Abra launches new multi-signature wallet for holding digital assets using Bitcoin

I’m excited to announce Abra’s new Bitcoin-based multi-signature wallet for holding, sending and exchanging between digital assets, starting with ether and 52 fiat currencies as the first supported asset types. These updates, currently live for a limited number of users, will be rolled out to all users next week.

With Abra, all software contracts are based on bitcoin and pay out via bitcoin. Unlike other solutions, Abra does not take custody of consumer funds or private keys in the management and storage of these digital assets. Our solution uses a “2 of 2” multi-signature model that requires both Abra and the consumer to sign a transaction when the consumer is holding anything but bitcoin.

Using a Bitcoin-based multi-signature wallet, a consumer can hold fiat currency or ether and Abra will ensure that the value of bitcoin the consumer is holding stays fixed to the amount of ether or fiat currency that the consumer wishes to hold – we call this a synthetic currency. Today, Abra acts as the counterparty to the consumer in all cases. Abra does offline hedging to mitigate our counterparty risk but this does not affect the functioning of the wallet nor the obligation of Abra as the counterparty in any way. In the future, Abra may open up the system so that others can act as counterparties to these contracts once a full smart contract implementation is in place.

We’ve been testing this model using a 100% server-based solution for a few months to verify the logic before expanding to a true multi-signature model in order to make sure that we had the software and financial engineering right. Now, after running our service for the past few months with tens of millions of dollars of funds, we’re ready for commercial deployment of our multi-signature solution. We’ve chosen ether and fiat currencies as the first digital assets that we will enable using this new model.

 

How does it work?

Let’s say you want to hold euros in your Abra app, and then eventually exchange those euros for ether. First, you need to get funds into Abra. You can do this by loading bitcoin directly into your Abra wallet, (or using Abra to buy bitcoin, where supported). Then, move your funds into a euro wallet, which creates a “2 of 2” multi-signature transaction, fixing the value of the bitcoin to the amount of euros you wish to hold. “2 of 2” means that both Abra and the consumer must agree to and sign the transaction. At this point you have successfully created a multi-signature transaction fixing the value of your bitcoin as euros.  

Using the new “Exchange” function in the App’s dashboard you can now convert the euro contract to an ether contract. To do this, you redeem the euro contract, which ensures that your app has the right amount of bitcoin relative to the amount of euros you are holding at this moment. Then, a new multi-signature transaction is created which fixes the value of the bitcoin to the amount of ether you wish to hold.

Abra currently pays any mining fees for exchanges but we offset this by maintaining a spread on the conversion rate. Eventually, we’ll figure out a better way to do this but this seems like a fair solution for now. To offset our counterparty risk in the 2 of 2 multi-signature model, as well as our risk of paying enormous mining fees, there may be variable minimum and maximum limits on any given contract at any given time.

If your ether has gone up in value and you want to lock in gains, you can simply exchange it back to bitcoin or a euro contract. In either case, you can then withdraw funds to your bank account (where supported) or withdraw it as bitcoin to another wallet. Whatever works for you.

 

Why are we doing this?

When we launched Abra as a platform for enabling money transfer and payments using bitcoin, users immediately started giving us feedback that Abra was now their go-to method to convert between fiat and bitcoin. This was an interesting side effect of how our model works. Our users love how easy we’ve made it to move between fiat and bitcoin without a central custodian — i.e. a bank — but they kept asking for more: more digital currencies, more wallets, more flexibility in exchanging between currencies, etc. This release puts us on the path to delivering on that ask.

 

What’s Next? Migrating from “2 of 2” to “2 of 3.”

For the next few months we’ll be working with this 2 of 2 p2sh script based solution that requires both Abra and the consumer (via their Abra app) to sign a transaction. In a few months, we will migrate to a full 2 of 3 multi-signature smart contract solution that will enable a Contract Oracle to sign in lieu of either counterparty. This will provide significantly more protection to both the consumer as well as Abra in the case that either party disappears and will allow for much larger contracts due to the diminished counterparty risk inherent in the 2 of 2 model.

Our long-term vision is to have a completely decentralized system for storing, managing and exchanging between digital assets for investing, payments, and money transfer. While this new solution is not 100% decentralized, it certainly puts us further along the path to getting there.

Beyond 2 of 3 support, we eventually want to open the system up to other asset types and other counterparties to the contracts (besides Abra.)  We’d love to hear about what you’d like to see in future enhancements and capabilities.  

Give it a try and let us know what you think! Download the Abra app (for iOS and Android)

52 thoughts on “Abra launches new multi-signature wallet for holding digital assets using Bitcoin

  1. I have many questions having just opened an Abra account and new to Cryptocurrency investing.
    Can I use both Amex and my Chase Bank account to send US dollars to Abra? Does using my Chase account require a wire transfer or a regular transfer that I would use for online banking? Can I use the Ledger Harddrive wallet with your account and if so how do I do this? I just received the wallet so haven’t done anything to set it up yet. I’m sure I probably have to set up with Ledger online. Will try to do that today.
    Thank you -Bonnie

    1. Hi Bonnie, these are all great questions!

      Let me try to address them here as best I can and then you’re welcome to followup with our support team at support@abra.com for any more details that I may have missed:

      * I have many questions having just opened an Abra account and new to Cryptocurrency investing.
      Welcome to this exciting new world! My first piece of advice is to make sure you write down your wallet recovery phrase.

      * Can I use both Amex and my Chase Bank account to send US dollars to Abra? Does using my Chase account require a wire transfer or a regular transfer that I would use for online banking?
      Yes you can use both.
      The app will walk you through the process for both when you select add money or buy bitcoin from the app. For amounts less than $2k per day you don’t have to do a wire transfer. You can simply do the payment from Chase to Abra directly from the Abra app.

      * Can I use the Ledger Harddrive wallet with your account and if so how do I do this?
      The hardware wallet is a separate bitcoin wallet from the Abra app but you can easily move money back and forth.
      To do this follow these instructions.

      Happy investing!

  2. Hello! This is a good move adding ethereum, however: “In either case, you can then withdraw funds to your bank account (where supported) or withdraw it as bitcoin to another wallet” means we aren’t able to withdraw ether itself to another wallet, right? Will you be supporting withdrawing ether without having to exchange them in fiat or bitcoin first? Thanks!

    1. Hi Rhea,

      So you are correct. You cannot withdraw ether to an external wallet. We are always looking to add functionality to the Abra app and are considering ways to withdraw ether. However, right now we are focused on enabling our customers to gain exposure to the price action of ether, and other digital assets, through Bitcoin. If you have questions or concerns, please email us at contact@abra.com

  3. Bitcoin is currently today, Dec. 6 $13,000. If I buy one bitcoin through ABRA today and let’s say in a month bitcoin is priced at $20,000. And, I want to sell my bitcoin will I be able to transfer that into U.S. dollars and put that back into my Wells Fargo account that day and make $7000?

    Is there a settlement date period before it would go back into my account?

  4. Hello,
    I recently had my Abra wallet and was to receive 0.122 BTC from my friend who also has an abra wallet, he sent the Bitcoin but it’s been more than 24 hours no notification, no pending, nothing nothing in my wallet. His wallet shows that the BTC has been sent but i haven’t received anything or even a notification.

    1. Are you asking about native support for ETH? As the post above notes, Abra allows you to invest in ETH, but since you won’t be holding ETH directly, you can’t transfer between an external ETH wallet. More info on that.

  5. Hello. Can I use Abra to convert USD (transferred from a US bank account) to EURO (cash)? What are the steps to do this (lowest cost method)? Thanks.

    1. Hi Liz,

      So you can transfer USD from your US bank account onto the Abra app, and then exchange USD to Euros, if you set up a Euro wallet. However, you can’t withdraw euros from the app. You need to exchange back into USD and then withdraw to your US bank account. If you have further questions, please send us an email at contact@abra.com

    1. Hi Josh,

      We are looking into enabling users to invest in other cryptocurrencies, such as Litecoin, through the Abra app. We don’t have a timeline to share yet, but we will keep you posted on future updates. Thanks!

  6. i have ethereum from my other wallet. Can i transfer it directly to my abra wallet without converting it first to peso or bitcoin?

    1. Hi Tintin,

      Do not send ETH from an external wallet to Abra. You cannot receive or send out ETH from Abra. To invest in Ethereum through the Abra app, you need to transfer in bitcoin first (or purchase some through our app with a linked bank account), and then exchange for ETH. To move that ETH out of Abra, you will need to exchange back into Bitcoin again. If you have further questions, feel free to send us an email at contact@abra.com.

  7. Hello there,

    I am new to this Bitcoin thing and I just would like to understand how it works because I am also interested to try it. To purchase and/or buy and/or invest in Bitcoin, I will need to put funds in my ABRA wallet right? Please help me understand. And then after that I can invest it in Bitcoin–Is this right? On the other hand, I also would like to confirm, what is the difference if an investor will put his or her money in Bitcoin thru say; Coins.ph and/or Bitconnect.

    Some one please help me understand.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Jun,

      Thanks for the comment. You are correct, to get Bitcoin through the Abra app, just link your bank account and exchange your desired amount into BTC. The difference between Abra and other services like Coins.ph or Bitconnect is in our security. Abra is a non-custodial wallet, meaning that the BTC on your mobile app is controlled by you, not us. Think of it like holding cash in your wallet. Learn more about our security here. Coins.ph and Bitconnect hold your BTC on your behalf. We feel our security model is much more secure for long-term holding. If you have more questions, feel free to email us at contact@abra.com. Thanks!

  8. Hello Abra, I joined the Abra and linked up my bank account to it, but I was unable to add money or buy bitcoins from my bank. Anytime I tries to do the buying or adding money to my account, it says I should try back later, please I’m really confused an I really don’t know what next to do! I would like you guys to assist and check my account if it’s really ready to use for the adding money and buying bitcoins! Thanks

    1. Hi William,

      Sorry you’re having issues purchasing BTC through Abra. Please send us an email at contact@abra.com with all the details (the name of your bank, whether you’re using Android/iOS, etc.) and we will be sure assist you. Thanks!

    1. Hi Keith,

      If she lives in the US, she can link her bank account to Abra and add US dollars to her USD wallet. You can find information about adding funds via US bank here and here.

      She can then send the funds to her family in The Philippines, directly via the Abra app. They can cash the funds out with a linked PH bank account or an Abra retail teller (like Tambunting). Learn more here. If you have further questions, please send us an email at contact@abra.com.

  9. Hi,
    I am planning to buy 2 ETH using PHP. Is this possible? How much will be the fee for conversion?

    Lastly, for example the price of ETH becomes 1000USD from 700USD, and then I decided to cash out. Is the process will be ETH to BTC to PHP? How much will be the fee? Is the fee fixed?

    Hope you answer. Thanks.

    1. Hi Patrick!

      Based on your question, it appears that you understand quite well how Abra works. We recommend reading this recent blog post, which explains the process of investing in ETH in a bit more detail.

      We do not currently charge a fixed fee for the conversion but there is a spread on the exchange rate between any of our supported currencies, which you can see when you go to buy and/or sell. Our fee structure is subject to change; here is the latest fee schedule.

      Because we support withdrawal to many banks in the Philippines, as well as many cash locations, you can cash out from ETH to PHP at the prevailing ETH sell rate at the time, without needing to go “through” bitcoin.

  10. Hello,
    Im new here in abra, I just want to suggest to have other coins/crypnocu and also a referral bonus program features.

    Thank You!

  11. Hello,

    After I transfer BTC from Coins.ph to Abra..I got this message when Im trying to EXCHANGE ETH to PHP Peso.
    “SORRY, we are unable to do an exchange using this currency while its balance is being confirmed. Please wait up to 15 mins., then try again.

  12. hello, i just deposited to my Abra wallet today. However, when i tried exchanging the currency from php to ether, there is always an error showing. KIndly assist. Thank you.

  13. Please update your Tambunting list of tellers in the philippines. I went to one branch and the guard says they already transferred.

    Also, if I add money to my wallet via cash in tambunting branches will it reflect immediately on my abra wallet?

    Would there be a fee if php is converted to eth?

    1. Hi Janus, sorry for your experience. Can you please tell me which branch you visited, so that I may report that to our team in Manila?

      If you add money to your wallet via cash, the transaction will be reflected immediately but the funds will not be available for use until the transaction is confirmed on the blockchain. Currently, confirmation times on the blockchain are very slow.

      There is a small fee to exchange PHP to ETH. See our current fees table.

  14. I can’t convert PHP to another currency as I am getting this error.
    “Sorry we are unable to do an exchange using this currency while its balance is being confirmed. Please wait up to 15 mins”

    Seriously losing money with this right now. How many hours or days will it take to verify the funds? Thanks.

  15. This usage of 2 of 2 wallets seems like the kind of thing that Segwit can help with in order to reduce fees for you and your users. How soon can we expect Abra to support it?

    1. Hi Kimmie,

      It depends on if the Bitcoin network is congested with transactions or not. Block confirmation times have been highly variable recently. If you have questions about a specific transaction, please send us an email at contact@abra.com.

  16. good afternoon which currencies you support to hold in a wallet. How much coins and which one you can hold in the bra wallet? i can’t find that on the site. thanks

  17. I am interested in ETH and other cryptos. Since the price of Bitcoin is very high I am not ready to buy bitcoin. Are you planning to trade other cryptos like DASH, IOTA, RIPPLE etcetera, I am ready to buy some

    1. Hi Jacob,

      We are actively looking at supporting other cryptocurrencies besides BTC and ETH. We will keep you posted on future updates to the app. Thanks!

  18. if I deposit in phiippine peso to ABRA and want to convert to ethereum so that i can participate on ICO using ether as deposit, what is the process. Assuming it is already converted to ether can it be sent to any ICO directy without any intervention from third party or do I have to create another ether wallet before I can send to any platform.

    Thanks,
    nilo

    1. Hi Nilo,

      So Abra uses Bitcoin as the underlying contract to represent the value of ether (ETH) within our app. You cannot send ETH in or out of the app directly. Therefore, you cannot participate and use Abra as a compatible wallet for an ERC 20 token ICO. You can learn more about how our app works here: https://www.abra.com/blog/abra-now-supports-ether/

      We are looking into natively supporting ETH in the future, so we will keep you posted on updates. Thanks!

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