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The best cryptocurrency wallets for DeFi
If you want to participate in DeFi, you need a good crypto wallet. While there are lots of wallets out there with lots of features, there are really only two major things you need to look for when selecting a good one: security and usability.
Your assets’ security is of paramount importance, and that’s why the first two mentions on this list of the best wallets for DeFi have to be hardware wallets. These storage devices, also known as cold wallets, are gadgets you can disconnect from the internet when they’re not in use, making them highly secure.
You will still, however, need a “hot”, or online wallet to swap cryptocurrency and interact with DeFi protocols, and so we have rounded up three of the best below.
Trezor currently produces two models of their cold storage wallet: the more affordable Trezor One and the higher-end Trezor Model T. Both wallets offer top-of-the-line security features for storing your crypto offline. For both, a PIN must be entered to gain access and, to defeat keyloggers, the order of the keypad will change each time you use it.
The Model T comes with an easy-to-use touch screen for inputting your PIN, and it can be updated to adapt to an ever-changing crypto ecosystem. For example, the Model T is compatible with newer cryptocurrencies like Cardano and Monero, while these cannot be stored on a Trezor One. This means the Model T wins for adaptability, however both Trezor wallets can still store a wide range of coins and tokens.
Under the hood, these wallets run on open source coding, which some argue makes them more secure than wallets that run on proprietary code. Theoretically, open-source codes have more eyes checking for vulnerabilities and open source makes it impossible for anyone to insert a backdoor.
Ledger also produces two models of their wallet: the Ledger Nano S and the pricier Ledger Nano X. These sleek, small, and PIN-protected hardware wallets can store Bitcoin, Ethereum, and another 25 coins and over 1,500 tokens safely. The higher price tag for the Nano X allows for more apps to be installed on it while it also has bluetooth capability, which allows you to use a Nano X wallet with your phone. This makes it an obvious choice for pairing with one of the mobile hot wallets also on this list.
It should be mentioned that Ledger’s database was breached in 2020, and although no coins were stolen, some customer information was leaked. This hack in no way compromised the safety features of the wallets themselves, though, and they are still considered safe to use.
Many do still worry that hackers can find a way to take advantage of stolen information, so this story highlights the extra measures you should take when ordering any hardware wallet: don’t have it mailed to your house, and fill out your order with a fake name and burner email address.
Unlike the rest of the wallets on this list, you can install MetaMask onto your computer’s web browser (Brave comes highly recommended). You can also access MetaMask via your phone, but using a bigger screen lends you a huge advantage in DeFi where you may need to open multiple windows and move from tab to tab as you expand into more DeFi apps. The ability to use MetaMask with a mouse, physical keyboard, and easier to view screen size ranks this wallet high for user experience points.
MetaMask supports Ethereum’s ERC-20 standard tokens, as well as Binance Smart Chain BEP-20 tokens and even trading on layer 2 solutions like Polygon (formerly Matic), making it highly versatile. MetaMask’s seamless integration with most DeFi apps and protocols makes it the most widely used wallet in DeFi today. Furthermore, nearly every DeFi platform’s walkthroughs and how-tos will use MetaMask as a reference to show you how to do something, so this wallet is user-friendly for both DeFi newcomers and old hands alike.
Although MetaMask makes DeFi much easier to use, it does come at the cost of exposing you to many types of hacks that can leave you exposed if you do not use a cold wallet with it. Recently, EasyFi saw $80 million extracted from its coffers due to a MetaMask exploit, and MetaMask acknowledges there are multiple ways you can get hacked while using its wallet.
These possible hacks include phishing websites, malicious smart contracts, and malware. We've established that proximity to the internet reduces your crypto's security, so remember that leaving money on a browser wallet is putting your funds as close as they can get to the possibility of theft.
Trust Wallet is a mobile-only wallet that can be used for a wide variety of cryptocurrencies. Branded as “blockchain agnostic,” this wallet can store and trade just about any digital asset from just about any blockchain you can imagine: from Bitcoin to Doge to Ethereum’s ERC-721, the token most commonly associated with NFTs.
There are a wide variety of DeFi apps that you can access through Trust Wallet, including decentralized exchanges (DEXs) like Uniswap, Binance DEX (Binance purchased Trust Wallet in 2018), and Pancakeswap.
You can lend, borrow, and stake straight from the app, and communications between DeFi apps and the wallet are encrypted end to end. Since Trust Wallet can be used with a range of different cryptocurrencies across a range of different DeFi apps, it’s a really powerful tool for taking advantage of everything DeFi has to offer through your phone.
Coinbase Wallet is a non-custodial Web3 wallet offered by the centralized exchange (CEX) giant Coinbase. This wallet is compatible with a variety of cryptocurrencies and is easy to use for those newer to crypto but familiar with a big name like Coinbase.
As an example of how Coinbase Wallet makes transferring crypto easier for newcomers, users can – according to Coinbase’s website – “pay friends, not addresses.” This means users can simply type in someone’s username to send funds instead of inputting a long hexadecimal code.
Coinbase users can also easily transfer funds from their Coinbase.com account to their Coinbase Wallet, which is a separate wallet from the wallet users interact with on Coinbase’s app and website. This provides a great pathway to get started using DeFi. While the native Coinbase.com wallet is useful for buying, selling, and “on-ramping”, or buying crypto from fiat, the Coinbase Wallet gives users the opportunity to experience DeFi apps and exchanges independent from Coinbase’s centralized control.
As for security, the app requires you to use a six-digit PIN or biometric security such as facial recognition. These mandatory features are essential layers of security for many newcomers who do not realize how important it is to safeguard their wallets.
Which wallet is best for you?
If you want a good wallet for DeFi, undoubtedly purchasing a brand new cold wallet directly from the manufacturer is step number one. After that, what hot wallet you choose to use in tandem with your cold wallet depends on how you want to explore and interact with DeFi.
Since Ethereum supports the majority of DeFi apps and protocols, using a MetaMask wallet in conjunction with a hardware wallet on this list is recommended as one of the safer and easier-to-use methods for participating in DeFi.