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What is self-custody?

In traditional banking systems, your money and assets are under the control of third parties, making you susceptible to potential security risks, privacy breaches, and even access restrictions. But imagine a system where you have full control and ownership. Welcome to the world of bitcoin self-custody.


What is Bitcoin Self-Custody?

In essence, bitcoin self-custody means personally managing and securing your own bitcoin. Think of it as being your own bank, with full control over your digital money without relying on third-party services such as exchanges or custodial wallets. This control is empowering but also places the responsibility of safeguarding your bitcoin squarely on your shoulders.

Why is Self-Custody Important?

The significance of self-custody becomes apparent when we look at real-world incidents. Consider the Mt. Gox incident in 2014, one of the most infamous bitcoin exchange hacks, where users lost approximately 740,000 bitcoins. Similarly, the unexpected closure of the QuadrigaCX exchange led to a significant loss of customer assets. More recently, the FTX exchange's bankruptcy left many users in financial limbo. All these examples underscore the risks associated with leaving your assets on exchanges and the importance of maintaining control of your own digital assets.

Key Concepts in Self-Custody

Understanding self-custody involves grasping a few essential concepts:

  • Private Keys: These are your unique cryptographic codes that allow you to access and transact your bitcoin. It's vital to keep them secure because losing them equates to losing your bitcoin.
  • Hardware Wallet: This is your digital vault for storing bitcoin. A hardware wallet, like Trezor, generates and stores your private keys offline, ensuring they're secure and under your control.
  • Backup (Recovery Seed) & Passphrase: Think of these as your safety nets. They're essential for recovering your bitcoin if you lose access to your wallet or private keys.
  • Transaction Signing: This is your authorization process. When sending bitcoin, you 'sign' the transaction with your private key, proving you're the legitimate owner and initiating the transfer.

The Role of Trezor in Self-Custody

A Trezor wallet facilitates self-custody by offering secure offline storage for your private keys. It provides a user-friendly interface for transaction signing, and it guides you through the process of creating backup seeds, adding an extra layer of security.

Benefits of Self-Custody

Self-custody of bitcoin offers significant advantages:

  • Security and Control: You have direct control over your bitcoin, reducing risks related to hacking or third-party failures.
  • Privacy: Transacting under self-custody allows you to maintain privacy as you don't need to disclose personal information to a third party.
  • Freedom: Self-custody resonates with bitcoin's core principles of decentralization and individual financial sovereignty.

Understanding the Risks

While self-custody empowers you, it also requires careful management of your private keys and backup seeds. If you lose them, there is no recovery service to help you. It's essential to educate yourself, stay vigilant, and adopt security best practices.

Bitcoin self-custody symbolizes a shift towards personal freedom in managing your own assets. It's a powerful move that aligns with the spirit of decentralization—central to bitcoin's philosophy. While it comes with increased responsibility, solutions like Trezor make the journey towards self-custody more secure and accessible for everyone. Be your own bank, with self-custody.


Check out these posts from the Trezor blog to learn even more! 

Self-custody and how to keep bitcoin safe

Stay safe with self-custody

Take custody of your bitcoin
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