Why hold your own Bitcoin?

There’s a saying among Bitcoiners – “Not your keys, not your coins“. This has never been more evident than now, a few days after the spectacular end of one of the world’s largest exchanges, FTX.

Many of you have learned this the hard way, finding out that you can no longer access your assets on FTX, Voyager, BlockFi, Celcius, Mt. Gox, etc., etc., etc. Why did this happen to you? Because you trusted them with your money. It’s the same fate that happened with customers of Bernie Madoff.

What does not holding your keys mean? Well, it means that when you don’t hold the keys to your Bitcoin, you are TRUSTING an entity to hold them for you, and that entity can via malfeasance, negligence, fraud, governmental pressure backed by violence, or many more reasons can cause you to be unable to access YOUR asset that YOU paid for. 2022 has been a tough year for many, as they didn’t practice this mantra, and instead trusted someone else with their asset.

For those reading this that lost their Bitcoin, I’m sorry. We in the Bitcoin community have been trying to evangelize the importance of keeping your own keys, but unfortunately, this message has been muffled and muted because people want convenience over security, greed, or just simply don’t know any better.

And if what you lost was “crypto” other than Bitcoin, it’s a good time to check yourself and realize that you’re NOT going to get rich trading garbage alt-coins (ETH included) because you’re so smart. My advice – sell them / convert them all now for Bitcoin and Bitcoin only and be done with it. Take this advice, or leave it. Bitcoin will wait. There’s another saying in Bitcoin – “Everybody gets Bitcoin at the price they deserve“.

This guide is for anyone that has Bitcoin on an exchange now. It’s not too late to move it off. The best time was yesterday. The second best time is right now. Here’s a simple guide on the steps needed to take control and custody of your Bitcoin and protect yourself from the failures of others.

Two ways to hold your own Bitcoin – you choose

  1. Unchained Capital – My friends at Unchained will help you with their white glove concierge service. They will walk you through securing your Bitcoin on multiple Trezors, ensuring you’ve properly backed up your seed phrase, know your pin, etc. I really recommend them, and the small fee they charge for their personalized collaborative custody service is well worth it. To get started, go here, and no need to read the rest of this post.
  2. Personal Trezor – If you want to do it completely yourself, read on for the details.

Securing your Bitcoin on a Trezor

Buy a Trezor

There are many hardware wallets available, and if I had to pick one, I would pick Trezor. Trezor was one of the first hardware wallets and is still one of the best and going strong. You can buy one (any model is fine) directly from Trezor or Amazon.

Trezor has their own extensive guides which you can follow, and/or continue on for my more curated simple steps below.

Set up your Trezor

  1. Unboxing: Once you receive your Trezor, ensure that the device is indeed in its original packaging and hasn’t been tampered with. Click here for Trezor’s guide on how to do this.
  2. Install Trezor Suite: Download Trezor Suite on your computer and install.
  3. Run Trezor Suite: Launch Trezor Suite, plug in your Trezor, and follow the instructions:
    • Update the firmware of your Trezor
    • Create a PIN code – and do not forget it!
    • Create a Bitcoin wallet, and write down your seed words on the included paper booklet, twice

Send your Bitcoin to your Trezor

Click on your newly created Bitcoin wallet, and click “Receive”. This will show you an address and a QR code. More details here with screenshots.

Mobile: If you use your exchange’s mobile app on your phone, launch the app -> wallet -> send. From there you will usually see a scan icon where you can point your phone at the QR code on your computer. Send it all by tapping ‘Max’.

Desktop: If you’re logged into your exchange on the same computer you’re running Trezor Suite, simply copy the address under the QR code to the clipboard. Next, go to your exchange’s website, login -> wallet -> send, and paste the address from Trezor suite as the receiving address. Send ‘Max’ (all of it).

The Trezor will also confirm the address on the device. Follow the extra verification your exchange requires, which is typically an email or additional prompt for 2-factor authentication.

Secure your Trezor and seed words booklet

You’re done, but what to do with your Trezor and seed word booklet? SECURE THEM. Treat them carefully. It’s like having cash in your mattress. You need to know who can access it. If someone has access to your seed words or your Trezor and PIN, your coins can easily be stolen, and you’ll never see them again. Be careful out there. Here are some strategies for “where” to secure your Trezor and seed words. I do not recommend storing your seed words in a safety deposit box – bank employees can get to those boxes. Again, it’s about trust, and sadly, history has taught us that you should trust no one.


If you made it this far and you’ve successfully removed your Bitcoin from the exchange, and now have it yourself, you’ve taken a huge step towards self-sovereignty. Your Bitcoin is now really yours. This is a huge step. Doesn’t it feel good?

For more, check out “Brett’s Bitcoin Rabbit Hole Guide” and follow me on Twitter.

Brett Morrison – Official Site

The official web site of Brett Morrison, Self-Made Technology Entrepreneur.


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