Following our recent review of the KEEVO hardware wallet, we reached out to the team to find out more about the project. These are the details of an exclusive interview they granted to us.
WSH: Let’s start from the beginning. What is the driving force behind the development of Keevo and how long has the product been in development?
KEEVO: We’re a group of experienced blockchain developers, security professionals and crypto investors and enthusiasts. Some of us started mining Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as early as 2014. Others have been investing in various startups. Our engineers, industrial and product designers, product managers, operations and business teams have known each other and worked together for years on various endeavors including an enterprise blockchain trading platform for a large networking company and several DApps and other ventures. Together, we have over 100 years of cumulative experience working for companies such as Google, Amazon, Cisco, Texas Instruments, Nike, FitBit, Boston Scientific, eBay, Yahoo, Altavista, Apptera and more.
As pioneers, we’re all passionate about the disruptive power of cryptocurrencies that enable users to securely own and easily transfer their self-sovereign digital stores of value anonymously and without the need for any 3rd party intermediary like a bank or central government. And, while cryptocurrencies are just the first use-case to have gained some measure of adoption, we see tremendous potential in applying blockchain technology’s ability to securely digitize and provide incentives to validate transactions and manage decentralized digital identities in many other applications and industries.
That said, we’ve been frustrated by the forced compromise we believe currently exists between security and convenience. We’re on a mission to break that compromise as we believe doing so will help cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms gain mass adoption.
So, what do we mean by this forced compromise? On one hand, online exchanges and software wallets are very convenient because users can access them from almost anywhere and any device with an internet connection. But in order to gain that ease of use, users have to give up their privacy and entrust a third-party intermediary to keep their private keys and account information secure. In doing so, it’s really no different than almost any other centralized solution today with fiat currencies, stocks and other assets. Unfortunately, and all-too frequently, these centralized “honey pots” have been subject to hacks and attacks. Whether it’s Mount Gox back in 2014, Coincheck last year or the attempt just recently on one of the largest exchanges, Binance, it seems no online exchange or software wallets are safe. As Kate Rooney recently reported in CNBC,”Over $1.1 billion in cryptocurrency has been stolen [in the first half of 2018] and it was apparently easy to do.”
On the other hand, hardware wallets offer users a more secure solution, but they’re much less convenient. And, are they really safer? Based on all the wallets we’ve used, we don’t think so. First, almost every hardware wallets come with the risk of failure or loss. And, in most cases, those are single points of failure that are unrecoverable. As a result, almost every hardware wallet on the market suggests that its users write down and store a seed phrase, 12-24 random words in a particular order, on a piece of paper. This is not only incredibly inconvenient, but it’s also incredibly insecure. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Just think about it. You spend all this money on a hardware technology that’s supposed to keep your private keys safe and secure, but then, you then have to rely upon a piece of paper as a backup. How can that be safe? It’s certainly not convenient. Some hodl’ers have resorted to storing their seed phrases in metal cases like Billfodl, ColdTi, Cryptosteel, Crypto Key Stack. Others have developed elaborate systems to split apart their seed phrases into different online and offline safes or store their paper copies in tamper-proof, fire-resistant bags in traditional bank safety deposit boxes or home safes.
We thought: there has to be a better way.
WSH: What inspired the design of the Keevo wallet. Can you highlight some of its edge-cutting features?
KEEVO: Kevin Bethune is one of the world’s pre-eminent industrial designers. He’s also a good friend, a crypto enthusiast, and Keevo team member and contributor. Together, we set out with Kevin to design the world’s most secure and easy to use digital vault to manage your decentralized identity and virtual assets. We also wanted to create an unrivaled premium product that was worthy of your virtual assets.
Keevo’s premium design embodies a trapezoidal geometry and form factor that takes inspirations from a precious bar of metal similar to a gold or platinum ingot. For convenience and ease of use, the front facade of the Keevo digital vault has the same proportions as a bank’s credit card for convenient transportation and mobility. The weight-in-hand reinforces the premium nature of the device and the team’s focus on quality. Keevo’s front case is a molded and CNC machined aluminum-alloy enclosure with a glass bead-blasted finish which is highly attractive, incredibly durable and secure, smudge-proof, light-weight and convenient. The back enclosure is molded from glass-fiber reinforced ABS plastic with a rubberized texture applique, to feel great in the hand and to appropriately diminish blemishes from the occasional bump and scrape. The full enclosure is then laser sealed with a 2-stage adhesive and IP65 Ingress Protection for water and dust-tight everyday use and to protect the integrity of the internal components from fire or any tampering or dis-assembly.
We have several other key features which deliver convenience and ease-of-use. First, unlike many of the smaller, USB-style hardware wallets, Keevo’s premium display is a 2.8-inch color touch-screen which is carved into the facade at a slant to provide an attractive and dynamic canvas for on-screen information, confirmations and entries. Lively and intuitive colors and the capacitive touch screen user interface allow for ease of use and convenience. The lithium-ion polymer rechargeable battery
Ultimate convenience and ease of untethered use for up to a month of typical use and fast re-charging.
For a limited time and just for our first customers who pre-order Keevo, we will also include a numbered, limited-edition permanent case for users to store their Keevo Digital Vault, power cord and connectors. The case features alcantara lined storage areas for the Keevo Device, Carbon Key and USB-C cable, as well as additional room for other small devices that help you manage and securely store your digital assets (e.g. smaller keys, flash drives, etc.). This case is constructed with a rigid, textured housing and full-grain leather cover that snaps into place with the assistance of embedded magnets. Launch customers also have the opportunity to receive a case with a custom engraved name plate with the inscribed number identifying the user’s unique Keevo device number as it comes off the production line.
With all these features and our customer obsession, we’re confident in saying that we believe no other hardware or software wallet even comes close to measuring up.
WSH: There is no arguing the fact that the crypto community is weary of incessant hacks; from Coincheck to Cryptopia, and the attempt on Binance. Hardware wallets are not exempted from these attacks and some have been vulnerable in the past. How does Keevo protect its users from possible security breaches? Secondly, in the event of a security breach, are there any secondary measures to ensure that customers do not lose their assets?
KEEVO: We believe Keevo is THE most secure hardware wallet ever. While there is never a 100% failure-proof system, we believe that Keevo offers a quantum leap in security and is also future-proofed with unrivaled support to ensure that customers do not lose their assets.
At the heart of Keevo’s game-changing secure, convenient and flexible solution is our patent-pending Multi-Factor / Multi-Sig Authentication system (MF/MSA). This security system is totally new-to-world. MF/MSA enables the Keevo Wallet to offer the only quadruple factor authentication (“4FA”) solution in the market. In addition to two standard factors which include the Keevo Wallet itself (“something a user has”) and a strong password or PIN (“something the user knows”), the Keevo digital vault also employs two other factors to encrypt and decrypt private keys. The third factor is a user’s fingerprint (“something which is unique to you”); Keevo’s first-in-class biometric sensor securely analyzes and cryptographically stores your fingerprint information and uses it to access another private key which is required to restore your master key. The fourth factor in our 4FA system is the Keevo Carbon Key(TM) (“something you store”). This is a separate device which has its own unique and randomly generated sub-key along with a secure memory unit where users can store their other encrypted private sub keys. And, all electronic information transfer between the Keevo Wallet and Carbon Key(TM) is facilitated through custom contacts and encrypted communication protocols.
Each factor has a unique signature and restoring the master key requires at least 3 out of 4 signatures. All private keys are safely isolated inside the Keevo device’s secure element (CC EAL5+ certified) and private keys never leave the Keevo device or are cloud synchronized/ communicated via internet or stored in any database off the device. All transactions are authenticated and signed only on the device itself. Keevo does not have access to and never stores any private keys. Even the encrypted information on the Keevo Carbon Key(TM) memory device which Keevo may store can’t be hacked as you would still need the user’s fingerprint and PIN to decrypt any keys.
For daily use, it’s very convenient to use your Keevo, your finger print and your PIN to sign a transaction. However, and in the case where someone steals your Keevo wallet, they would need to also have BOTH your strong PIN and your fingerprint in order to restore your master key and access your digital assets. But in the case that you lose your Keevo, you can still easily restore your private keys and access your digital assets. In this case, all you would need to do is get a replacement Keevo and along with your Carbon Key(TM) your PIN and fingerprint, you could restore your master Private Key. As such, Keevo’s MF/MSA and Carbon Key(TM) are also the only solution we know of that does not require a paper seed phrase to restore broken/stolen/lost devices. We call this, “Paperless” Recovery” and its core to our unique security proposition. This entirely eliminates the anxiety and hassle of handling the most insecure — and inconvenient — aspect of other hardware wallets: the piece of paper.
In addition to Keevo’s MF/MSA system, we have also designed in several state-of-the-art technological improvements to deliver unmatched security and privacy while still offering a very easy-to-use solution. Our dual chip architecture includes two triple-core secure processors for performance and security. These two separate and embedded high-end security micro control units from leading microprocessor suppliers are the same MCUs used to secure passports and credit cards. With this dual chip architecture, your private keys and encrypted signature sub-keys are completely segregated and never leave the Keevo device. This architecture also enables the Keevo hardware wallet with substantial secure memory and the ability to provide extensive cryptographic support for concurrent usages of nearly all crypto-currencies And, we’ve integrated both one-way and mutual authentication secure U2F encrypted end-to-end communication between software and hardware wallet components over USB and BLE.
Last, but not least, we’ve also built in several threat detection, anti-tampering and anti-malware defensive solutions. These include both hardware and software multi-model tamper detection system using light, vibration & filaments with dedicated power supply and content purge/locked down protocols. And, all components and peripherals have been laser etched and/or embedded to protect against intrusions.
WSH: Can you shed some light on the benefits attached to the 1-year of free premium services from Keevo and how a participant can qualify?
KEEVO: Membership in the Keevo Premium Plus service will cost $9.99 per month and offers users several benefits. Readers and early subscribers can win a free year of Keevo Premium Plus service by participating in our program. The deadline for completing this is coming up soon, so sign up now. Other customers who purchase Keevo’s Premium Plus membership later will pay $9.99 per month. With Keevo’s Premium Plus service, members can access 5 valuable benefits.
First, we’ll store member’s Carbon Keys(TM) in a Premium Plus vault in one of our enterprise-grade, geo-dispersed storage facilities. This allows for redundant storage with full end-to-end, private chain-of-custody for their encrypted sub-keys. Given the security protocols and encryption of the data on the Keevo Carbon Key(TM), even if someone were able to access the data, there’s nothing we — or anyone else — can do with it. The user still has 100% privacy and unique control of their information. Those encrypted sub-keys can only restore the user’s master Private Key if combined with at least two other signatures from two of their three other factors (e.g., the member’s strong PIN, fingerprint and/or Keevo Wallet). However and importantly, if something were to happen to one of those factors, we’d have you covered. All the member would need to do is initiate our restoration service and we’d send them their Carbon Key(TM) so they can restore their master Private Key by signing in with their other factors.
Second, members in Keevo’s Premium Plus service will be able to purchase a replacement Keevo wallet at a 50% discount, the same low initial price they received when purchasing their initial pre-order. In this case, if a user’s wallet is lost, stolen or damaged, they can initiate our restoration service and receive a new Keevo along with their Carbon Key(TM). This way and with their strong PIN and fingerprint, they can restore their master Private Key and access their crypto with their new Keevo wallet.
Third, Keevo Premium Plus members can also name a beneficiary (e.g., a spouse, significant other, parent, child or friend) and have them create a separate account and enter their strong PIN (which only they know) and their biometric information. The data for both of those beneficiary sub-keys will also be encrypted and stored on a user’s Carbon Key(TM) which we will store for them in one of our Premium Plus vaults. In the unfortunate case of a member’s death, a beneficiary can authenticate themselves with Keevo to access their account, provide valid proof of the member’s death with an original, apostilled death certificate and request that we send them the member’s Carbon Key(TM) to the recovery address associated with their beneficiary account. Beneficiaries could also purchase a replacement Keevo Wallet at a 50% discount. In this case — and without ever having to gain access to the member’s private account information, PIN or fingerprint — they can restore the master Private Key and gain access to the digital assets.
Fourth, Keevo Premium Plus members will also get a unique crypto key installed on their Keevo. With this key, members will gain unique access and meaningful discounts on future Keevo products and services. We have a lot of new products and platform services on our roadmap, including …:
- Unique access to cyrpto exchanges with discounted fees
- Exclusive ability to invest in select crypto hedge funds like TradeTerminal and other investment or algorithmic trading accounts which users couldn’t otherwise access as a small, private investor
- Insurance plans for crypto stored with your Keevo
- Private Keevo community chat and investment tools
- Secure, self-sovereign Keevo Password Manager
- Keevotary notary verification services
- Keevo estate planning services
- Additional Keevo Carbon Keys(TM) and storage for redundant recovery
- Exclusive access to future Keevo products.
- Pre-loaded Keevo Gift Keys
- Member to member crypto loans
- One click staking as a service
- Exclusive early access to new DApps for additional digital assets and crypto services (e.g., secure encrypted document storage for important digital assets like real estate titles, loan documents, medical records, …)
- And much more
Fifth, pre-order Keevo Premium Plus members will also get grand-fathered in with a price guarantee that ensures their Premium Plus renewal fees won’t increase, even as we continue to add additional products and potential service tiers. As our initial flagship and launch members, we will always give them access to the best-of-the-best at their discounted pre-order price.
WSH: One of the proprietary features of the Keevo wallet is the introduction of the “crypto beneficiary service”. Is this service restricted to only one beneficiary per device?
KEEVO: Yes – at this time our native beneficiary service is limited to one named beneficiary per member. Members can access their Carbon Keys(TM) and change their named beneficiary, but they can only have one beneficiary at a time. And as per above, we do have on our roadmap the ability to have more than one beneficiary at a time, but we won’t have this at launch.
WSH: What is the big picture for Keevo? Where do you see the project in 5-10 years from now?
KEEVO: The Keevo wallet is just one piece of the platform ecosystem we are planning to develop and the broad range of products and services we will add to the Keevo Plus membership. Carbon KeyTM storage and our beneficiary functions are only the first of many features that will be added to Keevo Plus in the future.
It is difficult to predict how and in which direction the market will evolve in the next 5-10 years. Will the speed of transaction validation increase to a level where cryptocurrencies can be used as a source for low value/high frequency e-payments or will they stay more as a stored value investment vehicle for HODLers? Depending on the market evolution and what our members tell us they want most, we plan to prioritize and roll out these additional solutions.
Keevo’s mission however will stay true: we will continue to build a platform that allows members the ability to have self-sovereign control and complete privacy over their digital life in a way that offers the best security and the easiest usability. The way we look at it, the initial Keevo hardware wallet represents a member’s digital vault and savings account. It’s your personal Fort Knox or Swiss Bank Account that you can put in your pocket, use to manage your private digital identity and store your most valuable virtual assets and data. Regardless of how the market evolves, our ecosystem will evolve to fulfill that mission.