Beginner’s Guide To Bitcoin Self-Custody (2023)

Given the recent insecurity around bank deposits, the interest in custody of your own funds has been high — we’ve been witness to banks that have been around for decades and sometimes centuries folding. While depositors have so far been made “whole” through the use of monetary intervention — the lurking thought in everybody’s mind is around whether their money and the balance they see on their bank accounts is truly theirs.

The harsh reality is that, most likely, without some conscious thought and action, the vast majority of the numbers tabulated in the form of account statements doesn’t connote as much custody and ownership as most people would think. Bitcoin’s bitcoin BTC principles of self-custody offer a stronger form of access and control over your own funds then deposits at your local bank — or indeed, bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies kept on an exchange. This has never been more top-of-mind in our modern era since the sudden failures of Credit Suisse and Silicon Valley Bank.

The Great Depression of the 1930s was correlated with a series of regional bank failures. More than 9,000 banks (representing about 30% of the total banks in the United States)failed between 1930 and 1933.

They were taken down by a series of banking panics, although some of the failures were also attributed to the agricultural sector’s continued weakness throughout the 1920s. There is still active debate between whether or not the causes underpinning the Great Depression caused bank failures, or if the bank failures themselves turned what was going to be a mild recession into a depression.

This birthed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation which was meant to prevent a similar episode of bank runs and the panic that ensued by providing insurance fro the federal government for deposits within the U.S. banking system. This was the federal agency that insured (in excess of its posted limits) the deposits within Silicon Valley Bank — a modern echo of those volatile times.


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So, what are bitcoin’s self-custody principles, and how can they be properly implemented to deal with the potential banking volatility of this period?

1- Your Keys, Your Assets

We are now used to the idea of online passwords. In order to have access to your deposits, most people will now interface with an online banking portal that will show the amount of deposits you have with a particular bank. Yet what is it that you’re really accessing when you take a look?

If we’re talking about a wallet that follows bitcoin’s self-custody rules, then you’re talking about a repository of value that you can choose to send to whichever addresses without restriction. Once you input the key, you have full access to the assets displayed within, which exist in their entirety.

Your bank deposits are an abstraction with limits placed upon them — and for good reason — to exactly defray the risk of a banking panic and a run on the banks. The deposited amount is only available on a fractional basis: this normally doesn’t matter for the day-to-day of most people but matters acutely exactly when there is a bank run.

As a result of the fractional banking system, banks are allowed to leverage the deposits they have (which are essentially liabilities for the bank’s balance sheet) in order to gross as much return back as possible on deposit amounts. That means that they wouldn’t have the cash on hand to fulfill a large majority of deposits if they all came due at once — the exact definition of a bank run.

Your funds are subject to controls on how you can use them as a result. You can only withdraw so much into cash at once as a retail customer at ATMs. If you’re going to electronically send funds, there’s a limit as well. The bank can choose to freeze your funds if you deal in something they find non-pleasing. They can refuse to bank with you for various reasons.

Bitcoin flips that paradigm. Instead of having to deal with a cumbersome intermediary, you can have full control and access over your own assets.

Or to sum it up very simply in bitcoin-speak: your keys, your bitcoin.

2- Beware Of Guarantees

Though the recent Silicon Valley Bank run was defrayed partially by an extended guarantee of FDIC insurance, that isn’t something that can be absolutely counted upon in the future. Ex-FDIC commissioner Shelia Bair makes the argumentthat the real issueis the possibility of bank runs paired with the need to sell securities at a loss in a higher-interest rate environment. This is a category of risk that applies to all banks, not just banks with a particular level of risk centered in one industry, or banks with a high level of uninsured deposits.

As seen in the instance of SVB, you can’t really definitively audit your bank for internal practices and the world has become a more volatile place, where default assumptions may no longer be the norm. The low interest policies of the past decade or so seem already to be a relic. Unexpected triggers like the sudden OPEC+ production cut loom on the horizon: creating inflationary pressures that might force central banks to continue rising rates. Banks like SVB that didn’t have a chief risk officer, and that didn’t take into account changing circumstances that may just become ever more volatile aren’t going to be as reliable as they were in an unchanging, favorable macro-environment.

While there were banks that managed interest rate risk well (keeping away from buying certain securities while interest rates were low, foregoing instant profits in order not to have to mark down potential losses), many did not — and throughout the coming months, and perhaps even years, this may fully roll out before our eyes.

While the Federal Reserve and the FDIC stepped in decisively here, with Silicon Valley Bank, and decided to cover the large number of uninsured deposits that had technically passed the $250,000 insurance limit, there’s no guarantee that the Federal Reserve and Treasury will be able to do this or sustain it into the future.

For other countries with weaker monetary sovereigns, the guarantees baked into deposits weakens the domestic currency and implies a level of loss for citizens within that country. For example, the deal between Credit Suisse and UBS triggered a fall in the Swiss Franc. How tenable is an unlimited government guarantee behind deposits? It’s possible that the guarantee might break — and even if it doesn’t, it will imply a cost on every person who holds that currency.

Rather than relying on the promise that is your bank deposit and government guarantees that they will bend the rules to make you whole, it is more appealing to have your assets available to you at all times, under your own control, in an asset that is priced by market mechanisms rather than politically-driven artificial scarcity (or plenty).

3- With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Self-custody isn’t a solution to all problems. It may not even be the solution to your particular problem. With the great power of custody, comes a great responsibility. This includes choosing the best custody option for yourself, knowing that access to a key that can send funds out can allow for actors to compromise your funds — elevating the level and knowledge of digital security you need versus the convenient option of parking that risk (and control) with someone else.

Some people keep their bitcoin on exchanges and others will keep cryptocurrencies as well, with the allure of staking keeping them captivated and greedy. Yet, as the falls of FTX and Celsius show, when you leave your bitcoin on an exchange, you are relying on the same fiat logic as with bank deposits: it can be a risky gamble.

This is where the gamut of self-custody solutions come into play. Most people will not store a large amount of funds in “hot wallets” which are connected to the Internet and can move funds quickly. However, you can have a custody solution likeWasabi Walletor something of the like if you want a reasonably quick way to send funds on-chain. A popular solution is to split funds from hot wallets for spend and cold wallets for savings.

For hot wallets, Lightning Network wallets are preferred since they have lower transaction fees and are more suited for the micro-transactions present throughout life — the 2023 answer to whether you can buy coffee with bitcoin is a resounding yes.

Here is a list of sample Lightning Network wallets:

  1. Wallet of Satoshi
  2. Phoenix Wallet
  3. Breez

There’s also the option of having your bitcoin stored in a hardware wallet (seen as cold), typically one that isn’t Internet-connected and requires physical input.

  1. Coldcard
  2. Safe

Some people will also decide to do what’s called a paper wallet. This means they literally put their private key on paper. Finally, a selection of people may choose a more managed service that includes 2-of-3 key combos (including hardware wallets) for cold storage. One of the most well-known in this regard isCasa.

Bitcoin’s self-custody principles gives you the power over your funds — not in an abstract way like an online banking balance, but rather in a real tangible sense to be able to send the amount within your wallet anywhere you want without restriction, and without need for any guarantees. Yet it also implies some responsibilities: the ownership over your assets comes with ensuring that how you store the keys, more powerful than the banking password to your deposits, can be done safely and effectively.


What is the best way to self custody Bitcoin? ›

Here's how to self-custody your crypto.
  1. Step 1: Create a self-custody wallet. Download BitPay Wallet for free. ...
  2. Step 2: Record your new wallet address (or addresses) You'll need to know your wallet's address. ...
  3. Step 3: Initiate the transfer from your custodial account. ...
  4. Step 4: Enjoy the new control of a self-custody wallet.
Nov 29, 2022

How do I set up a self custody Crypto wallet? ›

For more specific technical help, refer to the documentation of your wallet provider.
  1. Step 1: Know the different types of self-custody wallets. ...
  2. Step 2: Choose a wallet. ...
  3. Step 3: Generate a recovery phrase (or import an existing one) ...
  4. Step 4: Create new crypto addresses (or import existing ones)
Feb 15, 2023

Is self custody wallet safe? ›

To summarize, self-custody is an essential step for securing your digital assets. It provides you with complete control and ownership of your crypto without relying on third-party custodians. By using a self-custody wallet, you can protect yourself against scams and hacks, and ensure the privacy of your transactions.

How does self custody wallet work? ›

A self-custody wallet is a cryptocurrency wallet where only the holder possesses and controls the private key to that wallet. Private keys are a vital part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, as they are used to sign and verify transactions on the blockchain.

What is the safest crypto custody? ›

Cold storage is the most secure way to store cryptocurrencies, as it involves keeping the private keys offline. This means that the keys are not connected to the internet, reducing the risk of hacking or theft.

Does Coinbase allow self custody? ›

Coinbase Wallet is a self-custody wallet that gives you complete control of your digital assets. This means that the private keys (that represent ownership of the cryptocurrency) for your Wallet are stored directly on your web browser or mobile device and not with a centralized exchange like

What is an example of a self-custody wallet? ›

They are convenient for users who need to access their cryptocurrency frequently. Examples include Coinbase Wallet and Trust Wallet.

Can self-custody wallets be hacked? ›

In principle, self-custodial wallets are safe because you have full control over your keys. In practice, however, it depends on how careful you are with your keys. Can self-custody wallets be hacked? Yes, but it is much more difficult than with custodial wallets.

How much does crypto custody cost? ›

The annual fee for storing your cryptocurrency in Custody is 0.40% (40bps) with an additional fee of $125 per withdrawal. What is Gemini Custody? How do I sign up for a Gemini Custody account?

What is the difference between crypto wallet and custody? ›

For a custodial wallet, a third party takes custody of the private key instead of the crypto owner. For a non-custodial wallet, the crypto owner holds their own private key and, therefore, their funds. One drawback of non-custodial wallets is the lack of recovery options in case users lose their password.

Where is the safest place to keep your wallet? ›

No matter where you're going, carrying your wallet in your front pocket is the best way to help deter pickpockets and prevent back pain while still keeping your wallet close by and easily accessible.

What are the pros and cons of custodial wallets? ›

Custodial vs non-custodial wallets
Custodial serviceNon-custodial service
AccessibilityRegistered accountsAccessible to anyone
Transaction CostsTypically higherTypically lower
SecurityTypically lowerTypically higher
SupportTypically higherTypically lower
2 more rows
Mar 23, 2022

What are the disadvantages of a custodial wallet? ›

The biggest disadvantage of a custodial wallet is that a third party has management influence over the private key and assets. Most of the time, service providers, i.e. a third party, require KYC (identity verification). Non-custodial wallets are Bitcoin in its truest form.

What are the best custody wallets? ›

Examples. Some of the popular examples of best Custodial wallets are: Free Wallet, Binance, BitMex, Bitgo, Some examples of best Non-custodial wallet 2021 are: Electrum, Exodus, Ledger Nano X, Trezor One, Zengo, Wasabi, among others. While the aforementioned 'Custodial vs.

Where is the safest place to hold your crypto assets? ›

Arguably, the safest way to store crypto is a hardware wallet. But as Marie explains, the effectiveness of cold storage depends on its careful use. “Hardware wallets are physical devices that securely store the private keys to your cryptocurrency addresses offline.

What is the most common crypto crime? ›

According to Immunefi, 95% of all cryptocurrency theft stems from hacking incidents. The remaining losses were a result of fraud and other scams. In 2022, researchers tracked a total of 134 hacking cases, a major increase from the 104 incidents recorded in 2021.

Who does Robinhood use for crypto custody? ›

Protecting Your Coins

The policy is underwritten by certain underwriters at Lloyd's, the world's leading insurance marketplace, and placed by Lloyd's registered broker, Aon. Our Security Team routinely reviews code and infrastructure powering Robinhood Crypto.

What is the minimum balance for Coinbase custody? ›

For example, Coinbase's dedicated crypto custody service, Coinbase Trust, requires a whopping minimum balance of $500,000 in digital assets to qualify for its custody system. Don't fret if you don't have that sort of money invested in cryptocurrency.

How do I convert Bitcoin to cash? ›

At a Glance: Converting Bitcoin to cash and transferring it to a bank account can be done through third-party broker exchanges or peer-to-peer platforms. Broker exchanges like Coinbase or Kraken require signing up, depositing Bitcoin, and requesting a withdrawal to your bank account.

Should I leave my crypto in Coinbase? ›

Coinbase is generally a safe investment and is a secure platform for buying, trading, and storing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. It's one of the most trusted ways to exchange cash, and it employs strong security measures to protect users, including AES-256 encryption, 2FA, and cold (offline) asset storage.

What is self custody staking? ›

Self-custody is a method to hold cryptocurrencies or nonfungible token (NFT) assets in a wallet that only the user typically can access and control. The alternative option is to hold these assets on centralized exchanges where the users are exposed to counterparty risks if the exchange fails.

Which crypto wallets are custodial? ›

Crypto wallets can be broken out into two different groups - non-custodial and custodial. Custodial wallet services include offerings from crypto exchanges like Kraken and Coinbase where a third party has control over your private keys (and therefore, your crypto).

What is an example of a simple wallet address? ›

Example: 3J98t1WpEZ73CNmQviecrnyiWrnqRhWNLy. Bech32 addresses also known as "bc1 addresses" start with bc1. Example: bc1qar0srrr7xfkvy5l643lydnw9re59gtzzwf5mdq. QR Codes can also be used as a wallet address.

Can someone steal crypto from wallet? ›

Because private keys are stored in application and device wallets, hackers can access them and steal your cryptocurrency.

Can a crypto wallet be traced to a person? ›

Because someone's wallet address does not have to be anonymous but can be hard to find, a Bitcoin wallet address is called a pseudonym, an alias, which is different from someone's actual name. The data is not linked to an identity, but it is still possible to trace someone's identity or a pseudonym.

Is self custody possible on the internet? ›

But the added complexity of self custody is arguably well worth it: You can own and safely store your crypto without relying on any intermediaries. Most often, self-custody crypto wallets will come in the form of a “hot wallet,” which is connected to the Internet.

What percentage do crypto brokers take? ›

Pricing is based on your 30-day crypto trading volume and whether your order is directly marketable. Normally pricing ranges from 0.025 percent of your order to 0.6 percent. Traders can also buy and sell Bitcoin futures as well as take advantage of substantial volume trading discounts.

How much is crypto Bitcoin withdrawal fee? ›

The current withdrawal fee is 0.001 BTC,” a spokesperson for Huobi told Cointelegraph on May 11. Before the increase, the original BTC withdrawal fee was 0.0004 BTC ($11), the representative added.

What is custody rule for crypto? ›

The Custody Rule requires registered investment advisers who have custody of client funds or securities to implement an enumerated set of requirements, including, among other things, generally maintaining client funds and securities with a qualified custodian.

How does Coinbase Custody make money? ›

Custodial fee revenue

Coming from a dedicated secure cold storage solution to customers, which generates fees for Coinbase, based on the value of the crypto assets held in the storage solution. The fee is collected on a monthly basis.

Is Coinbase a crypto custodian? ›

Purpose has entered into an agreement with Coinbase pursuant to which Coinbase will act as an additional sub-custodian for the Crypto Funds. Coinbase is licensed by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Coinbase Global Inc. is a publicly traded company with assets in excess of $100 billion.

What is the main benefit of keeping your crypto in a non custodial wallet you wont lose your crypto if you forget your password? ›

The main benefit of keeping your crypto in a hosted wallet is if you forget your password, you won't lose your crypto. A drawback to a hosted wallet is you can't access everything crypto has to offer.

What bills should I keep in my wallet? ›

There's no exact number, but it should amount to an entire day's worth of expenses. For example, if you have to pay for parking, the amount should cover that, plus the rest of your day-to-day costs, like your gas, groceries, etc. As a rule of thumb, keep $100 to $300 in your front pocket wallet.

How long should you keep a wallet? ›

But when it comes down to how long do wallets last, it can vary anywhere from 2-50 years. A genuine, high-quality leather wallet can last up to 10 years if you take good care of it, while a carbon fiber wallet can last practically forever.

How much money should you keep in your wallet? ›

“We would recommend between $100 to $300 of cash in your wallet, but also having a reserve of $1,000 or so in a safe at home,” Anderson says. Depending on your spending habits, a couple hundred dollars may be more than enough for your daily expenses or not enough.

What is the main benefit of keeping your crypto in a non-custodial wallet? ›

Non-custodial crypto wallets give you complete control of your keys and therefore your funds. While some people store large amounts of crypto on exchange accounts, many feel more comfortable with a non-custodial wallet, which eliminates a third-party between you and your crypto.

Are custodial wallets hot or cold? ›

A hot wallet can be custodial, typically an account that you have on an exchange platform. Non-custodial hot wallets are usually mobile or desktop apps. There can also be custodial and non-custodial cold wallets, so make sure to study all the options and choose the best for you.

Is Coinbase a custodial or non-custodial wallet? ›

Security. Coinbase has a solid security system that protects your assets. The fact that it is non-custodial means nobody has access to your crypto except you, so Coinbase cannot use your crypto to run its business as FTX did.

What is the most common type of custody? ›

Joint legal custody is the most common custody arrangement granted by courts. Why is that? One of the most significant advantages of joint custody is that a child will grow up with influence and input from both parents.

What does sole custody mean in Florida? ›

Sole parental responsibility refers to one parent's responsibility in making all major decisions about a child's life, including: Cultural and religious upbring. Healthcare and medical procedures. Travel plans and documentation.

What does sole custody mean in California? ›

Legal and physical custody can be shared (joint) or only to one parent (sole) Joint legal custody: both parents share the rights and responsibilities for making important decisions about the children. Sole legal custody: only one parent has this right and responsibility. ExampleS of important decisions.

Is Coinbase custodial wallet safe? ›

Keep your assets secure

Coinbase Wallet is a self-custody web3 wallet, putting you in full control of the private keys to your assets on the blockchain. Nobody, including Coinbase, can access your tokens or NFTs without your recovery phrase.

What are the limitations of a custodial account? ›

Disadvantages of Custodial Accounts

Any deposit or gifts made to the account is irrevocable, meaning it cannot be changed or reversed. All of the account's holdings pass, irrevocably, to the minor at the age of majority.

What are the disadvantages of blockchain wallet? ›

Disadvantages Of Blockchain Technology
  • Private keys.
  • Possibility of disruption of network security.
  • High costs of implementation.
  • Inefficient mining process.
  • Environmental impacts.
  • Storage problems.
  • Anonymity.
  • Immutability.
Mar 2, 2023

What is the best way to self-custody Bitcoin? ›

Here's how to self-custody your crypto.
  1. Step 1: Create a self-custody wallet. Download BitPay Wallet for free. ...
  2. Step 2: Record your new wallet address (or addresses) You'll need to know your wallet's address. ...
  3. Step 3: Initiate the transfer from your custodial account. ...
  4. Step 4: Enjoy the new control of a self-custody wallet.
Nov 29, 2022

Where is the best place to hold my bitcoin? ›

Coinbase Wallet can store popular coins, such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin and BNB, as well as all ERC-20 tokens and tokens on EVM-compatible blockchains, which amounts to more than 5,500 supported digital assets — one of the biggest numbers on our list.

How much does bitcoin custody cost? ›

Third-party custodians typically charge a yearly fee for managing your crypto assets. The cost varies between platforms, but most custodians charge less than 1% of the total value of your assets.

How do I buy and hold Bitcoins anonymously? ›

8 tips for buying Bitcoin anonymously
  1. Use a dedicated computer or phone to connect to the internet. ...
  2. Choose a reputable browser that focuses on privacy. ...
  3. Run a full node through a VPN. ...
  4. Use a private email. ...
  5. Bypass phone verification. ...
  6. Set up a secure wallet. ...
  7. Avoid paying with credit or debit cards. ...
  8. Keep your keys safe.
Feb 9, 2023

What is the safest wallet to store crypto? ›

We chose Trezor as best for security because it comes with the strongest security features and track record of any reviewed hardware wallet. Trezor, like Ledger, is a name synonymous with crypto cold wallet storage. Its Model T is the second generation of hardware wallets it's created.

How to get 1 Bitcoin for free? ›

7 Easy Ways To Get Free Bitcoin Now
  1. Airdrops.
  2. Bounty.
  3. Brave Browser.
  4. Cloud Mining.
  5. CoinMarketCap.
  6. Faucets.
  7. Staking.
May 3, 2023

Where do most Bitcoin holders live? ›

According to Triple-A, India has more cryptocurrency holders than any other country, i.e., more than 100 million. Yes, in India, more than 100 million people owns cryptocurrency.

How much does Bitcoin ATM charge per $100? ›

How much does a Bitcoin ATM charge per $100? If you wanted to know the fee that is charged per 100$ when you make a transaction of Bitcoin in a Bitcoin terminal, generally Bitcoin ATM fees would be roughly $8 - $20 on average, and if you are lucky you can find fees of $4.

How much does it cost to cash out Bitcoin? ›

The fees vary based on which platform you're using and the method you send your money. An ACH or EFT transaction is relatively cheap, while a wire transfer may cost around $25. Bitcoin ATM withdrawals usually have a variable fee of 7% to 20% based on the amount of the transaction.

Is there a withdrawal fee for Bitcoin? ›

Binance increased its bitcoin withdrawal fees from 00002 BTC ($5.59) to 0.001 BTC ($27.94) per withdrawal, a spokesperson told Blockworks. “Due to an increase in the overall network fee on the Bitcoin network, the operational cost of maintaining withdrawals for BTC also increases,” they said.

How do crypto custodians make money? ›

Third-party custody

Custodians have insurance on assets they manage. In some cases, you can earn interest from the crypto you deposit by staking or lending through the third-party custodian.

What is self-custody vs custody crypto? ›

Self-custody wallets, also called non-custodial wallets, are digital wallets that let you store, manage, and trade cryptocurrencies without the help of a third party. They are unlike custodial wallets, which hold your private keys.

What is the benefit of crypto custody? ›

Track and manage funds from any self-custody wallet

When you self-custody your crypto, you're giving yourself more flexibility in how you manage and track your assets. Your funds don't actually “live” in your wallet. Instead, the wallet is a tool used to access the funds on the blockchain.

Can it be traced if I buy Bitcoin? ›

Bitcoin, contrary to popular belief, is traceable. While your identity is not directly linked to your Bitcoin address, all transactions are public and recorded on the blockchain.

Do I need SSN to buy Bitcoin? ›

Yes, you can purchase bitcoin without turning over your Social Security Number in the process. When you buy or sell bitcoin at an ATM, it will not be necessary to produce your SSN.

Can a Bitcoin transaction be traced? ›

Yes, Bitcoin is traceable. Here's what you need to know: Blockchain transactions are recorded on a public, distributed ledger. This makes all transactions open to the public - and any interested government agency.


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