Back to all news posts

The non-custodial model is the safest way to buy and sell your bitcoin.

If you’re new to the world of bitcoin, you may be wondering, “What does non-custodial even mean?”

Good question. And considering the non-custodial model drives everything we do at Bitcoin Well, we’re happy to provide some clarity. 

Ultimately, the non-custodial model means our customers hold and control their own bitcoin. It’s an essential component of our overarching goal to empower people to take control of their wealth and long-term financial wellbeing.

Bitcoin Well ATM at CrossIron Mills, Calgary, AB

“Our goal is to bring the world sound money and help make society financially sovereign,” says Adam O’Brien, Bitcoin Well’s Founder and CEO. “The key to that is non-custodial buying and selling of bitcoin.”

As for why the non-custodial model should be important to you as a customer, let’s dig into what it looks like in action.


First, what does a custodial bitcoin model mean?

Most cryptocurrency exchanges (and many of our competitors) offer web-based crypto wallets known as custodial wallets. When you use a third-party exchange to buy and hold your bitcoin, that company retains custody of your bitcoin keys. 

Because bitcoin keys are a series of unique passcodes that unlock your digital wallet – and, most importantly, your funds – the custodial model gives another person or company control of your bitcoin. 

The model is not unlike the traditional banking system, which has operated as a fiat-currency custodian for hundreds of years. With the big-name banks, however, you have a certain amount of guarantee that your money is safe; the deposit protection program ensures each Canadian bank account is insured for up to $100,000. 

But in the world of bitcoin, there’s no similar insurance or guarantee your bitcoins will be safe with a third-party exchange or company offering to hold them for you. Bitcoin transactions cannot be undone or reversed if your custodian makes a mistake.

And if a company disappears with your bitcoins, there’s no way to get them back. (Look no further than the Quadriga debacle for proof, when investors lost nearly $200 million to a fraudulent cryptocurrency exchange.) 

At Bitcoin Well, we don’t want that for our customers. We want you to hold your keys, your coins, your wealth. That, in essence, is what the non-custodial model means. 


The non-custodial model means self-custody

Ledger Nano S

The non-custodial model means Bitcoin Well never holds your bitcoin. We deliver it to your preferred wallet as soon as your transaction is executed, thereby reducing your risk of third-party custody.

Whether you choose a digital or hardware-based, cold storage wallet our customer success team is here to help you store and protect the bitcoin that you hold in your hands. For this reason, our offices are among a small group of authorized resellers for both Ledger and Trezor. This means that when you purchase a hardware wallet from Bitcoin Well, you can be confident that they have not been tampered with and you can trust our team to provide you with a safe and secure product.

“We recommend having your own personal non-custodial wallet to hold your bitcoin that only you have the private key to,” says Benny Sarnelli, our Customer Success Leader. “We intentionally do not hold customers’ coins. We want to teach customers that they do not have to trust institutions with their stored value.”

Once you have a wallet set up, we simply sell you the bitcoin. And to handle your transactions effectively and safely, we own and control our own inventory of bitcoin. It’s all part of our dedication to bringing the world sound, accessible money.

“We are empowering a financially sovereign society,” says O’Brien. “This means that you should own and control your own money. You don’t need our account to do it.”

A quick note: while Bitcoin Well follows a non-custodial model, we also maintain strict compliance to ensure that people aren’t partaking in illegal activity. We also support and contribute to industry conversations about safety and diligence in the world of cryptocurrency to help keep our clients safe.

So, as much as we’re about empowering individuals, non-custodial doesn’t mean you’re going rogue.


Why is a non-custodial model better for customers?

When you act as your own bank, there are no restrictions or limits to how you access your money.

If you or your company has ever tried to take out a large sum of money from your own bank account, you know that’s not usually the case.

“Banks act as gatekeepers,” says Dave Bradley, Bitcoin Well’s Chief Revenue Officer. “If you have $100,000 in the bank and you want to take out $90,000, they’ll say no. You have to get the banks to consent to giving you your own money.”

Not only does holding your own bitcoin give you financial sovereignty – the ability to control your own money – but it protects your wealth from inflation. Every year, the government prints more dollars, which erodes value from your cash savings. By nature of The Bitcoin Standard, no one can add more bitcoin to the system. There will only ever be 21 million bitcoins in circulation. That’s it and that’s all.

Dave Bradley, Chief Revenue Officer (left) & Adam O’Brien, Founder & Chief Executive Officer (right)

Being your own bank also means you’re safe from governments or banks seizing your assets, for whatever reason, and you alone decide how and where to spend your wealth. 

“When you hold bitcoin yourself, it really changes the way you look at money,” says Bradley. “There is no one in charge, no central authority to call if you lose your bitcoin passphrase.” 

That may seem scary but, as he (and more notably, Spider Man) says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”


Non-custodial bitcoin empowers you, the individual

Despite us all being taught from a young age that we’re not responsible enough to own or control our own money, every person has the ability to hold their own bitcoin – all it takes is a shift in perspective.

“The idea of self-custody is foreign to us, especially in the financial system because, up until bitcoin, the capability of doing things yourself online did not exist,” says O’Brien. “If you wanted to buy stocks, it had to be through a broker. If you wanted to host money at a bank through a savings account, it had to be through a third party, as well.”

At Bitcoin Well, offering non-custodial financial services is a pillar of our business because we believe everyone is responsible enough to access and manage their own money.

We envision a world where future generations have a healthy relationship with money and are empowered to take control of their well-th by accessing bitcoin with the same convenience as modern banking. Through bitcoin, we’re putting the power back where it belongs: in our customers’ hands.


How can I take advantage of Bitcoin Well’s non-custodial model?

Jeff (Bitcoin Specialist) in our Calgary office providing Bitcoin consultation

We’re dedicated to making your bitcoin experience as simple as possible. We offer bitcoin ATMs across Canada, so you can buy and sell bitcoin quickly and easily. And behind the scenes, we’re designing our own software to make sure our machines are user-friendly and functional in the ever-changing market.

We also pride ourselves on offering white-glove service to our customers and partners. We have a team of customer service agents who are ready and eager to pick up the phone when you call – and, most importantly, answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about the non-custodial model.

We’re here to make sure they are your keys, your (bit)coins.