what is satscard

What is a satscard and how does it work?

7th February 2024

As you know, bitcoin is becoming an increasingly popular currency around the world. No longer just as an investment asset but also and above all as a means of payment in its own right.

Thus, more and more forms of payments with bitcoin are emerging. This is particularly the case for bitcoin cards like SatsCard which may seem surprising at first glance. The SatsCard allows you to transfer bitcoin offline, without an internet connection. It's a kind of pre-paid bitcoin card that you can give directly to a person of your choice, without making a transaction on the bitcoin network directly.

It's not very clear? Wondering how this actually works?

In this article, we will see, what it is more precisely and how you can use it.

What is a satscard?

Map Satscard is manufactured by the Coinkite company and carries a certificate signed by their manufacturing plant. A satscard is a physical card that looks exactly like a traditional bank card at first glance. However, it works thanks to an NFC chip which has the ability to generate its own entropy to create a bitcoin wallet. It's a kind of opendime in a card version. You should also know that this is not a bitcoin wallet that is used to permanently store bitcoins.

multiple graphics available coinkite sats card
There are several graphics available on the site.

Technically, it is not difficult to use a satscard. A satscard works more like a prepaid card. However, it is important to know that the card can only be used 10 times (slot). This means that after the 10 released bitcoin transfers, the card can no longer be used by any person.

When can you use a satscard?

You can use a satscard in different situations. You can use it to send it to people of your choice, to make payments and in general to make bitcoin transfers when you don't have access to the internet. In fact, this is its great interest. Rather, the card is used to transfer bitcoin from one person to another. This was thought of as using a bank note or a check when you want to make a hand-to-hand bitcoin transaction.

Only the card holder has the private key and becomes the de facto holder of the funds, until the funds are transferred elsewhere.

What is the difference with a Tasigner card?

Perhaps you have heard of the TapSigner card which is designed by the same company namely CoinKite? Well, you should know that the big difference is that the Tasigner is intended for one and the same person. It is a bitcoin wallet in the form of an NFC card, very close in idea to satscard but it allows use for a person who wishes to store their bitcoins and not “give” or “transfer” them to another person.

How does the satscard work?

A satscard has the following characteristics:

  • A QR code representing the public key, which allows bitcoin deposits to be made to the card.
  • A 6-digit CVC PIN for the Satscard, which is also written on the back of the card.
  • You can immediately pay the card's current wallet shown on the back and top it up with funds as many times as you want.
  • You can check with a smartphone the amount of funds are on the card.
This is the back card. The “Spend” code here, 010-101 is the PIN code that allows you to validate transactions.

So, if you give the card to someone and they want to check the card balance. She will be able to check it instantly on the block explorer which will tell her the current amount on the card.

Note: The satscard has 10 transfers available. This means that the card can be transferred from one person to another or from one address to another 10 times in total. This is not a long-term portfolio as we previously indicated. It is also not a card for paying directly on the Bitcoin network.

How to transfer funds from a Satscard?

If you have received a satscard or want to check the funds, you must download a wallet compatible with NFC technology. The app in question is “Nunchuk which is available on iOS and Android.

nunchuk btc card
source: Nunchuk

All you have to do is put the card in front of your device and you can then make the transfers of your choice.

All you have to do is choose the amount of your choice, add the CVC PIN code of the card and you can move them to the wallet of your choice. Remember that to sign the transaction, you will also need to pass the card under the NFC reader. This is why a person who gives the card to another person will not be able to transfer the balance once they no longer have the card (even if they have the PIN).

—> For a clearer tutorial on how the satscard works, here is a video tutorial here.

When to use the satscard?

Send bitcoin

Of course, this is the first advantage of the satscard. Being able to pay in bitcoin in the real world, without making any conversion to FIAT. No need to have internet, you can use the card to send bitcoin to the person of your choice.

Temporarily store bitcoins

Sometimes you need to have bitcoin, which you can use without fear of opening your wallet. This is where the Satscard becomes very practical.

In fact, it is also a secure option than the satscard because to use the bitcoins on the card, you need the card and the wallet software at the same time.

Give bitcoin to someone without sending any

This is also a case of frequent use of the satscard, namely giving the card to a person of their choice. This serves as a gift card or prepaid card that can be given to someone without the hassle of making a transfer.

What are the advantages of the Satscard?

  • Possibility of transferring bitcoin physically, without needing to have internet access
  • More practical than a bitcoin wallet that is complicated to configure and cannot be easily transported everywhere. It looks like a normal card that you can easily store in your wallet (for everyday life).
  • A simple way to check the balance of your Satscard using an NFC compatible smartphone.

What are the disadvantages of the Satscard?

  • It's not easy to understand how the card works at first glance.
  • It is very possible to lose the card because ultimately it looks like a classic bank card that you forget/lose or get stolen rather quickly.
  • Satscard is only compatible on the main network and not on lightning. Which can be more expensive during transfers.
  • Many phones are not compatible for card reading. (However, the Nunchuck app is available on iOS and Android).
  • The card becomes unusable after 10 slots have been used. This gives a “disposable” character to the card which is not very attractive in absolute terms.

Note: It is important to know that transactions on satscard are only carried out on the bitcoin on chain network. Lightning network is not supported!

In fact, if you want the same card, with the Lightning option, then in this case, you will have to turn to BoltCard type cards, with coincorner for example or with the Bolt Ring which allows you to pay in bitcoin.

What happens if someone tries to hack my Satscard?

It is important to know that any card working with NFC technology is likely to be exploited. However, the person trying to steal your funds must also have the CVC PINC code which is written on the card. Without this number, it is impossible to validate the transactions and therefore, to take the funds from the card.

If the person in question knows or managed to obtain your PIN code, then they will be able to recover the funds.

There are pockets that block radio frequencies and prevent unwanted access by RF readers. In this case, the ideal would be to have a sleeve of this type which will protect all your cards vulnerable to RFID.

Final word

The satscard is interesting in several respects but can still seem complicated to understand, especially when you are starting out. However, it is an innovative means of payment which can be very practical for transferring amounts in bitcoin that you do not want to transfer on chain directly. Typically, the card has been designed for hand-to-hand transactions like if for example you were to buy a watch and you give the seller the amount in bitcoin on the card.

However, as you must have understood, this does not replace a durable and reliable bitcoin wallet that allows you to store your bitcoin over the long term. In this case, it will be necessary to favor a physical wallet of the type ColdCard which is also designed by the Coinkite company.


How do I know if I am seeing a real satscard and not a fake one?

Every satscard manufactured by Coinkite carries a certificate, signed by our factory. Like the X.509 certificates for OPENDIME®, it can be traced and verified in the field.

There are several ways to check the map:

  • Tap on it and view the verification page.
  • Use command line software cktap.
  • Use it with a SATSCARD compatible mobile wallet like Nunchuck.

If I receive a SATSCARD initialized by someone else, they will know the chaincode (32 bytes) used, so maybe they know the private key?

No. The satscard still provides 256 bits of entropy in the same process as the BIP-32. The device carefully selects its contribution to the private key, using a TRNG certified by the card manufacturer. The chip hardware is certified under Common Criteria Assessment Assurance Level 6 (EAL6). This process covers how TRNG works and most of the cryptographic calculations we use.

What are the specific features of the card?

  • Card size: ID-1: 85,6 × 53,98 mm
  • Temperature Limits: -15℃~50℃
  • NFC communications via ISO-7816, including ISO/IEC 7816-4:2020 and/or ISO/IEC 14443-
  • The estimated operational life is 10 years.

Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. The article was not sponsored. The link used includes a referral link. Always do your own research.


ZoneBitcoin Editorial

Passionate about Bitcoin, our editors try to democratize their knowledge through varied articles touching on different subjects.

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