[Bitcoin-development] Draft BIP for seamless website authentication using Bitcoin address

Eric Larchevêque elarch at gmail.com
Fri Apr 4 13:22:59 UTC 2014

What I'm trying to achieve, is to have a very simple way of authenticating
yourself with one Bitcoin address from your wallet.
For most of the people using Bitcoin, their wallet is on their phone.

The UX is clear and simple :
1. click on "connect with Bitcoin" (the audience is normal people)
2. flash the QRcode with your wallet (blockchain.info, mycelium, ...)
3. accept the authentication request (same style than OpenID or Facebook
4. user is autologged and identified by the chosen Bitcoin public address

It makes sense only if major wallets are supporting the protocol. If you
need to install a plugin or download a third party software, no one will do
I see only benefits for the entire ecosystem, and if I'm working on such a
proposition it is because I really need this feature.

Of course, it can be done without a BIP, I just need to convince wallet
developpers one by one to implement the feature.
But I thought it was much better to start the "official" way, so all wallet
could easily find and implement the same authentication mechanism.

>  Bitcoin and website authentication are unrelated problems

I respectfully disagree. Many services require your Bitcoin address, and to
do that they artificially request an email/password to store it.
This is not about authentication as an identity (as "I'm Eric
Larcheveque"), but as in "I'm proving to you that I control this address".

Without such a standard protocol, you could never envision a pure Bitcoin
physical locker rental, or booking an hotel room via Bitcoin and opening
the door through the paying address.


On Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 3:08 PM, Mike Hearn <mike at plan99.net> wrote:

> This comes up every few months. I think the problem you are trying to
> solve is already solved by SSL client certificates, and if you want to help
> make them more widespread the programs you need to upgrade are web browsers
> and not Bitcoin wallets. There are certainly bits of infrastructure you
> could reuse here and there, like perhaps a TREZOR with a custom firmware
> extension for really advanced/keen users, but overall Bitcoin and website
> authentication are unrelated problems.
> On Fri, Apr 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM, Eric Larchevêque <elarch at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hello,
>> I've written a draft BIP description of an authentication protocol based
>> on Bitcoin public address.
>> By authentication we mean to prove to a service/application that we
>> control a specific Bitcoin address by signing a challenge, and that all
>> related data and settings may securely be linked to our session.
>> The aim is to greatly facilitate sign ups and logins to services and
>> applications, improving the Bitcoin ecosystem as a whole.
>> https://github.com/bitid/bitid/blob/master/BIP_draft.md
>> Demo website :
>> http://bitid-demo.herokuapp.com/
>> Classical password authentication is an insecure process that could be
>> solved with public key cryptography. The problem is that it theoretically
>> offloads a lot of complexity and responsibility on the user. Managing
>> private keys securely is complex. However this complexity is already being
>> addressed in the Bitcoin ecosystem. So doing public key authentication is
>> practically a free lunch to bitcoiners.
>> I've formatted the protocol description as a BIP because this is the only
>> way to have all major wallets implementing it, and because it completely
>> fits in my opinion the BIP "process" category.
>> Please read it and let me know your thoughts and comments so we can
>> improve on this draft.
>> Eric Larcheveque
>> elarch at gmail.com
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> _______________________________________________
>> Bitcoin-development mailing list
>> Bitcoin-development at lists.sourceforge.net
>> https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/bitcoin-development
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