Some days ago I’ve been contacted by a company called Billfodl asking me to review their product. They’ve sent me a sample and I’ve spent some days testing it out. Let me detail my results below.
What is Billfodl?
Billfodl(artistic mispronunciation of the word ‘Billfold’) is a cold wallet that allows you to store your crypto seeds. It’s a palm-sized slim steel box where you insert small steel pieces, each of which has got a number or letter engraved on it.
You can say that Billfodl is a Cryptosteel clone and you will be almost right – the concept is the same at the point that Billfodl is licensing their design (through the CC 3.0 license). That being said, Billfodl has got some features that make it stand out.
Before I get into those, let me briefly review the purpose of such device for those of you who are new to the cryptoworld.
We all agree that online wallets are the least safe way of keeping your cryptos. Hackers can steal your credential together with your cryptos. In order to avoid that, people use hardware or software wallets. Their keys are safely stored on those and can be only decrypted by using a seed or personal key. The personal key is usually composed of 24 words and it’s critical to keep those written down somewhere safe because there is no way of recovering them in case of loss.
Most people write those words down on paper and put it inside a locker or under their bed. The only issue here is that in case of a fire or a flood, the piece of paper can be damaged and rendered illegible.
Cryptosteel was the first company that came with a solution to this issue. Back in 2015, they’ve designed a device that would allow the owner to write down their personal keys using steel pieces. The device is resistant to fire, water and shock. In case of flood or fire, your cryptos are still safe.
Billfodl is here to offer a product that is slightly more polished than Cryptosteel, at a lower price.
Let’s start with the most noticeable difference. Billfodl costs $79, which is about half of what you’d pay for a Cryptosteel ANYKEY, priced at $149. There are cheaper Cryptosteel models, though they offer less symbols than Billfodl. For instance, Cryptosteel HEX, priced at $79, only offers six letters to choose from, which makes it unsuitable for anything but hex phrases.
Billfodl is a US-based company and they ship for free all across the States. Customers ordering from other countries have to pay a fixed $12 fee, which is lower than the lowers rates Cryptosteel offers. This, combined with the low product price, makes Billfodl literally twice as cheaper than Cryptosteel. Oh, and you get free shipping worldwide if you buy two units or more.
Billfodl learns from the mistakes Cryptosteel made. As this Coingecko review points out, sometimes Cryptosteel package gets damaged during shipping, meaning that tiles mix up inside the box and it becomes a mess to find the right character.
Billfodl uses a different package that is way more resistant. Also, they distribute the tiles on a more intuitive manner, making it easier to find the right one.
I’m not a steel expert so I don’t know how much this affects durability, though according to specs, Billfodl uses 316 stainless steel, while Cryptosteel uses 304. In theory, this should make Billfodl more resistant to corrosion. 316 stainless steel is used in industrial marine applications for stuff like “cladding of nuclear fuel, and oil refining equipment as well as some medical implants”.
Wait wait wait, so not only is Billfodl two times cheaper than Cryptosteel, but it also uses better (and more expensive) steel. What’s the catch?
I guess there is no catch. Cryptosteel devices are manufactured by hand and the money goes to pay for the huge amount of man hours invested in every device.
On the other hand, Billfodl uses a laser cutter to manufacture the pieces. This probably allows them to produce the units way faster than if they had to cut the pieces manually. Plus, a laser cutter does the job with more precision.
To receive the latest updates follow me on social media! 🙂
Laser-cut pieces are all the exact same size and shape, making them fit the frame easier. This might save you anywhere from one to five minutes of tile load time, plus it makes the whole experience smoother. In addition to that, having the tiles fit the frame perfectly well makes the device feel more solid. This is even more noticeable when you hold and compare both devices at the same time.
I also agree that Billfold tiles are easier to read than Cryptosteel stamped ones, especially after the device spend some time in fire. Besides, sometimes stamped tiles get slightly crushed and warped, making them harder to load in the frame.
Last but not least, Billfodl offers 125% money back warranty. Haven’t tested that myself and hopefully I will not have to but yeah, the company officially claims that they have this sort of warranty.
Payment-wise, the company accepts Lightning Network payments and credit cards. Apparently, they are the 4th e-commerce store to accept Lightning Network payments. They promise to fulfill the items even in the case of a lost payment.
Hardcore Billfodl Testing
Now that you have an idea on what Billfodl is, let’s now take a look at what kind of stress it can withstand.
Let me anticipate that throwing the device from 9 meters did nothing besides some minor scratches and denting, so I had to test it on something heavier. I’ve asked a friend to use his tractor to run over the device. Because being run over by a tractor is something that happens to our cold wallets every day, right?
After the test, you can see that the frame got bent, though it is still perfectly usable – I can still open it and read what I wrote there (Hint: “1st Mining Rig Billfodl Review and Test” is not the key to my personal wallet, though you are welcome to try it)
With Billfodl offering so many features for half of the price, would it still be a good idea to get Cryptosteel? Personally, I have sympathy towards the guys behind Cryptosteel. It’s a small company run by a father and a son; they’ve made their way to success by working with their hands. Their story is quite inspiring, at least for someone who appreciates honest and hard work.
That being said, Billfodl has raised the bar considerably. I’m afraid that Cryptosteel has to rush and release a better product soon; otherwise they might get out of business in the near future. Because let’s be objective – Billbodl offers a superior product at a considerably lower price. I just hope Cryptosteel catches up soon.
Before to continue further, please share this 🙂 thanks!
I believe that knowing how to keep your cryptos safe is as important as knowing how to earn them. I want to give a big shootout to Billfodl for sending me their device for review. My tests have shown that they stand true to their words. Will I be using this wallet to keep my personal key? Definitely, yes. It’s still perfectly useable after all the stress testing I’ve done to it.
Ease of Use
Thank you for reading. As always, your comments, suggestions and questions are welcome.