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Crypto wallets

Lesson in Course: Crypto (beginner, 6min)

How do we use cryptocurrency?

Eureka!

What it's about: Wallets are the first step towards decentralization and come in different forms. 

Why it's important: To start trading crypto, we need a wallet.

Key takeaway: Software wallets are the easiest for sending and receiving crypto.

Unlike traditional wallets that hold our cash and credit cards, crypto wallets don’t actually store cryptocurrency. We can think of crypto wallets as gateways or tools that allow us to communicate with a blockchain network, like Bitcoin or Ethereum. The wallet generates the information (public and private keys) we need to use cryptocurrencies.

This video provides some basics about crypto wallets:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8IBpfs9bf4&ab_channel=BinanceAcademy

Wallet keys

Since all transactions on a blockchain are public, our crypto transactions are encrypted using a pair of public and private keys for security. Public keys encrypt the transaction. 

What is Public key(s)?

Used to encrypt a transaction on a blockchain - paired with a private key

Private keys decrypt the transaction. 

What is Private key(s)?

Private keys provide signatures for transactions, give access to funds, and can be used to access coins/tokens on any device.

If someone steals our private keys, then they could steal our crypto. WE SHOULD NEVER SHARE OUR PRIVATE KEYS!

Public and private keys work in tandem

Some wallets use seed phrases to recover our funds on the blockchain.

What is Seed phrase(s) ?

A list of words that can be used to gain access to wallets and recover funds on the blockchain. 

When we open our wallets, we are shown our seed phrases. We should write down the seed phrases and keep the seed phrases in a safe place in case we need to access them later. If we lose them, we could lose our crypto forever.

Forgetting the seed phrase can result in losing our crypto

Here's a crazy story of someone who has lost $500+ million (7002 BTC) in crypto because he forgot his password.

This programmer has two guesses left to access £175m bitcoin wallet

Stefan Thomas is not the first person to forget a password, but memory lapses are rarely so potentially costly.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/jan/12/in-bits-the-programmer-locked-out-of-his-130m-bitcoin-account

Types of crypto wallets

We can think of wallets as either being hot or cold.

What is Hot wallet(s)?

Crypto wallets that are connected to the internet. 

Hot wallets are more convenient to use for trading and making transactions. Software wallets are hot wallets and they can either be web, desktop, or mobile applications. 

  • Web wallets use a browser, so it doesn’t require any installations on our computer
  • Desktop wallets are downloaded on our computers and are considered safer than web wallets
  • Mobile apps are similar to desktop wallets but specifically designed for smartphones, making them convenient for accessing our coins anywhere
Cold and hot wallets have nothing to do with actual temperature

Cold wallets offer us an even safer option.

What is Cold wallets ?

Crypto wallets that are not connected to the internet. 

Cold wallets are physical hardware wallets that hold the keys offline, making them more resistant to hackers. 

 

To use a hardware wallet, we would connect it to our computers. The device randomly generates public and private keys stored directly on the device behind additional security layers. They are less convenient for making transactions but tend to be more secure and better for long-term investors holding coins.

Lastly, we can theoretically write our keys down on a piece of paper to create a paper wallet. This is ill-advised as paper wallets are obsolete and unreliable. Paper can be easily lost and destroyed—software and hardware wallets are much better alternatives.

Actionable ideas

As a beginner exploring decentralization for the first time, a CEX will automatically create a wallet for us. To interact with DEXs we can choose to start with a browser-based hot wallet like Metamask. Once we get the hang of custody of our own wallets, we can turn to other hot or cold wallets.

Supplementary materials

This video provides step-by-step instructions for creating wallets to store your Ethereum coins on Metamask & Solana coins on Phantom.
https://youtu.be/AgK4xPhw8Fo
A very popular and trusted browser wallet.

MetaMask - A crypto wallet & gateway to blockchain apps

Check it outhttps://metamask.io/index.html
A cool and new Ethereum mobile wallet

Rainbow is a fun, simple, and secure Ethereum wallet that makes managing your assets a joy.

Check it outhttps://rainbow.me/

Glossary

What is Crypto wallet?

Gateways or tools that allow us to communicate with a blockchain network, like Bitcoin or Ethereum. They generate the information (public and private keys) we need to use cryptocurrencies.

What is Public key(s)?

Used to encrypt a transaction on a blockchain - paired with a private key

What is Private Key(s)?

Used to decrypt the transaction from a paired public key. Private keys provide signatures for transactions, give access to funds, and can be used to access coins/tokens on any device. NEVER SHARE PRIVATE KEYS!!

What is Seed phrase(s) ?

A list of words that can be used to recover funds on the blockchain. KEEP IN A SAFE PLACE AND NEVER SHARE SEED PHRASES!!

What is Hot wallet(s)?

Crypto wallets that are connected to the internet. They are more convenient to use for trading and making transactions.

What is Cold wallets ?

Crypto wallets that are not connected to the internet. They are a physical device that holds the keys offline, making them a safer alternative and more resistant to hackers.