Cubist, Led by Computer Science Professors, Releases Wallet-as-a-Service 'CubeSigner'

According to CEO Riad Wahby, who's an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon, the new wallet will be "a hundred times faster" than competing products.

AccessTimeIconNov 3, 2023 at 1:41 p.m. UTC
Updated Nov 3, 2023 at 1:54 p.m. UTC

Cubist, a blockchain startup co-founded by computer science professors at Carnegie Mellon University and University of California San Diego and a former fintech chief operating officer and security expert, publicly released a new "wallet-as-a-service" product, aiming to solve the challenge of making account keys readily available while keeping them secure.

The product, CubeSigner, "lets users request signatures through revocable signing sessions instead of giving direct access to raw keys," according to a press release Wednesday. "Users can’t accidentally leak their keys, and attackers can’t steal keys because key material stays locked in secure hardware, both during generation and signing."

CubeSigner as a product was released earlier this year and is already in production as a key manager for Ethereum validators, according to the press release. The project's website details a collaboration with another startup, Ankr, in the arena of liquid staking.

The import of the latest announcement is that CubeSigner is now being rolled out to other blockchains and projects.

Co-founder and CEO Riad Wahby, who's also an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon, told CoinDesk that the new CubeSigner wallet-as-a-service was designed to be configurable for any blockchain, including Bitcoin, Solana and Avalanche, in addition to Ethereum.

"One of the really nice advantages of the architecture is that we're super flexible," Wahby said.

The new wallet could compete with existing wallet-as-a-service providers, such as Fireblocks, Coinbase, and Privy.

The goal is to make it easy for developers of blockchain-based applications to offer their wallets to end users without having to build the wallets themselves.

The problem of secure key management has grown more complicated as the industry has expanded, with new blockchain networks proliferating and all the while, crypto players are becoming more institutional.

A differentiator for CubeSigner, according to Wahby, is its "anti-slashing" features, designed to automatically avoid the sort of errors and faults that might lead to blockchain validators getting penalized under the rules of a crypto-staking protocol like Ethereum.

In March, Cubist raised $7 million in a seed round led by Polychain Capital with investors including dao5, Amplify Partners, Polygon, Blizzard and Axelar.

Cubist's first offering was a software toolkit designed to help users write cross-chain applications.

Wahby said the company pivoted to focus on CubeSigner based on feedback from prospective clients for that initial product.

"As we started socializing it to customers, we started hearing, 'The thing that actually keeps me up at night is X,' and X was always, 'We can't manage our keys,'" Wahby said.

Edited by Aoyon Ashraf.


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Bradley Keoun

Bradley Keoun is the managing editor of CoinDesk's Tech & Protocols team. He owns less than $1,000 each of several cryptocurrencies.