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What is a Cryptocurrency Wallet?
A cryptocurrency wallet is a software program that stores private and public keys and interacts with various blockchain to enable users to send and receive digital currency and monitor their balance. If you want to use Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, you will need to have a digital wallet.

Cryptocurrency Wallet Guide: A Step-By-Step Tutorial
How do they work? Millions of people use cryptocurrency wallets, but there is considerable misunderstanding about how they work. Unlike traditional ‘pocket’ wallets, digital wallets don’t store currency. In fact, currencies don’t get stored in any single location or exist anywhere in any physical form. All that exists are records of transactions stored on the blockchain.

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Cryptocurrency wallets are software programs that store your public and private keys and interface with various blockchain so users can monitor their balance, send money and conduct other operations. When a person sends you bitcoins or any other type of digital currency, they are essentially signing off ownership of the coins to your wallet’s address. To be able to spend those coins and unlock the funds, the private key stored in your wallet must match the public address the currency is assigned to. If public and private keys match, the balance in your digital wallet will increase, and the senders will decrease accordingly. There is no actual exchange of real coins. The transaction is signified merely by a transaction record on the blockchain and a change in balance in your cryptocurrency wallet.

Cryptocurrency Wallet Guide

What are the different types of Cryptocurrency wallets?
There are several types of wallets that provide different ways to store and access your digital currency. Wallets can be broken down into three distinct categories – software, hardware, and paper. Software wallets can be a desktop, mobile or online.

Desktop: wallets are downloaded and installed on a PC or laptop. They are only accessible from the single computer in which they are downloaded. Desktop wallets offer one of the highest levels of security however if your computer is hacked or gets a virus there is the possibility that you may lose all your funds.

Online: wallets run on the cloud and are accessible from any computing device in any location. While they are more convenient to access, online wallets store your private keys online and are controlled by a third party which makes them more vulnerable to hacking attacks and theft.

Mobile: wallets run on an app on your phone and are useful because they can be used anywhere including retail stores. Mobile wallets are usually much smaller and simpler than desktop wallets because of the limited space available on a mobile.

Hardware: wallets differ from software wallets in that they store a user’s private keys on a hardware device like a USB. Although hardware wallets make transactions online, they are stored offline which delivers increased security. Hardware wallets can be compatible with several web interfaces and can support different currencies; it just depends on which one you decide to use. What’s more, making a transaction is easy. Users simply plug in their device to any internet-enabled computer or device, enter a pin, send currency and confirm. Hardware wallets make it possible to easily transact while also keeping your money offline and away from danger.

Paper: wallets are easy to use and provide a very high level of security. While the term paper wallet can simply refer to a physical copy or printout of your public and private keys, it can also refer to a piece of software that is used to securely generate a pair of keys which are then printed. Using a paper wallet is relatively straightforward. Transferring Bitcoin or any other currency to your paper wallet is accomplished by the transfer of funds from your software wallet to the public address shown on your paper wallet. Alternatively, if you want to withdraw or spend currency, all you need to do is transfer funds from your paper wallet to your software wallet. This process, often referred to as ‘sweeping,’ can either be done manually by entering your private keys or by scanning the QR code on the paper wallet.

Are Cryptocurrency wallets secure?
Wallets are secure to varying degrees. The level of security depends on the type of wallet you use (desktop, mobile, online, paper, hardware) and the service provider. A web server is an intrinsically riskier environment to keep your currency compared to offline. Online wallets can expose users to possible vulnerabilities in the wallet platform which can be exploited by hackers to steal your funds. Offline wallets, on the other hand, cannot be hacked because they simply aren’t connected to an online network and don’t rely on a third party for security.

Although online wallets have proven the most vulnerable and prone to hacking attacks, diligent security precautions need to be implemented and followed when using any wallet. Remember that no matter which wallet you use, losing your private keys will lead you to lose your money. Similarly, if your wallet gets hacked, or you send money to a scammer, there is no way to reclaim lost currency or reverse the transaction. You must take precautions and be very careful!

Backup your wallet. Store only small amounts of currency for everyday use online, on your computer or mobile, keeping the vast majority of your funds in a high security environment. Cold or offline storage options for backup like Ledger Nano or paper or USB will protect you against computer failures and allow you to recover your wallet should it be lost or stolen. It will not, however, protect you against eager hackers. The reality is, if you choose to use an online wallet there are inherent risks that can’t always be protected against.

Update software. Keep your software up to date so that you have the latest security enhancements available. You should regularly update not only your wallet software but also the software on your computer or mobile.

Add extra security layers. The more layers of security, the better. Setting long and complex passwords and ensuring any withdrawal of funds requires a password is a start. Use wallets that have a good reputation and provide extra security layers like two-factor authentication and additional pin code requirements every time a wallet application gets opened. You may also want to consider a wallet that offers multisig transactions like Armory or Copay. A multisig or multi-signature wallet requires the permission of another user or users before a transaction can be made.

Multi-currency or single use?
Although Bitcoin is by far the most well-known and popular digital currency, hundreds of new cryptocurrencies (referred to as altcoins) have emerged, each with distinctive ecosystems and infrastructure. If you’re interested in using a variety of cryptocurrencies, the good news is, you don’t need set up a separate wallet for each currency. Instead of using a cryptocurrency wallet that supports a single currency, it may be more convenient to set up a multi-currency wallet which enables you to use several currencies from the same wallet.

Are there any transaction fees?
There is no straightforward answer here.

In general, transaction fees are a tiny fraction of traditional bank fees. Sometimes fees need to be paid for certain types of transactions to network miners as a processing fee, while some transactions don’t have any fee at all. It’s also possible to set your own fee. As a guide, the median transaction size of 226 bytes would result in a fee of 18,080 satoshis or $0.12. In some cases, if you choose to set a low fee, your transaction may get low priority, and you might have to wait hours or even days for the transaction to get confirmed. If you need your transaction completed and confirmed promptly, then you might need to increase the amount you’re willing to pay. Whatever wallet you end up using, transaction fees are not something you should worry about. You will either pay minuscule transaction fees, choose your own fees or pay no fees at all. A definite improvement from the past!

Are cryptocurrency wallets anonymous?
Kind of, but not really. Wallets are pseudonymous. While wallets aren’t tied to the actual identity of a user, all transactions are stored publicly and permanently on the blockchain. Your name or personal street address won’t be there, but data like your wallet address could be traced to your identity in a number of ways. While there are efforts underway to make anonymity and privacy easier to achieve, there are obvious downsides to full anonymity. Check out the DarkWallet project that is looking to beef up privacy and anonymity through stealth addresses and coin mixing.

Which Cryptocurrency wallet is the best?
There is an ever-growing list of options. Before picking a wallet, you should, however, consider how you intend to use it.

Do you need a wallet for everyday purchases or just buying and holding digital currency for an investment?
Do you plan to use several currencies or one single currency?
Do you require access to your digital wallet from anywhere or only from home?
Take some time to assess your requirements and then choose the most suitable wallet for you.

Bread Wallet
Bread Wallet is a simple mobile Bitcoin digital wallet that makes sending bitcoins as easy as sending an email. The wallet can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. Bread Wallet offers a standalone client, so there is no server to use when sending or receiving bitcoins. That means users can access their money and are in full control of their funds at all times. Overall, Bread Wallet’s clean interface, lightweight design and commitment to continually improve security, make the application safe, fast and a pleasure to use for both beginners and experienced users alike.
Pros: Good privacy & security, beginner friendly, simple & clean, open source software, free.
Cons: No web or desktop interface, lacks features, hot wallet.

Mycelium
Advanced users searching for a Bitcoin mobile digital wallet, should look no further than mycelium. The Mycelium mobile wallet allows iPhone and Android users to send and receive bitcoins and keep complete control over bitcoins. No third party can freeze or lose your funds! With enterprise-level security superior to most other apps and features like cold storage and encrypted PDF backups, an integrated QR-code scanner, a local trading marketplace and secure chat amongst others, you can understand why Mycelium has long been regarded as one of the best wallets on the market.
Pros: Good privacy, advanced security, feature-rich, open source software, free
Cons: No web or desktop interface, hot wallet, not for beginners

Exodus
Exodus is a relatively new and unknown digital wallet that is currently only available on the desktop. It enables the storage and trading of Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoins, Dogecoins and Dash through an incredibly easy to use, intuitive and beautiful interface. Exodus also offers a very simple guide to backup your wallet. One of the great things about Exodus is that it has a built-in shapeshift exchange that allows users to trade altcoins for bitcoins and vice versa without leaving the wallet.
Pros: Good privacy & security, beginner friendly, intuitive, easy to use, in-wallet trading, supports multiple currencies, open source software, free.
Cons: Hot wallet, no web interface or mobile app

Copay
Created by Bitpay, Copay is one of the best digital wallets on the market. If you’re looking for convenience, Copay is easily accessed through a user-friendly interface on desktop, mobile or online. One of the best things about Copay is that it’s a multi-signature wallet so friends or business partners can share funds. Overall, Copay has something for everyone. It’s simple enough for entry-level users but has plenty of additional geeky features that will impress more experienced players as well.
Pros: Good privacy & security, multisig transactions, multiple platforms & devices, multiple wallet storage, beginner friendly, open source software, free
Cons: Can be slow & unresponsive, limited user support

Jaxx
Jaxx is a multi-currency Ether, Ether Classic, Dash, DAO, Litecoin, REP, Zcash, Rootstock, Bitcoin wallet and user interface. Jaxx has been designed to deliver a smooth Bitcoin and Ethereum experience. It is available on a variety of platforms and devices (Windows, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, OSX, Android mobile & tablet, iOS mobile & tablet) and connects with websites through Firefox and Chrome extensions. Jaxx allows in wallet conversion between Bitcoin, Ether and DAO tokens via Shapeshift and the import of Ethereum paper wallets. With an array of features and the continual integration of new currencies, Jaxx is an excellent choice for those who require a multi-currency wallet.
Pros: Good privacy & security, Multi-currency, wallet linking across multiple platforms, great user support, feature rich, user-friendly, free.
Cons: Code is not open source, can be slow to load.

Armory
Armory is an open source Bitcoin desktop wallet perfect for experienced users that place emphasis on security. Some of Armory’s features include cold storage, multi-signature transactions, one-time printable backups, multiple wallets interface, GPU-resistant wallet encryption, key importing, key sweeping and more. Although Armory takes a little while to understand and use to it’s full potential, it’s a great option for more tech-savvy bitcoiners looking to keep their funds safe and secure.
Pros: Good privacy, great security features, multi-signature options, solid cold storage options, free.
Cons: Only accessible via the desktop client, not for beginners.

Trezor Trezor is a hardware Bitcoin wallet that is ideal for storing large amounts of bitcoins. Trezor cannot be infected by malware and never exposes your private keys which make it as safe as holding traditional paper money. Trezor is open source and transparent, with all technical decisions benefiting from wider community consultation. It’s easy to use, has an intuitive interface and is Windows, OS X and Linux friendly. One of the few downsides of the Trezor wallet is that it must be with you to send bitcoins. This, therefore, makes Trezor best for inactive savers, investors or people who want to keep large amounts of Bitcoin highly secure.
Pros: Good security & privacy, cold storage, easy to use a web interface, in-built screen, open source software, beginner friendly.
Cons: Costs $99, must have device to send bitcoins

Ledger Nano
The Ledger Wallet Nano is a new hierarchical deterministic multisig hardware wallet for bitcoin users that aims to eliminate a number of attack vectors through the use of a second security layer. This tech-heavy description does not mean much to the average consumer, though, which is why I am going to explain it in plain language, describing what makes the Ledger Wallet Nano tick. In terms of hardware, the Ledger Wallet Nano is a compact USB device based on a smart card. It is roughly the size of a small flash drive, measuring 39 x 13 x 4mm (1.53 x 0.51 x 0.16in) and weighing in at just 5.9g.
Pros:
Screen/device protected by metal swivel cover
Multi-Currency support
3rd-Party apps can run from device
U2F support
When recovering wallet from seed, the whole process can be done from the device without even connecting it to a computer!
Fairly inexpensive (~$65 USD)

Cons:
Not as advanced wallet software (no transaction labeling)
No ability to create hidden accounts
No password manager

Green Address
Green Address is a user-friendly Bitcoin wallet that’s an excellent choice for beginners. Green Address is accessible via desktop, online or mobile with apps available for Chrome, iOS, and Android. Features include multi-signature addresses & two-factor authentications for enhanced security, paper wallet backup, and instant transaction confirmation. A downside is that Green Address is required to approve all payments, so you do not have full control over your spending.
Pros: Solid security, multi-platform & device, multi-sig, beginner-friendly, open source software, free.
Cons: Hot wallet, average privacy, the third party must approve payments.

Blockchain (dot) info
Blockchain is one of the most popular Bitcoin wallets. Accessing this wallet can be done from any browser or smartphone. Blockchain.info provides two different additional layers. For the browser version, users can enable two-factor authentication, while mobile users can activate a pin code requirement every time the wallet application is opened. Although your wallet will be stored online and all transactions will need to go through the company’s servers, Blockchain.info does not have access to your private keys. Overall, this is a well-established company that is trusted throughout the Bitcoin community and makes for a solid wallet to keep your currency.

Is blockchain technology the new internet?
The blockchain is an undeniably ingenious invention – the brainchild of a person or group of people known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. But since then, it has evolved into something greater, and the main question every single person is asking is: What is Blockchain?

By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin, (Buy Bitcoin) the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology.

Bitcoin has been called “digital gold,” and for a good reason. To date, the total value of the currency is close to $9 billion US. And blockchains can make other types of digital value. Like the internet (or your car), you don’t need to know how the blockchain works to use it. However, having a basic knowledge of this new technology shows why it’s considered revolutionary. So, we hope you enjoy this, What Is Blockchain Guide. And if you already know what blockchain is and want to become a blockchain developer (2018 – currently in high demand!) please check out our in depth blockchain tutorial and create your very first blockchain.

A distributed database
Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.

Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared — and continually reconciled — database. This is a way of using the network that has obvious benefits. The blockchain database isn’t stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable. No centralized version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt. Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the internet.

To go in deeper with the Google spreadsheet analogy, I would like you to read this piece from a blockchain specialist.

Blockchain Durability and robustness
Blockchain technology is like the internet in that it has a built-in robustness. By storing blocks of information that are identical across its network, the blockchain cannot:

  1. Be controlled by any single entity.
  2. Has no single point of failure.

Bitcoin was invented in 2008. Since that time, the Bitcoin blockchain has operated without significant disruption. (To date, any of problems associated with Bitcoin have been due to hacking or mismanagement. In other words, these problems come from bad intention and human error, not flaws in the underlying concepts.)

The internet itself has proven to be durable for almost 30 years. It’s a track record that bodes well for blockchain technology as it continues to be developed.

Transparent and incorruptible
The blockchain network lives in a state of consensus, one that automatically checks in with itself every ten minutes. A kind of self-auditing ecosystem of a digital value, the network reconciles every transaction that happens in ten-minute intervals. Each group of these transactions is referred to as a “block”. Two important properties result from this:

  1. Transparency data is embedded within the network as a whole, by definition it is public.
  2. It cannot be corrupted altering any unit of information on the blockchain would mean using a huge amount of computing power to override the entire network.

In theory, this could be possible. In practice, it’s unlikely to happen. Taking control of the system to capture Bitcoins, for instance, would also have the effect of destroying their value.

A network of nodes
A network of so-called computing “nodes” make up the blockchain.

Node
(computer connected to the blockchain network using a client that performs the task of validating and relaying transactions) gets a copy of the blockchain, which gets downloaded automatically upon joining the blockchain network.

Together they create a powerful second-level network, a wholly different vision for how the internet can function.

Every node is an “administrator” of the blockchain, and joins the network voluntarily (in this sense, the network is decentralized). However, each one has an incentive for participating in the network: the chance of winning Bitcoins.

Nodes are said to be “mining” Bitcoin, but the term is something of a misnomer. In fact, each one is competing to win Bitcoins by solving computational puzzles. Bitcoin was the raison d’etre of the blockchain as it was originally conceived. It’s now recognized to be only the first of many potential applications of the technology.

There are an estimated 700 Bitcoin-like cryptocurrencies (exchangeable value tokens) already available. As well, a range of other potential adaptations of the original blockchain concept are currently active, or in development.

The idea of decentralization
By design, the blockchain is a decentralized technology.

Anything that happens on it is a function of the network as a whole. Some important implications stem from this. By creating a new way to verify transactions aspects of traditional commerce could become unnecessary. Stock market trades become almost simultaneous on the blockchain, for instance — or it could make types of record keeping, like a land registry, fully public. And decentralization is already a reality.

A global network of computers uses blockchain technology to jointly manage the database that records Bitcoin transactions. That is, Bitcoin is managed by its network, and not any one central authority. Decentralization means the network operates on a user-to-user (or peer-to-peer) basis. The forms of mass collaboration this makes possible are just beginning to be investigated.

Who will use the blockchain?
As web infrastructure, you don’t need to know about the blockchain for it to be useful in your life.

Currently, finance offers the strongest use cases for the technology. International remittances, for instance. The World Bank estimates that over $430 billion US in money transfers were sent in 2015. And at the moment there is a high demand for blockchain developers.

The blockchain potentially cuts out the middleman for these types of transactions. Personal computing became accessible to the general public with the invention of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), which took the form of a “desktop”. Similarly, the most common GUI devised for the blockchain are the so-called “wallet” applications, which people use to buy things with Bitcoin, and store it along with other cryptocurrencies.

Transactions online are closely connected to the processes of identity verification. It is easy to imagine that wallet apps will transform in the coming years to include other types of identity management.

The Blockchain & Enhanced security
By storing data across its network, the blockchain eliminates the risks that come with data being held centrally.

Its network lacks centralized points of vulnerability that computer hackers can exploit. Today’s internet has security problems that are familiar to everyone. We all rely on the “username/password” system to protect our identity and assets online. Blockchain security methods use encryption technology.

The basis for this are the so-called public and private “keys”. A “public key” (a long, randomly-generated string of numbers) is a users’ address on the blockchain. Bitcoins sent across the network gets recorded as belonging to that address. The “private key” is like a password that gives its owner access to their Bitcoin or other digital assets. Store your data on the blockchain and it is incorruptible. This is true, although protecting your digital assets will also require safeguarding of your private key by printing it out, creating what’s referred to as a paper wallet.

A second-level network
With blockchain technology, the web gains a new layer of functionality.

Already, users can transact directly with one another — Bitcoin transactions in 2016 averaged over $200,000 US per day. With the added security brought by the blockchain new internet business are on track to unbundle the traditional institutions of finance.

Goldman Sachs believes that blockchain technology holds great potential especially to optimize clearing and settlements, and could represent global savings of up to $6bn per year.

The Blockchain a New Web 3.0?
The blockchain gives internet users the ability to create value and authenticates digital information. What will new business applications result?

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