Are you ready to accept cryptocurrency payments in your business, but not sure where to start?
The first thing you need is a wallet.
A cryptocurrency wallet is a software program which stores your private key (think of it as a password) in order to talk to the blockchain. The wallet enables you to do things like monitor your balance and send or receive coins.
When you send a crypto payment, you are sending crypto coins. “Sending coins” is a bit misleading though. Coins never actually "GO" anywhere. The blockchain is a ledger. When you "send" someone coins, you are actually signing over ownership of the coins to them through the use of your public and private keys, and your digital signature.
When a transaction is made, your wallet verifies that the public and private keys match.
When the transaction is complete, the sender and receiver’s balances change on the ledger, and ownership of the coin(s) is digitally signed over to the receiver.
Wallets play a crucial part in accepting and spending cryptocurrencies. Because a wallet is how you access your coins, keeping your wallet safe is important. I mention security often with the hope that you'll be mindful of it. Cryptocurrency gives the individual more power over personal finances than we've ever had before. Your crypto passwords, email addresses and private keys must be kept safe.
*Quick tip: Start a new email address for your crypto accounts, with a secure password.
How do I choose the right wallet for my business?
New wallets appear every single day. Wallet innovation is big business in the crypto space. Different types of wallets are used for different functions and are largely chosen by personal preference.
Be prepared, you will likely want more than one. If it helps, think of each wallet as a different account. Businesses have bank accounts for different applications: Operating account, Payroll account, Trust account, etc. The difference with crypto wallets is, instead of bank accounts, you have separate banks, and YOU are in control of them.
We'll begin with a description of the different types of crypto wallets...
One common misconception about crypto wallets is that your coins never actually "live" on your computer. They live in the cloud, and your computer is only used to access them. Think of a crypto wallet as an ATM, a terminal for you to access your funds.
You can download wallet software from the internet and install it on your computer. While this method gives quick and easy access to your coins for purchasing items on the web, it is not without risk. Your computer is connected to the internet, so be sure to follow all security precautions recommended by the wallet software you choose.
If your machine is connected to your office network, this further increases the need for security precautions. Understanding security is paramount with desktop crypto wallets.
If you are out and about, and want to spend your crypto on office supplies, furniture, dry cleaning, etc. a mobile wallet is safe and simple to use. Your mobile wallet is accessed just like any other app on your smart phone. With mobile wallets, checking your balance, spending, sending and receiving coins is simple.
Mobile wallets provide a seed phrase when initiating. This is your account recovery password. In the event your phone is lost or stolen, access to your coins is quickly reinstated by entering the seed phrase in your new device. With the proper care, and a strong password, a mobile wallet is a safe place for your spendable crypto.
While this type of wallet is an option, it is by far the least secure. An online wallet is risky because your private keys lie in the hands of a 3rd party. If said 3rd party has a breach of any kind, or if they go out of business, your coins could be stolen or lost forever. A popular adage among cryptocurrency enthusiasts states, “If you don’t hold the private keys to your coins, you don’t own your coins.”
The one exception for online/web wallets is Coinbase, which is covered in greater detail below.
Cold Storage Wallet
Cold storage is meant for safely protecting coins you are not actively using for purchasing or trading. Think of cold storage as a savings account. If you have coins that won't move for months at a time, they are best kept in cold storage. There are 3 types of cold storage wallets.
Paper Wallet (Beginner Friendly)
Paper Wallets are a good option for long term storage, and a great way to give coins as gifts. Paper wallets are considered one of the most secure methods of storing coins, because your public and private keys are offline, out of reach of hackers. Printed on the paper wallet are the public and private keys, usually in the form of QR Codes. There are free services available that will help you create printable wallets. The key generation is usually done in your browser, so they are never transmitted on the internet. Employee bonuses, and holiday gifts are great applications for paper wallets.
There are a couple of major considerations when using paper wallets for long term storage. First and foremost, paper is easily destroyed! Fire and Flood are no friend to paper, and paper can also be misplaced rather easily. When using paper wallets for storage, keep them in a fire & waterproof safe with your other important documents. In addition, paper wallets are one-time use items. If you have 5 coins on a paper wallet, do not try to remove only one. Move all 5 coins to another wallet, then create a new paper wallet for the remaining coins. Reusing paper wallets is not advised.
USB Drive (Intermediate and Advanced users)
Like Paper Wallets, USB cold storage wallets are also highly secure, since your private keys are offline. This method of storage is also very inexpensive. Storing your keys on a USB device has many advantages over paper wallets. First and foremost, they are not as easily destroyed. In addition, sending coins from a USB device to another type of wallet is simpler, and your USB device is reusable. You are able to add to or remove coins to another wallet with relative ease.
Considerations for USB wallets are fewer than paper wallets, but a lost, stolen, or fire damaged USB device can result in total loss. With USB cold storage, back-up copies are essential. Keeping a copy or copies with a trusted third party such as your attorney, family member, or in a safe deposit box is recommended.
Hardware Wallet (User friendly, Best Security)
A hardware wallet is the safest and arguably most secure method of cold storage. This option is much more user-friendly than paper or USB wallets. The two most popular hardware wallets are Ledger and Trezor.
When purchasing a hardware wallet, always purchase it directly from the manufacturer. This step is crucial because third party vendors have been known to sometimes tamper with the security of the device.
Just like mobile and desktop wallets, you are given a seed phrase during the set-up process. If your device is ever lost or damaged, regaining access to your coins is simple. First, purchase a new device, then choose restore (instead of set-up). You will be prompted for the seed phrase and your coins are back in your control. The seed phrase should be kept safe, and separate from the device. (Never keep the lock with the key)
All cold storage options require safe storage. Educate yourself on safely storing devices and private keys before using a crypto wallet. Never store a seed phrase on your cell phone or computer...Writing them down is the best option.
Wallets for the Average user
Coinbase is the best wallet option for beginners. Coinbase is an online, web-based wallet and the ONLY online web wallet recommended. Cryptocurrency is brand new, and Coinbase has made the learning process simpler. The Coinbase wallet is linked to your business or personal checking account for quick purchases of supported coins. As your confidence builds you can move to GDAX, their exchange, to purchase coins with no transaction fees.
Coinbase is also FDIC insured, so if they are hacked, your coins are safe. With Coinbase, you do not have access to your private keys. Always use strong passwords
Coinomi Mobile Wallet is a free multi-coin wallet for your smartphone. It is quick and simple to use, and currently supports over 100 different coins earning 'Best in Class' ratings. The Coinomi wallet provides a secure storage platform for your spendable crypto, and has a built-in exchange for fast and easy trading of one coin for another. With robust privacy features and beginner-friendly user interface, the Coinomi app is a popular choice for crypto enthusiasts. Coinomi is available on Google Play Store for android and on iTunes.
Ledger Nano S is the 'Top Choice' of multi-coin Hardware wallets.
It supports all of the major coins, Bitcoin, Ethereum & ERC20 tokens, Litecoin etc., and is currently the only hardware wallet supporting Ripple.
The Leger Nano S instructions are on the screen, and easy to follow. Plus it has a screen and two physical buttons for added device security. When initializing your Nano S, you will be asked to provide a 6 digit PIN code, then you will be given a 24 word seed phrase.
Make the PIN code something you will remember. If you enter the PIN incorrectly 3 times, the device will lock down, and you will need the 24 word seed phrase to restore it.
With a retail price of only $79 it is the least expensive hardware wallet on the market today. If you decide to purchase the Ledger Nano S, the manufacturer’s site linked above is highly recommended. Never use a hardware wallet that appears tampered with in any way.
Exodus Desktop Wallet – The Exodus wallet appears in every “Top Crypto Wallets” blog post on the internet today, and it most certainly has the best design. Exodus is a multi-coin wallet that offers encrypted storage of your private keys on your computer. In addition, as soon as you open the wallet, a pie chart will show your entire portfolio of coins. The interface is customizable for different levels of users. Exodus has built-in ShapeShift integration for rapid conversion of coins. This wallet free for all users, and premium services are available to purchase for advanced users.
Exodus offers 24/7 support via help desk or email, as well as a Slack channel for communication with other users.
(Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux users)
The Electrum Wallet is another Desktop wallet with high recommendations
Bitpay – Bitpay supports Bitcoin only, and is more of a service provider than a cryptocurrency wallet. However, for a business owner, Bitpay has features traditional crypto wallets don’t. Bitpay gives customers the option to receive bitcoin, with the added option to instantly convert bitcoin payments to USD, deposited directly to your bank account. This option gives you the ability to accept bitcoin, without worry of price volatility. In addition, Bitpay also has a Visa debit card available to customers, allowing purchases everywhere Visa is accepted. If you decide to add Bitcoin as a payment option for your business, because you are tired of excessive credit card processing fees, and fraud chargebacks, but you’re still skeptical, Bitpay is an excellent option. They offer services and protections to help business owners confidently transition to cryptocurrency.
While Bitpay’s fees are higher than other crypto-wallets, they are far cheaper than credit card fees, and becaues Bitcoin transactions are irreversible, you will never receive another chargeback!
Other Bitpay features include Multi-User Login access, email support, retail payment tools including PoS system, and e-commerce platform integrations.
There are many new business service wallet applications in the works, but none I can recommend at this time.
Cryptocurrency will soon be the new normal. The world is getting smaller as we are all becoming more and more connected. There is no reason a business owner should be forced to wait weeks for the bank to ‘grant’ access to your funds. The world moves too fast for such delays.
Cryptocurrency allows for instant, trustless transactions and no chargebacks. This opens up opportunities in places you previously could not risk accepting the native currency. Crypto allows you, the business owner, more options and fewer hassles.
Are you ready to get paid in crypto but don’t know where to start? Gilded makes it easy to send an invoice and receive payment in cryptocurrency. All you need is your shiny new crypto wallet.