Image by jamesbhl & guaxipo at Pixabay
I am sure many of you already know or have an idea of what blockchain and cryptocurrencies are. If not, I am sure you live in a cave. Since its appearance in 2009, 10 years ago, there has been talked about cryptocurrencies or digital money.
Of course, in the beginning, many of us associate that concept with hackers, dark web, underground, drug dealers, weapons, criminals and mobsters. Possibly we would even think that we could be imprisoned for having something to do with Bitcoin (especially when you saw that series of numbers and letters together and heard the word cryptography ... Jeez, I would like to have a time machine!).
But that December 2017, many lucky people became millionaires when Bitcoin reached 20 million dollars. And the truth is, that by 2019, there are more than 35 million users with digital wallets.
It seems quite a lot but it is a small percentage compared to the number of users using PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard. However, having a digital wallet is free and you don't need to have a bank account and of course neither a credit card.
Digital wallets are the means through which we can not only store our cryptocurrencies but also perform operations of sending and receiving crypto. There are some wallets that even allow you to exchange tokens.
Surely, some will ask: Ok, where do I get cryptocurrencies? Although it is not the subject of the post, I can briefly tell you that you can get/win/earn cryptocurrencies through faucets, airdrops and giveaways for free or by registering on bounties or platforms (such as Steemit, WhaleShares, Publish0x, etc) that pay in crypto.
Back to the topic. Before going into detail about wallets, it is important to know that there are two types of wallets: hot and cold.
They are those that you can acquire when you register in an exchange platform. These platforms allow you to buy, sell, receive and transfer different cryptocurrencies. Automatically, when you create an account on an exchange, you create a wallet. The advantage of hot wallets is that they are constantly online, i.e. connected to the internet. So you can access them from anywhere and anytime.
The problem with these wallets being constantly online, they are exposed to attacks from hackers and intruders, so you could lose all your money. However, this depends on the platforms, there are some that cover a loss limit, so in a way is also an advantage. And the other negative part is that you don't have the wallet. If the site goes down, i.e. offline, then you won't have access to your funds. At the end of the post, I will leave some links to known exchanges.
The Cold Ones
These wallets are not connected to the internet and you can find them in two ways: as software, that is, applications that you can download to your computer or smartphone; and as hardware, portable physical devices where you can store your cryptocurrencies (I think it's the only medium where you can really "touch" your cryptocurrencies).
The great thing about these wallets is that you have control over all your cryptocurrencies. You can use them at any time, but you must keep in mind the following:
When you install a wallet, especially the software ones, they will create a private key. you will usually be presented with a series of random words (normally 12 or 24), as seen in the following image:
If you get to lose that key, there will be no way to create a new one and recover your information. To make matters worse, if someone comes to have it, imagine as if you lost the keys to your home. With that key, they can steal all your cryptocurrencies. So again, I recommend that you be very careful with that key.
Maybe you think it's better to have your savings in an exchange platform then since they will take care of the private key. You may be right, but even they lose it too.
Geek stuff (Nerd alert!!!)
Just as common knowledge, internally, with these words, a cryptographic process is performed to generate your true private key, a code of 64 alphanumeric characters (256 bits). The following is an example of a private key:
Even for experts in cryptography is a bit complicated to handle that type of format, so normally, that same key is compressed through a process called Base58, which creates a shorter code. You can appreciate it in the following image:
Note: Generally many sites or blog platform do not allow to publish private keys, that's why I had to put them in into an image.
The following are applications you can download free for your desktop or laptop computer. Obviously, they are not the only ones there are, but they are the ones I have used ;)
This is only for Bitcoin and it is very light
There are many others dedicated to smartphones (iOS & Android), but since I do not have a smartphone, I do not use them. However, there is one that I know and it works on Android emulators on Windows:
Ledger Nano X ($119)
The Ledger Nano X is Ledger’s newest hardware wallet.
The main idea behind the device is that it is the easiest way to secure your Bitcoin and cryptocurrency...
TREZOR One ($78)
TREZOR is a Bitcoin hardware wallet and launched in August 2014. It was the first Bitcoin hardware wallet, offering secure cold storage plus the ability to spend with the convenience of a hot wallet...
KeepKey is a secure Bitcoin hardware wallet that was launched in 2015. Like the TREZOR and Ledger Nano S, it is easy to set up but also has some more advanced features, making it a great choice for new and experienced Bitcoin users alike!...
Obviously, there are many other brands of hardware wallets, however, these are the most used. In addition, these come in different versions, smaller, more complex, more expensive.
If you think about security, it is convenient that you buy one is those. They are much safer, easier to use (especially for users with little technical knowledge) and in case of theft, some have a way to recover your funds. The only problem with them is that they are not free :P
This type of wallet is also a cold wallet, considered the safest way to store cryptocurrencies. Practically, you are printing your own money, that is, both the private key and the public key are printed (the latter represents the address of your wallet).
The following is an example of a paper wallet
You can create your own paper wallets and print your Bitcoins from the website BitAddress.
You can also use Wallet Generator.net if you want to create another paper wallet other than Bitcoin.
These are some of the exchanges I've used, the first two allow you to trade STEEM tokens. There are, of course, thousands of them.
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