Review 33 – GreenBits


I decided to try another mobile wallet out. I’m fairly set in my ways, so my comparison is always “Is this wallet good enough to take all or part of my business from my current solutions?” Meaning, does this wallet bring something to the table that would give me enough reason to convert all or part of my usage to it? Today, I’m going to give GreenBits that opportunity. Let’s see how it holds up.

greenbits_1GreenBits is a wallet developed by GreenAddress. GreenBits was developed for security, privacy, and ease of use. They built it native to Android and hope to provide a great user experience. The feature list seems very consistent with other mobile wallets. GreenBits, along with all GreenAddress projects, is open source and available on GitHub.

greenbits_2After install I pulled up the GreenBits app and I’m greeted with the options to Log In or Sign Up.

greenbits_3The first thing GreenBits does is give you a mnemonic passphrase. This is your backup and what you can use to recreate your wallet on other devices should you lose your phone.

greenbits_4You can then choose between setting your own PIN or using Android’s native authentication, which means you’ll use the same PIN as the one set on your Android device.

greenbits_5Main screen looks pretty similar to other wallets. Three tabs: All, Receive, Send. I like the simplicity of the design. I really like the warning to set up 2FA.

greenbits_6But I always start with the settings. No sense getting too deep before setting it up the way I like it. I pressed the three dots in the upper right and went to Settings.

greenbits_7I then opened up Info & settings. Mnemonic passphrase gives you the ability to write down your passphrase again, if you didn’t do it during setup. Setup PIN lets you change your PIN or switch to or from using Android’s authentication.

greenbits_8Auto logout timeout allows you to set the number of minutes before your GreenBits wallet automatically logs you out.

I noticed that there is a section called “Improve your security with Ledger”. I was hoping this would mean I could use the accounts on my Ledger HW.1 or Unplugged with GreenBits. Unfortunately, I pressed it and it brought me to a page to buy a Ledger. Through some Google research I discovered that you can sign transactions with a Ledger and use it as a sort of login device, but you can’t use the wallets created by, say, Ledger and the Chrome extension or the Android app. This is due to the multi-sig nature of GreenBits.

GreenBits stores bitcoin in a 2-of-2 multi-sig address. This is because GreenBits signs each transaction with their own key in addition to the client side signing done by your wallet. The downside of this is that you can’t control your coin without GreenBits involvement. When I initially read this in their FAQ I was extremely skeptical.

After doing some research, I found that the upside to housing your coin this way is two-fold:

First, moving your coin requires GreenBits involvement. I know I just said that I was skeptical of this, so why would I list it as an upside? I do so because it means that someone not using GreenBits couldn’t move your coin even if they had your private keys. The would have had to create your wallet using your mnemonic passphrase in another instance of GreenBits, not just using a copy of your private keys.

Second, should GreenBits disappear with their keys those keys expire in time. Using nLockTime transactions, GreenBits basically makes deposits “expire”. Once the time is up the coins are unlocked and the user must move them. This can be a manual process or the wallet can be set up to do it automatically. If GreenBits vanishes there is an open source tool on GitHub to recover your funds.

greenbits_9I went back to the main settings and went to Two factor authentication. There are several options here. The first is to hide the warning that you’re not using 2FA. My advice is that if something gives you the option to 2FA, use it. I don’t recommend hiding the warning. Just set it up. I really have nothing against any of these methods, but I find keeping them all in the same location is easiest for me. For that reason I use Authy.

greenbits_10Once I put the key into Authy I received a code.

greenbits_11I put that code into GreenBits and 2FA using Google Authenticator was working.

Just a note here, many will try to point out to me that 2FA would be a lot more secure if I wasn’t using the wallet and 2FA on the same device. I, of course, know this. But if anyone here were to somehow glean my wallet mnemonic from these images or something else nefarious, they would now also need my phone to access my funds.

greenbits_12I went back to the main settings and went to SPV synchronization. This allows you to connect to the Bitcoin network to verify your transactions. You can turn this off if you like, but I wouldn’t. Also, if you run your own Bitcoin node you could use it by putting in a TOR .onion address, or simply putting in your Bitcoin node’s IP address followed by a colon (:) and the port number (default 8333). This improves the security of your transactions tremendously. If you trust your own node, why not use it the way it should be used, for verifying your own transactions?

What I find lacking in settings: Look, I know it’s called GreenBits, but I don’t use bits. I use full Bitcoin notation. I like the decimal point and fractions. I’m disappointed that I can’t choose this for myself. It’s available in GreenAddress and GreenBits uses the same API. It shouldn’t be hard to add this option. I’ve been corrected by the GreenBits team. It turns out you could click on the “bits” text and change it. They’ve since added it to the Settings so it’s easier to find.

Back to the main screen. I notice that there are three links on the main screen.

greenbits_13I clicked on Getting started with Bitcoin. I was brought to the main Getting started with Bitcoin screen at the site. It’s not a bad place to start, but I’m obviously biased.

greenbits_14I clicked on Where to buy them. I was brought to a website called How To Buy Bitcoins (.info).

greenbits_15Oddly enough, I found a bunch of charts for different exchanges, but no information on how to actually buy bitcoin. Every chart took me to a signup page for that exchange, which could be handy, I guess. But it’s certainly not a “how to”.  This might be better labeled “where to”.

greenbits_16I clicked on Read our FAQ. I was brought to the FAQ at the GreenAddress page. It’s a good little FAQ and gives some insight into how both GreenBits and GreenAddress work.

Since the main screen is boring with just those three links, we need to move some coin to make it interesting. I wanted to start by sending bitcoin to my new GreenBits wallet.

greenbits_17I clicked on Receive and immediately noticed the giant QR code. You can seriously read this thing from across the room.

greenbits_18Amusingly enough, clicking on the QR code, at least on my phone, shrinks it.

greenbits_19I copied the address and sent to it using another wallet. Here, you can see 10,000 bits, or 0.01 BTC in my wallet. You can also see that the default information links disappeared. I would recommend GreenBits add a section in the menu for these things in case someone wanted to find them again, but I am glad they disappeared off the main screen.

greenbits_20You can also see the little red question mark next to the balance. Clicking on it shows an explanation that the balance is unconfirmed and advice to wait for confirmations.

greenbits_21The provided details of the transaction are the important parts.

greenbits_22The hash links to insight at Bitpay so the rest of the transaction details can be found.

greenbits_23Sending bitcoin isn’t any different than any other wallet, which is a good thing.

greenbits_24However, you can see that, because I set it up, I had to put in the 2FA code from Authy to send funds.

greenbits_25I like how incoming transactions are green and outgoing are red. It’s a nice touch.

Another neat feature of GreenBits is that you can recreate your wallet using other devices.

greenbits_26Your GreenBits wallet can be recreated using the GreenAddress webpage.

greenbits_27It can also be recreated using the Chrome extension.

greenbits_28It could also be pulled up using the GreenAddress iPhone app.

While this does have security implications, I would say that these can be allayed by the fact that all the GreenAddress code is open source and there are several factors of authentication at play here.

Going by my standards that I said I judge every wallet by, I can say that GreenBits isn’t going to take my business from my current solutions. But that is not to say that it isn’t a good wallet. I really like the simplicity, the interface is both intuitive and clean, there are certain security features found here and not elsewhere, and the rest of the feature set is above par. I just have a problem with one particular point and it’s missing a few things that I really like. I’m really attached to my Ledger HW.1 as a hardware wallet, not just as a login and signing tool. And, although they tout it as a security feature, I’m not a fan of the idea of the 2-of-2 multi-sig wallet for my storage.

But GreenBits would be an excellent day to day wallet in which to store pocket money. Put some in, spend, maybe receive here and there, and repeat. Therefore, I give GreenBits an overall recommendation.

Posted in Mobile, Reviews, Wallets

0 comments on “Review 33 – GreenBits
2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Review 33 – GreenBits"
  1. […] several wallet solutions out there supporting the creation and maintenance of multi-sig addresses. GreenBits and GreenAddress use it as one of their core features and I’ve written a review on them […]

  2. […] GreenAddress is everything that GreenBits is and more. Because of this I’m going to refer you to my original GreenBits review and focus here on things that I should add, such as thing GreenAddress has in addition to their […]

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