Up Close With the New MultiBit HD Bitcoin Wallet
MultBit has been quietly dropping scraps of information about its new MultBit HD wallet for months now. At the recent Bitcoin2014 conference, Jim Burton and Gary Rowe of MultiBit gave CoinDesk a hands-on preview of the new software.
One of the most popular wallets out there, MultiBit gets around 4,500 downloads every day. Since its launch in 2011, MultiBit has been downloaded 1.8 million times.
That’s a lot of users and a great deal of pressure when it comes to producing a product that will last. Rowe said:
“We wanted [to build] software that could scale up to tens of millions of people.”
The new wallet is less of a redesign and more of a reimagination of their wallet; it has been totally rebuilt from the ground up.
On the surface, the changes are obvious. In the current version of MultiBit – known as MultiBit Classic in anticipation of the new wallet – the technical aspects of bitcoin are clearly on show. Your address is shown in its raw form, for example.
MultiBit HD hides all of that away behind a clean design that’s heavy on accessibility. Large buttons make navigating the interface intuitive and it now includes a more refined contacts list, creating the sense that you're sending money to a person instead of a string of letters and numbers.
"This is the kind of wallet you can give your mum," says Rowe.
Under the hood, the software incorporates the standards that the most demanding bitcoin users would expect. MultiBit HD will be compatible with the Trezor hardware wallet and the HD label refers to the fact that it will be a "hierarchical deterministic" wallet, meaning that you will be able to regain access to addresses created by MultiBit HD with a single 'seed' passphrase.
Additionally, Burton and Rowe are working on integrating multisig functionality, which means that you can protect addresses by requiring several different private keys before transactions can be authorized, and Tor, adding an extra level of privacy for users.
"We strongly support technologies that improve our user's privacy and security. Due to our popularity and limited resources for development we have to be conservative about adding new technology until it has proven itself in the bitcoin ecosystem."
The software is now in early, private beta with a maximum audience of around 1,000 people.
Those who are interested in helping its development should contact MultiBit via its website. Burton says the company wants to make sure all the kinks are ironed out before it goes out to a wider audience.
"People want bulletproof, high-quality software," says Burton.
In a couple of months we’ll get to see if MultiBit HD delivers on that expectation.
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