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10th June 2023 > > Tangem Wallet (in short - don't).

tl;dr

The Tangem Wallet is a bit of a let-down, adding to some of my recent body blows.


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BTC has sold off by nearly $1,000 in the last hour taking us back down to the price seen just after news broke of legal action against Binance, itself a one-month low. I can’t see any specific news so perhaps this is simply an indicator that volatility is creeping back in.


Curious Cryptos’ Commentary – Tangem

Gosh, I just know you are beside yourself with excitement right now, for today you will learn about my experience using Tangem, billed as a potentially revolutionary way of storing one’s cryptos (https://www.curiouscryptos.com/post/29th-may-2023-tangem-and-two-legends).


There are two key stumbling blocks for the mass adoption of cryptos – a lack of regulation (though the EU is fighting that good fight in a very productive way) and a lack of custodial solutions.


If we focus on the latter problem, and we think just about retail investors, custody is a seriously major issue.


Storing one’s cryptos on a centralised cryptocurrency exchange has not always worked out for the best, Mt. Gox and FTX being the prime examples but sadly, not the only ones.


Storing your 24-word seed phrase in an encrypted file on an old computer not connected to the internet, though innovative, turns out to not be very secure when that computer gets thrown into Newport’s rubbish dump.


Storing cryptos on a Trezor is possibly not as secure as one would wish (https://www.curiouscryptos.com/post/27th-january-2022-hardware-wallets-yield-farming). And even the gold standard of hardware wallets, Ledger Nano, has come in for some possibly well-deserved criticism when it announced a centralised three-party private key custody solution (https://www.curiouscryptos.com/post/19th-may-2023-ledger).


So, this is a thorny area, and one that needs to be resolved.


Enter Tangem to do just that.


Or at least I hoped so.


Let us look at the positives.


At $61.89 for the three-card product (I love a back-up) the price is comparative to other options.


The mobile app works well, and setting up the cards takes virtually no time. A few taps, and a few clicks, and you are away. That simplicity Is important, and sometimes the techies in charge of Web3 applications tend to forget how the rest of the world works. For instance, just today when I was claiming and re-staking the CCC’s treasury coins in the Cosmos environment (ATOM, OSMO, SCRT, and EVMOS), there has evidently been an upgrade to the Keplr wallet, and frankly that update is rubbish from a user perspective. I have tried to tell them, but they probably won’t listen.


This introduction to Tangem was all very reassuring.


Now let’s look at the dark side.


The first thing that I saw, and felt uncomfortable with, was this:













Anyone who uses Amazon on a regular basis immediately recognises those instructions as having come from China. Which is a bit odd, as Tangem touts itself as being based in Switzerland.


Indeed, the package inside the padded envelope claimed this:










Perplexed by this apparent contradiction, I remembered that Royal Mail had sent me this email on 3rd June:

















I ignored it as spam at the time as I wasn’t expecting a parcel from Hong Kong, though it is undoubtedly one of my favourite places in the world.


Now that I was getting ever more confused about the original source of my brand-new Tangem cards, I fished the outside envelope out of my recycling bin to find that it had indeed been sent from Hong Kong. I cannot believe that a company manufactures credit card type crypto wallets in Switzerland, then sends them to Hong Kong, to then be sent to the UK.


Digging a bit deeper, this seemingly deserted building is touted as the HQ of Tangem AG:













And then one last thing caught my attention – the instructions above refer to a website registered in Russia. Why would a Swiss company register its website in Russia?


The promotional material I read about Tangem claims that the private keys never leave the card:


“When you activate Tangem Wallet, the chip in the card generates a random private key which never gets exposed”.


But this is patently false.


Setting up the back-up cards requires them to be brought into contact with your NFC-enabled phone whilst using the app. The private keys must be stored within the app to activate the back-up cards. The app could transmit those private keys any time it wishes to, and it could transmit them to any email address stored within the code for the app.


So, I am holding off from using my Tangem wallet for now.


I will explore, and research more, until I commit any funds.


I feel very let down right now, and not just by this.

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