12 Minute Read
Jan. 23rd, 2019
By Bitbuy Staff
If you end up deciding to make the plunge into the cryptocurrency world, you’re going to want to protect the safety of your assets. Digital wallets are essential for every digital currency investor, as they are where you will store your cryptocurrency after its been purchased.
In a previous post, we outlined the best Litecoin wallet, and shared some of our picks for the top places to store your digital assets. Today, we stay closer to home, and explore the digital currency created by Canada’s Vitalik Buterin. These are the best Ether wallets on the market in 2019.
Why digital wallets are a necessary component of crypto markets today
Even if you’ve never purchased cryptocurrency before, there’s a good chance that you might already be an owner of a digital wallet.
In recent years, companies like Apple, Google, Uber and others have introduced digital wallet technology to facilitate a more seamless transaction experience for their users.
But while most wallets that hold crypto currencies would qualify as being digital wallets, not all digital wallets are necessarily compatible with storing your purchased crypto currency.
Services like Apple Pay, Google Pay and the Uber have typically linked their digital wallets to a users credit card or bank account, but because crypto currencies are such a nascent technology, most financial institutions have yet to come up with an effective system for integrating cryptos as part of their existing payment infrastructures. Up to this point, this issue has prevented the arrival of crypto assets with these other “mainstream” digital wallets.
And until that happens, the responsibility for ensuring that personal account information and crypto balances are secured safely out of reach of would-be hackers, and fraudsters will fall squarely on the crypto investors themselves.
You might want to consider it as one of the indirect costs of getting in on the ground floor of a revolutionary new technology, and a cost that depending on your outlook, could prove to be very well worth the risk and potentially a lot more than that.
But before getting into the different Ether wallets that you’ll want to consider as a means of storing your Ether and Ethereum linked tokens, lets first take a quick look at why Ethereum’s technology has gained so much prominence as of late.
Ethereum’s value proposition as a viable alternative to bitcoin
Bitcoin is officially still the “top dog” as far as crypto markets are concerned, with a market cap of US$63.8 billion at the time writing and accounting for a little over half the value of the total global crypto market, but not too far behind is Ethereum which sits in third place as largest crypto by market value, just slightly behind Ripple at US$12.8 billion at the time of writing.
Though the fall in the price of Ethereum in recent months has been sharper and more pronounced than that of larger rival bitcoin, the Ethereum technology still maintains a loyal following of supporters – and with good reason too.
The interesting aspect of Ethereum when drawing comparisons between it and bitcoin are the different audiences and use cases that each technology is leveraging.
Up to this point, the main selling point being put forward in favour of bitcoin as an attractive investment opportunity is its potential value as an alternative – or even as a replacement – to traditional stores of value including gold, silver and possibly even mainstream fiat currencies like the U.S. Dollar.
The theory in support of this idea is what some view as being reckless monetary policies pursued on the part of central bankers around the world (arguably beginning with the abolishment of the Bretton Woods System and the gold standard in the 1970’s and culminating with the adoption of widespread quantitative easing programs following from the 2008-09 financial crisis) which these critics view as having cumulatively put the credibility of traditional fiat currencies ie. “paper money” into jeopardy.
But the argument in favour of the Ethereum platform is a different one altogether.
Rather than aiming to create a currency driven primarily by scarcity of supply (as bitcoin appears determined to do in creating something technologically akin to “Gold 2.0”) Ethereum’s vision is to develop a technology that will support the creation of “smart contracts” that allow for automated agreements to guarantee its users a service, essentially facilitating the exchange of stored digital values via the Ethereum network.
Rather than focusing strictly on the value of its coinage, the goal of Ethereum’s developers are to build a network that will allow developers and entrepreneurs alike to exchange payment without the need for middlemen to facilitate the settlement of the transaction, while also avoiding the threat of counter-party risk should one of the two parties default on their side of the transaction.
The result has been an almost cult-like following that has developed in support of the cryptocurrency and a following that is particularly concentrated among programmers, developers and those interested building open-source applications.
Despite the cult like following from those in the know, Ethereum investing for newbies hasn’t gone as mainstream during the crypto craze as many would think. Most first-time crypto investors, know that bitcoin is the brand name in the space, and will search “How To Buy Bitcoin” when first entering the market. Only after learning about the amazing potential of Ethereum, will investors become aware of the amazing protocol developed by Vitalik Buterin.
Ether tokens then, are a reward that is doled out in exchange for those developing applications in support of the technology, and so as more and more developers continue to adopt the Ethereum platform one should expect a resulting increase in the liquidity of Ether and other Ethereum based tokens which should in turn promote more widespread acceptance of Ether for payments and eventually a rise in the value of digital currency.
In this post however, we’ll take a closer look at some of the leading providers of Ether wallets in the market today, designed to help you secure your hard-earned investment in this emergent digital asset.
A closer look at 5 of the top Ether wallets available today
My Ether Wallet, often referred to by its acronym, MEW, is an open source tool to that allows its users to create wallets capable of storing those cryptocurrencies which are compatible with the Ethereum platform including Ether (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), as well as other standard Ethereum tokens (ERC-20).
Besides being completely free to use, excluding regular transaction costs associated with sending payments through the Ethereum network, the main advantage of the MEW platform is its easy-to-use interface.
Signing up with MEW is straightforward and can be done by logging on to the MyEtherWallet website.
Users will need to register with the site in exchange for a private key that will provide them access to their crypto funds and allow them to begin conducting transactions over the Ethereum network.
However it should be noted that My Ether Wallet is best understand as a web interface giving users the ability to interact on the Ethereum network rather than as a stand-alone application.
Meaning that MyEtherWallet owners aren’t able to actually purchase Ether tokens through with their MyEtherWallet, but rather are required to transfer the existing Ether balances that they are holding in third-party wallets or outside crypto exchanges before being able to spend coins through their MEW.
Technically speaking, MEW is considered a web-based platform, but while the wallets are created online, the users personal information and account funds are actually stored on their own personal computers rather than on MEW’s third-party servers.
While this gives users more direction as to how their personal information is stored, MEW users have in the past found themselves the victims of phishing attacks by hackers, making the option of storing Ether tokens on the MyEtherWallet somewhat less appealing than some of the other wallets to make this list.
Trezor Model T
If security is your number one priority and you happen to be more interested in being able to securely store your crypto funds away for a rainy day, rather than actively trading them on a daily or even hourly basis, the Trezor suite of hardware wallets might be the right choice for you.
Granted, the Trezor Model T, our top choice among hardware wallets if you do buy Ether coins, also carries with a higher price tag and is the most expensive Ether wallet on this list.
But as they say, you usually end up getting what you pay for.
The Trezor Model T currently retails for upwards of EUR$180 on the company’s website (which translates to approximately $272 in Canadian dollars) and mind you some higher end premium models of the Trezor wallet go for considerably more than that.
The biggest advantage with using the Trezor wallet (and most of the other hardware wallets for that matter) is that they’re maintained by their owners in a completely offline format, keeping them out of reach of would be cyber criminals.
But what really separates the Trezor from the rest of the pack is the extent to which the company has gone to include several advanced security features that have been designed to prevent anyone but the accounts rightful owner from accessing the funds in their account.
That’s because the Trezor operating system has been based on a “Zero Trust Approach” which takes advantage of multiple layers of security in order to reduce the chances of its users crypto balances from being compromised by unwanted users, including an advanced PIN security system that increases the wait time by a factor of two each time a wrong PIN code is entered.
Meanwhile another great advantage of the Trezor wallet is its ability to handle multiple currencies.
The Trezor is compatible with not just the Ether, Ethereum Classic, and ERC-20 tokens but also with bitcoin, Litecoin, namecoin and several others, with plans to add more currencies to that list going forward.
However the downside with the Trezor is it isn’t exactly the most user friendly wallet in the market and arguably it isn’t even the most user friendly hardware wallet on the market (more on that later).
In exchange for its added security features, users are asked to trade off convenience when logging in and out of the platform, which can be particularly problematic if those users are looking to trade their cryptos on a more active basis.
Meaning that If you’re the type of person that has aspirations to be an active day trader in cryptocurrencies, chances are you may need another option besides the Trezor line of products.
If you do see yourself as someone who is anticipating checking the value of their Ether wallet on a regular basis in search of opportunities to buy and sell and hedge currency, the Jaxx Liberty wallet might just be the right fit for you.
Jaxx Liberty is a free mobile wallet (also available for desktop) that builds on its predecessor (simply the Jaxx wallet) by promoting a user-friendly interface along with ability to transact in all of the Ethereum based tokens along with bitcoin, dash, Litecoin and over 65 other crypto currencies at present.
Like other “free” wallets, Jaxx does charge its users a transaction fee to buy and sell digital coins but instead of collecting these fees itself, it passes them along to the networks that are actually handling the transactions themselves.
Jaxx also allows its users to manage their crypto exposures within the Jaxx wallet itself by allowing crypto owners to convert their coinage via the ShapeShift platform without having to go through an externally managed crypto exchange, however Jaxx does charge its users a fee for this service.
But what truly sets Jaxx apart from other mobile wallets is its intuitive and easy to use interface making it easy even for beginners to pick up. The Jaxx platform has also been expertly designed to facilitate seamless compatibility across its desktop, tablet and smart phone applications.
The Jaxx Liberty Ether wallet is compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome and is available for free download from both Google Play and iTunes.
The Ethereum Wallet
Meanwhile if you’re the type of person who prefers going straight to the source, you might mind that the Ethereum Mist Wallet is the Ether wallet that you’ve been looking for.
Not to be confused with MyEtherWallet, The Ethereum Mist Wallet (sometimes called just “The Ethereum Wallet”) has been designed by the same team responsible for creating the original Ethereum platform itself, the Ethereum Foundation, led by Russian-Canadian programmer Vitalik Buterin.
The Ethereum Wallet is compatible with Ether as well as the other digital tokens issued on the Ethereum platform, but rather than being a stand-alone platform like some of the other wallets on this list, the Ethereum Wallet actually comes as a feature that has been previously integrated into the Mist web browser used to connect users over the Ethereum network.
The downside with this wallet however is that in exchange for the authenticity and added security of using the “official” Ethereum Wallet, its users are asked to give up certain inconveniences in return.
For example, because Mist is still in its beta stage of development, its users are responsible for staying up to date with intermittent software updates and may additionally be forced to deal with the aggravation of dealing with the various bugs and glitches that are still being worked out of the technology.
Another inconvenience that some of the platform’s users may find is not worth the price tag of admission is the requirement that the entire Ethereum blockchain must be downloaded upon installation.
Not only does this tend to be both costly and time-consuming, its also a setup process that may require more technical know-how than what is possessed by the average crypto owner.
It also doesn’t help that at least for now The Ethereum Wallet is incompatible with mobile devices meaning that the only way you’ll be able to access your wallet is through a desktop computer.
Because Ethereum is still in the early stages of its product life-cycle, those thinking about downloading their own version of The Ethereum Wallet may want to consider the additional level of nuance and sophistication that is asked of the platforms users in addition to the risks involved with investing (literally) in a technology that has yet to reach the commercial stage of production.
Last but certainly not least, Blockchain – a Luxembourg based software company – has developed the most popular crypto wallet of them all, claiming to have issued over 15 million wallets to its users to date.
Blockchain Wallet is a free, web-based service compatible with both bitcoin and Ether.
Because this is an online wallet, users aren’t required to download or install any software or applications unless they opt to download the mobile app, which is available free for both the Android and iOS platforms.
One of the advantages offered with the Blockchain Wallet is its multi-tiered security layout allowing users to toggle security settings depending on their personal preferences.
Blockchain wallet owners have the option of sticking with a basic username and password combo, or if desired they can opt for added security features including a two-factor authentication process as well as the ability to block requests from Tor IP addresses which have in the past been linked to online threats.
Yet the drawback of web-based wallets like Blockchain’s is that these types of online platforms have historically found themselves the targets of cyber attacks (as with the case of the aforementioned MyEtherWallet) more frequently than users who choose to store their sensitive account information on their own private servers or offline in hardware wallets.
These two alternative Ether wallets unfortunately didn’t make our list but might be viable candidates for your digital wallet needs depending on your own unique circumstances.
Combination of the Ledger Nano S Hardware Wallet with MyEtherWallet
Those unwilling to shell out upwards of CAD$250 in order to buy the Trezor Model T might find value in using a combination of the Ledger Nano S hardware wallet (shown below) alongside the aforementioned web-based application, MyEtherWallet.
Both platforms have been designed specifically with the user experience in mind however some may find that the ability to store crypto balances offline in their Ledger Nano S wallet is enough to offset any concerns about the relative security of using a web-based platform like MyEtherWallet.
This type of ‘hybrid’ option is also available by using other combinations of hard and soft wallets including the more expensive Trezor wallets, however Ledger’s Nano S carries with it a decidedly lower price tag than the Trezor, and can currently be had for less than $60 on Amazon.
Paper wallet – ethaddress.org
A radical deviation from every other alternative offered up to this point, paper wallets offer crypto investors a different type of approach for storing their crypto balances offline.
Completely free to use, this paper wallet generator allows users to physically print off their public and private keys onto a old fashioned piece of plain paper.
While this method will be successful in putting g users sensitive account information about as far out of reach of online threats as is humanly possible, users also need to be aware of the additional risk that their paper wallet could become damaged, lost or stolen.
The bottom line…
Every new technology that comes to market carries with it its own set of strengths as well as its own set of limitations and at the end of the day it will ultimately be the responsibility of each individual to reach a conclusion for themselves as to which platform they feel most secure in storing their Ethereum balances.
MyEtherWallet will be best suited for those who want to get up and running quickly with minimal effort and expense, while The Ethereum Wallet ranks on the opposite end of that spectrum in terms of the technical know-how required to operate the platform.
Hardware wallets like the Trezor Model T and the cheaper Ledger Nano S meanwhile offer their own set of unique capabilities in terms of storing balances offline that need to be strongly considered as well, particularly for those carrying higher balances in their wallets.
Meanwhile the new Jaxx Liberty wallet as well as the Blockchain wallet will likely be the perennial favourites among traders and casual users alike if not because of the network effects that both platforms already enjoy, than from their respective ability to allow users to easily monitor their balances and trade from the convenience of their mobile devices.
Regardless of which platform you end up choosing to store your Ether purchases, it goes without sating that using a secure digital wallet to store your crypto balances will undoubtedly prove to be a wise investment for those looking to buy Ethereum in Canada.
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