I’ve discovered something pretty cool that I’d like to share with those of you who have an interest in bitcoins. Apparently someone finally came up with a method to create the bitcoin equivalent to paper money. Yep, you can how hold bitcoins in your hand sort of speak. This neat new solution is called Bitbills.
Bitbills allow you to physically store the private encryption keys that give you ownership to your bitcoins on a pastic card via the use of QR codes. So basically encoded within the QR code is a key or multiple keys that give you ownership over a certain amount of bitcoins (depends on the denomination of your Bitbills). For example you can give your friend a 5 BTC (5 bitcoins) Bitbill, and he then scans the QR code with his smartphone or PC QR code scanner and after importing the bitcoin private keys contained within the Bitbill into his bitcoin software he’s got 5 more BTC.
How does it work?
For this I will let the Bitcoin creators do the talking:
When your computer stores bitcoins, it does so by saving secret pieces of data called private keys. Since only you have your private keys, only you can spend your bitcoins.
To make Bitbills, we start by creating a shiny new bitcoin address. Depending on the denomination of the card, we send a certain number of bitcoins to the new address. Then, we encode the address’s private key in a QR code. Finally, we manufacture the actual plastic card, hiding the QR code between layers of the card so that it can only revealed if the card is destroyed. On the back of every card we print the address itself, so you can always check how many bitcoins are stored on a card.
Security is a crucial component of Bitbills. There are two key aspects to card security: anti-counterfeiting and tamper-evidence.
We use industry-grade production techniques and special security holograms to make Bitbills nearly impossible to counterfeit. It’s important that when a stranger hands you a Bitbill, you can be sure that it was made by us.
It’s also important that it is clearly evident when a card’s private key has been accessed. By embedding the key inside the card between two secure holograms, the only way to access it is by visibly destroying the card.
Whenever handling a Bitbill, always be sure to check that the design matches the one shown on this website, and that both the front globe hologram and reverse “Secure” and “Valid” hologram are intact. Do not accept a Bitbill if it’s damaged, shows signs of tampering, or looks unusual.
How do Bitbills look like?:
What are Bitcoins?
Bitcoins are the currency traded in the Bitcoin network, which is the first completely open-source, decentralized digital currency network. You can read more at bitcoin.org.
How can I be sure my Bitbill is authentic?
Check that the design matches the one shown on this website, and that both the front globe hologram and reverse “Secure” and “Valid” hologram are intact. Do not accept a Bitbill if it’s damaged, shows signs of tampering, or looks unusual.
Do you keep a copy of the cards’ private keys?
After each card has been produced and proven functional, we delete all records of the private key. This means that once the card leaves our hands, we can no longer access the associated bitcoins (be aware, this means we also can’t help if you lose or destroy your card).
At the moment I’d say that Bitbills are still a bit “geeky” and not as user friendly as they should be, but I’m sure with time this will improve. The main problem is importing them into your bitcoin wallet. It would be really nice if there was built in support into the official bitcoin client software to do this, but unfortunately there isn’t at the moment. Once the official linux and windows bitcoin software have this feature I believe that Bitbills will be truly more functional and convenient.
So if you for some reason want to take your bitcoins with you there is now a way! Isn’t progress wonderful :)?
For more details about Bitbills please see their homepage at: http://www.bitbills.com
That does it for this post. I hope you found it informative.