The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has left most of the world in lockdown, ravaging health systems and financial markets. While the impending economic crisis has led many to consider adding Bitcoin to their portfolio, those that already own cryptocurrencies have been faced with a rather unique problem—what will happen to my holdings if I die?
As the very nature of cryptocurrencies makes it impossible to transfer them without having private keys, people have been reaching out to companies that specialize in inheritance systems in order to make sure their holdings aren’t lost if they die.
Casa Hodl and Unchained Capital, both companies that offer crypto inheritance services, said that they have seen a “dramatic rise” in requests this month. Customers have been requesting proof-of-death systems or other multi-signature wallet schemes to be set to their wallets so that their loved ones could inherit their cryptocurrencies in case of death.
“We’ve seen more demand [than at any other time] in our history over the past month for vaults,” Unchained Capital Chief Product Officer Will Cole said. “Many vault customers set up via trust or other inheritance supported entities. That’s been true the past few weeks as well.”
Nick Neuman, CEO of Casa Hodl, said that more than half of the calls the companies got this month have specifically asked about the firm’s inheritance service—Casa Covenant. According to Neuman, Casa has seen three times the number of clients in the first three weeks of March than in January and February combined for its Diamond class product. The product, he explained, includes an inheritance wallet service aside from an advanced private key storage solution.
The huge increase in interest for its inheritance scheme has pushed Casa to offer the feature to its lower-tier services as well. This, Neuman explained, won’t have an effect on the platform’s privacy:
“We allow clients to hold their own private keys and securely pass their bitcoin on to their heirs in the case that doing so is necessary, so that clients don’t ever have to relinquish control of their bitcoin to a third party.”
It’s not just Bitcoin people are thinking about, either.
The panic surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t discriminate when it comes to which cryptocurrencies you’re holding, which is why a development team has been working on an Ethereum inheritance infrastructure.
The oracle would regularly scan public sources for death announcements and would trigger the escrow service once it detected the death of a subscriber. The escrow service would then begin a countdown to send the user’s ERC-20 tokens to a chosen third party. During the countdown, the escrow can be stopped by the user if he finds the protocol has made a mistake.
We can expect to see an even bigger uptick in the demand for inheritance services like the ones offered by Casa Hodl and Unchained. As cryptocurrencies become a bigger part of the financial market, people that hold them will most likely want to use a service that will allow them to transfer their coins to the next generation.