LVL - The Money AppLatest release: 1.0.5 ( 9th September 2021 ) 🔍 Last analysed 2nd November 2022 . Custodial: The provider holds the keys Not updated in a while
As the provider of this product holds the keys, verifiability of the product is not relevant to the security of the funds!
As part of our Methodology, we ask:
Is the product self-custodial?If the answer is "no", we mark it as "Custodial: The provider holds the keys".
A custodial service is a service where the funds are held by a third party like the provider. The custodial service can at any point steal all the funds of all the users at their discretion. Our investigations stop there.
Some services might claim their setup is super secure, that they don’t actually have access to the funds, or that the access is shared between multiple parties. For our evaluation of it being a wallet, these details are irrelevant. They might be a trustworthy Bitcoin bank and they might be a better fit for certain users than being your own bank but our investigation still stops there as we are only interested in wallets.
Products that claim to be non-custodial but feature custodial accounts without very clearly marking those as custodial are also considered “custodial” as a whole to avoid misguiding users that follow our assessment.
This verdict means that the provider might or might not publish source code and maybe it is even possible to reproduce the build from the source code but as it is custodial, the provider already has control over the funds, so it is not a wallet where you would be in exclusive control of your funds.
We have to acknowledge that a huge majority of Bitcoiners are currently using custodial Bitcoin banks. If you do, please:
- Do your own research if the provider is trust-worthy!
- Check if you know at least enough about them so you can sue them when you have to!
- Check if the provider is under a jurisdiction that will allow them to release your funds when you need them?
- Check if the provider is taking security measures proportional to the amount of funds secured? If they have a million users and don’t use cold storage, that hot wallet is a million times more valuable for hackers to attack. A million times more effort will be taken by hackers to infiltrate their security systems.
But we also ask:
Was the product updated during the last year?If the answer is "no", we mark it as "Not updated in a while".
Bitcoin wallets are complex products and Bitcoin is a new, advancing technolgy. Projects that don’t get updated in a year are probably not well maintained.
This verdict may not get applied if the provider is active and expresses good reasons for not updating the product.The product cannot be independently verified. If the provider puts your funds at risk on purpose or by accident, you will probably not know about the issue before people start losing money. If the provider is more criminally inclined he might have collected all the backups of all the wallets, ready to be emptied at the press of a button. The product might have a formidable track record but out of distress or change in management turns out to be evil from some point on, with nobody outside ever knowing before it is too late.
Help spread awareness for build reproducibility
Please help us spread the word discussing the risks of centralized custodians with LVL - The Money App via their Twitter!
Do your own research!
Try out searching for "lost bitcoins", "stole my money" or "scammers" together with the wallet's name, even if you think the wallet is generally trustworthy. For all the bigger wallets you will find accusations. Make sure you understand why they were made and if you are comfortable with the provider's reaction.
The Analysis ¶
While this might be a good thing:
- External Custodians are usually highly specialized in securing assets
- External Custodians will care about fixing issues with one client, to not lose others
- External Custodians are usually registered businesses under regulatory oversight
- External Custodians will try to protect your funds even from your wallet provider: With fraud detection, they will certainly try to avoid the emptying of all users' wallets at once
- External Custodians are extra intermediaries: Even when the wallet provider wants to let you use your money, they might turn out to be uncooperative
- External Custodians holding custody of many wallets are interesting targets for hackers and thieves
- External Custodians, being publicly registered will not be able to resist if in their jurisdiction rules on the use of Bitcoin get tightened
As External Custodians usually don't publish lists of companies they are working with and past information might be outdated, we have no way of assuring claims by wallet providers to be using their custody solution. Please let us know if you found proof that the provider is being dishonest about their business relation to External Custodians!
LVL describes itself as a “premium all-in-one finance app that lets you buy and sell crypto for free.” It claims to be a community exchange:
Buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin with no trading fees and no hidden spreads. With LVL’s revolutionary community exchange, the only price you pay is the price other LVL members are charging.
At LVL’s page on cryptocurrencies:
At LVL, you get your own fixed-address wallet using multi-signature security technology provided by BitGo. Multi-signature technology creates multiple layers of security with no single point of failure.
BitGo offers custodial services, meaning that LVL probably does not provide users with the mnemonics.
We tried the app and registered an account. Unfortunately, our region was not supported, so we could not view the app’s features.
This app is custodial and thus not verifiable.
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