Proof of Keys: Do You Really ‘Own’ Your Crypto?
"Proof of Keys" is a new Bitcoin "cultural tradition" promoted by Trace Mayer, the host of the Bitcoin Knowledge podcast. The basic idea is that every year, on Bitcoin's birthday, 3rd of January, Bitcoin HODLers celebrate the creation of the Genesis Block by "demanding and taking possession of all bitcoins held by trusted third parties on their behalf" and moving them to "wallets they control that perform network consensus."
Mayer introduced the Proof of Keys initiative on 8 December 2018 via the following tweet:
Let's start a new #Bitcoin cultural tradition.— Trace Mayer [Jan/3➞₿🔑∎] (@TraceMayer) December 9, 2018
An annual Proof of Keys Celebration on Jan 3rd to declare monetary sovereignty by withdrawing all $BTC held w/ trusted 3rd parties to software we control private keys & do network consensus.
Who is w/ me? 💪 https://t.co/sJhOYSjStH pic.twitter.com/ve9DBsQhh9
The original idea for Proof of Keys came from the following post, made last month, by Reddit user "sotashi" on the "/Bitcoin" subreddit:
"The time has come for us to test what we have created. Trust in numbers yet we trust in exchanges, in people, in corporations. On the 3rd of January 2019, 10 years on, let us all withdraw our BTC to wallets we control. Let's see if it is all there, let us see who fails, let us see the network work. We lose nothing, we risk nothing, those companies and exchanges that cannot be trusted will be exposed. We must assert control, we must prove this is ours. We need a time to coordinate, 16:00 UTC 03/Jan/2019 is as good as any other. By this hour let us have concluded our transactions and hold our coins in our wallets. 04/Jan/2019 we return to business as usual, with renewed confidence."
Mayer immediately liked the idea and made the following reply (from the "Bitcoin Knowledge" account):
"Awesome idea. Made a Proof of Keys [website] to help spread the word about it."
Maye's inspiration for the name "Proof of Keys" came from the title of Reddit user "sotashi"'s post, which was "03/Jan/2019 Proof of Trust Event", and Andreas Antonopoulos' famous slogan "Your keys, your Bitcoin. Not your keys, not your Bitcoin".
He calls this annual celebration the "ultimate stress test":
"This simple exercise costs little, perhaps a few transaction fees, yet proves possession and strengthens network consensus. Companies and exchanges must prove their trustworthiness and consensus."
Examples of prominent members of the crypto community supporting Proof of Keys include Max Keiser, Nick Czabo, Caitlin Long, and Balaji S. Srinivasan (Coinbase CTO). Here is a tweet in support of this event by Srinivasan:
Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of Bitcoin's Genesis Block. On that day, many will be doing #ProofOfKeys, which means sending your crypto from an exchange to a local wallet (and back, if you want). Learning how to do this will teach you about private keys & monetary sovereignty.— Balaji S. Srinivasan [Jan/3 🔑] (@balajis) January 2, 2019
Srinivasan then explained to Coinbase users what they needed to do:
1) For ETH, ETC, BAT, ZRX, and other ERC20 tokens you can send to Coinbase Wallet (https://t.co/GWUBhTwtsA)— Balaji S. Srinivasan [Jan/3 🔑] (@balajis) January 2, 2019
2) For BTC, BCH, LTC, ZEC you'll need another wallet (we're adding support, but not by Jan 3)
See also here:https://t.co/kMu7UUYttc
And here: https://t.co/KhTVAzLM3V
And here is a tweet made yesterday by Cailin Long to remind people about this event:
Tomorrow is #ProofOfKeys-Jan 3 on 10th anniv of #Bitcoin’s genesis block. If someone else has your priv keys do you know if your #BTC is really there? No. Declare your monetary sovereignty by holding your private keys #notyourkeysnotyourbitcoin @TraceMayer https://t.co/TYk73D0x2W— Caitlin Long [Jan/3➞₿🔑∎] (@CaitlinLong_) January 2, 2019
Finally, please note that although Proof of Keys is celebrated on January 3rd, the idea of testing that you really own your crypto applies to all cryptocurrencies that you may be HODLing and not just Bitcoin.
For instance, here is an explanation of the purpose of Proof of Keys by Tiffany Hayden, perhaps the most famous member of the XRP community on Twitter:
It’s an attempt to keep exchanges honest. Since they don’t provide transparency, there is no way to know if they are storing what they are supposed to other than by having everybody try and remove their keys in a coordinated effort.— Tiffany Hayden (@haydentiff) December 30, 2018
And here is Hayden explaining the risks associated with centralized crypto exchanges:
I don’t think newcomers understand the risks associated with exchanges. If you haven’t personally witnessed somebody lose one million $XRP (Cryptsy) and not have any recourse and nobody else even cares (“you had it coming for leaving it on an exchange”), it’s difficult to grasp.— Tiffany Hayden (@haydentiff) January 2, 2019
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