Portal - New hardware wallet from TwentyTwo Devices

TwentyTwo Devices is a new hardware company founded by Alekos Filini, who announced preorders for the Portal (the company's flagship product). Alekos is also a board member of the Bitcoin Dev Kit Foundation, which is why the Rust-based firmware for the Portal is heavily based on Bitcoin Dev Kit.



Why is it so BIG?

Portal is a hardware wallet designed specifically to be used with mobile wallet apps on smartphones. It lets people self custody their funds safely by storing the private keys on an isolated device, all without leaving the convenience of using a mobile app on a modern phone.

To safely achieve this, Portal uses a small display to show the user all the details of the transaction they are creating: the user is required to confirm each output address and amount, and also the amount of fees being paid by the transaction to ensure the wallet isn’t being drained by an attacker.

But in order to perform this check, the user needs to be able to see the display of Portal while holding it up against the back of their phone, so that the device stays powered on and can keep communicating with the smartphone.

This is the reason why the device has such a unique shape: it’s designed so that the round part (which contains the NFC antenna) can be comfortably held against your phone, while the display and button area sticks out the side so that the user can easily look at the display and press the button. If we were to shrink it down to, for example, credit card size, only a small part of the display would be visibile, especially on the larger and larger smartphones people are using today.

But but but… it’s NOT PORTABLE!

And yes, I’m sure you can come up with some edge cases for why somebody may want to walk around with such a hardware wallet, like fleeing from a war or smuggling money through customs. But the vast majority of users will never need that, and if they were to need it we would advise against brining any hardware wallet, no matter the size, with them. There are better, more private ways out there.

We believe this misconception comes from the fact that Portal is “mobile-native”. People naturally see smartphones as mostly portable devices. And while that’s definitely true, people also use their smartphones within the comfort of their homes or offices. Heck, people nowadays may easily be spending more time looking at their smartphones at home rather than outside. And the reason they do that is that it’s just so much more convenient! It’s much easier to pull your phone out and check Instagram quickly, or watch a YouTube video, rather than sitting at a desk, powering on your laptop, and so on.

And this is exactly why we are making Portal: it’s not a portable device, but it’s designed so that you can very quickly use it just with a smartphone. You don’t need cables, you don’t need to recharge any batteries: Portal is always ready. When that time comes that you have to make an on-chain transaction, you can just take it from your desk drawer, tap it to your phone and be done with it!


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