Bitcoin has taken the world by storm, offering a currency alternative to the government-backed currencies we all know from daily use. Digital currencies are easier, safer and offer better privacy than traditional currencies.
Because the value of a Bitcoin compared to the U.S. dollar and other currencies has skyrocketed over the last couple of years, it has shown up on some people’s radar as an investment opportunity as well.
What is a Bitcoin wallet?
A Bitcoin wallet is a program for sending and receiving bitcoins. A Bitcoin wallet programs are available for mobile phones, desktops, and even as a standalone piece of hardware.
Generally speaking, Bitcoin wallets are a bit similar to how email works. If you want to send and receive emails, you need some sort of a program to do so (e.g., Gmail, Outlook).
Like emails, receiving Bitcoins requires a unique personal address. This unique address is called your Bitcoin address, and—just like your email address—you can share it with anyone who wants to send you bitcoins.
Bitcoin address example: 1BoatSLRHtKNngkdXEeobR76b53LETtpyT (Bitcoin addresses always start with a “1” or “3”) The final ingredient that’s missing is your password. With email, you choose your own password, while with Bitcoin, the wallet chooses it randomly for you.
This password is called your private key and—similar to your email password—it should never be shared with anyone.
What is a private key?
A private key is just a very long string of numbers and letters that acts as the password to your bitcoins. It’s from this secret combination that your wallet derives the capability to tell the Bitcoin network you want to send your Bitcoins to another destination.
The most important thing to remember is this: Whoever knows your private key has control over your bitcoins. The private key is also used to generate your Bitcoin address.
The process would look like this: You download a wallet program to your mobile phone or laptop. The program (also known as the client) randomly creates a private key.
A Bitcoin address is created by running some sort of mathematical algorithm on your private key. Even though the Bitcoin address is generated from the private key, there’s no way to figure out what the private key is just by examining a Bitcoin address.
This is a one-way process. A wallet’s core function is the creation, storage, and use of the private key. In other words, it automates Bitcoin’s complex cryptography and blockchain interactions for you.
Mobile Wallets for Android
Edge Learn More Download
Edge is the best bitcoin wallet we recommend for you. It’s integrated with Fold, meaning you can get 20% discounts at Starbucks from within the wallet.
Edge manages accounts with usernames and passwords, but doesn’t have access to your funds. This type of account creation is easier for less technical users who may have trouble backing up or understanding HD seeds.
Breadwallet started out as the most popular wallet for iPhone, and now it is also available for Adroid devices running Android 6.0 or higher. The simplicity and easy-to-use security makes it a great place to start for users who are new to bitcoin.
Mycelium (Android) Download
Mycelium is a favorite among experienced Bitcoin users. It’s an HD wallet with many advanced features, like support for hardware wallets TREZOR and Ledger, watch-only accounts, cold storage spending, and Tor.
Bitcoin Wallet Download
Bitcoin Wallet was the first Bitcoin wallet for Android. It’s simple, easy to backup, and connects directly to the Bitcoin network with SPV.
GreenBits is the native version of GreenAddress. It’s fast, simple, and supports hardware wallets TREZOR and Ledger Nano/HW.1.
Mobile Wallets for iOS
Edge Learn More Download
AirBitz is also available in the App Store.
breadwallet (iOS) Learn More Download
Breadwallet’s combination of simplicity and security has made it the most popular iOS wallet. iPhone users in search of their first Bitcoin wallet should find Breadwallet easy to understand.
Copay is available in the App Store. Click here for more details.
Desktop wallets are software wallets that are downloaded and installed on your computer. The desktop wallets below are available on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.
Armory Learn More Download
Armory is the most mature, secure and full featured Bitcoin wallet but it can be technologically intimidating for users. Whether you are an individual storing $1,000 or institution storing $1,000,000,000 this is the most secure option available. Users are in complete control all Bitcoin private keys and can setup a secure offline-signing process in Armory.
Bitcoin Core Download
Bitcoin Core is the “official” Bitcoin client and wallet, though isn’t used by many due to slow speeds and a lack of features. Bitcoin Core, however, is a full node, meaning it helps verify and transmit other Bitcoin transactions across the network and stores a copy of the entire blockchain. This offers better privacy since Core doesn’t have to rely on data from external servers or other peers on the network. Bitcoin Core routed through Tor is considered one of the best ways to use Bitcoin privately.
Electrum may be the most popular desktop wallet, due to its speed and ease of use. Electrum can also be used as cold storage if you have an extra computer that can be used offline. Additonaly, Electrum offers other features like connecting through Tor, multisiganture wallets, integration with hardware wallets, and more.
MultiBit HD Download
Multibit HD is a fast and straightforward desktop wallet with support for hardware wallets TREZOR and KeepKey.