A new ‘roll-your-own’ bitcoin wallet project showcased at the Bitcoin 2013 conference last weekend. Coinpunk is a web application that allows anyone to run their own self-hosted Bitcoin wallet service, accessible from their browser.
Until now, online bitcoin wallet services have been hosted by third parties, meaning that users have to trust them with their bitcoins. If the third party is hacked or experiences some other technical problem, users could lose their bitcoins. The alternative is a mobile application, but iPhone and iPad users are out of luck - Apple won't allow them in its app store.
This software would put the control – and the risk – into the users’ own hands.
There are a variety of bitcoin wallets on the market, and they come in three main flavours: software wallets installed on your computer, mobile versions that run on a smart phone, and web wallets, that host your bitcoins in the cloud. Bitcoinqt is the original bitcoin client, but other clients have been built on it. For example, Armory is Bitcoinqt-based, but features backup and encryption capabilities, alongside ‘cold’ storage of bitcoins, offline on a computer. Other services, such as Electrum, span Android mobile devices, alongside traditional computing platforms.
Kyle Drake, the project's author, explains in the online documentation for the project that he wanted to build something that allow people to use bitcoin in a decentralised way, while still having the convenience of an always on web service. "Also, running the desktop client's CPU is memory intensive, and requires a constant Internet connection, which a lot of people would rather not run on their personal machines," he said.
The software project, which was showcased at a software Hackathon during the Bitcoin 2013 conference, is built using the Ruby programming framework. It includes the ability to create and name new addresses for receiving bitcoins, and is designed to display well on mobile devices, Drake said.
New features coming soon will include the ability to receive notifications when new bitcoins arrive, and a function to send bitcoins via email.