What Is Hierarchical Deterministic Wallet (HD Wallet)?

In this post “What Is Hierarchical Deterministic Wallet (HD Wallet)?”, you’d learn all about Hierarchical Deterministic Wallet. This includes benefits of HD wallet, types of HD wallet, how HD wallet works and many more.

A wallet that supports the production of cryptowallets from a single dedicated seed utilizing 12 mnemonic words that use the Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) mechanism.

What Is an Hierarchical Deterministic Wallet (HD Wallet)?

A wallet that supports the production of crypto-wallets from a single master seed utilizing 12 mnemonic words using the Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) algorithm.

About HD Wallet (Hierarchical Deterministic)

A hierarchical deterministic (HD) wallet is a kind of digital wallet that stores the cryptographic keys of cryptocurrency owners like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The crypto in the account may be controlled by anybody who has a duplicate of both the public and pin code private keys.

Points to Note

  • A hierarchical deterministic wallet is a kind of digital wallet that stores the keys of cryptocurrency holders like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
  • To avoid tampering, these keys must be produced at randomness and stored in the wallet.
  • HD wallets allow a succession of key pairs to be generated from a single random seed, allowing for convenience, control, and excellent protection.

HD (Hierarchical Deterministic) Wallets: An Overview

Wallets in the bitcoin realm include keys rather than currencies. A wallet includes two keys: a public key or id, which functions similarly to an account number, and a private key, which is used to send money between accounts.

The private key functions similarly to a password. To approve a Bitcoin exchange from a user’s account, for instance, the user’s private key would be used.
This pair of public and private keys is intended to provide protection against attackers and transaction confidentiality. Due to the fact that the pair of keys facilitates the transfer of a user’s crypto, it is crucial that the private key stays secure.

To achieve this, random keys are produced.

Each key must be stored up in the wallet to protect the user from losing it and the associated cash irretrievably. For each operation, however, a new pair of keys would need to be generated in order to protect anonymity, which was one of the motivations for the development of Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, and to restrict the usage of public keys to a single transaction. This might become challenging to handle over time.

To provide a solution, deterministic wallets were designed such that all keys can be tracked back to an initial random seed, often a collection of random words, and a hash function. With a deterministic wallet, the initial seed is sufficient to retrieve all private and public keys, necessitating just a single backup at the moment the wallet.

Hierarchical Wallets vs Deterministic Wallets

The HD Wallet is the most sophisticated sort of deterministic wallet. They include keys organized in a tree structure, where parent keys may generate offspring keys, which can generate offspring keys, and so on indefinitely. The owner of the cryptocurrency may utilize the tree structure to categorize activities by transaction type or by entity, such as divisions or branches.

All HD wallets are formed from a single master root seed, which is often expressed as a mnemonic sequence of words, making it simpler for account holders to copy and save. However, HD wallets also permit the generation of public keys without requiring access to the matching private keys. This allows them to be utilized on unsafe servers or in a mode that just allows for receiving.

What are Hierarchichal Deterministic (HD) Wallets?

Address Modifications

“Why has my Bitcoin address altered?” is a frequently asked topic at Ledger. Changing addresses are used by Bitcoin and its variants (for instance, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash).

This is because they use a tool called Hierarchical Deterministic Wallets, which is a more complex feature (HD).

A new Bitcoin address will be established for you when you’ve used one to accept payments. A sole key pair still governs these addresses, also referred to as Public Keys. This implies that any prior addresses you’ve used are still fully functional and you don’t lack command over them. Only the corresponding Private Key may be used to acquire the money on each of these addresses. This is the origin of the phrase “Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins”. This means that if somebody has your keys, they essentially own your money.

Control them all with One Key Pair

The Extended Key Pair, which consists of the Extended Public Key (xpub) and the Extended Private Key, regulates the whole of your addresses (xpriv). The Extended Private Key is the more crucial of the 2. This key serves as the foundation for all of your addresses’ private keys. In other terms, the Extended Private Key is the master key for all of an account’s Private Keys. This also implies that if someone obtains your Extended Private Key, they will have access to all of your account’s cash.

Alternatively, you may utilize the Extended Public Key to see the sum of all your various addresses. It’s best not to disclose it for maximum confidentiality. This Extended Public and Private Key combination is only used in cryptos that employ Hierarchical Deterministic Wallets; it isn’t used in digital currencies that don’t change addresses.

Where does the Extended Key Pair come from?

You’ll be given a set of 24 words described as your Recovery Phrase when you initially begin employing a Ledger device. It serves as a duplicate for all of your digital currencies, as well as the source of all of your Private Keys. This is precisely the reason it’s critical that you safeguard your 24 words, which is why we highly advise you to peruse this post.

For coins that employ HD, this implies that establishing the Private Keys for each address requires an additional step.

The Private Key creation for crypto assets that do not require HD would look like this:

The Extended Private Keys must be generated first when generating Private Keys for cryptos utilizing HD. This would result in the following Private Key generation:

Advantages of an HD Wallet

The addition of a new wallet has two intriguing benefits. Improved privacy is the most apparent benefit. Blockchains are open ledgers that allow anybody to observe all financial transactions. Even if you have various addresses, you won’t be able to figure out your precise amount.

Let’s imagine you have a blog where you accept Bitcoin contributions. You’d post one of your addresses on your blog’s page so that anybody who wanted to may give you BTC. They’d still have no clue how much BTC you hold since the remainder of your balance is on other addresses.

Improved security is another cause. As previously stated, whomever has access to an address’s Private Keys has access to that address’s money. They’d require several private keys to access all of your crypto assets because you’d spread your assets over different addresses.

Deterministic Wallet

A deterministic wallet is a method of generating keys from a particular beginning point, or seed.

The seed enables an account holder to back up and recover a wallet without having any additional details. t may also be used to create public addresses without knowing the private key in certain instances. In a seed phrase, seeds are often serialized into human-readable phrases. As of 2019, all excellent wallets follow the BIP 0032 standard for hierarchical deterministic wallets.


The Satoshi client, for example, generates a buffer of fresh random private keys that may be used as accepting and changing addresses in the long term. When the keypool buffer (usually 100 addresses) is depleted, backups are invalidated after a short amount of time. Deterministic wallets, on the other hand, may create an endless number of addresses on the fly and so avoid this problem. Some clients may be used on several machines without risking losing cash since the addresses are produced in a predictable manner instead of randomly. Owners may build a single backup of the seed in a human-readable manner that will survive the lifetime of the wallet, without having to worry about it being stale.

Public key master

For further safety and reliability, several deterministic wallets (BIP0032, Armory, Coinkite, and Coinb.in) offer total separation of private and public key generation. A server may be configured in this approach to only know the Master Public Key (MPK) of a certain deterministic wallet. This lets the server to generate as many public keys as needed for accepting payments, but it prevents an intruder from spending from the wallet if the MPK is compromised. They may also be utilized in Electrum and Armory to allow totally offline storage and spending, with an offline computer knowing just the MPK and an online machine knowing only the private key. Transactions involving currencies are sent between the two computers through USB storage, preventing the offline machine from being vulnerable to a network-based assault.

Even when exchanging coins, deterministic wallets provided by hardware wallets (TREZOR) retain the created private keys offline and do not reveal them to the pc.


Type 1: Predictive wallet

A type 1 deterministic wallet is a basic technique of creating addresses from a known beginning string; as a result, complex functionality like a Master Public Key are not supported. Take SHA256(string + n) to produce a private key, where n is an ASCII-coded integer that begins at 1 and increases as more keys are required.

Casascius Bitcoin Address Utility may generate this sort of wallet.

Type 2: Deterministic hierarchical wallet

BIP 0032 defines this wallet type, which is completely deployed in TREZOR, Electrum, and CarbonWallet. The seed is a 128-bit random integer that is provided to the user as a 12-word seed phrase made up of popular English terms. Following 100,000 rounds of SHA256, the seed is utilized to slow off assaults on poor user-chosen characters.

Gregory Maxwell is recognized as the inventor and characterization of this wallet kind.

Deterministic armory wallet

Armory uses a “root key” and a “chain code” to create its own Type-2 deterministic wallet format. Older models of Armory necessitated backing up both the “root key” and the “chaincode”. However current versions begin non-reversibly generating the chaincode from the private key.

The one, 256-bit root key is required by these latest Armory wallets (0.89+). This obsolete format will be rolled out in preference of the standardized BIP0032 format.

BIP 32 developed Hierarchical Deterministic Wallets (or HD wallets for short), which were subsequently upgraded by BIP 44. BIPs (Bitcoin Improvement Proposals) are short for Bitcoin Improvement Proposals. Whereas the Bitcoin network launched HD wallets, it is a wallet structure that accommodates a variety of currencies. Although not a widely utilized capability, HD wallets may construct a whole suite of crypto-wallets from a single seed word.

What is an HD wallet, though? Technically said, an HD wallet is a public/private key tree that begins at the root node (master node). Here’s an excellent visualization:

Derivation paths to the initial address node indicate an HD wallet tree. For instance, the Ethereum default is m/44’/60’/0’/0. Each number on that path corresponds to a different level in the tree above.

m / coin type / account / chain / address index

Deconstruction of path m/44’/60’/0’/0
  • 44 — BIP 44 Object
  • 60 — The coin type of Ethereum
  • 0 — Account Number 0
  • 0 — 0 Chain

This satoshilabs repo has the most common collection of coin type codes.

Hierarchical Deterministic Wallets are technically a tree structure with an expanded private and public key for each node. Any node may have as many children as it wants. A master key may, for example, regenerate ten accounts in ten various currencies, each with a large number of addresses. I picked 10 as a random number, but you may use whatever amount you like.

A tree that maintains the wallet keys for two networks (say, Bitcoin and Blackcoin) will have two children under the ‘purpose’ node, which we’ll retain at 44. This is how such a tree would appear:

It’s vital to remember that the master private key’s primary role is to regenerate the wallet tree. It’s not capable of signing deals. Given a single seed or mnemonic, the HD wallet may produce a large number of public/private key pairs.

Level Breakdown

By using many coinType nodes instead of simply one, you can keep various currencies in one HD Wallet. This satoshilabs repo has the coinType codes.

In a master wallet, numerous account nodes store the same currency. The account node would include all of the account’s child addresses. This is beneficial when you wish to save cash in a bank, with a savings or checking account, or for your kid or partner, etc.

Then the chain node, with a route of 0 or 1. A new public address is generated using the external key pair chain (0). 1 is the internal keychain used to change addresses (every Bitcoin transaction needs an address to pay extra cash to). The transaction’s “change”).

This node structure is either unnecessary (these constructions do not present in other popular currencies using HD wallets) or useless (no one uses the account feature anymore).

Since the various crypto groups have explicitly concurred on this derivation approach. I could design my own tree using whatever protocol I chose. I can produce and sign legitimate transactions using the public/private keys.

But could a new wallet ever renew it? What if my app is withdrawn? Money is secured into a random private/public key tree. Not a good scenario. So we save these ancient relics since a few additional derivations is a modest price to pay for unanimity.

An HD wallet tree’s leaves represent address nodes. A currency-specific address may be established by formatting the address node’s public key. For those uninformed, most currencies use Bitcoin’s address generating algorithm. To avoid sending Bitcoin to an Ethereum address and thereby losing that cash permanently, numerous formatting strategies are utilized. Contrary to popular belief, the master private key cannot be used to expend funds connected with an address. You must use the address’s local private key (not its extended private key!) to correctly sign an operation.

Perfect Application

We went through what one can do with an HD Wallet and how to accomplish it. Let’s discuss how we should organize a wallet.

Whether your money and its society employ accounts (for example, the Bitcoin currency permits accounts but the community does not), your wallet architecture should resemble a broom or a rebel support craft.

Preferably, all parent should have just one kid until they approach the chain node, at which time they should be able to have an infinite number of offspring. The address nodes are these children.

Google up the guidelines for your coinType money in order to establish an address for it. The public key of the address node will be the beginning point, however there may be some variations depending on the currency requirements.

To create a transaction, ensure the address has a currency attached to it and verify it using the address node’s private key. You’re signing a transaction with the address node’s private key and spending funds by using address node’s public key.

The Advantages of a High-Definition Wallet

Even though Bitcoin invented HD wallets, they have become a standard wallet layout that supports numerous currencies. They are especially beneficial to custodial firms, software firms, and accounting firms. Since they can offer a fast and simple view of every account and operation.

  • Simple Backup and Retrieval: Because the wallet is deterministic and hierarchical, it can be quickly recreated and retrieved in its totality with a single seed phrase.
  • Blockchain-agnostic: For several cryptocurrencies, an endless list of unique addresses may be generated.
  • Increased Privacy: A user may produce multiple keys for each operation, obscuring the transaction records and total balance.
  • Safety: Because the private key is always held offline, it is never susceptible to cyberattacks or other assaults.
  • Convenience and Efficiency: There is no need to update each address after each transaction.

Only the extended keys are backed up once with the seed phrase, and each child key and its related addresses are included.

Why should you use an HD wallet?

One-time backup

Each time you wished to acquire bitcoin, you would produce pairs of private and public keys separately in a rudimentary wallet.

This functions fine, however it does imply that you’ll have to back up your wallet each moment you get a new payment.

However, with a hierarchical deterministic wallet, you may establish a master private key from a single seed and utilize it to produce billions of “child” private keys and public keys.

All you have to back up now is the seed, since the master private key you produce from it will continuously create the keys for your wallet in the same manner (deterministically).


The multilevel aspect of hierarchical deterministic wallets is also appealing.

Each child key in the wallet may produce its own keys, allowing you to arrange the keys in your wallet using a tree structure (or hierarchy).

For instance, various sections of the tree may be used for different “accounts.”

Creating public keys on your own.

A master private key has a matching master public key, which may produce the equivalent child public keys without having the private keys.

As a result, you might transfer the master public key to another computer (for example, a webshop server) to create new destination addresses without fear of the private keys being intercepted if the server is attacked.

This is important for applications like hardware wallets where you wish to retain your private keys on a safe device. But still want to be capable of creating fresh addresses for accepting payments on a separate computer.

This may appear to be mystical, but it’s only arithmetic.

The fresh child private keys and public keys coincide since the main private key and public keys were both changed by equivalent amount.

Finally, here is a list of more related topics you might find interesting:
  1. Blockchain Technology
  2. Defi
  3. NFTs
  4. DAOs
  5. Crypto
  6. Web 3.0
  7. Altcoin Tokenomics
  8. Metaverse
  9. Smart Contracts

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