What is a good wallet? : Interview with Dave Bitcoin Wallet Recovery Services ②

Called a savior by many, the man who goes by the pseudonym “Dave Bitcoin”, is the creator of Wallet Recovery Services. Dave has been recovering many wallets for people who had lost their keys. Since its start in 2013, the inquiries have created a massive opportunity for this new part of the crypto world to expand, and Dave’s endeavors of creating a trusted platform for desperate people to recover their long-lost wallets have been fruitful. In this interview, Dave talks us through, the process of recovering a wallet, fraudulent attempts by frauds, etc. Please take a look.

Interview Date : 25th February 2021

How can I know what is a good wallet?

You’re looking for a wallet that has a good team behind it and a solid track record for stability and security.  Having said that though, it’s tricky for someone to try figuring out on their own whether a wallet has had a lot of person-hours put into building a great secure wallet or if it is something somebody just threw together. Often if you’re investing on the cutting edge of new coins and new blockchains you won’t have too much of a wallet choice, but I would recommend entering those waters carefully and being aware of the risks.  If you’re investing in more mainstream coins read some reviews and choose a wallet that has been around for a while and is used by many.

Should I hold my keys or give them to my custodian?

This is the subject of an ongoing debate – custodial vs non-custodial wallets.  Custodial wallets being those where a 3rd party, often a website, holds the keys to the wallet, and non-custodial being those where the owner is fully responsible for holding the keys. I have unfortunately seen the bad side of both.  I get a lot of queries from customers who had wallet keys held by a provider or a website. Many have lost all their money because of that. They will come to me and say “I’ve got login information for ‘this’ site but it’s gone out of business, so can you do something to unlock it?”. But there’s nothing I can do in such cases because the private keys are locked up in a business that is not running anymore.  On the other hand, I get a lot of queries from customers with custodial wallets who lose their keys and are surprised the wallet provider cannot help them out – which they cannot because they do not store the customer information.

The best compromise is perhaps a custodial wallet where you fully trust the site to hold your keys and restore access if you can prove ownership, but they have also provided a way to access your coins if they go out of business.  An example of that is wallets that hand out standard recovery phrases, which make it possible for users to recover their wallet on any other platform. That’s the best portability you can have.

What if I write down my recovery phrase wrong?

A recovery phrase is a great innovation, as it allows you to restore a wallet without a wallet file or a password.  However, many customers ignore confirmations and skip over risk warnings, and don’t write down their recovery phrases or record them with errors.  The good news is that if they have written it down with only a few errors I can usually help recreate the correct phrase.

Should you pay for a wallet or use a free option?

I don’t think it’s necessary to pay unless you are paying for a custodial service that will securely hold your account behind multiple layers of protection. For example, you get to the point where you are storing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency, and you are concerned about both long-term storage and the dangers inherent in making each transaction. In that case,  I think it’s fine to look for a custodial service that will absolutely secure it and perform transactions safely. So, I think people should start looking for a custody service that is related to securing a high value.

Apart from that, I think there are enough good free or fairly inexpensive wallets. I personally use a hardware wallet, which secures your keys even if a hacker gets access to your computer, so that is the best option for me currently when I’m performing transactions every day.

Is there a need for wallet recovery services?

There is definitely a need for it and I have some competition in the space nowadays. They vary from pretty solid-looking businesses to people who are trying to pretend to be me by using a very similar name. A customer needs a high level of trust if they’re going to feel comfortable sending in the keys to their wallet and not worry about losing everything.  That’s what I aim to provide, the most trusted service available, and I think I’ve achieved that.

Are there fewer people losing their keys today than before?

I always worried that my business would tail off as Bitcoin would get more valuable and people would take more care of their information and passwords, but that apparently was not the case. Early on, wallets were quite bad at warning you about the risks. Some of them wouldn’t even verify that the user typed their passwords correctly during setup. However, nowadays there are warnings saying “write down your recovery words” or “type your password multiple times”, etc., and people still mess it up.  I think as long as there are wallets where the user holds the keys, people are still going to require help.

Can you tell apart tech-savvy people from non-tech savvy ones?

You can definitely tell when they get in contact. But there is no judgement, I’m happy to help everyone.  I will often need to help customers find their wallet files.  On the other hand, a more tech-savvy customer will know where everything is stored, they will have researched the problem, figured out what version of wallet software they were using, and even tried open-source software. The interesting thing is that for the more tech-savvy, in a way, it is almost harder to help. They usually will have chosen a more difficult password. Usually, they are the ones who will tell others “you need a really long password with complex variations” etc.,  and so they come up with these extremely complicated passwords for themselves too that are very hard to find. However, the least tech-savvy person might say “I always use this password or something similar for everything”. For them, maybe all I need to do is put a “!” sign on the end to find their password. It is a nice outcome for them because they successfully get their Bitcoins back.

What kind of interesting stories do you get?

I get a lot of interesting stories, and sometimes some really sad ones. One time, I received an inquiry from somebody whose family member was really sick and they could really need the money. At this point, you just hope you can help them, and it’s nice when you can. I’ve had some wonderful stories about how I’ve changed people’s lives, however, it is the opposite feeling when you can’t help them.

Interviewer , Editor : Lina Kamada


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