May 3, 2021

Not Yo Keys, Not Yo Cheese: Understanding the Basics of Bitcoin Custody

Not Yo Keys, Not Yo Cheese: Understanding the Basics of Bitcoin Custody

There is a widely used saying amongst Bitcoiners first said by Andreas Antonopoulos that goes: “Not Your Keys, Not your Coins”.  My favorite version is from Isiah Jackson “Not Yo Keys; Not Yo Cheese”. Meaning that if you never received a custom set of private keys from the exchange platform you choose then technically you are not the owner of those coins. I Personally stored my Bitcoin on Cash App. Alternatively many of my friends bought theirs on Robinhood and many other easy to use, beginner friendly sites. Although platforms like these mentioned may be a less technically demanding way to acquire bitcoin for beginners, it’s important to note that your coins are under the control of that specific site until you successfully transfer them to a wallet that you control. Now, a Seed Phrase which you may sometimes hear referred to as your “recovery words” will be a set of words that hold a key to recovering your Bitcoin that is stored on the block chain. Safely storing your seed Phrase is the first step to being the owner of your own Bitcoin and beginning your journey as a Hodler.

Keeping your Bitcon on exchanges comes with risk just as much as accepting the responsibility of holding your own keys. Although it possesses the highest form of privacy, you would be the only one responsible if there is a leak or hack. Here are a few tips to properly secure your keys. When taking control of your keys, you want to situate yourself in a secure place that does not have or more importantly. Make sure you are not connected to a public internet source. I know this sounds like you are about to take on a large task and I get it. You are! Choose a calm, relaxing and secure place where you can concentrate for about an hour, away from cameras as well as anyone else. This is to ensure that your seed phrase words aren’t seen by a passerby or recorded digitally leaving you susceptible to thieves or a cyber attack.

Another saying that was pretty popular, although I’m not sure who originated it is “If you wouldn’t trust them with your partner” until there were a few spouses who ran off with the Bitcon so now you have to ask simply, “Do you trust your partner with your Bitcoin?” a question I first heard proposed by Lamar WIlson. I know that there will be a group of people with the mindset of “I’ll share everything with my partner”. To them I would caution to be absolutely sure that this person will not give up your holdings when placed in a situation of emotional pressure, physical intimidation, ransom, financial hardship or even greed. The most common advice is to trust no one with your seed but ensure there is a way to recover your seed in the case something unfortunate happens to you.


Not all exchanges are created equal. Some will allow you to withdraw, transfer, send and hold. While others are to buy, hold and send; some are to just buy and hold. When considering which exchange keep in mind to use a platform such as Blue Wallet, Cash App or Coinbase Pro that will allow you to transfer your Bitcoin to a cold wallet at reasonable rates. Some are made for security like Casa, some are for trading like Coinbase Pro, some are more focused on stacking sats like Swan Bitcon. It’s important to remember “Not Yo Key; Not Yo Cheese”. Stack your satoshis but remember to consider moving them to cold storage when you have stacked an amount you wouldn’t want to lose.

About the Author:

I am a U.S. NAVY veteran who's currently in school with dreams of becoming a crypto and tax attorney. I have founded and co-founded a music group and a photography business in college, a self taught chef and a lover of Bitcoin since 2017.