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Crypto Wallets

Crypto Wallets

Guide

Use this guide to learn about crypto wallets. This is the longest and most detailed guide on the internet and we update it regularly as technology changes. If you just want to know which crypto wallet is best for you then open the guide and scroll to the end.

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Cryptocurrencies are like Bank Deposits Not Cash

Bank, Vault

You Can’t Spend Money In a Bank Vault 8385 / Pixabay

There are many different cryptocurrencies and the best known is Bitcoin.

Cryptocurrencies are different from cash like a US dollar bill because we can’t physically give them to someone to pay for goods or services. They might seem less “real” than currencies that have coins and bank notes but there is nothing new about having dematerialised money. Cryptocurrencies are just a real as the money in our bank account.

Most of us have bank accounts and to pay someone we just use an app to ask the bank to make a payment. Cryptocurrencies work the same way and the app that we use to make payments is called a Cryptocurrency Wallet.

How Banks Work

When you log into your bank’s app and tell them to make a payment several things happen,

    1. Your bank debits your account
    2. Your bank sends a signed transaction to the payee’s bank
    3. The payee’s bank credits their account

Banks have been working this way  for hundreds of years and they used to write the accounts in a big books called ledgers. Each bank had a ledger and there was page for each customer. Signed transactions would be sent between banks on horseback and by sea.

Roll forward a couple of hundred years and nothing much has changed. Each bank still has a ledger for its customers and sends messages to other banks. Now they use databases to store the accounts and electronic networks to send the signed transactions but the basic principles are the same as they were 400 years ago. Nothing much had changed in Finance.

Until Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a Distributed Ledger

Ledger

A Traditional Ledger cpastrick / Pixabay

Bitcoin lets you send and receive money without using a bank as a middleman. Instead of having lots of banks with their own ledgers and people on horses, ships, telephones, faxes, and private networks moving signed transactions between them it has a one ledger for everyone.

The Bitcoin ledger is published on the internet and everyone can read it and have copy. To reduce the risk of fraud only some computers called “miners” can update the ledger. Bitcoin uses a type of ledger called a “Blockchain”.

This distributed ledger technology (DLT) is much simpler, cheaper and quicker than today’s banking system.

A Crypto Wallet Stores Your Private Key

A Crypto Wallet Stores Your Private Key qimono / Pixabay

When you login to your bank account you have to provide a password and it is the same with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Your password is called your “Private Key” and it is used to access your account in the distributed ledger. Your private key is typically a 256-digit binary number. Since most of us don’t want to type in a password like,

01000110 00111001 01000101 01000100 00111000 01000100 01000101 00110010 01000110 00110011 01000010 01000110 01000010 00111001 01000100 01000110 00110100 01000100 00110110 00110111 01000010 00111000 00110101 01000010 00110110 00110111 00110101 01000101 00110111

Every time we want to buy something, we store our private key in an app called a “crypto wallet”.

This private key is used to sign transactions before they are sent to the Bitcoin network. This is the same as signing a cheque before giving it to the bank.

Your Private Key is used to Sign transactions

If it stores a “Private Key” why is it called a “wallet”?

Not a Crypto Wallet

A Wallet Andrew-Art / Pixabay

The early users of cryptocurrencies needed to find a way to explain this new technology to users. They could have chosen to talk about “private keys” that let you “unlock” your accounts on the blockchain. Instead they chose to talk about “wallets” that allow you to spend and store money.

I think it was a bad choice but it too late to change it now.

What are the Key Features of a Crypto Wallet?

Features of a Crypto Wallet

Features Free-Photos / Pixabay

Must Have Feature

A cryptocurrency wallet must store your private key securely.

  • If you lose your private key you lose all access to your money.
  • If some else knows or guesses your private key they can steal all your money

There is no bank manager or system administrator for crypto.

If you lose your private key you lose your money for ever.

Standard Features

Almost every crypto wallet will allow you to,

  • Generate or enter a private key
  • View your account balances
  • Send money to other users by signing transactions
  • Receive money from other users
  • Sign messages
  • Calculate transaction fees

Other Features

Additional features may include,

  • Supporting more than one coin – for example, Bitcoin and Ethereum
  • Allowing “instant” exchange between two currencies
  • Methods to back-up and restore the private key
  • Acting as a two-factor authentication token (2FA)

Key Generation

Private Key Generation

Private Key Generation wilhei / Pixabay

Your private key is what unlocks your account on the blockchain and it is important that is generated securely. This is because anyone who knows your private key has access to your money.

There are lots of bad ways to generate your private key,

  • Ask all your mates in the pub to give you a word each
  • Download an app you found on the internet
  • Borrow a mate’s computer

Each of these methods has a big risk that your key will be leaked and all your money stolen. A crypto wallet will help you generate a key in a secure way. The best solution is a hardware wallet and this is discussed in the next section.

Crypto Wallets for Self-Sovereign Users

Crypto Wallet Owners are Self-Sovereign

Crypto Wallet Owners are Self-Sovereign skeeze / Pixabay

The goal of founders of the cryptocurrency movement was to give ordinary people the ability to store their own money and make payments without a using a bank. These “self-sovereign” users must manage their private key very carefully. Wallets that give you sole-control of your own private key are called “non-custodial wallets”.

There are many different types of non-custodial crypto wallets because different types of transactions have different security needs. I need to take more care when storing a private key that gives access to $10m than when storing one that gives access to $100.

The most important distinction is between “hardware wallets” and “software wallets”. Hardware wallets are physical devices that are designed to ensure that your private key is never connected to the internet. Because the internet is risky or “hot” we say that private keys in these wallet are in “cold storage”.

Hardware Cryptocurrency Wallets

Trezor Hardware Crypto Wallet

Trezor Hardware Crypto Wallet

Hardware wallets are gadgets that contain a small chip that stores your private key. They often look a bit like a USB thumb drive with a small LCD screen.

  • You use them the same way you use your bank card when you visit an ATM.

To make a payment, you first plug your hardware wallet in your USB port on your computer and then run the app that comes with it. You then enter your pin to unlock your hardware crypto wallet (just like in an ATM). After you type the transaction details into your computer the app sends the transaction to your hardware wallet to be signed. After you have signed the transaction your computer will send it to the Bitcoin network.

Your private key is never on the internet

The great advantage of hardware crypto wallets is that you don’t have trust your computer. The great disadvantage of hardware crypto wallets is that if you lose your private key you lose all your money. In the next section we tell you how to back up your private key.

Paper Wallets

A Paper Wallet

A Paper Wallet

You need to make a backup of your private key and the simplest way to do this is to write it down. If your hardware wallet is lost or stolen then you can buy another device and after you have typed in your private key you will have regained access to your money.

Your private key is actually a 256-digit binary number and this would be difficult to write down accurately. Most hardware and software wallets will give you the option to write down a “seed phrase” which can be used to regenerate your private key in any compatible device. Here is an example of a BIP39 seed phrase,

“morning shoot sister tower inject hobby issue donkey spare sign drill insane”

How to store your paper wallet,

  • Do write it down with a permanent marker pen so it does not fade with time or become illegible due to water damage.
  • Don’t take a picture of it with your mobile phone in case your phone uploads it to the internet
  • Don’t store your paper wallet with your hardware wallet because if you have a fire you will lose both.

Other software, particularly that used with mobile wallets will allow you to print a paper wallet with a QR code as shown in the image above. Printers are connected to the internet therefore don’t do this if you are using a hardware wallet.

Software Wallets

Software wallets are apps that you run on your desktop computer or mobile phone.

If you are going to use a software wallet you should make sure that you download it from a trusted source and run it on a trusted computer system. In theory, this is a huge problem because most users don’t have the skills or equipment to do this. In practice most users seem to get away with it.

All coins developers have an “official” wallet that they publish on their website and they may also recommend other wallets that are trusted by their community. The Bitcoin website identifies three types of software wallet: desktop wallet, mobile wallet and web wallet.

Useful advice

  • Consider using the official wallet
  • Never store money in software wallet that you can’t afford to lose. Treat it like the wallet you take to the shops, not like a bank account.
  • If you have several computers in your household use one for banking and crypto work and don’t let the kids on it.
  • Update your phone or computer regularly

Full Node Wallet

Rasperry Pi with Bitcoin Lightning Network Node

Rasperry Pi with Bitcoin Lightning Network Node https://www.flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/45795926525

Some businesses and crypto-enthusiasts might want to run a full node wallet. This is hosted on a computer that is permanently connected to the internet and keeps a full copy of the ledger. Hosting a full node allows you validate beyond doubt that you have received funds. Most non-business users are content to use one of the many blockchain explorer websites or the screens provided by their own wallet software. It is technically possible to run a full-node with the primary key held in a hardware wallet.

Wallets for Users Who Don’t Want to Manage Their Own Keys

There are some people who want to be financially self-sovereign and be responsible for securing their own keys. There are other people who just want to own some crypto because it might go up in value.

“Custodial Wallets” are the solution for these non-technical users. You can simply open an account with a cryptocurrency exchange and buy cryptocurrency. The cryptocurrency is held in your account and you can access it with your username and password in the normal way.

Useful Advice

  • Use an exchange in your own jurisdiction
  • Make sure it regulated and compliant
  • Always set up two-factor authentication on your account
  • Don’t use your exchange account for day-to-day transactions. Put a few dollars in a mobile wallet instead.

Warning: Some users have lost money when using poorly regulated exchanges. Do your own research.

As crypto become more mainstream more custodial wallet and banking solutions will enter the market and many of these will use multisig wallets which should be safer than exchange wallets.

What is a Multisig Wallet?

Multisig Wallet

Multisig Wallet truthseeker08 / Pixabay

If you have a business bank account you will know that often a cheque must be signed by two people. This helps reduce honest mistakes and reduces the risk of fraud. A multisig wallet works in the same way. A payment can only be made when two or more people have signed it with their private keys.

This can be used to add an additional layer of security because one of the authorised signatories can actually be a business offering a wallet service rather than a human being. You open an account with that business and decide on the payment rules. For example, you might set up rule that says you can only spend $100 per day. If you lose your private key your attacker can only steal $100 a day which give you times to recover your funds using a pre-agreed process.

Multisig wallets offer many of the advantages of Self Sovereign Crypto and traditional banking without their drawbacks.

Are Cryptocurrency Wallets Anonymous?

Anonymous Crypto Wallet

Anonymous Crypto Wallet TheDigitalArtist / Pixabay

When you open a bank account you must supply your name, address and identity documents so that the bank can fulfil is legal obligations (KYC/AML) and help prevent money laundering.

You can open an account on a blockchain simply by getting a wallet and creating a private key and the account will be anonymous. However, it is very difficult to operate an account in a way that means that you cannot be identified.

Good operational security requires,

  • Using a privacy coin (not Bitcoin)
  • Using a different account for every transaction
  • Not touching legitimate accounts with “black accounts”
  • Not associating with known black accounts
  • Using a coin tumbler to disguise transactions
  • Not using a coin tumbler to disguise transactions
  • Not reusing IP addresses

If you think this sounds like a lot a work to buy an ounce of wacky-baccy safely then you are right. However, in practice the authorities are looking for large scale money launderers and political dissidents not user’s private vices and Monero and Tor should be good enough for most users.

Which Wallet is Best for Me?

Crypto Wallet for Businesses

Crypto Wallets for Business

Crypto Wallets for Business Free-Photos / Pixabay

If you want to take payment for goods and services then check out

If you need to securely manage cryptocurrencies then check out

Crypto Wallets for Individuals

Crypto Wallets for Individuals

Crypto Wallets for Individuals stokpic / Pixabay

We list all the top providers of crypto wallets below.

If you want to store large amounts of crypto for the long term then check out

  • Hardware crypto wallets

If you want to spend small amounts of crypto

  • Software Wallets

If you would like a sophisticated solution

  • Multisig Wallets

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  • Trezor Hardware Wallet
  • Password Manager
  • Blockbook, blockchain indexer
  • User Friendly Secure Solutions

We are ambitious pioneers of technology; who strive to bring cryptography to the masses. Innovation is our engine; . . . never-ending research and development keeps us at the top. Our aim is to understand and deliver secure yet easy-to-use solutions to real problems. We create and foster our open-source cryptography environment; the TREZOR ecosystem; for which we continuously develop flagship applications.We make security easy.

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Jaxx Liberty

“Your multi-platform, multi-currency digital asset wallet”

Crypto Wallets
Canada | P.O. Box P. O. Box 292, Station B, Toronto ON, M5T 2W2

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  • Software crypto wallet
  • Multiplatform
  • Crypto News
  • Exchange Services

Jaxx is the top wallet for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other Cryptocurrencies. Jaxx wallet available for Window, IOS and . . . Android.

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Ledger

“The Benchmark of Crypto Security”

Crypto Wallets
France | 1 rue du Mail; Paris; Ile-de-France, 75002

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  • Ledger NanoX Hardware Wallet
  • Ledger NanoS Hardware Wallet
  • B2B Custody Service

Founded in 2014; Ledger is a leader in security and infrastructure solutions for cryptocurrencies and blockchain . . . applications. Headquartered in Paris; Vierzon; New York; San Francisco and Hong Kong; Ledger has a team of 200 professionals developing a variety of products and services to safeguard cryptocurrency assets for individuals and companiesincluding the Ledger hardware wallets line already sold in 165 countries. For more information visit www.ledger.com; or follow @LedgerHQ on Twitter.

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  • Stress-Free Security
  • Straightforward Backup & Recovery
  • Sleek and Simple Display
  • Effortless Exchanges

Protect your cryptocurrencies, store your private keys offline, and safeguard your assets from hackers. It’s time to . . . achieve financial freedom in the most secure way with KeepKey. KeepKey is a ShapeShift Product.

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Archos

“Protect Your Coins”

Crypto Wallets
France | 12 rue Ampère, ZI Igny 91430 Igny – France

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  • Safer than Online Wallets
  • Easy to Use
  • Easy Recovery
  • Quick Setup

Archos has a long history of creating innovative products and is based in France with global distribution and . . . manufacturing.

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  • Hardware Wallet
  • Complimentary Smartphone App
  • Instant Currency Exchange

We make the CoolWallet, the world’s first and best cold storage wallet for digital assets.

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Crypto Wallets
Gibraltar | Glacis Road , Suite 23 Portland House , Gibraltar, GX11 1AA

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XCARD is the most convenient crypto & FIAT wallet and payment card (an absolutely disruptive biometric crypto credit . . . card solution) which allows 50 mln crypto-users to spend their crypto and FIAT assets instantly all around the world.

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Crypto Wallets
Australia | 1 Eagle St, Brisbane, Queensland,

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Amber is a digital currency exchange, wallet, and round up app – all in the palm of your hand.It swaps the spare change . . . from your daily transactions into Bitcoin & other digital assets – automatically.We wanted to create a way for the average person to participate in this asset class, without risking lots of money, and without having to set up 5 different accounts and 10 different apps.Our aim was to:- be all in one.- be simple & seamless.- make KYC & compliance effective but invisible, and most of all to;- lower the barrier to entry for everyday people.Our goal is to make access to this new digital economy easy, and we’re starting that journey with a simple, consumer application that helps people get involved in a way that’s as frictionless & automated as possible.

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BitWallet� provides a high-security digital wallet service.With BitWallet�, it’s simple for anyone to start using . . . Bitcoin and popular alt-coins like ETH, LTC, BCH, XVG, DASH, and more. Users can buy and trade digital currency instantly. BitWallet� is a United States Department of Treasury ‘Money Service Business’ (MSB) registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCen).

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Crypto Wallets
Bulgaria | 4 Gurko str, Sofia, Bulgaria, 1000

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Turn a crypto wallet into a “bank” account you can use in the fiat world.Buy anything with crypto, without having to . . . convert to �, $, � or other currencies and bypass KYC & AML procedures at exchanges, token-sales, and services.CryptoID uses end-to-end encryption to secure your data and is GDPR-compliant.

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Crypto Wallets
Canada | 10520 Yonge ST Unit35B, SUITE 154, Richmond Hill, Ontario, L4C 3C7

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PTPWallet is a cryptocurrency wallet that is applicable to all industries around the globe. The PTPWallet is developed . . . not only to act as a platform with secure, anonymous, and instant crypto transactions, but also primarily to connect users and businesses and get more people using cryptocurrencies. PTPWallet allows you to transfer funds knowing that third parties won�t be able to see what you are doing with your money, allows businesses to increase their customer base through the use of the in-house loyalty program, provides the crypto industry with literally instant transactions, allows users to send funds via SMS and email and through your phones’ contact list, allows users to make a lot of money off of referrals, and much more.For more information, feel free to go here: https://ptpwallet.comAvailable on Android (possibly even iOS) starting Nov 1, 2018. Recent Press Releases: https://ptpwallet.com/2018/10/05/what-is-ptpwallet-and-why-did-we-create-it/https://ptpwallet.com/2018/10/09/beta-version-of-ptpwallet-planned-for-end-of-october/https://ptpwallet.com/2018/10/12/friendly-guide-concerning-ptpwallet-referral-program-ambassador-program-drain-the-bank-and-more/

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VegaWallet’s mission is to invent and implement real world applications for cryptocurrency.Please visit our website for . . . more information on our Exchange, Wallet, ICO , and further development plans!Our Public ICO launches September 17th alongside our Advanced Exchange and Secure Digital Asset Wallet.We have partnered with AscellaHealth and among other companies to bring blockchain technology, smart contract, and crypto- payments into real world applications.Social Media – https://www.Twitter.com/VegaWallethttps://www.Facebook.com/VegaWallethttps://www.Reddit.com/user/VegaWallethttps://www.Medium.com/VegaWalletOur products and services will cover your journey into cryptocurrency every step of the way. We�ll make it easy to buy and trade, give you a safe place to store it, then provide options for spending it the way you want! VegaWallet is a Two Phase project. Phase One launches before our ICO and includes our Advanced Cryptocurrency Exchange and Digital Asset Wallet.

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