Why ZenGo was needed
Managing and storing safely crypto is difficult.
For years, crypto users have had to choose between being their own bank (“not your keys, not your crypto”) at their own risk, or trusting a third-party custodian, also at their own risk. Given these two less-than-perfect choices, it’s no surprise that accidents and dramatic events have happened and continue to happen. Even for the most advanced users, private key management is complicated and, quite frankly, not very usable. Even with cold storage, private key management means complex setups, unconventional backups, and not-so-simple user experiences. So it’s no surprise that the vast majority of users prefer to leave their funds on exchanges: it’s just simpler.
ZenGo has been on a mission to bring a new approach to owners of digital assets, where no compromise between security and simplicity is required. Yes, we know the formula “simple and secure” has been hashed and repeated by many players. But we wanted to create an experience that delivers on that promise from the first line of code. The principles of ZenGo are simple: non-custodial, passwordless, universal support, and guaranteed access to funds no matter what (phones break, ZenGo stops operating…). Is it too good to be true?
Building a better wallet service within the current public/private key paradigm without becoming a custodian seemed impossible. Fresh ideas were needed. So for two years, we have been working on a new cryptographic stack, based on threshold cryptography and multi-party computation. Our vision was to simplify and entirely abstract the tedious process of setting up a crypto wallet. We believe we have fulfilled that vision. With ZenGo, no private key is ever generated, no password is ever asked, and the security is distributed and no longer dependent on one party. While this may sound like multi-sig, it has important differences — the most important being that the set up is an order of magnitude simpler and that it can work with any blockchain protocol. You can read more details here.
We are incredibly excited by threshold signatures and the possibilities it unlocks for the industry. We are not alone in our thinking. Our GitHub and Telegram research group are thriving and we are receiving very encouraging signals from the market too.
We built ZenGo because the industry is still a place with a high level of anxiety. We wanted a solution that brings true peace of mind. And we hope you will see and feel that as you try our service.
Opening ZenGo to everyone
We have been in beta for a few weeks now and have on-boarded enough users to know our app is robust and battle-tested. The feedback has been outstanding and we have decided to take things forward and release ZenGo to all iOS users.
ZenGo shines in its simplicity, its obsessive focus on the customer experience and delightful design. We crafted something we believe you will like. Of course, at this stage, you will not yet find all the bells and whistles other wallets have and we support only BTC and ETH. But this is just the beginning and things will get only better from here. We are committed to building one thing only: a great wallet. This means that without any other agenda or ICO or token to manage, all of our energy goes towards creating the (near) perfect crypto wallet.
But unlike existing solutions, you can set up your ZenGo wallet in seconds. Since ZenGo is a non-custodial wallet with no password, all you need is an email to sign up. Thanks to advanced biometrics, you can rest easy knowing that only you can access or recover your funds. There is no password to lose, private key to store “somewhere safe” or be stolen. With the standard wallet approach, anyone with your password or private key (or mobile phone number) can access and spend your funds. ZenGo is a first in the industry.
Introducing Guaranteed Access
ZenGo is non-custodial. This means we do not store your funds. We already guarantee you can access and recover your funds from any phone the second you are backed up. As a matter of fact, unlike other wallets, you can’t even deposit funds before a proper back up has been set up. So even if you lose your phone, your funds are still safe. But we quickly realized that this was not enough.
Today we are also introducing a very important innovation that will guarantee our customers access to their funds even if ZenGo, the company, stops operating. Indeed since ZenGo is part of the security set up, what would happen to your funds if we stopped operating? Think about it, when you trust a third party, like an exchange, if they go out of business, your money is gone. Even if they’re insured, not 100% of your funds are covered. Since we are already handling accounts with large, six-figure sums, we knew we had to address this scenario in order to give complete peace of mind to our customers. So we did. In response, we have built a solution to guarantee our users access to 100% of their funds even if we, ZenGo, stop operating.
The details of that solution are explained entirely here, but in essence, we have set up an independently operated recovery system that will assist our users – without the need of ZenGo – should that be required. This system is run by established software escrow and trustee companies that have no ties to ZenGo and that can, by way of a public repository on GitHub, trigger the recovery.
In other terms, think about it as a close equivalent, in spirit, to the guarantee provided by an FDIC insurance for bank deposits, where your funds are still available even if your bank is no longer able to operate.
Now that the core foundation is ready, we are preparing for many exciting new features, services, and upgrades. Some are pretty obvious: more assets/blockchain support and more wallet services to help you better manage and invest your funds. Many of these additions will be unique and unprecedented thanks to our unique threshold signature-based architecture.
What about Android? Thanks for asking. It is already on the way and our team is working hard on it. It should be available in the coming weeks.
ZenGo is built for people who are intimidated with the current solutions but still want to own crypto. It’s built for people who can’t or won’t deal with the burden of the “be your own bank” security, and are in need of a new solution that they can use without compromising on security.
While we know this option will not suit those who, alone, want to control their digital assets, but we believe that this approach will suit many who want simplicity and peace of mind. With ZenGo, you get the best of both worlds: total control over your funds in a non-custodial wallet but also the assistance of a trusted server, and guaranteed access to your funds no matter what.
One more thing
Finally, ZenGo is free for now and will remain free in its current form for all our initial users. In the future that will change. We believe in a quality service where incentives are aligned with those of its users and we will not use “tricks” to monetize. We believe in a clear and sustainable model. We will introduce our pricing model later.
PS: note to our dear current beta users. You don’t need to do anything — you can either keep using ZenGo in beta or install ZenGo from the App Store. You won’t need to create a new account or restore anything. Everything is handled smoothly behind the scenes.
Bonus: Short ZenGo FAQ
- Is ZenGo non-custodial? Yes
- Can I recover my funds if I lose or break my phone? Yes
- Can I recover my funds if ZenGo stops operating? Yes
- Can someone sim-jack ZenGo? No
- Can someone use a picture, video or mask to bypass my biometrics back up? No
- Can someone see my face on the encrypted biometrics back up? No.
- Does ZenGo require a token to work? No
- Do I need a password/mobile phone number to set up ZenGo? No
- Beyond my Phone, Do I need some special hardware to set up ZenGo? No
- Is ZenGo Free? Yes, for now 😉
- Is ZenGo cryptography open source? Yes
- Will ZenGo be available soon on Android? Yes
- Beyond BTC and ETH, will ZenGo support more assets soon? Yes.
- Where is my private key? There is no private key.
- Do you plan an ICO/IEO? No.
- Is KYC required to sign-up? No