Waves isn’t compatible with BIP39, but you can still use BIP39 phrases for a Waves SEED — enabling you to keep all of your crypto safe under the same mnemonic.
Crypto is complex — there’s no getting around that. Some of the major efforts towards mass adoption are aimed at making it easier to handle for end users. Even for the crypto-savvy, though, key management is a big deal. If you have many different cryptos and many different addresses for each, it can get hard to keep track of all your private keys and store them securely.
This is where BIP39 comes in. It’s a fantastic set of tools designed to help you create unlimited keys for almost every major crypto using a single randomly-generated phrase. The process is simple:
- Generate random phrase of 12-24 words from the standard wordlist
- Use phrase as the basis for creating a series of private keys deterministically — i.e., lots of private keys and addresses can be generated from the same phrase, and it will always be possible to recreate those keys/addresses if you have the initial phrase.
- Repeat for different cryptos, each of which has a different approach to key generation.
You’ll find some very handy BIP39 tools on Ian Coleman’s site: https://iancoleman.io/bip39/. Not only can you test it out and generate keys for different coins, but you can download and view the code to check it yourself — it’s all open source — or run it offline.
Waves and BIP39
Now, whilst BIP39 supports many cryptos, Waves isn’t yet one of them. No doubt it will come in time, but for now, that means you can’t create a list of keys and addresses for Waves from a BIP39 SEED. Except, with a bit of creative thinking, you can.
Firstly, any mnemonic SEED you create using BIP39 can be used to create a Waves key and address. Just enter it into your Client at the point of login, the same as any other SEED, and the app will do the rest. (Note that you can use a BIP39 phrase as a Waves SEED, but you can’t use any Waves SEED as a BIP39 mnemonic. The last word in the list is used as a checksum, so this is a useful hack but has its limitations.)
That will allow you to create one phrase that can be used to generate one Waves address, and unlimited addresses for all other supported cryptos. It’s a good start, but perhaps you want more than one Waves address.
If so, you can use BIP39-generated private keys as your Waves SEEDs. Remember, these are effectively long strings of random characters, so they will be perfectly secure. For example, you could generate many private keys for bitcoin and use those as Waves SEEDs.
For ultimate security, the BIP39 tools should be used offline, so the private keys you generate are never exposed to the web.