If anyone has ever wanted to give an Ether gift card, now they can.
Ether Cards, a new passion project by Nick Johnson of the Ethereum Foundation, is considered Ether in physical form. The cards are a quick and convenient way to give Ether, tokens, or other blockchain assets to friends and family. This can be a great way to introduce those who are unfamiliar to the Ethereum blockchain.
Each card has its own unique Ethereum address printed on the back in a recovery phrase, like BIP39 wallets; for example:
Finally, I'm working on BIP38-style encrypted wallets, so users can order password-protected paper wallets that can't be unlocked (even by me) without the correct password, which ought to expand the use-cases well beyond just gift cards. It'll take a while to fully implement that end-to-end, however.
It includes a private key hidden under a scratch-off panel, similar to how lottery scratchers work. Buyers must add funds to the cards since they do not come preloaded. The purchaser must load their card with Ether or tokens with a preferred wallet app, then give it to their recipient. When the recipient wishes to redeem their Ether card, they simply scratch off the back panel and use their own wallet app to move the funds from the card to their account.
How secure are Ether Cards?
The keypairs used in Ether Cards are generated offline, on an airgapped computer, before being encrypted and sent to the factory that manufactures the cards. There, access is restricted to the employees directly manufacturing the code, under direct supervision, and the keypairs are erased immediately after printing has completed.
While we're confident in the security and integrity of the keypairs on Ether Cards, we do not recommend storing significant value on them. Ether Cards are intended to be used for low value gifts and payments, and as an easy way to introduce people to the power of the Ethereum blockchain.
For additional assurance, we provide a guarantee: If presented with an Ether Card whose private key panel is undamaged, but whose account has outgoing transactions, we will refund to you the balance stored on the card before the first outgoing transaction, up to a maximum of 5 ether. We reserve the right to adjust the maximum amount of this guarantee as the price of Ether fluctuates over time.
Those interested can pick the cards up here.