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What is a seed phrase?

What is a seed phrase?

A seed phrase is a string of words automatically generated by a cryptocurrency app that helps to protect your crypto assets from hacks and theft. It is also called a mnemonic seed.

Think of a seed phrase as the password that unlocks your bank app. Even if you delete the bank app from your phone or lose all your data, you can easily download and get access to your money with a password. 

It’s really that straightforward. 

Seed phrases are usually 12-24 words long and consist of random English words that make no meaning when put together. The phrase is made up of random words so it will be hard to memorise.

The photo below is an example of what a seed phrase looks like

Seed phrases were created to give crypto investors sovereign control over their crypto assets. They also serve as a way for wallet owners to protect their accounts themselves. 

Origin of seed phrases

The concept of seed phrases was invented around 2013 or 2015 in a new Bitcoin protocol called the BIP39. It was created to provide crypto wallet users with adequate security. 

If they ever lost access to their wallet, they could access it directly by inputting their seed phrases. The idea quickly caught on and became the norm for many wallets today, including popular wallets like Trust Wallet and Coinbase

How seed phrases are formed

Seed phrases are randomised words pulled from a word bank in the BIP39 software. The word bank has 2,048 words that provide a random string of 12 words. 

The number of possible combinations would be 2,048^12 = 2^132, giving the seed phrase about 132 bits of security. However, some of the data in a BIP39 phrase is not random, so the actual security of a 12-word BIP39 seed phrase is only 128 bits.

This means that an attacker would need to perform 2,128 trials to guess a 12-word seed phrase. It might look like a small number, but it isn’t. The longer the seed, the more secure it is. 

Seed phrases have approximately the same strength as all Bitcoin private keys, which are a string of alphanumeric characters that help users send and receive Bitcoin securely. As a result, most crypto experts consider it to be sufficiently secure.

Advantages of seed phrases


Seed phrases are not crypto-specific. They can work across multiple cryptocurrencies because the security is for the wallet and not for a particular crypto address. 

One seed phrase can secure and recover over 100 crypto addresses provided they are connected to that particular wallet account. 

Error Free

Unlike private keys, seed phrases make it harder for the occurrence of human error during the backup process. Since they’re whole words, they can easily be copied and transferred to safer places. 


Seed phrases are very secure and make it really hard for crypto accounts to be accessed without the owners’ permission. If one word or letter in the seed phrase is missed, the account cannot be accessed. 

Also, due to the number of permutations needed to guess a single seed phrase, it is almost impossible to hack. 

Disadvantages of seed phrases


Seed phrases are secure, but they also have a security flaw. Once you lose your seed phrase, you have lost all the money in your crypto portfolio because even the wallet company cannot access it. 

If someone else gets access to your seed phrase, they can easily withdraw or transfer all your crypto without further verification. 

The decentralisation of the blockchain has made it a priority that users are highly responsible for their security. And seed phrases make it easier for users to do that. 

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