Digital money trading and managing tools have improved significantly since 2009 when released. At the beginning, we hardly had any possibilities to buy cryptocurrencies for traditional (or as it is called within the crypto society, fiat) money. If anyone wanted to purchase any, they could choose from 3 alternatives: Self-mining, receiving as present or earning in some kind of computer game. Since then, things have changed a lot, all the way from buying to managing and using cryptos.
The goal of this article is to introduce mobile cryptowallet applications that put the most emphasis on security and usability.
There are many dimensions along which we can choose wallets. Out of these, the most important for the majority of users are:
- Low fees
- Simple usage
- How many cryptocurrencies can be kept in a single wallet
Types of cryptowallets
Hardware, mobile, desktop, online and even paper wallets are among the currently available cryptowallets. The main distinction between these originates from the way how they store the private key.
The private key is a unique ID consisted of a string of letters, numbers and special characters, with which we can access our cryptos. If we lose it, consequently, we will lose our cryptos as well.
In some cases, there is a distinction in terms of anonimity between apps, however, full identification is currently trending among crypto applications (in wallets and exchanges likewise). This means that for registration we are requested to upload a photo about our ID card along with a selfie (sometimes this is specified as a video selfie).
Hardware wallets are off-grid physical tools. These devices are ensuring safety of our private keys by not connecting to the Internet. Most people who intend to store significant amount of cryptos for a longer period of time in a safe place, decide using this solution.
Desktop and mobile wallets
Desktop and mobile wallets work in a similar manner, both of them store the private key on our device in an encrypted form. These types of wallets are relatively safe, nonetheless, since both of them may connect to the Internet there is a bigger chance that our private key will eventually fall into the wrong hands.
In case of paper wallets, our private key is on a piece of printed paper. This way of storage can also be considered as safe in case we keep it in a circumspect manner.
Coinbase is one of the most famous crypto-applications.
Since it stores our values in the cloud, it is belonging to the less secure apps. We do not have access to our private key, it is with Coinbase. Within settings, we can enhance our wallet’s security level by setting a password request for every time we open the application or send money.
The registration proceeds step by step, first we are only requested to provide our name and e-mail address but eventually full identification is needed to start any activity in the app. We don’t have to store our private key, Coinbase takes care about it.
We can check all transaction fees relating to mining and bond to the application. On Coinbase, buying cryptos and exchanging cryptos both cost money. Similar to other crypto services, Coinbase devolves network fee to the user which is increasing or decreasing depending on the network load. Moreover, purchasing and exchanging cryptos also cost us a minimal amount of money, although although most of these cost can be cut by using Coinbase Pro.
Coinbase takes onboarding seriously in terms of which information will be presented on the opening screen. We can see present exchange rates as well as all the available coins in the app.
Coinbase allows Euros to be the exchange currency which makes it much easier to actually get cryptos. This function is quite rare, even some of the bigger exchanges and wallets still do not have it (e.g. Coinomi, Exodus).
Coinbase prevents us from going further in a process if we don’t have the sufficient balance to complete a transaction. Coinomi, on the other hand, chose a different solution in the same situation: it transfers the money, just warns us that there’ll be a smaller amount sent to the other party due to the charges apply.
The amount can be given not only in cryptocurrency but in fiat money as well, depending on which is more suitable. In this way, we don’t have to make the conversion to the desired currency ourselves.
We can check all details and additional fees of the transaction on a confirmation page prior to sending.
Comparing to the account overview page, we can find further information about the coin on the account detail page. Many people decide whether to buy or sell a particular crypto based on its market cap and volumen, thus, these are important pieces of information good to be seen at one place.
Exchange rate alerts are adjustable with a slider. Based on the direction of sliding, the limit’s direction will be automatically set. Unfortunately, we cannot set any other type of alert within the application. In Coinbase, we can also add a memo to our transactions, however it depends on the receiver’s app whether they’ll be able to read it.
A new service in Coinbase intends to help beginner investors by compiling a starter portfolio. Coinbase Bundle aggregates 5 cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, és Ethereum Classic).
Revolut is distinct from other crypto applications in such a way, that we are unable to buy real cryptos, it only stores transactions in an internal ledger.
We don’t have access to our private key, these are stored by Revolut in pooled cryptocurrency wallets.
This may pose a problem for those who value independency, decentrality, and transparency the most. Nonetheless, this disadvantage turns out to be an advantage as well, since due to this solution, transactions are free and immediate.
From a security perspective, Revolut’s probably most impressive feature is adding any number of virtual cards to your account.
What can a virtual debit card be used for?
Imagine that we are checking out a webshop and are asked to type in our card details. At the same time, however, we don’t feel safe giving such a sensitive data to a totally unknown service on a random interface. In these kinds of cases a disposable virtual card may come handy so we will never have to give our real card details again.
We can only register on Revolut if we provide our ID details. Our account will be activated only after our identity has been verified.
Sending and receiving has no fees within the application.
In Revolut, we can buy crypto for the chosen fiat money by either connecting our debit card to our Revolut account or by topping up our Revolut card. We can use a currency not supported by Revolut but in this case our bank is going to complete the necessary exchanges between currencies.
By allowing Revolut to access our contact list we can see immediately who owns a Revolut account already. Within Revolut, sending and receiving money is simple: neither wallet address nor transaction fee is needed, to whom and how much money we want to send is required.
We can invite those of our acquaintances who are not Revolut users yet via SMS or by sending them a link.
The application has a clever visual solution of showing our balance: while scrolling through our transaction history, the graph in the header shows us the change in our balance as a function of time.
Coinomi is meant to be a financial application for crypto-owners.
Coinomi stores our private key on our device, doesn’t connect identity to our account and transactions won’t be tracked on their servers. This itself doesn’t sound very secure, but in the application for each transaction, we need to use the password we have set before. Even if we lose our phone, without breaking up our secure password, nobody can access to our cryptos. However, the owner of the stolen phone can easily regain control of her wallet by using the seed (12 or 18 words generated based on our private key) from any other mobile devices. Even if we lose our phone, without breaking up our secure password, nobody can access to our cryptos. However, the owner of the stolen phone can easily regain control of her wallet by using the seed (12 or 18 words generated based on our private key) from any other mobile device.
Coinomi — in mind with the traditional crypto-principles — is making transparent transactions on the blockchain. For this reason however, there is no free transaction between app users.
At present, we cannot buy crypto with fiat money.
Sending and receiving functions are only available from a particular account’s page. On one hand, this is practical, because in this way there’s a smaller chance to send cryptos to the wrong address, but on the other hand, it is more difficult to access these functions. At the same time, however, we can access the QR code reading functionality immediately from the opening page with which we are able to send money to the address determined by the QR-code. This function may come handy when we are about purchase in an online store.
If we want to send to a BTC (Bitcoin) account, we can do this by sending any of the supported coins without any exchange or additional step.
In Coinomi, we can set the displayed currency globally, in which we wish to see our cryptos’ exchange rates.
It is disadvantageous, that its menu structure does not follow any mobile menu standards. Instead of one, menu elements are in two coloumns, it has an inconsistent style, the upper and the lower parts are visually distinct and for this reason it is harder to scan to the eye.
There are approximately 120 coins and 382 tokens available within the application. As a comparison: in Coinbase the number of supported coins is currently 5.
Coinomi announced a new desktop version of their wallet which will be available from the 4th quarter of 2018 and is going to support all major OSs including MacOS, Windows and Linux.
Ethereum wallet by Freewallet
Ethereum wallet, following from its name, is intended to store and manage Ethereum cryptocurrency. The application is a member of the Freewallet family. Freewallet offers wallet solutions for several other cryptocurrencies such as NEO, Dash, Doge or Z-Cash.
We can register easily by using our Facebook or Google+ account. We don’t need to store our private key. Keeping our private keys safely is solved by keeping most of them in hard wallets. In case we lose our phone, we can simply freeze our account. If we want to increase the security level of our wallet, we can add a PIN code and set email and mobile confirmations before each transaction. Moreover, there is a possibility to set a daily limit to our account.
We don’t need to provide our full identity to use Ethereum wallet.
There is no way to buy cryptos within the app, however, in the multi-wallet application by Freewallet, we can buy cryptos if the value of our purchase is at least 50 USD.
Sending and receiving is free of charge across freewallet users. In Ethereum wallet, while a transaction is in progress, we can see how many confirmations have already been received as well as how many more are still needed to complete the transaction. In case of cryptocurrencies, transactions will be completed only if they get the requested amount of confirmations. After a transaction enters into a block, the number of confirmations increases by each subsequent block.
Smart address is an interesting function in Ethereum wallet, with which we are able to top up our Ethereum wallet with almost any other cryptocurrencies. In this way, we can reduce the number of unnecessary exchanges.
Identical to Revolut, Ethereum wallet users can send money to each other by using only an email address or the user id.
We can set our local currency, language as well as alerts for changes in our balance. Unfortunately, there is no way to set alert for exchange rate changes. Beyond Ethereum, Freewallet offers wallet solutions for other popular cryptocurrencies
Warning: several users complained about disappearing coins. Please, do your research before choosing any kind of cryptowallets.
ImToken ImToken is less famous in Europe but it is quite a popular Ethereum wallet in China. In reality, this is the biggest Ethereum wallet in the world. In addition, version 2.0 can manage not only Ethereum but all ERC20 tokens as well as Bitcoin Segwit, Bitcoin and EOS. Its specialty that we can invest on Dapps within the application.
This is a mobile wallet that stores the private key on the device.
ImToken does not store our private keys, it is our duty as in the case of Coinomi.
At present, we cannot buy crypto with fiat money.
We can use our contact’s name to send if we’ve saved it already or we can scan the receiver’s address.
By clicking on the amount’s input field, we can see the required form which helps users to type in the amount correctly. Nonetheless, we cannot give the amount in any fiat formats even though it would come handy in cases the amount is determined in fiat currency.
Just like in Revolut, here we can also add some notes to our transaction.
ENS (Ethereum Name Service) makes it possible to send cryptos to simple, easily scannable addresses.
ImToken has launched its trading platform (DEX) where token exchanges are supported as well. Tokens are different from coins in that they don’t use their own blockchain but an already existing one and usually they are used with a dApp (decentralized application).
After registration Wirex gives a free debit card either with a USD, EUR or GBP account which we can use anywhere where VISA cards are accepted. ImToken has launched its trading platform (DEX) where token exchanges are supported as well. Tokens are different from coins in this way that they don’t use their own blockchain but an already existing one and usually they are used with a dApp (decentralized application).
Moreover, exchange from fiat to crypto and vice versa are free of charge. The most interesting feature for the crypto-community is that we can spend our cryptos wherever VISA cards are accepted. This is a significant improvement, since this was only possible by exchanging cryptos back to fiat money before, sometimes even in multiple steps by first changing it back to EUR and then to our local money. This is a time consuming and costly process.
When we choose a cryptowallet, we have to make compromises in favour of one of the aspects discussed above based on our personal preferences.
Buying cryptos is a hard task even today, because we cannot buy them for fiat money in all the exchanges. Even in the ones we can, it is often restricted to a few fiat currencies. Services that provide a free EUR or USD account, such as Wirex, or services that allow us to make direct fiat-crypto exchanges after adding our bankcard details like Coinbase, intend to give a bridging solution to this problem.
If we do not want to trust a third party and give our private keys like in Coinomi, then, we can only do this by compromising with simple usage; if, however, the main standpoint is a user friendly, flawless usage such as we experience with Revolut, then security and in some cases even the freedom of utilization will be compromised.
At the same time, however, in all the applications discussed here, there are some solutions that significantly improve the ease of usage such as showing the current state of transactions, sending cryptos using just the email address or the name of the receiver or buying cryptos simply with a debit card.