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Mode: Buy, Hold & Grow Bitcoin

latest release: 2.2.0 ( 11th October 2021 ) last analysed  4th October 2021 Custodial: The provider holds the keys 
4.2 ★★★★★
225 ratings
10 thousand
11th February 2021

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Please help us spread the word discussing the risks of centralized custodians with Mode: Buy, Hold & Grow Bitcoin  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.

If you find something we should include, you can create an issue or edit this analysis yourself and create a merge request for your changes.

The Analysis 

App Description

From the description:

Welcome to Mode. Our new look app remains the one-stop place for Bitcoin in the UK, but now includes seamless payments and Bitcoin rewards.

It sounds and looks like a trading platform.

Here are all the things you can do with Mode:

  • Access your Bitcoin anytime and anywhere
  • Complete a simple ID verification and top up GBP via ‘Open Banking’

Mode also states that it’s custodial:

Store and send Bitcoin with confidence:

  • Assets are held with one of the world’s most secure crypto custodians
  • Add or send Bitcoin seamlessly
  • Send Bitcoin instantly and for free (no network fees) to other Mode users, anytime, anywhere

The Site

From Terms of Service:

6.1.1. The custodian for Bitcoin storage within the Mode Accounts is Bitgo, Inc. (“Bitgo). You are not required to use the Digital Currency Services. If you use the Digital Currency Services, you will be bound by the Bitgo terms of use, as amended from time to time (“Bitgo Terms”). The current Bitgo Terms may be viewed here. Your acceptance of these Terms is deemed acceptance of the Bitgo Terms.

Bitgo is a custodial service:

Safeguard your digital assets with our qualified, insured cold storage custody at BitGo Trust Company—a regulated Trust Company under the Division of Banking in South Dakota

The App

Unfortunately we were not able to access this app due to regional restrictions.

Verdict

Our verdict for this app is custodial. Thus, it is not verifiable.

(dg)

Verdict Explained

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 not, we tag it Custodial! 

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.
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.