In crypto, there’s a saying: “not your keys, not your coins.” This means that if you do not have sole custody of your private keys, you cannot really claim to have ownership over your funds. If your keys are with a crypto exchange or any other third-party custodian, you may as well forget about being the true owner of your funds.
Many crypto owners today make the mistake of leaving their funds on exchanges. But considering the insecurity history of crypto exchanges, they are far from the safest place to keep your cryptocurrency. Millions, (or perhaps billions) worth of crypto has been lost through hacks on exchanges. The most famous one is Mt. Gox, in which people lost vast sums of Bitcoin and are yet to be compensated up to this day. And while that may be several years ago, crypto hackers are always upping the game. This is to say exchanges are not a safe place to store your crypto.
So, how does that have anything to do with proof of keys?
Understanding Proof of Keys
Proof of Keys is actually ‘Proof of Keys Day’ in full. The event is the idea of crypto investor Trace Mayer, who came up with the concept so as to spread awareness of the need for crypto owners to practice self custody of their private keys and, in so doing, reclaim their financial independence. Proof of Keys is an annual celebration every January 3rd.
Proof of Keys day is an idea geared at preventing crypto investors’ reliance on exchanges to store their funds. The first Proof of Keys event happened on January 3rd, 2019 – to intentionally coincide with the day of Bitcoin’s genesis block.
In essence, Proof of Keys Day is a day to celebrate financial autonomy. The bigger picture is to remind crypto investors of the importance of keeping their private keys in their personal wallets. By having full control of their keys, they can rest assured that no one has access to their crypto holdings.
Crypto holders have access to numerous types of crypto wallets – from online wallets to paper wallets to desktop wallets to hardware wallets. However, hardware wallets are the most secure options out there – and among the most reputable of these is Ledger, Trezor, and KeepKey. Hardware wallets are not connected to the internet. This renders them immune to hackings and other online vulnerabilities.
What are the Intended Outcomes of Proof of Keys Day?
The philosophy guiding Proof Of Keys Day is perfectly in step with that of Bitcoin: to eliminate third-party intermediaries and operate in a trustless electronic money transfer system where parties can operate securely and confidently without sacrificing their financial sovereignty. With that, let’s look at the intended outcomes of Proof Of Keys Day:
#1. Teach new crypto investors how to move funds around
Crypto holders should be knowledgeable and comfortable enough to move their coins around. While this may be as easy as ABC for veterans, it can be intimidating for newcomers. From the (seemingly) complex key numbers to the wide range of wallets, it can all look absolutely bewildering. For this reason, Proof of Keys Day encourages investors to familiarize themselves with the different types of cryptocurrency wallets and how to use them. It also reminds them how the transfer of value happens on the blockchain.
#2. Remind crypto holders to actually own their funds
Like we’ve mentioned before, the main objective of Proof of Keys Day is to encourage crypto investors to take ownership of their private keys. When you leave your funds on an exchange, you essentially forfeit complete control of your money. Though it takes place only once a year, Proof of Keys Day is a chance for people to reclaim control of what’s theirs.
#3. Expose dishonest crypto exchanges
Financial entities are known for fractional reserve banking – which is the practice of leveraging existing customer deposits by lending out more funds than what they truly have at hand. While this profits the institutions, it’s risky for the real owners of the money since a ‘bank panic’ could cause bankruptcy for the institution. In the crypto space, Proof of Keys Day could encourage holes of crypto investors to withdraw their money from exchanges. If enough investors do that, it may expose exchanges engaging in fractional reserve tendencies or those that lie about their actual reserves. That’s if the publicly verifiable nature of blockchain networks has not already done so.
#4. Celebrate Bitcoin’s genesis block
Last but certainly not least, Proof of Keys Day allows investors from all over the world to celebrate the Bitcoin genesis block – the first day a block was mined on the Bitcoin network. The genesis block was the first-ever Bitcoin transaction. In the transaction, Satoshi Nakamoto sent 50 BTC to Hal Finney – an early Bitcoin developer. It’s also, to an extent, a day to remember the first ‘commercial” Bitcoin transaction when somebody bought two pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoins.
How to Participate in the Proof of Keys Movement
Whether you’re a newcomer to crypto or a veteran, you’ll find that participating in Proof of Keys Day is very easy. Again the idea is to express financial independence by moving all funds from exchanges or other custodial services.
To get started, take an inventory of all crypto coins you have on exchanges. This will show you who really owns what in regards to your money. Then, proceed to choose a crypto wallet of your choice. Ensure to choose a wallet that you’re comfortable with and one with a sufficient level of security. Next, transfer your funds from custodial platforms to your personal wallet. This means you can now control your private keys and, with them, your funds.
Some crypto investors celebrate Proof of Keys Day, even if for one day. This involves moving their coins from exchanges for one day in a symbolic move to affirm their financial autonomy. Active traders are the ones more likely to engage in this kind of practice. This is because they need to have their crypto funds in exchanges to facilitate trades. After the symbolic transfer of funds to their personal wallets, they usually move them back to exchanges. But for long-term investors (HODLers), it’s better to keep their money in their personal wallets.
Proof of Keys Day is a simple concept – but quite monumental in meaning. It’s a day to remind crypto holders to take back ownership of their funds by taking control of their private keys. Hordes of crypto investors participate in the event with a single goal of affirming their financial sovereignty. It’s a day to educate people and remind them about crypto security principles in general.