Interview with Eric Larchevêque, Ledger Wallet Founder

Interview with Eric Larchevêque, Ledger Wallet Founder

In this video I set out to understand what the hardware wallet "Ledger Wallet" is, with the company CEO Eric Larchevêque. This interview was filmed in the lobby ...


So, with me right now I have . . . Eric Larchevêque, the CEO of Ledger. Yes. Thank you, Eric.

I appreciate your time here. Thank you. You had a great spot here right by the front door. Yup. I think you are going to make a lot of impressions today. So let's make an impression on us.

What is it that you are doing? Well, we are doing the Ledger Wallet. This is a hardware wallet based on a smart card. A smart card is a secure element, so it looks like a USB key but in fact, it's a small computer. And what does this small computer do? It holds on your private keys and it will also sign your transactions, so let's take a very simple example. This is a Chrome application so it works on any kind of computer. I put this in the USB port and then I will enter my pin code which I selected during initialization.

Yeah. Then it will unlock the chip, extract my public addresses, where it will block chain, and then I will access my balance, my history so it looks like a wallet, a regular wallet. The difference is when I'm going to make a payment, the transaction will be signed inside the secure element so the private keys will be never revealed to the computer. Got you. So even if the computer is compromised with key loggers, malware, it's okay. It's not possible to get my private key, so it's maximum security for the bitcoin user, for the end user.

Let's look, I like that it's a Chrome application. Does that mean that you support OS X, Linux, Windows? Yes and Chromium also. And Chromium? Yes. That's wonderful. Yes. Exactly yes.

Are you the only ones supporting Chromium at the moment or are there others? Yes, it is working, but right now all the OSs which we got Chrome works. We need Chrome because only Chrome right now has the HID support to speak directly with the smart card on the USB port. If it goes on Firefox later, then it will work also. Great. Very cool. And what about the case I'd want to back up my private key, do I basically have to make sure that I always have the card or is there some facility for that? Yes.

At initialization time you are going to write a big 39 backup of your key, at least 24 words, and this you are going to keep on the safe. And also if you are the kind of person to lose things, we have a special edition with 2 keys which are cloned to the same seed and the same security card so if you lose one, you can take another one directly from the safe or whatever. That is totally slick. I'm really impressed. How long have you been on the market for? This product is quite new. It's like 6, 7 weeks, but its 3 years that we are working on it, doing research and development of smart cards.

We are running our own operating system on that so there is a lot of tech and we have open specifications, APIs and also we are working on the new version. This is a prototype which we are demonstrating here which works on NFC. Let me hold that up really quick? Yes. So that's NFC-based product. Yes it's NFC-based -- And it will be compacted I suppose with the final version or are you going to be this form factor in the final version? The form factor will be a little bit different. It will be a little bit more sleek.

This is a prototype... Right, right, right. No, of course, it will have plastic and all that, yes. But basically it will fit in a wallet and we also have a little switch if you want to switch off NFC so you are publicly secure and then it can work with . can also make your payments on post terminal. Wonderful. So with that you can do a lot of applications. And there is power that is on that device that will facilitate that for NFC? Yes.

It's powered by NFC so you don't need any battery. Does NFC itself provide power, enough power to resonate, I suppose, and provide signal? Yeah, yeah exactly. And sign the transaction so you... For instance you can do 2 taps because on here you will select a number of inputs that you will say, "okay this I can sign without any server factor configuration," to make instant payments at a point of sales.

That's wonderful. I mean there are so many hardware products coming out now for bitcoin. I think we need it. Just seeing private keys being stolen and these type of things on desktop computers. Where do you think that the industry's going to go in terms of payment mechanism, going forward? Do you think that this is the model that we are going to start pursuing? Is there more to it maybe? Well, tokenization has been opened by Apple Pay and in fact with these kind of devices you can make also tokenization. So it's not ENV but with the same kind of POS terminal you can also make the payments.

Afterwards you will just need to install an application which will convert the BTC to dollars for instance but yes, we will see more and more direct application propositions with these kinds of devices, so I think it's pretty good. Yes. I do too. So what's the price of the Ledger Wallet? Is there an MSRP? Yes. The Ledger Wallet is €29 or around $35. That's very reasonably priced.

Yes, it's a reasonable price and we really aim to make the lowest price possible because we really believe that hardware wallets have to be accommodative. If we want bitcoins to scale, it means that the security has to be paramount and it has to be very simple and easy for everyone. So we really want everyone to have this in their pockets so the price has to be the lowest possible. That's why we also rely on smart cards. Okay, so one more question. I have to ask, Trezor really has the name, I think in the market right now, how do you compare to the? I can already see some differences but why don't you tell the audience what your differences are.

Trezor relies on normal microcomputers so it means that the price point is quite higher so they have a screen to see the transaction. We rely, in fact, on the security card which can be used either to make civil factor verification directly or to pair a smartphone. And by using a smartphone on which you are going to see the transaction, then we do not need to have a screen inside so we can have a lower price point. The big difference really is the fact that we use smart card secure elements which will allow us to have like at this station, you can verify this is your Ledger chip and also in the future you can make some bit 70 applications to really have security to have real validation of the address that you are paying because if a malware changes the address directly, for instance, from the bitpay, you don't know you are not paying bitpay and smart cards can embed root certificates which can allow this type of application. So this is merely a difference of architecture. Well, I wish you the best of luck today.

This is a tough place for the interview during the setup so I appreciate it. You did really well. Yes. And for everybody who wants to get more information, what website should they go to? Yes Alright guys I'll check in with you in a little bit.

Thank you. Okay. Thanks a lot.