The first thing that you need to do when you decide to go into Bitcoins is to choose a wallet. Bitcoins are similar to your physical wallets or your savings account in a bank in that it holds your Bitcoins. What differs is that it may be digital, as in software or a mobile application or a hardware that you look after. But unlike with banks or your physical wallet, it has its own back end system that you may need to learn thoroughly as you go deeper into owning and trading Bitcoins.
But, fear not, you don’t need to be technical to enjoy the benefits of Bitcoins, or to choose a wallet. We’ve compiled the best of the bunch (and there are a lot out there!) for you to consider.
One of the things we like about Copay is that it’s tied to Bitpay, one of the leading payment processors in the world, not to mention the largest in existence. Copay is a mobile wallet and has some pretty convenient features, but its edge comes from it being a hierarchical deterministic type of wallet. This gives Bitcoin users some peace of mind because there is a chance to recover their funds.
Moreover, because Bitcoin has many technical matters surrounding it, you’ll find Copay a breath of fresh air because it’s easy to use. It is available both on iOS and Android.Let’s take a tour of its features so you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Let’s take a tour of its features so you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Copay has a sleek and modern interface that makes it easier to navigate around, even for newbies.
The very first steps that you need to do is to create a wallet.
This is your main dashboard. Your next step is to actually fill up your wallet through the exchange. Copay is connected to Glidera for US and Coinbase for the other 33 countries listed. You can also buy Amazon Gift Cards using this wallet.
You can only start sending BTCs if you’ve filled up your wallet.
When receiving funds, a QR Code is the first thing you see.
Let’s talk about one of the most important issues surrounding Bitcoin wallets—security. Make no mistake, as the experts say, your security is only as good as you are, but it’s always prudent to take the extra precautions.
Copay uses multi-signature or multi-sig features to ensure that transactions through Bitcoins are authorised. In addition, it is one of the first Bitcoin wallets to support the Bitcoin Payment Protocol. BPP is the key to guaranteeing that bitcoins go to the correct recipients. This is especially useful to merchants who encounter bogus buyers.
It would have completely won us over if it had 2-factor authentication. With all the hacking these days, it’s never bad to be overly cautious.
Copay uses automatic changing of addresses for maximum anonymity. If you’re one to be paranoid about your transactions, this feature will be attractive.
Copay has set their fees at a dynamic setting, which means it will choose the best fee for any of your transactions. We would have wanted a zero transaction fee like before but most wallets no longer allow for that. With Copay, you can set it as:
Super Economy – 0.002672 BTC/kiB with 4 hours as average confirmation time
Economy – 0.002902 BTC/kiB with an 1 hour average confirmation time
Normal – 0.003223 BTC/kiB with a 30-minute average confirmation time
Priority – 0.003465 BTC/kiB with a 20-minute average confirmation time
Urgent – 0.005198 BTC/kiB with a similar confirmation time as that of the Priority Policy
Depending on your need, you at least get to choose which to use.
People can be careless, so losing money because of forgotten passwords or misplaced wallets is likely to happen. Copay, being a hierarchical deterministic wallet solves this recurring and annoying human trait. And it isn’t shy on this priority, seeing that it’s one of the first steps that you need to do once you download it onto your desktop or mobile phone. Backup by creating a 12-word seed, which you will use to input when you lose your password for some reason or another.
To sum up, Copay is a really good choice if you’re not really worried about the 2FA feature. It has good points to make it wallet of choice for bitcoin users because of its reputation being a Bitpay wallet; its multisig feature; it’s convenient because it’s on iOS and Android, so you can take it anywhere, and its hierarchical deterministic feature to keep you at ease when you’re at one point careless with your stuff and lose things.
Trezor is a hardware wallet. Compared to KeepKey and Ledger, it has been on the market longer. Users with a huge amount of Bitcoins are encouraged to get a hardware wallet for safe keeping. With hacking as ubiquitous as the rise of IoT, it’s logical to get a hardware wallet for added security.
The Trezor comes with a USB to micro cable to use to connect to a computer once you get the device. Go to myTrezor.com and install the Chrome plugin, but there are other ways to set up the device. If you don’t use Chrome, it will ask you to install the Trezor Bridge which, as the name implies, acts as the communication “bridge” from your computer to your device. Once done, you will be asked to update the firmware, label your device and input a PIN to create 24 words to act as the recovery seed. Pay attention to this because these 24 words will help you recover your data in case of loss. It’s a pretty straightforward installation, which does not need any technical knowledge to do so.
Use it as a Cold Wallet
If you’re using the Trezor as a cold wallet, then you probably need not go to the web interface as often as when using it as a hot wallet. And this is the right way to use the Trezor, if we may say so. It is meant to store huge amounts and for a long time, not an everyday toy.
No one can move your bitcoins without the device connected to a computer and over the internet. It’s meant to stay that way unless you have other plans for your bitcoins. In addition to that, the PIN code and passphrase (24 words) seed act as added layers. However, the danger to this is in how easy it is to forget passwords, pins and phrases, with so many that we already handle. Keep it on paper and stored in a safety deposit box or somewhere else. Otherwise, your bitcoins are gone forever.
When not thinking about hacking, getting the device stolen is a possibility. However, Trezor has that covered with its Plausible Deniability feature. Sounds dramatic but it’s simply a way to create a diversion by allowing a fake password in case you get robbed and thieves wrestle the password out of you.
Like Copay, Trezor has also shifted its fees policies into a dynamic policy allowing users to choose priorities with different fees, of course.
Trezor’s edge over Ledger and KeepKey is its reputation, being in the industry first. When it comes to hardware wallets, their features are almost the same, or if they have any difference at all, it’s minimal. So, a consumer has to rely on reputation at the least.
The only downside with Trezor is that it costs more than Ledger. KeepKey has the same cost as Trezor.
Overall, we’re satisfied with the Trezor and would be top of mind when it comes to all hardware wallets. Although it’s on the premium side when it comes to cost, it’s a small amount to pay for peace of mind.
Blockchain wallet is the most popular wallet and has gained positive reviews even from the media. It is used on both PC and mobile phones. A hybrid wallet, it’s online but only if you have access to your private keys.
Easy to use, with hardly any technical information needed to understand what you need to do once you log in.
This is what appears when you first log in.
As you can see, the left navigation panel is your menu. In it is Home, where it summarises your activities in the Activity Feed.
Sending bictoins is easy as well. Paste the address of the recipient or scan the QR code in the “To” portion, then the BTC. It’s really nice as well that the BTC is converted to USD so you’ll immediately know how much you’re sending. It also has the option of identifying what the money is for, for organization purposes.
When requesting for payment or BTC, you just need to fill up the necessary fields and it’s ready for the next steps.
Once you’ve submitted the information, an address is created which you will use to request for BTC.
The security field is probably the longest field that you need to look into. It has multiple levels as well. Shown here is the basic security information that requires your attention. We recommend not skipping this. In this portion, you will need to ensure you backup your phrase, set up a strong password, password hint, a second wallet password, and the 2-step verification. The only downside here is that there is no way to reset your passwords. This is normal in bitcoin wallets, this is why security is a top priority.
The Security Center has its own tab to guide you step-by-step.
Notice that the 2nd level consists of linking your mobile number and enabling 2-step authentication or 2-factor authentication. Level 3 is where you choose to further increase security by blocking Tor.
Blockchain Fees in BTC
In Advanced Sending, you will see the transaction fees you will be charged with. The fees are dynamic depending on speed it needs to successfully complete your transaction. Below are the transaction fees in BTC and USD recorded by Blockchain.
In other cases, transactions take too long. This might be because of the amount of transaction fee that you need to indicate. 0.0008+ BTC should do the trick, not less than that.
Blockchain Fees in USD
Blockchain’s best feature is definitely its security feature, not to mention reputation. There are too many recurring risks online and offline, so ensuring this is covered is the best way to prevent security challenges from happening. This is great for beginners and sets a good precedent of security for bitcoins should they want to switch later on.
We enjoyed the easy navigation feature of the Blockchain wallet. If we were to choose a desktop wallet, this will be on top of the others, even more so than Electrum. With a complicated currency, we like it that it’s the opposite when it comes to usability, so we’re sticking with Blockchain for desktop software.
Out of all the wallets, MyCelium is probably the most different. For one, it allows trading with fiat money, which makes spending money easy without having to convert BTCs. But other than that, it has its own pros and cons which will help determine why it’s a reliable BTC wallet nonetheless.
MyCelium is purely mobile, hence the screen shots. This screenshot is taken from the Android app. This is what appears when you open the app for the first time.
It’s easy to navigate around the app with its horizontal menu. The basic or default tabs are all present. With the technicalities surrounding Bitcoin, developers are considerate enough to build idiot-proof UIs in their apps and software. This isn’t just on MyCelium but with the other wallets as well.
When sending BTCs, you can have different options on how to input the recipient’s address. It’s convenient as well that the transaction fee or miner’s fee is on the same page. Currently, this is set to Normal which runs at 289 sat/byte in 30 minutes. A Priority Fee is at 347 sat/byte and would take 10 minutes; Low-priority is at 213sat/byte and would take 3 hours; while Economic is at 232 sat/byte at 2 hours. Choose your priority.
Consequently, watch out for large mining fees that may seem unreasonable, as this might be a bug in the system. Reporting it to MyCelium would be wise.
When requesting, it displays your QR Code prominently, so it encourages scanning instead of keying in.
This is the Buy/Sell Bitcoin page. You can trade via credit card, Mycelium Marketplace or via Glidera. A convenient feature when you’re using MyCelium as a hot wallet. Mind you, there is a fee attached to every transaction, so have a care when using this feature.
Zoom into the Coinapult account. As it explains, it enables you to store other Fiat currencies, another convenient feature when you’re considering other currencies to use as spending money.
As far as security is concerned, MyCelium supports Backup which produces the 12-word seed that will help you recover your funds. On another note, it encrypts all data and keys. But then again, the security is only as good as how you plan for it. A mobile phone can easily be lost or stolen, so a separate mobile phone is a good idea.
Out of all the other wallets in this list, only MyCelium has the capability to store other Fiat currencies. It’s convenient for someone using MyCelium as a hot wallet. Instead of using other applications or even cash to buy something, you can just use this feature for your purchases.
MyCelium certainly is different from the rest but it is in this that makes it worth the try. It will not be as strong as Blockchain in security or as lightweight as Electrum, but it’s a challenger when it comes to using it as a cold wallet. It’s multiple Fiat currency storing feature is just the thing it needs to be a really good cold wallet.
Electrum is one of the most trusted wallets out there. Search for any list and it will be there. Last year, they released their Android version, so convenience is added to its many great features. Let’s check out how it compares to the rest of this group.
This is the desktop version. It could do a lot better in its visuals to make it more appealing but the interface makes up for it. We’re looking at the mobile more in this review.
Once you open the Electrum wallet, it will ask you what type of wallet you want to create. Obviously, a multisig wallet is the best option, security-wise.
Once you choose multisig, it will take you to this page which will ask you about the number of signatures needed to transact.
Fast forward, it will ask you to add your co-signers public key by pasting it or scanning. We tried the scanning function but unfortunately, it won’t go through, so we typed in the word seed instead.
Once that’s done, the app will generate your addresses and take you to your default dashboard. Your History is what comes up first.
The Send tab shows the usual Recipient, Amount, and Description. You also have the option of scanning or pasting the recipient’s address.
When sending BTC, you will notice that a different dialog pops up or either takes you to a different page. One for the recipient address, another for the amount and lastly, a description of your transaction. We’re not fans of too many switches to pages because it takes you away from the other information. It would have been simpler if everything stons in one page to key in all information.
It does the same on the Receiving page.
This is the Settings page, which will enumerate preferences. The thing with Bitcoin unlike in any other application, is that you MUST review your settings before making any transaction. On this page, you will choose your preferences of Fees, Labels, Language, Currently and the like. If you skip this, you might end up paying a hefty fee on transactions that you are not prepared to do so, or PIN code might be turned off, creating security issues.
Fees are dynamic and it seems to be the norm. This is set as Normal, but slide to the right and it changes to 25 blocks, which is the slowest transaction time. Note that the fee is in mBTC (milliBitcoin), not BTC like the others. You can use a converter if you want it in other currencies as well.
Compared to the other wallets, we had a few challenges in getting the application up and running. It might not be the same for the rest. Unlike in its desktop counterpart, the Android app does not come with the rest of the technicalities. It was a straightforward, simple interface that will make it easy for a newbie to use.
Electrum is one of the popular and reliable wallets out there, but it might be better if you stick with the desktop for now.
Newbie or a Master
Bitcoin is evolving. The right way to approach it is to learn more and keep yourself updated especially on security and fees. Newbies get to experience a dynamic currency, while experts or advanced bitcoiners have something to contribute to the Bitcoin evolution. Wherever you are in the learning curve, it’s always prudent to be arm yourself with the latest in information to mitigate risks.