The decentralized nature of the blockchain has opened up many new opportunities that go far and beyond the current version of the web. But for most laypeople, working directly with cryptocurrencies is still not very accessible.
Especially for beginners, the intricacies of setting up and protecting their crypto wallets can be overwhelming. In response to this, wide range of wallet software solutions and services have cropped up.
Most wallets are distinguishable by where they fall on the spectrum of convenience versus trust; as a wallet becomes more trustless (i.e., requiring less trust in a third party), typically it becomes less convenient to use. Let’s take Coinbase, one of the more popular and oldest wallets, as our baseline for consideration.
Coinbase wallets are custodial, i.e., they hold cryptocurrency on behalf of their clients. As a result, the process of making cryptocurrency transactions through Coinbase’s site is incredibly simple, and users have the ability to make transactions in fiat currency. But in exchance for this simplicity, users must trust Coinbase to keep their currency secure. Not all users are comfortable with their crypto assets and information being stored by a third party like Coinbase. For those users, wallets like Metamask and Exodus have stepped in as alternatives.
Metamask, like Coinbase, markets itself to those looking for a lower barrier of entry to managing and trading cryptocurrency. Like Coinbase, Metamask allows users to directly purchase Ether. Unlike Coinbase, however, Metamask runs and stores data on the user's own computer.
Metamask works through a browser extension: once installed, users can visit web3 sites and use the wallet to perform blockchain transactions such as sending funds or minting tokens.
Exodus works in a similar way as Metamask, but distinguishes itself by allowing users to trade in over 100 different cryptocurrencies (Metamask only supports Ethereum) as well as by providing users with a series of "apps" that make managing and trading easier.
Metamask, Exodus and Coinbase are far from the only choices out there. The number of wallets available to you, and the correspondingly different user experiences they provide, are both diverse and growing:
Portis emphasizes simplicity, like Metamask, but sets itself apart as a wallet with very low fees and access to a variety of different blockchains. It is compatible with almost all browsers.
Dapper is wallet software provided by Dapper Labs, the company behind the popular Cryptokitties project. Dapper functions without the need to access your cryptocurrency, and offers expanded recovery options.
Gnosis Safe, another smart contract wallet, introduces the idea of multi-signature authentication (multiple users must sign off on a transaction before it’s processed).
Torus Wallet takes the idea of accessibility even further than Metamask or Exodus: users can sign into their wallet from their social media accounts, such as Google, Facebook, Reddit, or Twitch.
A similar idea drives Authereum and Fortmatic (Fortmatic also provides authentication through phone or email).
Squarelink also offers third-party authentication, but their defining trait is their ability to recover lost private keys, something which is normally impossible.
New protocols for wallet management are emerging as well:
WalletConnect is a protocol which allows dApps to connect with mobile wallets. More and more wallets are opting to introduce mobile options, which are generally more secure than web-based wallets, and it’s through WalletConnect that wallets (such as Metamask or Authereum) can connect to dApps from mobile devices.
Each wallet brings something different to the table. If your brand wants to attract as many newer or mainstream users to crypto as possible, choosing a wallet with built-in Google authentication, like Authereum, might be the best option. But if security and flexibility are important, then Gnosis Safe or Dapper might make the best choice.
No matter which wallet or wallets you choose to integrate, being cognizant of your options and the user experience you’re trying to deliver is critical. With Aesthetic you can choose whichever option suits your brand best.