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Bitcoin hardware wallet Ledger had a big Black Friday despite crypto crash

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer

The price of bitcoin has fallen 77% in 2018. That’s the third-biggest crash the cryptocurrency has experienced since its inception in 2009.

But even amidst this crypto bear market, bitcoin hardware wallet sales are humming, according to Ledger, one of the leading hardware wallet sellers.

A bitcoin hardware wallet is a physical fob that encrypts and stores your private access keys (a string of numbers and letters that forms the address of your digital currency) offline—this is called “cold storage” because the information is not connected to the internet (i.e. it is not “hot”). With a hardware wallet, you would send bitcoin from an online exchange (like Coinbase) to the address of your wallet to store it offline. (Watch a demo video here.)

At the beginning of 2018, when the price of cryptocurrencies fell sharply from the highs of 2017, “We saw demand diminishing for our products,” Ledger president Pascal Gauthier said on Yahoo Finance’s Midday Movers live show this week. “But interestingly enough, with the latest drop, we’re seeing a trend that is different. The Black Friday of 2018 was almost as good as the Black Friday that we had in 2017, which was an extraordinary year for cryptocurrencies.”

In a followup with Yahoo Finance, Ledger said that its Black Friday sales this year were just about equal to its sales on Black Friday of last year, which is striking. It suggests that even though crypto prices have declined, interest in owning crypto (and storing it safely) is still high.

Ledger declined to share Black Friday 2018 sales numbers, but says it has sold 1.4 million Ledger Nano S units to date. (Some of the other leading hardware wallets are KeepKey and Trezor.)

Ledger Nano S, plugged into an Apple laptop. (Daniel Roberts/Oath)

Of course, the very fact that safely securing your digital currency (something you cannot touch or physically hold) requires using a physical device—and writing your recovery-phrase passwords on a physical piece of paper—naturally confuses people. Why should that be necessary?

Gauthier acknowledges that contradiction. “What you’re describing is an imperfection,” he says. “It’s not great that you have to do that. But also, it’s a shift in terms of how you transfer and hold value. All these new protocols are really at the beginning of their existence… You have to pay attention to security and you have to go through these extra steps to do it. Right now it’s clunky, but the industry is working hard to solve these issues.”

Daniel Roberts covers bitcoin and blockchain at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite

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