing as you valued it, too. Not just because of Bitcoin itself and the Bitcoin Bitcoin community. We’ll talk about that in a second, but also because of the other pieces in the whole landscape. For example, the regulatory landscape, for example, what’s happening in the payment space with UPI, UPI 2.0, e-RUPI and all that, and even the crypto space. So all these pieces moving together makes the whole seem very interesting. So, yeah, that’s how the Bitcoins in India looks like.
Speaker A – 00:05:35:
Could you just tell us a little bit about how you’re trying to grow the meetup scene?
Speaker B – 00:05:39:
So the meet up scene, the platform Bitcoin4India is not something which is, like, years old, which started in February with a single meet up, and there was no roadmap or a plan. That okay, this is what we are going to do in the next five years, but it was more around the need for Bitcoin has to meet each other. And there was no Bitcoin only platform in India, and we have a bunch of developers in India and a lot of people we know, we said, you know what, why not, why don’t we do a meetup and see how it goes? So we did the first meetup in February this year, just eight months back. And since then, a lot of people have come up from different cities in India and they said, okay, we want to conduct a meetup, or do you want to tell us how it works? So we get on a Twitter space, so we have a quick phone call conversation, we tell them what worked for us, what did not work for us, and we just help them promote their local meet up. So it’s mostly driven very locally, as it should be. It has been happening across at least ten cities in India by now, I suppose, and maybe 15 or 20 meters have happened since then. So it’s very grassroot, it’s not something we can say, where is it going to be the next one? People come out of the woodworks. That’s another thing that’s happening with Bitcoin. A lot of Bitcoin are coming out of the woodworks that we didn’t even know existed, and they’ll be just getting connected to each other, having meetups, talking about interesting stuff that they are working on Twitter spaces. So, yeah, that’s how that scene is evolving.
Speaker A – 00:07:17:
That’s great to see. And I might just comment as well that I’m seeing this happen in other places around the world also, that we’re starting to see the rise of more Bitcoin only meetup groups, especially in various countries around the world, where maybe historically there hasn’t been a strong Bitcoin scene. So maybe that’s something that’s happening this cycle. So that’s great to see, certainly. And I guess India obviously is an important country. Over 1 billion people, over 1 billion Indians out there. And I’m sure even with those ten or 15 cities, we’re talking millions and millions of people who now have some kind of local Bitcoin only meet up group in their area. So what kinds of topics have you seen the meetup groups cover as their meetup topics?
Speaker B – 00:07:59:
So I wouldn’t be able to do justice to exactly all of them, but I can recollect some of them because they are just independently held. I have been to a few of them, but obviously India is a big country. The topics really vary from a very technical topic in cities like Bangalore, where it’s like a tech hub, to very different local, language based, very non tech topics in a very different city. So it has varied a lot, but it covers the typical spectrum or the typical gamut of what we Bitcoin has typically talk about. It’s around Austrian Economics, it’s around Bitcoin philosophy, it’s about Bitcoin network, it’s about building on Bitcoin and stuff like that. We have never had a reason or the need or anyone say, okay, we won’t talk about Bitcoin trading. We obviously don’t encourage that either. As in, there are many more important things to learn for in Bitcoin before you get to how to make money. But that’s not something people have asked for either. So it has been very encouraging to see how people have asked for the topics that they want to learn. And it has been very positive in terms of the speakers who have come up in those local places and spoken about those topics.
Speaker A – 00:09:19:
Yeah, that’s cool to see. And so I’m also curious if you could add any comment in terms of what you know about the peer-to-peer trading scene in India. Are people doing that? From what I understand, in various cities around the world, there might be some telegram chat room or a WhatsApp chat group or various chat rooms where people might coordinate like this. Or in other cases, they’re using platforms like Bisque or things like Hottlehoddle, things like this. Could you just explain a little bit about what the p2p scene is like in India?
Speaker B – 00:09:53:
So, honestly, the p2p scene in general, if we talk about p2p in general, has been way older and much wider than Bitcoin. The whole concept of p2p trading when it comes to either using cash or using gold, and these are the methods of payments, have been widespread and have always existed in India for a long time. Right? So people are used to do p2p trading. People are used to have assets that are bearer instruments, so which they hold themselves like gold and cash, and then they understand what is self custody of those assets. So even though if they don’t put it on those terms, it is basically self custody. When you have cash in your pocket or gold in your house or on your neck, then that is basically self custody, right? So the whole concept of self custody is where p2p trading really works. And if you look around, if you look at the stats, cash as a means of payment, as a huge percentage in India. So peer to peer trading has always existed. Now, when it comes to Bitcoin, if you really try to map it, it is very obvious and something that Indians know how to use, and they’re very comfortable with it, peer to peer trading, they may or may not use a specific platform like this or something else. But one thing I know, that if someone wants to buy Bitcoin with cash in India, the buyer or seller will be much more comfortable just walking up to each other and doing that as compared to any other country when I was in the UK or US or any other country. So that happens a lot. So it’s not really something that you can measure, but just anecdotally and just by knowing the nature of Indians, we know that peer to peer trading is quite prevalent in India.
Speaker A – 00:11:54:
And as I understand also historically platforms like local Bitcoins were quite popular just around the world. And perhaps in recent years I hear that there’s a lot of use of platforms like Paxful or finance peer to peer seems to be quite popular also in some countries. So for example, in Sri Lanka, I know Paxful used to be the most popular platform and from what I’ve heard recently, it seems finance peer to peer seems to be the most popular platform, at least in Sri Lanka. I’m curious, do you hear about people using those kinds of platforms also?
Speaker B – 00:12:27:
Yes, absolutely. So Paxful and finance peer to peer over ZX as it is the counterparty over here is called. So yes, that is the most common institutional peer to peer platform in India. But I bet the non platform based peer to peer trading is much more in India. But yeah, these two platforms are very well known.
Speaker A – 00:12:49:
I see. And then yeah, in terms of the level of education that people have, would you say, I don’t know if you have any comment on that. People sort of like as an example, if you talk to an average person in some countries around the world, they might see Bitcoin. Oh, it’s a bit like a gambling thing or it’s a bit like, you know, or they might associate it with scams. Is there a similar perception if you talk to just say, if you talk to the average man on the street, what’s the perception he would have of Bitcoin?
Speaker B – 00:13:17:
Yeah, it is not very different from the rest of the world, but they most likely compare it to, okay, this is like UPI or this is like one of the apps, I have a wallet I have on the phone. So the anchor for them is comparing it to the UPI wallets that they have. Right. Which, as you know, is very widespread in Indian. People use it a lot.
Speaker A – 00:13:39:
Actually, just on this, could you just explain what is UPI for people who don’t know what’s UPI?
Speaker B – 00:13:44:
So UPI is universal payment interface. I think it was launched in 2016, took off very well. The reason UPI took off very well in India is not because obviously there were technical aspects to it, but also because the identity system in India is fortunately or unfortunately very well developed. So they have the system called Aadhaar. And all your other cards, which is your unique Identifier, as in your Social Security number or something like that, is associated with your bank account. And that is not just associated with your bank account, it is widely used for everything from buying cars to whatever you want to do. It’s associated with your ID. Now with that other card, there’s a phone number also which is associated with your bank account to the combination of the phone number the bank account and Aadhaar card linked together makes it very easy to have some kind of a universal payment interface. So what really happens in UPI is it is essentially an intra bank transfer that you can do just with the help of your mobile number, because your mobile phone number is linked to your bank. And let’s say your phone number is linked to your bank. When I send a message, essentially it’s a messaging system, but when a message goes that okay, this particular phone number has authorized a payment of, let’s say, Rs1000 to Steven’s phone number, this from your bank, then the banks know that this is authenticated, I have my phone, so it works very seamlessly. And if you look at the stats again, then the numbers are really skyrocketing. In fact, if you look at what the government has done, they have quickly moved from up here to up 20, which was launched in 2018, and they’re now even talking about UPI 30, which is going to incorporate stuff like NFC, she’s going to incorporate stuff like offline payments. So if you want to make small payments, it can be offline. So it is a super convenient mechanism. But what that is doing is because it is super convenient, people are just using it without thinking. It is also increasing the centralization of the payments. And every single thing you do know over UPI is not just recorded by that payment company, but obviously that record is also available for anyone else to use and exploit. So that part is obviously not very clear to people because they go for convenience. And yes, that is UPI and UPI 2.0 and the evolution of UPI essentially got you.
Speaker A – 00:16:23:
And with UPI then I’m curious then, does that also play into even the way people peer to peer trade? Bitcoin like as an example, let’s say I was an Indian and I had UPI 2.0, would you and I be doing like peer to peer trade and I might be like, oh, hey Anant, I’m going to give you 50 rupees on UPI too, and you pay me that amount in sats. And that’s kind of how people might do things.
Speaker B – 00:16:43:
Absolutely. So even if you look at some of the trades that have been advertised in like Robosats or Paxful on Pix and others, you would see that the person is saying, okay, the payment has to be in UPI. So UPI is a very convenient mechanism and if you are okay with it being peer to peer but not as private, then people do use it very often. And even in personal case you might use it because you don’t have to put in there that I have bought sats with it. Right. So using it for small amounts with another peer, it’s completely something which people do all the time.
Speaker A – 00:17:20:
I see. Yeah, in a way we’re seeing that around the world. I know I’m not in Australia anymore, but a few years ago, they came out with this thing called NPP National Payments Platform. And that enabled all these instant payments between various banks. And in a similar way, you would have what was called a pay ID. And that would be linked to either an email or a phone linked to your Australian bank account. And the same kind of thing you would send. And in the US I know there’s Zelle, which is very popular and that’s linked, that’s like a really quick instant way to do things. And I know even, for example with BISC there are people doing, let’s say Zelle transfers to do Bitcoin transfers. So that’s another way. So it’s interesting to see the way this is all evolved as well because in earlier years, in years gone by, in the earlier years of Bitcoin, one of the arguments used to be see, your bank is closed nine to five and you have to wait three to five days for a transfer. Whereas what’s happened now is the fiat system has upped its game in terms of convenience. Obviously we’re still losing money in terms of inflation and there’s still all the surveillance and the control and arguably the surveillance and the control is becoming worse and worse but then it makes it a little bit more challenging from a Bitcoin advocate’s point of view. Of course, you still have to make that case about no inflation and not being controlled. I’m also curious if you could add any color, any commentary for listeners on the war on cash. Is the Indian government or Indian governments, are they conducting a war on cash? What’s the situation like that?
Speaker B – 00:18:41:
Yeah, I think that’s a very interesting point but just to go on the previous one, we are very right because if you talk to people about banks being closed and banks only working 95, they’ll probably laugh at you. No one goes to the banks nowadays anyway, right? They either use an ATM which is open 24 hours so they can get cash out or they use UPR or some other online payment mechanism to pay each other. So the whole idea of banks only working nine to five is not that strong. Obviously you have to explain them that what that really means because what you really have with up and any of these payment mechanism you have a quote allowed limit that within this limit if you do like for example 10,001 lakh rupees or some decent amount of limit you are below the risk but you cannot do unlimited amount of payment and you can’t take out unlimited amount of cash and stuff like that. So instead of every single transaction being approved and therefore taking time, they have given you a limit of pre approved transaction, right? So it is essentially still the same control system, right? But to make it convenient for small payments they have given you limit, whitelist limit that if you don’t go beyond this point, you are okay to do it. That’s how the whole convenience piece is developing. And that is also impacting cash. Coming to the cash point, the use of cash has been, like I said, was very still, very prevalent in India. But with the rise, with the rise of these payment mechanisms and the EUP, which we have not spoken about, which is going to be much more of an attack on cash, the use of cash has gone down, right? So the use of cash as a convenience piece, cash is convenient. I take it out, I take it out of my pocket, I give it to you, it’s done, right? I don’t have to use a bank account number and all that. So cash was convenient, but with the availability of ups and a lot of people having their mobile phones with them all the time anyway, that convenience factor of cash has gone down. However, there are a lot of people who use cash just because they want to be more private, and that scene has not changed. So use of cash for privacy reasons, not for convenience reasons, is still intact. In fact, I would say slightly growing with all the centralisation happening in the other side of things. So that is slightly growing, while the convenience fees and the petty cash transaction volume is definitely decreasing. So it’s like a subtle way.
Speaker A – 00:21:31:
And one other point I’ve seen and we are hearing about in various countries around the world is they are starting to restrict how much foreign currency you’re allowed to hold. So in various countries, like for a long time, China has had this, I think no more than 500 RMB, something like this. I know, for example, in Sri Lanka, you’re not allowed to have more than 50 USD. And there are various ways that they are restricting your ability to use foreign currency because they want to keep you holding their bags. So I’m curious, is that a similar situation happening with the Indian rupee? Is there a sort of clamping of control in terms of how much foreign currency you can hold or what the banks there will permit you to do, based on what the central banks or the government has said?
Speaker B – 00:22:14:
Yeah, I definitely know that there is a limit. I don’t know what limit it is. There is definitely a limit of the amount of foreign currency you can hold or use while traveling. But it hasn’t changed in recent times, right? So it has been the same for a while and probably that’s why I don’t remember what is the exact number, because when it changes, and maybe it eventually will, it will be one of those things that mostly happens in countries where there are capital controls in place where the government wants to avoid capital outflow. That’s not really the case with India. In India, post, specially post 1992, the-RUPI is not really fixed. Obviously, the rate of rupees compared to £100 or changes like any other currency and therefore there’s no real way for actually people for government to have capital controls. They don’t want that either. So that’s not that much applicable to India.
Speaker A – 00:23:23:
Got you. And on the e-RUPI, can you tell us a little bit about this? Is this like a predecessor to the CBDC or what exactly is the, e-RUPI what are the implications then for Bitcoin as well?
Speaker B – 00:23:34:
Yeah, so UPI and the success of it meant that Europe was CBDC probably would be further down the line. But what e-RUPI is essentially, as far as I understand, live, but, e-RUPI, in pilot it’s basically something which is like a prepaid voucher. So you get a prepaid voucher and it is a purpose and services dependent voucher. So what that means is that you might get that voucher and you may be only able to use for taking a vaccine, you might not be able to use it for anything else. So with this whole infrastructure around wallets and the communication between Wallets and the UPI messaging that has developed, putting in a prepaid purpose specific voucher which is Europe is not a big deal. So you get a QR code or an SMS, which is essentially your prepaid card or prepaid voucher, but when you go to avail it, it can only be available by certain services. The government might use it for subsidizing stuff, they might use it for encouraging you to spend in a very specific way. So it is that kind of control that it lets the government have.
Speaker A – 00:24:56:
Yeah. Got you. As I understand, this is sort of reminding me of a system in the US I believe it’s called EBT Electrumic Benefits Transfer, and it’s basically a type of money where the person can only shop at a specific store. It sort of reminds me a bit like that. And we can see obviously the parallels and what’s going on in terms of the implication for freedom, right? Because if they’re going to start putting money out or types of money that can only be spent in certain ways, it almost becomes like this very controlled economy. It’s like this kind of very specific gift voucher, if you will, as opposed to broad speaking money.
Speaker B – 00:25:34:
Yeah. This has been a nightmare forever, right? If CBDC come in, this is like a teaser for CBDC, right? So if CBDC come in, it means that it can have a granular level of control at a spending level. So it is like a pre-programmed piece where you can it’s not like after spending, if you have done something, the government will come and catch hold of you. But if the voucher means that you can only spend at a certain place and if you try to spend it somewhere, it simply won’t work. And you can imagine a future where all of the money can get converted into Europe or some form of it. So what that would mean is that, okay, you can only spend 5% of your salary in luxury goods. You have to spend 50% of your salary over here, 20% of it here. That becomes very restrictive. And if your life’s worth or if your value or the stuff that you do on a daily basis is so much controlled, then I don’t know what else is left to control. Right. So that’s very scary and that is another that’s doing it at such a pace that things are the way we talk about it in general in the world, in Europe and otherwise, things are going to play out much faster in India. Not just because of these technological improvements, but also because actually people want it. It’s not that the government is forcing it, right. So it is convenient and the way it is being done over the last few years, people actually want it. So there will be no very little social resistance and the infrastructure will be in place for it. So it can get very scary very quickly.
Speaker A – 00:27:23:
Yeah, I agree with you. That’s very scary. And I think a lot of obviously Bitcoin is very aware of this threat and obviously are trying to help those people who are willing and able to see the problem to use Bitcoin as the alternative. Right. Bitcoin and Lightning should it can replace this kind of peer to peer spending and cash that is rapidly disappearing. And so perhaps that’s part of the messaging, maybe that’s part of the way it can be spoken about and the way that there could be talks about it at Bitcoin meetups and things like this. I’m curious in terms of when you talk to, let’s say, other Indian people, you know, what’s been their response to this kind of thing? Do they just think, oh, the e-RUPI is coming and it’s going to be a good thing? Is that what they would say?
Speaker B – 00:28:08:
Yeah, that’s a general perspective. Yes, they think that it should be it will be very convenient and it’s not going to have any negative repercussions. There are very few people who understand the importance of privacy. And if you try to kind of join the dots with stuff like recently, VPN was banned in India. So that’s a huge thing. You can’t use VPN. So if you really think about it, everything is out there in the open. And whatever you do, either on internet or through payment networks, if it’s completely open and if someone can dig the big data and find out about you, they essentially know everything about you. Not just they know they can put controls in place for you. So without having to physically send someone to you, they can just simply by click a few buttons, they can just simply enforce stuff on you. So it is very interesting, but it can get very scary.
Speaker A – 00:29:09:
Yeah. And I see for some of this it is a future risk and so that’s why a lot of people will not see this. Until it actually happens to them. And let’s say even if somebody has spent all this time building up a business or maybe buying a property and then they go to sell that property, what are they going to sell it for? e-RUPIs. And then once that money is in the e-RUPI system, it can have all kinds of controls put on it. They could even make it expire. So some people, if you look at the BIS and some of these other organizations, they might see that as a good thing, right? They say, oh well, look, we’re going to have more monetary control over people, that we can try to enforce certain economic eXpubiments or force people to spend that money rather than hold it. And so these are some of the things that could be coming down the line. So in some ways it’s about building out this Bitcoin ecosystem so that we have Lightning for the day to day stuff and we have obviously cold storage for people’s life savings and where they might be using more advanced techniques like multi signature and things like this. So let’s chat a little bit about what you’re building. I know you’re over at BitHyve and you’ve got Hexa Wallet and now recently you put out Keeper as well. So what’s Keeper?
Speaker B – 00:30:19:
Right. I guess by the time this episode goes out, Keeper would be live. It would be live in an alpha public. Alpha public alpha. So essentially we want to build it in the open building public so that the quality of the product and the market fit is really top notch, right? So please go ahead and download it and try it out first thing and help us develop it. Now, what is Keeper? Keeper essentially is a vault which is either air gap or multisig or both depending on the type of signing devices you use. And it is meant for holding your Bitcoins over the long run, right? So the vault, which is the central piece of Keeper helps you secure Bitcoin into this multisig piece, which can be either two of three or three of five and maybe certain other combinations in the future. And the key part of it is none of these keys are generated stored in the app, they are used signing devices like your hardware wallets or even external software based signing devices can be used for that multisig, right? So the real value of multisig is when it is multiplatform, it’s not like a single platform, it’s not like only the five Keeper apps doing three or five multi six. But it is valuable really when it is multi platform and multi device and multi location, right? So that is essentially the central piece of Keeper, the world, which is based on multisig. And in the future when we have music and music too, that will also come in beyond the central piece. Now, if someone wants to really have the job of Keeper is to secure your Bitcoin for the long run, then there needs to be complementary pieces to it. The wall itself is not enough, right? For example, Keeper has 85 hot wallets. So what that means is you can have one or many hot wallets that you are using it on a regular basis, which are hot, basically, which means the keys are on the phone. And because they are being paid five based, you just need to back up one seed if you want to. And then the key part of it is that whenever the threshold of sats in your hot wallet process a certain limit which you have set in, then there is an auto transfer that is initiated to the world. So what it means, ideologically speaking, is that use hot wallets for your regular spending small amounts, but as soon as it goes beyond a certain point, put it in the cold storage, right? So that’s one complementary feature. The other is around inheritance, obviously. So if money is there in the world, and if Bitcoin is generational wealth, then you would want to securely pass it on to the next generation. So that’s another linked piece that works with the world.
Speaker A – 00:33:31:
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Speaker A – 00:35:01:
Got you. Okay, so, yeah, we’ve gone through a lot, so just to make sure everyone’s following along. So the Keeper is an application on your phone as an example. But you’re saying you mentioned you want this to be multiplatform. So as an example, I presume you’ll have it as a desktop application also or a laptop application also if you want it to be. And then the idea is we can create multi signature vaults, multiple keys in different locations. And Keeper is like we can think of it like the transaction coordinating piece across all of this. And it will then also build that multi signature. And there’s this feature, or it’s known as registering the multi signature quorum. So as an example, when you create a multi signature, you also export a file out into, let’s say, your ColdCard as an example or whichever other hardware device and it then knows the public keys of the other signing devices and then it can jointly create and operate this multi signature wallet. And this could be in the context of a business, it could be in the context of your personal storage that you want to keep it highly secure. So that’s why you’re using multisignature. So have I summarized that correctly so far?
Speaker B – 00:36:07:
Yes, you summarized it very well. In fact, you’ve touched upon a very important challenge that multisign has and that’s that is what this registration of your wallet really does. So there’s a specific attack where the Coordinator app can change your Xpubs. So how do you ensure that these Xpubs are the Xpubs that you want to make sure that your sites are in? So that is where this whole process comes in. You create the world using Xpub from different devices and these devices don’t run the same OS. So there are multiple platforms. For example, one is ColdCard and one is Ledger and one is completely something else. So that’s the multiple platform. But now what happens is when you have created that Xpub, the Coordinator app can easily lie to you. So if the Coordinator app wants, they can say, yes, I have created the multi and this is your vault, go ahead, use it. But your real keys and the real verification and should only happen with the signing devices because that is where the private keys are. And because there are multiple, one might cheat, but the other might not. What registration helps you do, there is a step before registration as well. But what the registration steps helps you do is the Coordinator app tells the signing device that this is the vault I have created for you. Why don’t you register it and next time when I bring a PSBD to you, make sure that it complies with this particular registered multi site, right? So if the Coordinator app wants to cheat and for a PSBD, it replaces the X Pub and therefore the change address, the hardware wallet or the signing device will go, no, this is not the multi stick that has been registered with me. So it will simply not sign the transaction. So that is where the registration step helps.
Speaker A – 00:38:08:
Yeah. Okay, so there are a few other terms in there. So let’s just explain just for anyone who’s relatively new, when you do these multi signature transactions, there’s a standard, it’s known as PSBT, partially signed Bitcoin transaction. And so the idea is you might use this as part of a multi signature set up or transactions and you might have this part signed piece that you’re passing along from one to another. So after the first signature, now it’s got one out of three signatures required for spending. Then you get to the next hardware wallet and so on and so forth. And then the other feature you mentioned as well is that Xpubs, right. So the master public key, you can think of that as a master viewing key for that particular signing device. Right. And so then the idea is that because the devices are registering the quorum and understanding who else is in that set, the cosigner is correct. And then when it goes to spend, it knows that the change that you are spending is coming back into that wallet as an example because that was historically a vulnerability. Now a lot of the ecosystem has improved and gotten better since those days. But there were bugs found as an example where a hardware device would sign a transaction and think the change or didn’t have a change check and then the change would just go to somebody else. That could be the hacker, the malicious person, et cetera. So could you just outline in terms of hardware support, what devices are you supporting here with Keeper and what’s the main way? Like is it NFC, is it micro SD card? Is it USB plugging? What are the main ways that we’re interfacing here?
Speaker B – 00:39:42:
Absolutely. So when it gets out this week, essentially it will have support for ColdCard, Ledger and AppSigner. But we are working with all the other signing devices, all the other hardware wallets, Trezor, SeedSigner, BitBox, Keystone, everything, Cobo Wallet, all of them Jade Wallet. Because first of all, all these signing devices are slightly different. Some are fully verifying, like a ColdCard, while some are like a blind signer, like a TAPSIGNER. So when you’re configuring a vault, it depends on your personal needs, what kind of security guarantees you want and what kind of convenience you want. So these signing devices don’t just offer you a very standard way of signing, but they do offer you a slightly different tradeoff between security and convenience. And even the cost is a factor. Some devices are costlier than the other. So our aim is to be able to support all the signing devices, all the hardware wallets, and even have some software based on devices, maybe like another wallet or maybe another Keeper app, that kind of stuff. Even there is one more signing device which is called a signing server. So you can have like a signing server where it signs one of the keys can be with the signing server and it signs only when you give it to FA code or some kind of verification. So this gives you a really good list of signing devices which you can configure the way you want. So that’s about the support, how we are communicating because Keeper is mobile first and most of the people honestly are going to use mobile for most of their things. Right. Not just in India, many countries most of the communication starts off with interacting with the hardware wallet either through NFC or Bluetooth or QR code. We do have plans to support wired way of communication as well, but the way the Keeper app encourages you and the way the backlog is structured, we are focusing first on the ones where you don’t need an intermediate step, you don’t really need a computer in between. So that’s how the communication with different sites and honestly all the signing devices now support a way of communicating with your app directly, most of them if not all. So we have leapfrog that step and we are focusing directly on NFCs and Bluetooth and QR code force.
Speaker A – 00:42:21:
I see. Yeah. So to summarize then we’ve got NFC support which is a new thing that I think is interesting to see, right? I know Coinkite with the ColdCard and the TAPSIGNER are really trying to push forward NFC support. So that’s cool to see. You have the QR code which is also another air gas away and a lot of the various hardware devices that support that kind of thing like seed signer or keystone or Specter DIY. So that will be interesting to see that also. And then you mentioned Bluetooth and who knows micro SD or other methods in terms of the target market for this application. Are we talking here about advanced users, intermediate users? Who’s the target for this? Who’s the user for this kind of application?
Speaker B – 00:43:06:
Absolutely. So one thing we are clear about is that exercise was built and the market fit for Hexa is more around newcomers who might have like $50 on their wallet and they want to just eXpubiment with Bitcoin, learn about it. Maybe they’ve downloaded Hexa because they got a gift link or an FNF link from a friends and family and this is their fast wallet. Keeper is not going to be the fast wallet for most people. Keeper is a wallet where the user has certain amount of Bitcoin in there. They are serious towards making sure that the Bitcoin is secure for the longer term. So from a convenience point of view, Walt is obviously not as convenient to use as an account in Excavator and that is the intended trade off that multisig gives you and what Keeper takes. So Keeper is more for coming back to your specific question, Keeper is more for people who are serious about the Bitcoin who want to store it for the long run.
Speaker A – 00:44:08:
Yeah, and one other question I’m sure listeners will be interested in, in terms of the server or the back end, are people able to use their own? So a common concern is around privacy and also being the one doing your own validation, your own verification. So is there a feature to, let’s say, connect with your own Bitcoin cornered either potentially over RPC or Tor or to connect to your own Electrum server? So the likes of Electrum Rust Server, electromagnet or Fulcrum, what’s the thinking there?
Speaker B – 00:44:36:
Yeah, see, one of the clear things, if you see the tagline, it says your private Bitcoin wallet. So the private part is where we don’t want to know what you’re doing with your Bitcoin as much as possible. So that includes stuff like you do not have to register with us, you don’t have to provide an email address, there is no registration needed. So you can keep your data to yourself. Yes, you can connect your own node we have already had this feature in Hexa. It will also be there and Keeper. So you should be able to connect your own node. There’s no reason as a Coordinator app that we need to be running the node. So you should be able to your own node and Tor is even available now. So if you download even the alpha version, you should be able to connect via Tor. The privacy preserving part, we’ve taken it very seriously.
Speaker A – 00:45:25:
Yeah, that’s great to hear. See, and as you mentioned, this wallet is more for the advanced users anyway. So chances are they’re more likely or capable to be able to run their own infrastructure, whether that’s their own Bitcoin core or their own Electrum server. And nowadays it’s a lot easier, especially with these packages like RaspiBlitz and so on, that make it easy to run your own server. So they can have an easy connect your wallet dialogue or interface there. So that’s cool to see.
Speaker B – 00:45:54:
There’s one thing I would like to go back to because the story is not complete without that. So when we spoke about registration of wallets, registration of multisig wallets of world with hardware signers and the challenges around there, one thing I want to make it clear is that we understand and we are building towards it, that simply registering particular wallet with a signing server might not be enough. Let me explain that. What could happen is that a coordinator app might actually even fake the registration process. So when you are registering with ColdCard, it might give the ColrdCard its own Xpub, but the other two Xpub or the other four Xpub, it might change, right? Always possible. So making sure that the registration is successful is also very key component of making sure that it is as secure as possible. So that is why what we want to encourage people when they’re using Keeper is basically not just completely depend on one signing device which is fully verifying and the Keeper up. But do test transactions check for the wallet configuration or the multi sea configuration, not just on your ColdCard, maybe another wallet, another signing device. So that you can see that the five Xpubs that Keeper is communicating, those are exactly five at least right across the two different signing devices. So what that would mean is you’re not trusting a single source. Otherwise it is very easy for the coordinating app even to fake the registration. Right? So we are building those messaging.
Speaker A – 00:47:36:
Yeah, that’s a good point. That’s a very good point.
Speaker B – 00:47:38:
So we are trying to build that, we understand that we are trying to build that encouragement for the user inside the wallet. We are providing them there with all the information that what is a fully verifying signing wallet, what is a partially verifying signing wallet, what is a blind signing wallet and what is a hot signing device? Right? So there are different types of signing devices and depending on, like I said, if you really are storing millions, it is worth that you use most of your devices as fully verifying signing devices so that you don’t have to trust either a signing device or the coordinator app. So there are different attack vectors. The change address, like we discussed, is one. But even there are other steps which we are aware of and we are building towards. So just wanted to complete the story. Otherwise, if someone listens to only that part, they’ll say oh, by the way, the registration can be fixed. So why didn’t you talk about that? So this is really the full picture.
Speaker A – 00:48:37:
Yeah, right. And in fairness, I know some of the guys, even my friend Michael Flexman has his guide, his ten X, your Bitcoin security guide. I contribute a little bit on that. But as part of that guide, it also talks about verifying various aspects. You would check, let’s say when you are registering the quorum, you might be checking what are the other x bubs in this quorum. So for example, on the ColdCard you can read those other Xbox, you can see those other Xpubs and you can compare those and let’s say you’re doing the keystone as another device. On the Keystone you can see what are the other x bubs inside this quorum that I’m registering. And another way this kind of thing can be caught as well is when you validate the receive address. So as an example, in the ColdCard, there’s a little menu you can go in there and see on the device, okay, it’s going to this address, XYZ, whatever. And you could also check that on another device, let’s say on the Keystone or some other device where you’re checking yes, this receive address is correctly what the device is saying. That’s another way you can help stop this kind of error because that’s also one of the ways people can get owned is by not checking their receive address, right. Because they think they’ve given the correct address, but actually they’re about to give this address to somebody else to receive some coins into it. And this could be a large transaction. And unfortunately, if the hacker or the attacker has somehow switched that address at some point in the process, this user, completely unbeknownst to them, is giving the wrong address to somebody else to pay them. And so that’s another vector for attacks.
Speaker B – 00:50:12:
So if you’re looking on the coordinator app and you’re looking at the hardware device, hardware signing device, you might see the same address. But what if it is switched before that?
Speaker A – 00:50:22:
Right, right at the set up point.
Speaker B – 00:50:26:
Yeah, absolutely. A setup point. In fact, there’s one advantage that you can do if you’re really serious. If you use the same set of keys to create a multi stick on another platform, on another coordinating app, for example, Specter or Sparrow. And if you see the same receiving and all of them have like a list of receiving addresses that you can see, you can see a list of change addresses. If you see the same list across, then you know that definitely these two coordinating apps are not really cheating you the same way.
Speaker A – 00:51:00:
There’s a problem with one of them, right? So you would check that or make sure that it’s using the same or it could be some innocent error, like it’s using some different derivation path. But you still want to check that, right? Yeah. That’s a worthwhile call out for listeners who are playing around. Obviously, this is early days, so be wary with what you’re doing. But every wallet has to go through that process where it’s new at some point. Every wallet was new at some point. It just happens that some walls, like Electrum were new in 2011 and others like Keeper on you in 2022. So takes time. So one of the topic we need to hit is Bitcoin4India. So this is a project I’ve seen it’s a community project and an effort. And we’ve got this conference coming up. So tell us a little bit about Bitcoin4India and the conference coming up.
Speaker B – 00:51:46:
So like I said, Bitcoin4India was this platform. It’s just a Twitter link and a meetup page where people come and list their meetups and a bunch of people who know each other. That’s how it started. And the meet ups were so well received and people loved them so much that a lot of suggestions came in. Why don’t we do like a mega meet up, like a mini conference? Right? And that is where the whole concept of conference was grew. And it wasn’t as simple as we initially thought, but the credit should not really go to me. But there are a lot of volunteers who actually worked on it and made the conference possible. You have interacted with most of them. I wouldn’t like to call them because if I do, I’m sure I’ll miss some of them. So it wouldn’t be fair for me to take some names and not take other names. But one thing I want to repeat is the trade shouldn’t go to me, but more for the volunteers. This conference is in Goa on the 5th and 6th November, which is in probably two weeks time. And when this episode goes out, maybe in a week’s time. And we are anticipating somewhere between 205 hundred people in that conference. So that is a testament to Bitcoin only in India. When we did some of the first few meetups, actually people from different parts of India traveled because there were no Bitcoin only meetups in their part of the country. So the same thing is happening here. People from all across India and outside as well are traveling in to attend this conference. We are going to have two amazing days. There are two parallel tracks. Like typically it is one is a technical track and one is a non technical track. And the schedule is out. There a lot of information. People who are speaking, including yourself, are listed on the website. We are very excited about it and it will be live streamed with Bitcoin magazine. So most of the people who are not able to attend it should be able to see and should be able to have conversations with Indian Bitcoin as we go there. One of the aims of people who are doing this is to be able to meet other Bitcoin. Because sometimes what happens is when you are into Bitcoin, you find yourself alone, you think you are the crazy one and there’s no one in the town who understands Bitcoin. And suddenly you go to a meeting and you find ten other people talking crazy shit like you are, you feel much better. So that’s what the conference will do to many Bitcoin as in India, it will basically tell them that you’re not the only one. There are a lot out like you who think, although that in Bitcoin there’s no single thought, people have very differing opinions, but at least there’s common ground when it comes to Bitcoin and its importance and its impact on the world. So probably expecting a lot of good things coming out of that meetup conference.
Speaker A – 00:55:03:
Yeah, look, I think it’s a good thing to see the Bitcoin only group and seen meetup growing over time. This is the first one in India and I’m sure it’s just the start of something much bigger. So what you might find is that the first attendees of this first one, they go on to either start up their own meetup groups in their own cities, and then you come back around in next year, in two years time, and three years time from now, by the time you get to that stage, it’s going to be so much larger. And so I think it’s partly laying down that groundwork to get people connected and get them to know each other and sort of understand, hey, here’s a guy from that city, and here’s a person from that city. And also just to sort of plant down the flag of Bitcoin, only in the country. So I’m excited for this. So, people, make sure you check it out. The website is conference.Bitcoin4india.org links will be in the show notes, of course. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to that. And I guess just as a final question, Anant, if you could change how Indians think about Bitcoin, what one thing? If you could tell them one thing, what would you tell them?
Speaker B – 00:56:08:
I think don’t trust verify is very important when it comes to Bitcoin. People have started trusting institutions and it’s on that slippery slope where you trust someone good enough for long enough so that it is good for you, but then suddenly a line is crossed and it’s not really what you had initially thought of. So people in their daily life and in the rat race they are in, and especially in countries like India, where people work really hard, they have to work really hard, right? They don’t really stop, think and try to trust and verify things for themselves. So being able to think for your own and trying to really think about what this up means, are there any implications of that? What are some of the other people saying? What does Bitcoin really offer? So stopping thinking and thinking for yourself and verifying instead of just listening to news headlines is one thing I would encourage all Indians to do a little more of, essentially.
Speaker A – 00:57:14:
Fantastic. Well, thanks for joining me today. And, yeah, listeners, check it out. All the links will be in the Show Nodes. Anant, maybe what’s the one best spot for people to find you?
Speaker B – 00:57:24:
So I’m on Twitter, not super active, but I’m there, Anant underscore Tap, so that’s @anant_tap. And the link will be in the show notes. Keeper is the new app. Again, the link will be in the show notes. Looking forward for a lot of you to be at the conference or connect through the platform. And on the product side, try out the Keeper app.
Speaker A – 00:57:49:
Fantastic, thank you. Bye.
Speaker B – 00:57:51:
Speaker A – 00:57:52:
Get the show notes at stefanleavera.com/429. Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you in the Citadel.