Proof of Keys: Do You Really ‘Own’ Your Crypto?

"Proof of Keys" is a new Bitcoin "cultural tradition" promoted by Trace Mayer, the host of the Bitcoin Knowledge podcast. The basic idea is that every year, on Bitcoin's birthday, 3rd of January, Bitcoin HODLers celebrate the creation of the Genesis Block by "demanding and taking possession of all bitcoins held by trusted third parties on their behalf" and moving them to "wallets they control that perform network consensus."

Mayer introduced the Proof of Keys initiative on 8 December 2018 via the following tweet:

The original idea for Proof of Keys came from the following post, made last month, by Reddit user "sotashi" on the "/Bitcoin" subreddit:

"The time has come for us to test what we have created. Trust in numbers yet we trust in exchanges, in people, in corporations. On the 3rd of January 2019, 10 years on, let us all withdraw our BTC to wallets we control. Let's see if it is all there, let us see who fails, let us see the network work. We lose nothing, we risk nothing, those companies and exchanges that cannot be trusted will be exposed. We must assert control, we must prove this is ours. We need a time to coordinate, 16:00 UTC 03/Jan/2019 is as good as any other. By this hour let us have concluded our transactions and hold our coins in our wallets. 04/Jan/2019 we return to business as usual, with renewed confidence."

Mayer immediately liked the idea and made the following reply (from the "Bitcoin Knowledge" account):

"Awesome idea. Made a Proof of Keys [website] to help spread the word about it."

Maye's inspiration for the name "Proof of Keys" came from the title of Reddit user "sotashi"'s post, which was "03/Jan/2019 Proof of Trust Event", and Andreas Antonopoulos' famous slogan "Your keys, your Bitcoin. Not your keys, not your Bitcoin".

He calls this annual celebration the "ultimate stress test":

"This simple exercise costs little, perhaps a few transaction fees, yet proves possession and strengthens network consensus. Companies and exchanges must prove their trustworthiness and consensus."

Examples of prominent members of the crypto community supporting Proof of Keys include Max Keiser, Nick Czabo, Caitlin Long, and Balaji S. Srinivasan (Coinbase CTO). Here is a tweet in support of this event by Srinivasan:

Srinivasan then explained to Coinbase users what they needed to do:

And here is a tweet made yesterday by Cailin Long to remind people about this event:

Finally, please note that although Proof of Keys is celebrated on January 3rd, the idea of testing that you really own your crypto applies to all cryptocurrencies that you may be HODLing and not just Bitcoin.

For instance, here is an explanation of the purpose of Proof of Keys by Tiffany Hayden, perhaps the most famous member of the XRP community on Twitter:

And here is Hayden explaining the risks associated with centralized crypto exchanges:


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