Famed Industrial designer Dieter Rams once remarked, “You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people; design is made for people. Good design is as little design as possible. Less, but better — because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.” I think this quote perfectly articulates the present tension that exists between convenience and security in the Crypto space that devices like Ballet Wallet aim to solve for a mainstream audience of novice users.
I was fortunate enough to receive a REAL BITCOIN Ballet Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet review unit last month. Ballet bills itself as the World’s First Non-electronic hardware wallet but it’s also a beautiful physical object, striking in its appearance, with prominent ₿ logo in raised lettering on the front. A memo field adorns the back of the card, perfect for a personal message to a loved one who could be gifted this as a generational heirloom. Ballet also offers a number of other cryptocurrency cards like Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin to name but a few. Link to Ballet Storefront.
The Simple Pleasure of Touch
The card itself has a satisfying weight and balance to it, making it pleasing to caress and admire in hand as it shimmers angled in the light. The laser-etched matte finish of the card sits in brilliant contrast to the polished shine of the raised elements like a bas-relief sculpture. I’m reminded of the Michaelangelo quote, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”.
Like me, you may even succumb to the tantalizing urge to brush your finger tips repeatedly over the raised lettering while admiring the precision of the chamfered edges of the card. It also includes a clear, hard-shell case for added protection, but doesn’t really detract too greatly from the subtle beauty of the precision-machining.
The tangible nature of the card along with it’s handsome stainless steel construction (a 24K gold-platted version also available) not only bridges the gap between the physical and the ethereal but also provides greater peace of mind with regards to secure storage. A flimsy self-printed paper wallet is easily swept away as trash without a second thought or victim to the elements of everyday life, given its fragility. The Ballet Wallet, in contrast, announces itself with a presence that can’t be ignored: “I am REAL. I am REAL and I EXIST with PURPOSE.”
Don’t Trust. Verify.
Ballet Wallet certainly is a trail-blazing product as it utilizes an industry-first 2-Factor Key Generation (2FKG) process that is BIP38 compatible. This is done to securely separate components of the encryption process, during manufacturing to mitigate any potential trust issues related to the key generation process. Users can even verify the authenticity of the card by entering the receiving address here.
The website goes into great detail about the painstaking process employed to ensure the security of the card is not compromised anywhere along it’s assembly path which, ambitiously, is separated by thousands of miles and a literal ocean! I bet the air-gapped PCs of the Crypto Intelligentsia sit mere feet away from their internet-connected devices. More technical details available.
It should be noted, at this point, that no 3rd party solution exists today that is 100% secure from all threats either malicious or the result of user error. For this reason, you should always weigh potential risks against the threat model you feel is relevant to your personal situation. Perfect security is often touted as the ideal, however, it’s not financially sound to invest, say, $10,000 on security to protect a mere $100. This is all to say: every situation is different and you are the best judge of the amount of risk you wish to tolerate for the intended use-case.
Ballet Wallet offers a companion mobile app that allows the user to scan a card and view balances/top-up. However, in order to spend you will need to reveal the private key under the sticker along with scratching off the exterior coating to reveal the wallet passphrase. You can then use these 2 pieces of information to access the funds within the Ballet Wallet companion app or any BIP38 compatible wallet. It should be noted that once this is done, the card is now in a tamper-evident state (which is a security feature) and no longer useful for physical transactions where one might hand the card itself over to a merchant in commerce.
Design Affordances for REAL People
The concept of affordances in design, popularized by Don Norman, is the articulation of an object’s properties, like the handle on a tea cup, that show the possible actions users can take with it, thereby suggesting how they may interact with that object. The Ballet Wallet offers the requisite affordances that novices, accustomed to tangible goods, require as the stepping stone into the deep waters of cryptocurrency… without drowning.
Is this product the right fit for everyone? Perhaps not. Advanced users are capable of securely generating private keys and storing them, though they too may still appreciate the Ballet Wallet for its ornamental qualities, like a cherished keepsake or gifted to a loved one with a budding curiosity for crypto. I think the Ballet Wallet is well-suited for novice to intermediate users that, not only have an eye for aesthetic beauty but, are in need of secure key generation without having to worry that their computer might be compromised.
Stealing Fire from the Gods
Much like Prometheus, who brought enlightenment to man, by stealing fire from the gods, Ballet Wallet could be that very spark that ignites the passion for crypto ablaze on a grand scale. Ballet Wallet is not, necessarily, aimed at the Crypto Intelligentsia who squawk away mindlessly about the threats of paper tigers while ignoring the most likely cause of lost funds: needless complexity that often leads to user confusion and loss. Ballet Wallet is focused on fostering mass adoption globally, by making crypto easy for REAL people. I find that the ‘REAL BITCOIN’ moniker that adorns the front of the card is, actually, quite fitting: Ballet Wallet secures REAL BITCOIN for REAL PEOPLE! As esteemed founder, Bobby Lee, has said, “Mass adoption of crypto relies on simplifying the steps required for average users.”
Find out more about Ballet Wallet and order your own at BalletCrypto.com.
You can follow me: I’m @mikeinspace on Twitter. If you’d like me to review your product, please get in touch!