Bitcoins increasingly protected by security printing
There’s a new trend amongst users of bitcoins – the digital currency and payment system – to use paper wallets protected by security print. Increasingly the currency is being taken offline and protected by security printing methods more commonly seen on paper documents such as money, cheques and certificates.
Although bitcoins are a digital currency, many people who own bitcoins now prefer to keep them safe by using paper bitcoin wallets. Due to the growth in people wanting a non-virtual way to store and protect bitcoins, a number of paper wallet systems are now available.
A paper wallet adds additional security to the online money system, as they allow storage of bitcoins offline. Originally, bitcoin wallets were only able to be stored as files online, meaning they were targets for cyber theft. If a hacker was able to gain access to the wallet, it was easy to steal the currency. All bitcoin wallets are identified by a private key, so paper wallets, also called “cold storage”, allow the private key to be kept offline, away from the risk of hackers.
A variety of different paper wallet systems are available, with differing levels of security for the private key. Firms that provide the wallets are starting to see the benefit of security printing solutions to keep the bitcoins safe. Mycelium, a bitcoin paper wallet company based in Austria, are offering paper wallets which use a printed QR code to access the private bitcoin key. As the paper wallets contain the private key, they also allow bitcoins to be traded offline, effectively allowing the online currency to be used entirely offline.
It will be interesting to see if bitcoin users continue to use paper and adopt security printing technologies. We will be looking out for usage of security inks, security paper and tamper-evident holograms for the currency.