Digital Cash

Ledger Recover

Ledger Recover arrrrgggghhhhhhh!


I watched the reaction to the Ledger Recover service launch and like many others was pretty amazed at what an epic balls up it all was by a company where customer trust is paramount. Its hard to think of a worse way they could have handled the introduction of such a service. That said, I’m a fan of it.

“I’m a fan of Ledger Recover. There, I said it!”

So their big balls up, in my and many others eyes, is that they didn’t provide it via new devices running different firmware to their existing products. That is pretty unforgivable and I still to this day can’t comprehend why they would be so arrogant as to force this on their existing community. To quote Charles Hoskinson, “Don’t break social contracts” – perfectly put. But it is what it is, they’ve backtracked and then and gone and forced it on everyone anyway, so be it.

If you’re a web3 maxi, decentralization maxi, self custody purist then I expect you’re never going to get on with it being possible to be activated on your device, it breaks a fundamental rule you probably have about wallet security and trust.

I’m in a different camp though, I’m a decentralization is important person, but I like a level of convenience over security where it’s sensible and proportionate to the risk. For me, I’m not concerned about the authorities in my country forcing the Ledger company to reveal my seed phrase. I’m not operating in life at that level of distrust as a citizen. What I am worried about is criminals steeling my seed phrase, my accidentally loosing control of it, or my accidentally loosing it! I’ve lived through the LastPass hack and dealing with the security nightmare after it. With those factors in mind, I think there’s a lot to like about the Recover service and how its been designed.

“That problem absolutely has to be solved”

I want mass adoption of crypto. It needs to happen and one of the very biggest barriers to it is wallet self custody. That problem absolutely has to be solved for any of my mates to want to use this stuff. The bad press about hacks and exploits might be over sensationalised at times to us in the know about the industry, but its happened over and over and is a very real and reasonable concern.

My simplest example is a few friends and colleagues I’ve got into investing in Cardano and crypto generally over the last couple of years. As the FTX etc firestorms went down and then rumours of Binance wobbliness surfaced I made it my mission to warn them all to finally get their investments off the Binance exchange and into their own self custody wallets. I told them again “not your keys not your crypto”, to just buy a ledger for £69, that they’d earn that back in Cardano staking rewards anyway by using their own wallet, and that I’d happily help them get their funds self custodied, safe and secure. Should be a no brainer right? Not a single one did it. The simplicity and perceived security assuredness of Binance was too great even with the possible risk of them loosing all their funds. Why? Because the moment I told them they’d need to keep safe a 24 word seed phrase and gave them some strategies of how they could do that, their eyes glazed over and they simply didn’t want to deal with it.

So bring it on Ledger. How you’ve gone about has been awful and rightly upset many of your past customers. But for the future, thank you for offering a well thought out, OK priced, trustable and simple service for the masses we want to come into blockchain. The current pricing is probably too high for some for the perceived cost of your providing the service – hopefully you can work on that or create some form of lower price / free tier for users that buy their crypto through you say, but it’s a good starting point and reasonable for people with significant investments. You’re the market leader, with that comes an inherent trust that’s all important for a service like this. Your devices just work with every important web3 service out there and I think this is a really significant step towards mass adoption of self custody and web3.

Now if you could just work on making a Ledger that’s less painful to use without requiring us to spend the ridiculous price of £250 on a Stax that would be perfect…

Want to know more about why using a hardware wallet like a Ledger is so important? I’ve a page on it over here.


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