While it is true that most Bitcoin early adopters were programmers and geeky guys being capable of understanding and accepting its core principles and technicalities. These days the range of crypto-users is so wide that it is possible to find all kind of people, including some who barely know their way through computers. For that reason, Bitcoin wallets pursue the feature of the simple easiness, to reach more normal population.
Online wallets are getting popular, but there are so many different alternatives out there. It is difficult to choose the most appropriate one based on our needs. Most people probably already know the “bigger” ones like Coinbase and Blockchain.info. We will review a less-popular, yet great wallet: Block.io in this article.
I got to know Block.io because it was portrayed in the Dogecoin.com site. Yes, this wallet not only supports Bitcoin but two other very popular coins: Litecoin and Dogecoin. The wallet supports both end-user’ and programmers’ requirements, having and giving free access from API and testnet addresses for the last ones. Block.io is a multisig wallet. I will focusing on three key aspects: security, withdrawals and, deposits in this review.
We can talk about security in two levels: Access to your account and to your funds. Besides your password, you can opt to receive an e-mail asking you to confirm the log in attempt. When this function is enabled, the email should be signed in from a different device. Otherwise you won’t be getting any extra security protection (imagine someone manages to deploy a key logger to your personal computer, that person will have access to both of your accounts). You can also control unauthorized accesses by setting IP restrictions. You can, for example, limit the access from any IP addresses in your country or the pool of IPs owned by your ISP.
Figure 1. Some of the security measures available on Block.io
The mechanism of multisig wallet is that any transaction needs to be signed by more than one key: one controlled by Block.io and the other by you. This, more or less, means that you have control over your funds, or at least that the site gets compromised any time, your funds will stay safe. Block.io uses about 8 character of PIN to get the withdrawals confirmed, which is completely under your control. When you create your PIN, you are given a mnemonic phrase, which must be written down and kept in a secure place since this is the only way to recover your PIN (and get back your funds) if you forget it.
Withdrawals are very straightforward: You input the destination address, specify the amount to be sent, input your PIN and choose the priority of the transaction. By default, the wallet sets the priority depending on the funds you are withdrawing (the more, the higher). The priority / fee relationships for each of the currencies available are listed below.
Figure 2. Withdrawal dialog
This wallet is not suitable for those who like generating a new address for every transaction: You can only create up to 100 different addresses with the free plan. If you need more than that for whatever reasons, you will have to pay for it. Getting unlimited addresses will cost you 949.99 USD per month. Near to every address there are 4 buttons: One to get a QR-code, one to see its transaction history, one to generate a forwarding address and an empty button for who knows what.
Figure 3. What you get for free.
Forwarding addresses are useful when you want to use a service that does not support multisig. Basically, you are asking Block.io to receive funds for you in one of their addresses and forward them to you at the cost of an additional network fee. You can request the private key of that address, but Block.io will always have access to it too since they need it to sign the forwarded transactions. Another interesting feature on this matter is the ability to drain coins from any address whose private key you know. The entire balance of that address minus the network fee will be moved to your Block.io wallet.