Annual grassroots holiday “proof of keys” was established in 2019 by bitcoin entrepreneur trace meyer to encourage people to take full ownership of their assets and withdraw their bitcoin from exchanges and other third-party services. rodolfo novak, ceo and co-founder of coinkite, foundation, and self-custody startup casa, as well as justine harper, vp of business development at unchained, luke dashjr, a veteran bitcoin core developer, and jonas schnelli, former bitcoin core contributor and maintainer, were all involved in the event.
Holiday was held on the date of bitcoin’s “genesis block,” or the first bitcoin block ever mined, back in 2009. during the event, hardware startups foundation and self-custody startup casa hosted twitter spaces with tips on how to securely store funds. decrypt also created a guide to help others learn the basics of securely self-custody bitcoin.
Philosophy behind the holiday was “not your keys, not your coins,” to emphasize that leaving bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) on exchanges means trusting the exchange and not taking full control of one’s funds. novak recommended using hardware wallets like his company’s coldcard as a secure way to store funds. he cautioned against storing seed phrases in the cloud, warning that user error and overcomplicating things were two of the main causes for people losing funds when self-custodying. harper echoed this sentiment, citing an example of a user attempting to set up a more complicated self-custody mechanism after reading something on twitter, only to end up getting their funds lost. dashjr’s experience has revealed the importance of security best practices when it comes to self-custody of bitcoin. schnelli emphasized the need for simplicity, saying, “kiss your keys.” generally, hardware wallets are the industry standard, since they are isolated from the internet and less vulnerable to hacks. losing the keys essentially means losing the bitcoin forever.