We launched ChainFront in October of last year to solve one of the largest usability issues for end users of crypto: how to deal with private keys. Expecting mainstream consumers to keep a written backup of either a 36 character hexadecimal string or a 12 word passphrase always struck us as unrealistic. ChainFront is an API-as-a-Service (see API docs here) that provides account creation, multi-sig transaction signing, integrated out of the box with several multi-factor authentication techniques. ChainFront currently works with the Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Stellar networks. Essentially ChainFront provides any developer the ability to create a Coinbase-like experience for their end users. You can learn more about ChainFront’s security and architecture here.
Today, we’re announcing that we’ve moved the ChainFront project to open-source — available on GitHub here. The need to solve the user-experience problem continues to exist; and our hope is moving ChainFront to open source will accelerate deployment of a solution for the industry. We’ve open sourced our REST APIs and HashiCorp Vault transaction signing plug-ins for others to use and learn from. Please contact us (at info -at- chainfront.io) if you’d like to learn more — specifically, we have a full technology stack to enable you to operate this as a SaaS offering, including tenant and customer administration.
There continues to be innovation against this problem. ZenGo released a “keyless” wallet (available as a mobile app) based on threshold signatures (TSS). A private key is never generated or used, but instead two “mathematical secrets shares” are created: one on ZenGo servers and one on device. Both are required to execute a transaction. ZenGo’s clever approach uses facial identification technology to enable easy recovery in case of a lost phone. Because of their approach, they private keys are never generated and therefore actually “stored” in any state, anywhere.
Keevo Wallet also has an innovative approach. Rather than rely on any cloud services at all, Keevo Wallet is a hardware device that also includes a Carbon Key backup device. Rather than a user worrying about passphrases, the Carbon Key serves as the backup. And the Carbon Key itself can be backed up and stored at a remote location for a fee. In any case, executing a transaction on Keevo requires three of the following four factors: fingerprint, PIN (6–12 alphanumeric), possession of Keevo Wallet, or possession of Carbon Key. Keevo is the first and only (as far as we know) beneficiary service that allows transfer of assets without requiring to share private information before death.
Ultimately, it is our contention that Coinbase has in fact demonstrated the right approach to driving mainstream usage — require multi-factor authentication (username, password, and device) as every other secure application. ChainFront enables any developer to access this technology to provide a great user experience.