All your wallets, one backup
With the release of our latest update for Passport, we’ve empowered you to leverage your Passport for far more than just a cold storage wallet. The introduction of a new “Key Manager” extension enables two powerful new tools in child seeds and Nostr keys, both of which are derived directly from your Bitcoin seed on Passport and automatically backed up to microSD. All of your wallets under one backup.
As both of these features are entirely new to our products, we’ve set out in this blog post to explain how you can use them, detail some real world use-cases, and walk through how all of this is possible from a simple Bitcoin seed phrase.
BIP 85 done right
While the ability to create nearly infinite child wallets from a single master seed phrase has been around for a few years in BIP 85, the complicating factor has always been how to implement in a way that is intuitive and easy to use. In previous attempts at allowing users to generate child keys they’ve required manual index backups, had no ability to name the keys themselves to differentiate them, and have pushed the feature to only the most advanced Bitcoin users.
As one of our goals at Foundation is to bring Bitcoin self-custody down into the real-world and make it more approachable, we spent many hours working with our design team to make Key Manager accessible for even the least technical users. That work has culminated in an extension that takes one click to enable and then guides you through every aspect of key management, regardless of background or expertise.
Key Manager at a glance
Let’s get to the fun stuff — how does all of this actually play out when using Passport? All you have to do to unlock all of this new functionality in Passport is to enable the Key Manager extension from the settings menu. Just a few presses and you have a new card on your home screen that lets you create and manage BIP 85 child seeds and Nostr keys with a few clicks! View all your keys, distinguish them quickly by unique icons, and manage their names in seconds.
Once you have enabled Key Manager, creating a new key is incredibly straight forward. Simply navigate to the new Key Manager card on your home screen and select “New Key.” Choose how many words you want the seed to be and the new key is automatically saved via encrypted microSD backups. When you need to use the new child seed in another wallet, simply select “Export,” choose whichever format your favorite wallet supports, and import it. It’s that easy.
Using Key Manager in the real world
Still wondering how all of this can help you? Let’s walk through some real-world examples of ways that you can leverage child seeds to simplify and safeguard your Bitcoin journey. Once you’ve secured your Passport backup properly — either by encrypted microSD backups or manual seed backup — you can start creating child seeds for all kinds of uses without the additional headache of needing to back each of them up separately.
One of the most common and immediately useful ways to leverage child seeds is by using a child seed from Passport for your mobile wallet of choice. Simply turn on your Passport, navigate to the Key Manager page, create and name a new key, and then export as a QR or seed words and setup your mobile wallet. In just a few minutes you have a highly secure backup already in place for your new mobile wallet, but can spend easily and freely on the go. This makes pairing Passport with Envoy as a mobile wallet the best of both worlds.
Another common use-case for our more privacy-minded community is to use a child seed from Passport to create a hot wallet for mixing in Samourai Wallet or Sparrow Wallet. You can now easily keep those funds in your mixing wallet while you’re reclaiming your privacy without an additional seed to back up (or potentially lose). You can even leverage Sparrow Wallet to mix from that new child seed directly to Passport using our Postmix extension, bringing privacy to your cold storage without all of the normal headaches. Privacy meets peace of mind.
Lastly, child seeds present an incredible way for those who are more knowledgeable and further along in their Bitcoin journey to help back up funds of close family and friends while they’re learning the ropes. You can generate child seeds for your parents, your kids, or your friends who are new to Bitcoin to help get them started while reducing the risk of them losing precious sats. While this does give you access to their bitcoin, it’s a great temporary tool while they get comfortable using Bitcoin.
But wait, there’s more!
That’s not all that the Key Manager extension enables, though! We’ve also been building out full Nostr key support as a part of the extension, allowing you to leverage the power of child keys to create Nostr keys directly from your Bitcoin seed on Passport. One master backup with Passport and all your Nostr keys are safe and secure.
When you want to create that new Nostr key, it’s as easy as navigating to the new Key Manager card, selecting “New Key,” choosing the “Nostr” option, and then naming it as you see fit. Whenever you want to login to a Nostr client, simply export the new key to QR and scan it from your favorite client (Amethyst currently supports this) or export to microSD as a text file and copy paste if necessary. No more worrying about losing your Nostr key.
While it’s not live in this release, we’ve also been hard at work implementing delegated key signing a la NIP-26 into Passport. This new approach to key management means that you can leverage a child key to sign-in and use Nostr without ever exposing your master Nostr key to the world. This standard and implementation are still in their infancy, but we’re excited to help grow the ways that our users can leverage Passport to empower their freedom in areas outside of Bitcoin alone. We’re thankful for all those working on freedom tech more broadly and we can’t wait to get delegated key signing in your hands shortly.
Driving Nostr forward
Nostr key management is one of the areas where Nostr is very early in development today, so we’ve been working hard as a team to find ways that we can give back to the Nostr ecosystem and help to drive forward mature standards. One of the ways we have worked to improve the ecosystem is by helping expand the standard for Nostr key derivation in NIP-06 to include generating multiple keys properly. We helped to develop and test a derivation method that would allow you to generate practically infinite usable Nostr keys from a single Bitcoin seed and contributed that tested definition to the official repository on Github.
Another key way we have worked to help grow the Nostr key management ecosystem is through funding bounties to implement Nostr key QR login and delegated key use in Amethyst, one of our favorite Nostr clients today. Taking the time to create issues for features you love and drive open bounties incentivizes developers to implement these features and rewards them for their incredible contributions to free and open-source code, something that is absolutely vital to continuing to grow the FOSS movement!
If you’re on Nostr today, be sure to follow us below to keep up with the latest things we’re building, writing, and sharing:
We’re also working on expanding the Taproot payments support added in this version into full Taproot support to both send and receive, implementing NIP 26 support as mentioned above, and much more. We hope you enjoy the new features in Passport’s latest firmware as much as we do, and we can’t wait to hear your feedback on what uses you find for child seeds, Nostr keys, and so much more!
If you’d like to learn more about the technical details and usage of Key Manager, you can jump right into our detailed support docs below:
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