As you probably know already, the current status of the cryptocurrency market is not exactly peachy. The bears have dominated the market for almost 15 months now, and they’ve driven away about 80% of the market’s value. When that happens, hackers don’t make much of an effort to find out ways to get some digital assets for free. Why would anybody steal anything that is going to be so much less valuable in the next 25 minutes?
But the bear run won’t last forever. Sooner or later the bulls will come back, and the crypto verse will surge to never before seen values. We have no idea when that will happen, but we’re pretty confident it’s just unavoidable be it in 20 days, 20 months or more.
And that will make hackers’ fingers itchy for Bitcoins, Litecoins, XRPs, and all kinds of goodies that will be, again as in the past, very valuable. Safe cryptocurrency wallets should be a priority anyway, who doesn’t want something for free? Why would hackers not hack you even if you only have $100 for them to take easily?
So it’s important to be ready in terms of your digital wealth’s security now that it’s easy, in a preventive way, instead of waiting for some greedy hacker to play his tricks on you.
It has happened to online platforms as well as to individuals (remember Mt. Gox?) and that’s why many holders are moving their assets from centralized exchanges to decentralized storage platforms.
So the question is not really if you should buy a good digital wallet. There’s absolutely no doubt about the right answer to that question. You should get a good digital wallet for yourself because you really want one, whether you know it or not. And, of course, security comes at a cost.
You’ll probably need to spend a bit of money and sacrifice some of the convenience in your crypto operations. It all depends on your individual risk profile, do you know what it is? In this article, we’ll give you information about several crypto wallets that could help you understand your risk profile and find a balance in features that suits your profile.
What do you want from a Cryptocurrency Wallet?
This could be a self-explanatory question if you are a seasoned cryptonaut, or a total enigma if you’re a newbie so let’s try and answer it in a way that fits both scenarios. The problem here is that there is really no good answer. A lot of comfy features can be detrimental to security and vice-versa.
A full-featured (but complex) wallet could require a steep learning curve, and if you don’t understand the more sophisticated features in the toy, you could end up making a bigger mess than our (for now) imaginary hacker. So the answer is all about priorities and level of expertise. Keeping that in mind, what should we look for in this kind of thing?
- Price: Is it free? That’s always neat. But will you end up paying the price in some other way? Does it have any shortcomings precisely because it’s free?
- Security: establishing how secure any given cryptographic technology it takes a lot of expertise and work. It’s so hard that you just can’t do it on your own. When you get certified as a cryptographer, the first thing your teachers tell you is this: never try to do things from scratch because that’s how trouble starts. Use the best industry standards and don’t try to be a hero. So in this subject, we’ll have to go by reputation and a proven track record in security levels by the companies that develop and sell or distribute the wallets.
- Portability: it’s cool to have nice, powerful toys that are very small. But do want your digital riches stored in a device so small that you could lose it on the subway? How important is mobility for you? If you spend most of your days at home and work, then it’s trivial, but if you travel a lot, that’s a different story.
- Accessibility: Can I get to the funds in my wallet anytime, anywhere? Good for traders, useless for holders. And the thing is: if your wallet is accessible always to you, it’s also accessible for hackers to attack.
- User-friendliness. Does the thing support many cryptocurrencies? Is it designed in an intuitive way that I can dominate quickly and avoid mistakes?
- Convenience: can I get this new wallet over the web to be delivered quickly to me, or do I have to acquire it from some far-away place in the world so that the delivery takes two months?
- Style: Is it a cool toy? Am I the kind of guy who cares about cool toys at all?
Take an additional moment to read again the things listed above, and figure out which are the ones you can live without, and which are the ones you really should have. We suggest that because, that way, you’ll be able to read the following descriptions of specific wallets with your priorities in mind. Remember that there is no perfect digital wallet yet. Each and every single one (even the good ones) have strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll have to sacrifice something always.
Seven good wallets for cryptocurrencies
It’s a newish. It supports many different coins (300+), and it’s non-custodial (the vendor doesn’t hold your coins for you), and it’s found an ample user base rather quickly. The interface is intuitive and user-friendly.
New supported assets are added every week so, even if it currently can’t hold that nice cool token you fancy, the chances are that it will do it sometime soon. It’s available on Linux, Mac, and Windows; also as a mobile app for Android and iOS.
Other nice features include decentralized storage for private keys, a built-in option to buy digital coins using a bank card, atomic swaps (more on that later), instant exchange through Changelly or Shapeshift, and even an interface for custom tokens.
This wallet’s peculiarity is that it supports atomic swaps. It’s a newish decentralized exchange tech that runs on hash timelock contracts. The swaps support Bitcoin, Litecoin and QTUM currently but more are on the way, and they’ll probably be already available by the time you read this.
Keep Key (hardware)
If you want a cool and enigmatic tech gadget to impress your friends, this could be the way to go. The manufacturer is a rather new company. It’s a hardware wallet of very simple looks, and it’s rumored to be a port of Trezor’s code and firmware so it could be the same engine inside a different bodywork. But so far nobody knows that for sure.
It feels heavy on your hand, so it conveys something of a “premium” status, but it could be a bit too heavy so if it falls to the floor it will hit harder, which could become very bad news.
You manage it with a simple client UI included in the hardware.
Nano Ledger S (hardware)
The two main things about the Nano Ledger S (and the huge popularity it enjoys) is that it’s as secure as the two previously described wallets, but this one is very small and popular. It’s a little bigger than any USB stick which could be a very good thing, or a very bad one if you lose it. The other advantage is its price. It’s very competitive at $65.00.
You can use it by plugging it into one of your computer’s USB ports and then running the wallet’s internal client. It supports around 1100 digital assets, so it has a larger menu than many other hardware wallets.
And it has one very important feature: back up and restore. While the size offers almost unparalleled portability in the market, it also means it’s easy to lose or to destroy. That’s why the backup and restore feature is so important as it compensates for that potential disadvantage. If something happens to your Ledger Nano S, your crypto money remains safe because a confidential recovery phrase backs up your device and that allows you to restore your accounts in any of the other Ledger services.
Trezor is another physical crypto storage device, but its looks are nowhere as nice as any of the previous ones. It looks like a keychain, basically.
But there’s a reason for that. This one of the earliest hardware wallets in the cryptosphere and, since then, it’s become the standard by which every other wallet is measured. So it may be ugly, but it’s substantial. It has the best security in the market as it protects you from both digital or physical theft.
Even if your computer falls under a malware attack and becomes compromised, your private keys will stay safe if you stored them in your Trezor (never store your keys where malware could get to them).
Ugly? Yes. But it’s not just a wallet. It’s more of a treasure chest.
Coinbase’s Hot Wallet (web)
This isn’t hardware or software exactly. It’s an online service offered by Coinbase over the web which is considered to be “GDAX for dummies,” and, as such, it’s straightforward to use. It works as a hot wallet that enables you to do instant transfers to GDAX exchange, without any fees. Every single coin you keep Coinbase insures there. Two-step verification is also available.
It’s safe; it’s easy to use, it’s insured. It sounds great. But it works only for a very small selection of assets, so if you’re the Bitcoin or Ethereum kind of guy, you’ll do fine, but if you like your variety, it’s undoubtedly not the way to go.
MyEtherWallet (paper wallet)
Paper wallets are something of a relic since 2016 and nobody should be still using them, but we’ll tell you about this one for the sake of completeness.
First of all, what is a paper wallet? How can paper be relevant in a 100% digital technology? A paper wallet is a piece of paper in which you print a Bitcoin address along with a single private key. This is usually done by a website. Don’t ask us how this became a thing, but it did.
So if you’d still like to try this “technology” out (which we do not recommend at all), you just point your browser to myetherwallet.com, note your private keys and have them printed.
Sounds simple, right? It’s not. It takes a high degree of expertise with crypto technology which is an additional reason to keep away from it, especially if you’re a newbie.
The software can give you safety and convenience too in mobile apps. Jaxx was the one who broke new ground in that regard when it became the world’s first mobile wallet. It’s available as an app for both of the major mobile operating systems, but also as a desktop and browser app.
In Jaxx, you bounce or back up wallets around devices using a mnemonic seed. Jaxx enables you to receive transfers, scan QR codes, view your holdings, and it’s very intuitive. It also has some more sophisticated functions, which is why many tech-savvy cryptonauts like it.
The problem is the time and energy you will need to invest in it if you want to learn how to use it correctly.
It’s fast and lightweight. Available for both desktop and mobile users. Its manifold features make it the most versatile wallet in the market today. It allows for cold storage, integration with hardware wallets (Trezor, Ledger S, Nano, KeepKey) and full anonymity using Tor.
It supports multiple signatures, and it has no central server, so the problems caused by downtimes do not exist.
Electrum is the expert’s software wallet of choice.
There is no silver bullet when it comes to crypto wallets. And of course, there are some other cryptocurrencies wallets available today that are good, too (we like Exodus alongside the above mentioned seven).
Any given wallet that excels at a specific feature is deficient in some other one. But we hope that this review will allow you to understand what the market is like today so you can define your main priorities and find the one that fits the way in which you use your digital assets.
But above all, choose one. A good digital wallet could turn out to be the best investment decision you ever made.
[Image courtesy of pixabay.com]
Disclaimer: All information provided through this article should not be regarded as investment advice, nor should be taken for granted for crypto trading purposes. Before making any investment or trading plans, make sure to inquire about the information diligently by carrying out your very own research. Thank you.