Bitcoin (BTC) was the first cryptocurrency, originating back in 2009. By offering a set-in-stone monetary policy combined with “permissionless-ness” and radical openness, Bitcoin presented an alternative opt-in financial system — one where economic freedom reigns.
The crypto space has since expanded far beyond Bitcoin. Largely driven by smart contract platforms like Ethereum (ETH), users now have access to an entire decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem, on-chain programmable art (in the form of nonfungible tokens, also known as NFTs), crypto-based games, and much much more.
Given that less than 5% of people globally own Bitcoin, we can consider the cryptocurrency to still be in its early stages of adoption. Further down the crypto rabbit hole, adoption rates are much lower. Ultimately, this means that relatively few people have thus far benefitted from the economic freedom enabled by blockchain tech.
Complexity in a high-stakes environment
Industry experts agree that a key barrier to adoption is the complexity of the user-facing applications that provide “root access” to the crypto world. Specifically, cryptocurrency wallets, which are mobile or desktop apps that enable direct interaction with public blockchains (i.e., root access to the crypto world), have long been the prime offender. Crypto wallets typically present newcomers with many unfamiliar new concepts in an environment where the stakes are extremely high. In fact, since “true” crypto wallets are non-custodial, the smallest mistake could lead to disaster (i.e., total loss of funds).
Due to crypto wallets’ lack of user-friendliness, waves of newcomers have instead flocked to more familiar (custodial) offerings. Such offerings do an excellent job of shielding users from complexity and offering guardrails against disaster. However, they don’t provide the full range of utility offered by crypto wallets, nor do they bring the same economic freedom. In other words, they aren’t true crypto offerings.
A new generation of cryptocurrency wallets
Bitcoin.com operates with the mission to support economic freedom by providing a permissionless and non-custodial multi-coin crypto wallet — the Bitcoin.com Wallet.
Permissionless means anyone in the world can install the Wallet, receive cryptocurrencies in it (currently BTC, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), ETH and ERC-20 tokens), and use those cryptos as they wish, including trading. Non-custodial means a third party, in this case, Bitcoin.com, never has access to users’ funds. This means that the company cannot be directed to restrict access to users’ funds or their ability to transact. The Bitcoin.com Wallet also enables people to buy cryptocurrencies with their credit card and other payment methods starting with as little as $30, although, for compliance reasons, interactions with the legacy financial system require an onboarding procedure.
“We view the crypto wallet as an essential tool for providing access to the opportunities created by Bitcoin and the wider crypto ecosystem,” says Dennis Jarvis, CEO of Bitcoin.com since May 2020. “And if we are going to succeed in our mission of creating more economic freedom in the world, the wallet must be easy and intuitive to use while fundamentally supporting the user’s right to hold their crypto directly.”
At its core, the Bitcoin.com Wallet is addressing the problem of UX complexity by providing a simple user interface with ample learning materials and guides. The app features a Discover tab where users can get the latest industry news, find places to spend their crypto, browse crypto-based games, get discounts on shopping and travel using a variety of cryptocurrencies, and more. Beyond that, the wallet introduces a number of innovative features.
“A key challenge for crypto wallets has always been finding a way to provide the benefits of blockchain tech without making the user experience a nightmare. One way we do that is with our cloud backup service,” said Jarvis, referring to a feature where the private keys for all of a user’s wallets in the app are accessible with a single password of the user’s choosing. This means people can restore access to all their wallets by entering a single password rather than by having to enter a 12-24 word mnemonic phrase for each wallet, which has traditionally been a pain point for crypto wallets.
The Bitcoin.com Wallet also has something called the “Send Anywhere” feature, which enables people to send crypto in the form of a link via any messaging app. The recipient just taps the link to claim the money. “With Send Anywhere, it’s really easy to bring your friends into the space. You can send them money even if they don’t have a wallet yet.”
The continued journey to economic freedom
The Bitcoin.com Wallet also caters to more advanced users by providing charting and market predictions, the ability to trade between many coins, and the capacity to connect to Web 3.0. The latter is made possible by the Bitcoin.com Wallet integrating the open-source WalletConnect protocol for connecting wallets to DApps. This means Bitcoin.com Wallet users can establish a secure connection between their wallet and DApps like decentralized exchanges, NFT platforms, lending platforms and others simply by scanning a QR code with their mobile device.
A member of the team shares, “It’s clear that the crypto wallet will be critical infrastructure as we move to a Web 3.0 environment. We want to make sure as many people as possible have access to that environment so they can truly benefit from the economic freedom it brings.”
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