Unlocking the Power of Bitcoin Multisig: A Comprehensive Guide

From Singlesig to Multisig: A Comprehensive Guide to Enhanced Security and Collaboration

Maxi Rosson
The Bitcoin Hole
Published in
9 min readMar 22


Bitcoin has gained widespread recognition as a revolutionary digital currency and store of value, offering users a secure and decentralized way to manage their finances. However, despite its many advantages, Bitcoin also faces certain security challenges, primarily related to the safekeeping of private keys. One solution to address these concerns is the implementation of multisig, a technology that enhances the security and flexibility of Bitcoin transactions by requiring multiple signatures for authorization. In this article, we will explore the concept of Bitcoin multisig, its benefits, use cases, and steps to set up a multisig wallet, ultimately providing a comprehensive guide to this powerful technology.

Understanding Bitcoin Multisig

Multisig, short for multi-signature, is a Bitcoin feature that requires multiple private keys to authorize a transaction, rather than the single private key used in standard Bitcoin wallets. A multisig wallet is created by specifying a certain number of signatures (m) that must be provided from a predetermined group of private keys (n), where m is less than or equal to n. This configuration is typically represented as an “m-of-n” multisig wallet. Bitcoin multi-sig allows having up to 15 possible signers to approve any transaction.

For example, a 2-of-3 multisig wallet would require at least two out of three private keys to authorize a transaction. This setup allows for a more secure and flexible control of funds, as no single party can unilaterally spend the bitcoins held in the wallet.

Benefits of using Multisig

Enhanced Security

One of the main advantages of multisig is the increased security it provides. By requiring multiple signatures to authorize a transaction, multisig wallets make it significantly more difficult for an attacker to steal funds, as they would need to compromise multiple private keys simultaneously. This added layer of security is precious for organizations and high-value individuals who hackers or other malicious actors may target. Employing multisig technology allows for the utilization of geographically dispersed hardware and software, effectively eliminating single points of failure. Since multiple keys are necessary to initiate transactions, concerns about individual incidents (such as accidental spills, fraudulent activities by bank personnel, or firmware updates) leading to a loss of your digital assets are significantly reduced. This approach provides an added layer of protection and peace of mind when managing your cryptocurrency holdings.

While hardware wallets offer valuable security benefits, they are not infallible. Past instances have revealed vulnerabilities in these devices, and it is possible that future weaknesses may be discovered. Utilizing a single hardware wallet may expose your private keys to potential theft if the device is lost or compromised. Furthermore, remote access vulnerabilities could potentially be exploited. To mitigate these risks, it is advisable to employ hardware wallets from multiple manufacturers. This approach combines the convenience of using hardware wallets with the added security of ensuring that a vulnerability in one device does not jeopardize your entire wallet.

Access Control and Collaboration

Multisig wallets enable organizations and groups to manage their Bitcoin holdings collectively, with multiple parties required to authorize transactions. This can be useful for businesses, non-profits, or other groups that need to establish a system of checks and balances, ensuring that no single member can unilaterally control the funds.

Disaster Recovery

Multisig wallets can also serve as a form of disaster recovery, protecting users from losing a single private key. In the case of a lost or compromised key, the remaining keyholders can still access the funds and move them to a new wallet, ensuring that the bitcoins are not lost forever.

Escrow Services

Multisig wallets can be used to facilitate trustless escrow transactions between parties who may not trust each other. By requiring an independent third party to act as one of the keyholders, multisig can ensure that funds are only released once all parties have agreed to the terms of the transaction.

Use Cases for Multisig

Businesses and Organizations

Companies that hold Bitcoin as part of their treasury can benefit from multisig wallets by distributing control of funds among multiple employees or departments. This can help prevent embezzlement or other forms of internal fraud while also ensuring that funds can be accessed in the event of an emergency or key personnel change.

Collaborative custody

Partially share key control of your assets with a collaborative custody partner (like Unchained or Casa) to help with securing your bitcoin.

Family Wealth Management

Families can use multisig wallets to manage their Bitcoin holdings collectively, requiring consensus among family members for transactions. This can help prevent disputes over the management of funds and ensure that all family members have a say in important financial decisions.

Estate Planning

Individuals can use multisig wallets as part of their estate planning strategy, ensuring that their heirs can access their Bitcoin holdings in the event of their death. By distributing private keys among trusted family members or professional advisors, individuals can create a secure and resilient plan for the transfer of their digital assets. You can read more about this topic in the following article:

Trustless Escrow Services

As mentioned earlier, multisig wallets can facilitate trustless escrow transactions between parties who may not trust each other. By requiring a neutral third party to act as one of the keyholders, multisig can ensure that funds are only released once all parties have agreed to the terms of the transaction, minimizing the risk of fraud or disputes.

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)

Multisig wallets can be used by Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) to manage their funds collectively. This can help foster a more democratic and transparent decision-making process within the organization, with multiple members required to authorize transactions and fund allocation.

Trade-offs of bitcoin multisig vs. singlesig

Multisig does come with a set of trade-offs, and these can vary depending on the multisig setup:


Although the setup process has become more streamlined, configuring and transacting with a multisig wallet inherently involves slightly greater complexity compared to a singlesig wallet.

Ease of backup

In the case of a singlesig wallet, the responsibility of securing a single key (which refers to a device containing your key, such as a hardware wallet or smartphone) and one seed phrase backup is sufficient. However, with multisig, the need to safeguard one device and corresponding seed phrase for each device arises, thus expanding the scope of items you must protect and manage responsibly.

Availability of access

When utilizing a multisig setup that necessitates multiple keys for authorizing a transaction, and if those keys are geographically dispersed, the accessibility of your funds may be reduced. As the number of required keys increases, so does the need to travel to various locations in order to facilitate a payment.

Cost of transactions

Initiating a payment on the Bitcoin network requires paying a transaction fee, which fluctuates based on the transaction’s data size and the demand for Bitcoin block space. Generally, multisig payments occupy more block space compared to singlesig payments. As the number of keys associated with your multisig wallet increases, so does the data required for executing the transaction.

Setting Up a Bitcoin Multisig Wallet

Creating a multisig wallet involves several steps, which may vary depending on the wallet software or service being used. However, the general process can be summarized as follows:

1. Choose a Wallet:

The first step is to select a Bitcoin wallet that supports multisig functionality. When choosing a wallet, consider factors such as ease of use, security features, and compatibility with the devices you plan to use.

You can find the best hardware wallets with multi-sig support in this website:

2. Configure the Multisig Wallet

Once you have selected a wallet, the next step is to configure the multisig settings. This typically involves specifying the number of signatures required (m) and the total number of private keys (n) that will be part of the wallet. Remember that m should be less than or equal to n.

3. Generate and Distribute Private Keys

After configuring the wallet, generate the private keys and distribute them among the designated keyholders. It is essential to securely store these keys, as they will be required to authorize transactions. On the following article you will find some tips:

4. Test the Wallet

Before depositing any funds into the multisig wallet, it is a good idea to perform a test transaction to ensure that the wallet is functioning correctly. This can help identify any configuration issues or technical problems that may need to be addressed before using the wallet for real transactions.

5. Deposit and Manage Funds

Once the wallet has been tested and verified, you can begin depositing and managing funds using the multisig wallet. Remember that each transaction will require the specified number of signatures (m) to be authorized, so ensure that all keyholders are aware of their responsibilities and are available when needed.

In this video, you can see how to do the setup using the nunchuck wallet.

In this one, with Sparrow wallet:

Multisig wallet configuration file

The BSMS (“Bitcoin Secure Multisig Setup”) file contains key details that describe how the wallet was constructed. In other words, it contains information that tells your wallet software how to find your multi-signature addresses. It contains the directions from your seed to your private and public keys, as well as basic information about your multisig setup like the address type, network, and quorum.

Configuration file backup

In the case of a standard singlesig wallet, backing up your private key is sufficient. However, with multisig, both your private keys and the config file must be backed up. This precaution guarantees that, should the multisig software become unavailable, you can utilize the configuration file and your keys to generate, sign, and transmit a Bitcoin transaction through an alternative tool.

If an unauthorized individual gains access to your config file, they will be unable to steal your funds; however, they could access private information regarding your Bitcoin balances and transaction history. To prevent this, is recommended encrypting the file and making it available across multiple locations, such as by using a password manager. Some good Password Manager alternatives:


Bitcoin multisig is a powerful technology that offers enhanced security, access control, and flexibility for managing digital assets. By requiring multiple signatures for transaction authorization, multisig wallets can help protect funds from theft, facilitate collaboration among groups, and serve as a form of disaster recovery. With numerous practical use cases, including business treasury management, family wealth management, estate planning, trustless escrow services, and decentralized autonomous organizations, multisig wallets have the potential to revolutionize the way individuals and organizations interact with their Bitcoin holdings.

By understanding the benefits and use cases of multisig wallets, users can leverage this technology to safeguard their digital assets, collaborate more effectively, and gain greater control over their financial future. As the Bitcoin ecosystem continues to mature and evolve, multisig wallets are poised to play an increasingly important role in the secure and efficient management of digital assets.

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Maxi Rosson
The Bitcoin Hole

I write about Bitcoin, Productivity tools & ideas for Android, Kotlin & Gradle developers | ⚡️maxirosson@getalby.com