Erik Weijers, 2 months ago

What are Bitcoin vaults?

It took a while for Google to add the ‘Undo send’ feature to Gmail. Since 2015, users can take back what they just wrote. Will Bitcoin have a similar option in the future? Currently, a new proposal offers to do just that. Mostly as a safety net against theft. 

The ways most people store their crypto are currently on the extremes of a spectrum. On the one end, self-custody solutions. Be your own bank. Not your keys, not your coins. But with this great power comes great responsibility. Losing your seed phrase, or being forced or manipulated to give it to a thief, can lead to loss of all your funds.

On the other extreme, you trust a third party with holding your money. Just like a bank, right? Except that the government won’t step in if the crypto broker messes up. 

The concept of Bitcoin Vaults aims to address the challenges of self-custody and security in, providing users with a safety net in case of theft or unwanted transactions.  

A time-locked vault

Bitcoin Vaults, if and when live, will offer a time-locked vault for Bitcoin, allowing you to undo unwanted transactions during a cooldown period. This period gives users time to review transactions and redirect the bitcoin to a different address if necessary. Previous proposals were not ideal, as they lacked flexibility and required the creation of a new vault each time. 

A new proposal, BIP-345, introduces the OP_VAULT operation, specifically designed for Bitcoin Vaults.  

  1. When creating a vault, users specify a recovery address, the delay on a normal transaction, and the vault address.
  2. To withdraw Bitcoin from the vault, users sign a transaction with the unvault key
  3. They wait for the timelock to expire before the transaction can be sent. This timelock can obviously be set to timeframes much longer than the seconds of Gmail’s unsend!
  4. During the timelock, users can send Bitcoin to the recovery address if needed. 

Future integrations and ease of use

As mentioned, Bitcoin vaults are far from being available. Currently, it is just a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal in the process of a (very strict) review. Once live, the code will be added to Bitcoin core. Wallet applications can then integrate new functionality and the whole thing will be a smooth experience. 


Even though Bitcoin isn’t innovating at the same pace as Ethereum – nor should it – there are interesting developments going on. Another recent improvement proposal was about zero-knowledge proofs on Bitcoin,which is currently live.

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