Cardano Improvement Proposals

CIP 1854 - Multi-signatures HD Wallets



This document describes how to realize multi-parties transactions in Cardano. It is defined as an alternative to CIP-1852 for Cardano HD wallets. This specification does not cover the transport and sharing of partially signed transactions which is / will be covered in another document.


Term Definition
HD Hierarchical Deterministic, refers to wallets as described in BIP-0032.
Multisig Shorthand for Multi-party signature scheme.



Multisig wallets are Cardano wallets capable of providing and tracking keys involved in multi-parties transactions. Such transactions are used to move funds from addresses where (typically) more than one user must sign transactions for its funds to be spent. A simple analogue is a joint bank account where two account holders must approve withdrawals from the account. Cardano has native support for multi-signature schemes: funds at a multi-signature script address are owned by a monetary script, which specifies one or more combinations of cryptographic signatures which must be present to unlock funds at the address (see the Formal Ledger Spec, Figure 4: Multi-signature via Native Scripts). In a similar fashion, Cardano multisig scripts can also be used to capture stake rights on a particular address, shared between different parties.

In the Shelley era, Cardano offers six (partially overlapping) primitives for constructing monetary scripts which are summarized as the following grammar:

      | ALL-OF 1*SCRIPT
      | ANY-OF 1*SCRIPT
      | N-OF UINT 1*SCRIPT

Scripts are thereby recursive structures which can contain scripts themselves. For example, a joint account between two parties which specifies that any of the two members can spend from it would be defined in pseudo-code as:


In order to spend from such script, one would have to provide a witness showing ownership of the key associated with either of key-hash#1 or key-hash#2 (or possibly, both).

Creation of a Multisig Script/Address

The creation of a multisig address will not be covered in this document. Such addresses are described in [Shelley design specification - section 3.2 - Addresses and Credentials][delegation_design.pdf] and are obtained by serializing and hashing a multisig script. This functionality is assumed to be available through existing tooling or piece of software in a variety of ways.

Spending From a Multisig Address

In order to spend from a multisig address, one must provide a special witness in the spending transaction called a "multisig witness". Such witness must be the exact script used as an input for creating the hash part of the multisig address. Then, any additional required verification key signatures specified by the script must be provided as separate verification key witnesses (i.e. signatures of the hashed transaction body for each signing key).

This means that a wallet software has access to the full script to validate and also identify verification key hashes present in transactions, but only does so when funds are being spent from a multisig address! From the Allegra era and beyond, it is also possible to include script pre-image in transaction auxiliary data. Softwares may use this to communicate scripts ahead of time.


HD Derivation

We consider the following HD derivation paths similarly to CIP-1852:

m / purpose' / coin_type' / account_ix' / role / index

To associate multi-signature keys to a wallet, we reserve however purpose=1854' to distinguish multisig wallets from standard wallets. The coin type remains coin_type=1815' to identify Ada as registered in SLIP-0044. The account index (account_ix) may vary across the whole hardened domain. role=0 is used to identify payment keys, whereas role=2 identifies stake keys. role=1 is left unused for multisig wallets. Finally, the last index mary across the whole soft domain, but according to the following rules:

We can summarize the various paths and their respective domain in the following table:

purpose coin_type account_ix role index
1854' 1815' [2^31 .. 2^32-1] 0 or 2 [0 .. 2^31-1]



User-facing encoding

Multi-signatures payment verification and signing keys (role=0) with chain code should be presented bech32-encoded using addr_shared_xvk and addr_shared_xsk prefixes respectively, as specified in CIP-5. When represented without chain-code, addr_shared_vk and addr_shared_sk should be used instead.

Similarly we use stake_shared_xvk, stake_shared_xsk, stake_shared_vk and stake_shared_sk for multi-signatures stake verification and signing keys (role=2).


- base16: | 

Multisig Wallets


To define a multisig wallet, participants must provide:

A script template is a script where key hashes are replaced by a cosigner tag which captures the relation between the cosigners.

NOTE 1: How an application represents tags is an implementation detail. Only the instantiated script appears on the blockchain.

NOTE 2: As a reminder, a Cardano address is made of two parts: a payment part and a delegation part. The latter is optional and so is the delegation script template. If none is provided then the address does not contain any delegation part. Wallet softwares should decide whether they want to allow or forbid this but this proposal does not take position.

There must be a strict one-to-one mapping between the tags used in the template and the cosigner account keys provided. When a new address is needed, the software must instantiate the script by using keys derived from the relevant account. To instantiate a script from a template, a wallet software must abide by the following rules:

  1. When deriving new keys, the same indexes must be used for all account involved in the template.
  2. If a tag appears in multiple place in the script, then the same index must also be used for all instances of that tag.

(1) and (2) implies that a given instance of a script is associated to one and only one derivation index.

NOTE 3: Wallet software should not authorize users to update the script templates after an address has been used.

For example, considering the joint-account example from above, an example of payment template can simply be:

        [ SIGNATURE cosigner#1
        , SIGNATURE cosigner#2

and an instantiation of that template for e.g. an index equals to 1 could be:

        [ SIGNATURE addr_shared_vkh1rcw47lrnczf8d4gt7d8vp6z95l8effslyejszez7069z6fa469v
        , SIGNATURE addr_shared_vkh1f8vd0s83hr7y2r96gct785e4d0d77ep9jn5wqfa4d6r4kqzxd65

Keys used in the instantiated template all come from the same derivation index for all cosigners. This allows all wallets to easily find back what indexes other cosigners used to derive a particular key (the same as they use for a particular address).

Sending Transactions

In case the wallet needs a change address internally, it must use the smallest unused indexes known, in ascending order. An index is considered unused if there's no transaction in the ledger with a script using its corresponding key hash. When constructing a transaction, a wallet should use UTxOs associated with script addresses only (hybrid transactions using non-shared UTxOs are forbidden).

Once constructed, a transaction must be signed with all required private keys from the initiator. The initiator must also include all instances of scripts necessary (typically one per input) and then either broadcast the transaction to its cosigners or submits it to the network if valid. The mean by which the transaction is broadcast is out of the scope of this specification.

Upon receiving a partially signed transaction, wallets must for each input:

  1. Find the script associated with the input in the transaction witnesses
  2. Verify that the script matches the wallet's template(s)
  3. Identify the derivation index used to instantiate the script from its known keys
  4. Derive the public keys of each other co-signers from that same derivation index and the cosigners parent keys
  5. Verify that there's at least one signature from another co-signer
  6. Verify all signatures provided by co-signers with their associated public keys

NOTE The step (5) is crucial and implies that wallets initiating transactions have to sign them before broadcasting them as a proof of provenance. Otherwise it is possible for attackers to broadcast a "fake" transaction to all cosigners who may not pay attention to its details.

When valid, the wallet should prompt the user for signing. The transaction can be submitted by any of the cosigners who deems it valid (it could be that only a subset of the cosigners is required to sign). Several cosigners may submit the transaction concurrently without issue, the ledger will ensure that only one transaction eventually get through.

NOTE: The management of change addresses is an implementation detail of the wallet so long as all change addresses abide by the rules described earlier in this section. A wallet may choose to generate a single change address per transaction, while another may chose to generate many.

Foreign Script Discovery

Wallets should warn users when discovering known keys in scripts which non-matching templates. Such addresses should not be included as part of the wallet's UTxO and should be treated as anomalies in the wallet. As a matter of facts, everything described in this document is a mere convention between wallets. There's however nothing at the protocol level that enforces that this specification is followed. It is therefore very much possible for advanced users to use their multisig keys in scripts that are different from the template. So long as indexes used are discoverable by the wallet, then such scripts are also discoverable.

However, because such scripts / addresses would not have been created by the wallet, they are considered not being part of the it altogether and would not count towards the wallet's balance. Software should however as much as possible alert users about the existence of such anomalies.


For example, if Alice and Bob wants to share a wallet by requiring a signature from each other on every payment, they can define the following payment script template:


After exchanging their corresponding public keys, both wallets should be initialized and present to Alice and Bob exactly 20 identical addresses, where each address is associated with exactly one derivation index. The first address will use one key from Alice's wallet at path m/1854’/1815’/0’/0/0 and a key from Bob's at exactly the same path. The next address will use keys at path m/1854’/1815’/0’/0/1 and so forth.

When Alice initiates a transaction from this wallet, she'll construct the transaction body, sign it with her corresponding private key, include an instance of the script as witness and broadcast the transaction to Bob via Telegram. Upon reception, Bob is able to verify that the transaction was indeed signed by Alice using her private key at index #0 (Bob has indeed Alice's parent public key in its possession and is therefore able to derive a child key at index #0 to verify the signature on the transaction). Bob proceeds with the payment by signing the transaction in return and submitting it.

Backwards Compatibility

N/A (no preceding implementation or design).

Reference Implementation

None yet.

Related Work

Description Link
BIP-0032 - HD Wallets
CIP-5 - Common Bech32 Prefixes
CIP-1852 - Cardano HD Wallets
A Formal Specification of the Cardano Ledger