Veriphi's Bitcoin Software Wallets Feature Comparison Update

Veriphi's Bitcoin Software Wallets Feature Comparison Update

By Gustavo J. Flores Echaiz over 1 year

UPDATE : an earlier version of this blog post suggested that Zengo Wallet Servers kept a copy of your face but instead they keep a copy of your face map. Also, Jaxx Wallet's vulnerability about having unencrypted keys on the desktop version has been patched. These updates don't change that we don't recommend these wallets.

In December, we released an analysis on Bitcoin Software Wallets, in a spreadsheet form. We received tremendous positive feedback on it, we thank everyone for their comments.

We have recently updated the table with new wallets, modified features, added comments and some ratings have changed. We will be breaking down the recent changes in this blog post.

If you need to select a wallet for your Bitcoin holdings and you need advise, reach out to me on Twitter or by email at gustavo@veriphi.io.

To consult the analysis, click here. Biggest takeaway is that BTCPay Server is highly recommended for advanced users.

New Wallets

There are 8 new wallets on our analysis :

  1. Bisq Wallet
  2. Rise Wallet
  3. HODL Wallet
  4. Jaxx Liberty Wallet
  5. ZenGo
  6. BTCPay
  7. Casa Node 2
  8. Bitpie

BTCPay falls under the highest category by our evaluation given that it offers the most advanced security and privacy advantages. It's a self-hosted payment processor that wraps a full Bitcoin Node (Bitcoin Core) and allows the user to receive funds to hardware wallets, multi-signature contracts or a quickly generated hot wallet. It can run through Tor on the Bitcoin Network and be offered as a onion service.

The Casa Node 2 wallet is mostly a Lightning Wallet but it still is recommended since it's a self-hosted Node with very good user experience and fully open-source. It also runs on Tor for additional network privacy but it can't be considered excellent since it's a hot wallet without the portability of a Mobile Wallet. Unfortunately, this product is sold out and won't be produced anymore by the company due to a strategy change. They will open-source and make it easy to do it yourself soon.

Bisq Wallet is very hard to beat when it comes to privacy : Tor connection, Coin Control and P2P Bitcoin trading with many fiat pairs. The UI/ UX (User Interface & Experience) has improved a lot in the recent months and more improvement is still to come from the hard-working team. We're expecting to increase it to an excellent status when the UX becomes so easy that a new user will flawlessly privately trade Bitcoin with peers over the internet. Also, #whenSegwit?

All the other wallets aren't recommended by myself, Gustavo J. Flores Echaiz, and the Veriphi team. I explain my thought process below.

A Canadian around the country can go to a convenience store and buy a Rise Wallet gift card today. In a few clicks, he can turn this voucher into a Bitcoin balance in Rise Wallet. This is, undoubtedly, a great on boarding experience but given that the keys are hot and that the wallet is closed-source, Rise Wallet can't guarantee a high level of security to their users without open-sourcing the code. Also, it doesn't allow a user to connect the application to his personal Node, there's no Segwit, no Tor, no hardware wallet integration which are, in our opinion, desired features.

HODL Wallet is open-source but there's been no release on Github since 9/25/2018, this is almost a year and half ago, and no commit since 8/27/2019, more than six months ago. This demonstrates there's not much work being done to keep the wallet updated to potential security vulnerabilities. There's also no mention of responsible disclosure when it comes to security vulnerabilities.

ZenGo is a wallet which offers a keyless backup solution using a 2 of 2 ECDSA threshold signature where one key is generated on their server and one key is generated on the user's mobile device. The backup process consists of backing up the user's mobile device key to ZenGo's servers, encrypt it and save the encryption key to the user's iCloud or Google Drive. Finally, the ZenGo's servers will only ship the saved encrypted key if a scan of the user's face validates his face map. In conclusion, ZenGo has a server with user's face maps linked to their keys and it's a closed-source application, we value the privacy of our readers, so we recommend all to stay far away from this application. To make matters worse, it's an altcoin wallet as well.

Bitpie doesn't seem so bad at first look, it's got Segwit addresses, batch spending, Lightning (check out our Lightning Wallets analysis here) and you can import multi-signature wallets with their private keys or the mnemonic seed phrases. We're not recommending it because it's closed-source, supports altcoins, doesn't allow to connect to a user's own Node and a vulnerability was disclosed in May 2018 that demonstrated that private keys were stored in clear-text in the user's device. At least, they've patched the issue.

Jaxx Liberty Wallet is run by Decentral, a company that was part of the New York Agreement, also known as the Segwit2x Attack. It also supports many altcoins and is closed-source. We can't recommend it for all those reasons. For what is worth, they have patched a known vulnerability in the Liberty version, where keys were unencrypted.  

New Security Features

On top of adding those 8 new wallets to our table, we've also added a few new features. I'll briefly go through them.

Latest Version

It's important to know what is the current latest version available to know whether you should update your software. Our spreadsheet table now shows this information and will be updated on a bi-weekly basis or when a major release is announced.

Latest Release Date

On top of being aware of the latest version number, the date of release is a crucial factor to keep in mind as well. This is particularly the case when making an initial wallet selection, nobody wants to use software that hasn't been update in years. For the open-source wallets, this feature looks at the latest Github release. For closed-source wallets, this feature indicates the release in the application stores.

Latest Github Commit

How active is the development in your wallet? This feature will help find out if developers are adding code in the public repository between releases.

Responsible Disclosure Program

I looked up the words "security" "disclosure" "vulnerability" "responsible" for each wallet and if there was no results and no indication of what a user should do in this situation, I considered there was no program involving responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities. The programs in question have been linked, in some cases it's a simple paragraph with a dedicated email, in others they are bug bounty programs. This is a must for Wallet developers.

Latest Known Vulnerability

Issues happen on software and in Bitcoin land, they can have catastrophic consequences. This feature shows the latest known vulnerability for each wallet. If the case is empty, don't assume the wallet is secure, it might just not have been properly inspected yet.

Patched

There's a known vulnerability, is it safe to use the software? This feature serves to alert users that the vulnerability in question has been patched or not.

Updated Features & Notes

We've also made updates on some features and added notes when necessary.

iOS availability

I'm an Android user so the initial analysis, when it came to mobile features, only considered the Android perspective. From now on, Mobile availability will be broken down into Android and iOS availability in a separate way.

Github Repositories

All open-source code, either client or server side, is now linked to their respective Github repository to users can easily inspect code and build the servers or the applications by themselves.

Legacy addresses (1...)

Even though they play a smaller role than they used to, Legacy (P2PKH) addresses are still available on many wallets, particularly those who haven't updated to the Segwit stack. Users of our analysis can now easily find out whether a wallet supports receiving to a legacy address. We could have gone further and display whether those wallets can send to segwit addresses but Bitcoin Ops has covered that well enough.

Notes on many features

We've added notes on many features where we believe more detail was needed, this is the case for private key backups, multi-signature setups, hardware wallet support, customer support by the team and advanced features such as CoinJoin, PSBT, etc.

Conclusion

We're always working towards improving this analysis and feedback is greatly appreciated, don't hesitate to express yourself if you disagree, we take all constructive criticism in the most serious way.

Our top picks remain Electrum Wallet for a easy to deploy Desktop Wallet, Bitcoin Core for a more complete but slower (syncing a full node) Desktop deployment, and Blockstream Green for mobile security and good user experience.

If this is too complicated for you and you feel like having security assistance would allow you to rest easy at night, reach out and I'll gladly help you out!

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