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5 Best Cryptocurrency Wallets with User-Owned Private Keys
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All cryptocurrency transactions are based on the control of two important numbers: public and private keys. Public keys facilitate the transfer of crypto; private keys, their receipt. These keys are stored and secured through digital wallets, the software through which users have access to their digital assets.

There are two main models of cryptocurrency wallets: those that don’t allow users to control their private keys and those that do. The first model of wallets host users’ private keys on a centralized server, which facilitates transactions. In the second model, users hold their own private keys and are able to send and receive tokens without the consent of a third party. 

So just how important is it to directly control your private keys? We’ll answer that question today, and review some of the best wallet options that allow you to do that.


Private keys: What they are and why they matter

Private keys are randomly generated secret numbers that link a user to particular cryptocurrency assets. Coins can be transferred to other blockchains only by accessing a wallet’s private keys. For this reason, it is extremely important to keep private keys secure and confidential. Matt Miller, a Bloomberg TV host, demonstrated this lesson to the world when he briefly showed his private key QR code on-air and had his funds immediately stolen.  

In one model of wallet, a third-party retains control of the private keys. This model is typically described as the crypto version of a bank. The user is the owner of the funds but relies on the wallet’s server to execute transactions. However, this comparison fails to recognize key dangers inherent in third-party management of crypto funds. 

Crypto wallets, like bank accounts and any other internet-connected account, are at risk of being hacked. Unlike banks, however, crypto projects are not legally obligated to refund account holders their funds in the case of a security breach. 

For this reason, keeping funds in a wallet for which you don’t control the private keys is significantly riskier than storing fiat currency in a bank. 

User-owned private key wallets offer a much stronger option in terms of security. No one has control over your funds except you. That means that if someone hacks the server hosting your wallet, your funds are secure. It also means that you can’t have your funds stolen if the wallet’s leadership “loses” the private keys (yes, that has happened).

Always remember that private keys unlock full access to digital funds. Opting for wallets with user-owned private keys ensures that you maintain control over your funds and do not rely on a third party to make transactions. Here, we picked out some of the most trusted solutions that allow full user-control over private keys. 


Coin Wallet

Coin Wallet is an excellent solution that allows you to directly conduct blockchain transactions and access tokens. You can export your private keys, and the wallet does not have access or oversight over your operations within the software.

Coin Wallet is suited to the needs of both beginners and professional crypto users. It comes as free software with simple and streamlined interfaces in both mobile and desktop versions. The wallet supports any ERC20 and ERC223 tokens, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, Ripple, Stellar, and Ethereum. 

Of all the wallets on the market, Coin Wallet offers one of the most exhaustive collections of coins. Currently, there are more than 20,000 supported cryptocurrencies. The app gets bonus points for convenience, providing two built-in exchanges: Changelly and ShapeShift.


Blockchain

In 2011, Blockchain wallet pioneered the niche of online wallets. It remains one of the market leaders in wallets offering user-controlled keys. Currently, the company has over 41M wallets and more than $200B in transactions have been made on it since its start. 

The mobile app is available in multiple languages and offers a built-in exchange for fast trading. Interfaces are very easy to follow and intuitive. The major drawback of this veteran wallet is that it supports just 5 coins: Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Stellar (XLM), and USD PAX (PAX).


Exodus

Exodus comes as a download for desktop or mobile. In addition to giving you control of your private keys, it also allows you to export them, as well. Plus, as an extra security measure, it never stores private keys on the server. 

This wallet may not suit the needs of all users, as there is no web version and English is the only supported language.
The app lists 100+ crypto coins and offers ShapeShift as a built-in exchange.


Armory

Armory wallet is a great choice for users who want a simple storage option for their crypto assets. It offers some offline functionality, as well as free cold storage. It also lets you back up private keys (a QR code) on paper or create a multi-signature wallet. The latter option is particularly useful for businesses.

A major drawback of this wallet is that it is the least user-friendly option. Users need to have some basic knowledge encryption and software set-up. In addition, sending digital assets with Armory is less convenient than competitors and it doesn’t offer any built-in exchanges.


Bitcoin Core

Launched by the Bitcoin project, Bitcoin Core has a simple interface and is compatible with Mac, Linux, and Windows. It allows users to check the full node of Bitcoin transactions, i.e. download the entire blockchain. Therefore, it might take some time to download the full blockchain and set up your wallet. 

A drawback of Bitcoin Core is that it’s large: you must have at least 200GB free disk space for this software, and system requirements constantly increase as the full Bitcoin network node grows.

As its name suggests, Bitcoin Core supports only Bitcoin. If you plan on trading and using only Bitcoin, this wallet is a great choice. Because you keep the full node on your computer, you don’t need any third parties to verify transactions. Sending or receiving coins here is very simple, and you are directly connected to the full Bitcoin network node. The fees are decided on by user votes.




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