If you have an interest in cryptocurrencies or you are planning to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other crypto assets then a cryptocurrency wallet is something that you’re going to need the most. Because it’s the only place where you can store and manage your cryptocurrencies (basically it stores public and private keys associated with a particular address). In this post, I will review MetaMask wallet, one of the well-known wallets for Ethereum and other ERC-20 tokens.
Whether you are looking for a cryptocurrency exchange or a cryptocurrency wallet, we at MindYourCrypto strive to provide you – our readers with exact and unbiased information in a straightforward manner so that you can make your choice more precisely and confidently.
And for the same, this time we have chosen MetaMask. In this post you will discover MetaMask features, how it works, its pros and cons, and whether MetaMask can be your best choice as a crypto wallet or not.
What You Will Learn;
1. Cryptocurrency wallets: A Brief Introduction
2. What is Metamask?
3. Metamask: Pros and Cons
4. Metamask Security
5. How to Setup MetaMask Wallet?
6. How to Use MetaMask?
7. MetaMask vs MyEtherWallet
1. Cryptocurrency wallets: A Brief Introduction
When it comes to cryptocurrency wallets, most crypto beginners think that crypto wallets store cryptocurrencies, as the regular pocket wallet stores cash. However, it’s not true in the case of cryptocurrency wallets because these wallets simply store information regarding a cryptocurrency.
“In plain words, a Bitcoin and cryptocurrency wallet is an application or a device that allows cryptocurrency users to manage, store, send, receive Bitcoins, and other cryptocurrencies.”
Basically, a cryptocurrency wallet that holds a user’s Bitcoin (or other coins) balance does not actually store Bitcoins (or other coins). Because cryptocurrencies only exist as huge databases called ledgers. They can neither move out of their native networks nor be stored elsewhere. The Blockchain is one such type of ledger.
In reality, the wallets store the user’s Public keys (i.e. coin address) and Private keys (i.e. secret password) associated with that particular wallet address. In fact, it’s the private key associated with your wallet address that proves your authority and provides access to your coins.
Basically there are 2 types of cryptocurrency wallets;
1). Hardware wallets (Cold wallets)
2). Software wallets (Hot wallets)
They can be further divided into several categories on the basis of wallet functionality and accessibility.
To learn more about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency wallets with all-inclusive details, please check out our detailed post, “What is a Bitcoin and cryptocurrency wallet?”
2. What is MetaMask?
Metamask was created in 2016 by Aarin Davis and Dan Finlay. It is an online crypto wallet that operates as a browser extension on Chrome, Brave, Edge, and Firefox browsers. It’s also available as a mobile application for Android and iOS devices. MetaMask is an Ethereum wallet, that you can use to manage, send, and receive Ether and thousands of other ERC-20 tokens.
Being a browser extension it works as a bridge between the regular browsers and Ethereum Blockchain. Because it allows users to access the Ethereum Blockchain and interact with Ethereum based Dapps (decentralized applications). In other words, you can say it’s not just a crypto wallet but also a gateway to the Blockchain apps.
3. MetaMask: Pros and Cons
Every product or service out there has definitely some advantages and disadvantages, and MetaMask has too. Below is a detailed list of its pros and cons;
1). Intuitive UI
The best part about MetaMask is that it’s so convenient that even a beginner can use it without any difficulty. Whether you are using a wallet or exploring Dapps, its simple and intuitive UI makes the process even smoother.
2). Open-source code
MetaMask is an open-source based application which means that its code is online and designed to be publicly accessible. Its source code can be reviewed and improved by the community of developers, which means there is always scope for improvements.
3). Coin buying supported via direct bank transfers and Debit cards.
Being a crypto wallet, another great feature that MetaMask offers is that it supports the buying of Ether using fiat currencies. At the time of this writing, it supports 59 countries where users can buy Ether using fiat currencies via payment partner Transak (on the mobile app).
4). Built-in Exchange support
Additionally, MetaMask also provides an option to buy Ether and other ERC-20 tokens via two cryptocurrency exchanges. Users can choose Coinbase to buy Ether or ShapeShift to buy Ether and other ERC-20 tokens.
5). HD wallet
MetaMask is an HD wallet (Hierarchical Deterministic), which means you don’t need to back up each public and private key pair. Rather, you only need to secure the seed phrase (list of words) that the wallet generates during the setup process. This seed phrase can be used to reset the lost account info.
6). Mobile application
MetaMask wallet is available for mobile devices too, i.e Android and iOS. This makes the wallet more convenient and easy to use. Hence, using the mobile version of MetaMask wallet, users can easily manage their crypto coins and make transactions on the go.
7). Control over private keys
Unlike some other crypto wallets which store keys on their own servers, MetaMask generates and stores wallet keys on the user’s browser. This gives the users more control over their public and private keys. However, keys are still online within the user’s browser. That’s why it is less safe than hardware wallets. Yet it is a reasonable deal for ease of use and especially if you are holding a small amount of crypto.
8). Supports Hardware wallets integration
MetaMask supports integration with hardware wallets – Trezor and Ledger. This integration allows users to use MetaMask services while keeping their crypto on one of these hardware wallets. They can check balances, sign transactions, sign messages, etc.
MetaMask is one of the well-known wallets in the cryptocurrency space and offers a seamless user experience. Despite all the pros, it has some cons too. Let’s have a look.
1). Only ERC-20 Tokens Supported
MetaMask is an Ethereum wallet that only supports Ether and other ERC-20 based tokens. You can’t use it to store Bitcoin, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, etc.
2). Online Wallet (less secure)
Even MetaMask doesn’t store user keys on remote servers, still they are available online within the user’s browser. The security of online wallets is apparently the biggest cause of concern because the information that is stored online is always less secured than information that’s stored offline.
3). It lacks Native Meta Transactions
4. Metamask Security
MetaMask is an online or hot wallet and hot wallets are considered the least secure of all the cryptocurrency wallets. At this point, you may find yourself wondering if the MetaMask wallet is secure enough to keep your coins safe.
MetaMask stores the seed phrase, passwords, and private keys in an encrypted format locally on the device where it’s installed. It utilizes HD backup settings, so you don’t need to worry about backing up each public/private key pair.
However, despite all these security measures the risk of hack is still there.
The most common risks facing the MetaMask wallet are phishing attacks. A phishing attack is a scam used by hackers to steal your confidential data including passwords, keys, etc.
In order to avert such phishing attacks, it’s important to avoid clicking on pop-up messages and other similar stuff. Always make sure to log in to your MetaMask wallet from the official website only.
Therefore, being a hot wallet MetaMask wallet can be considered a reasonable option to store a small number of tokens for recurring transactions and for exploring Dapp space. To store a large number of tokens, I would personally suggest using a hardware wallet (cold wallet) instead.
To find out more
5. How to Setup MetaMask Wallet?
MetaMask is one of the simplest Ethereum wallets. Setting up your wallet is quite an easy process that takes only a few minutes to complete.
As explained earlier, MetaMask Wallet is available as a browser extension (for PC) and as an application for mobile devices. The wallet setup process works as follows;
To use MetaMask, you need either a Chrome, Brave, Firefox, or Edge browser installed on your PC. For this review, I will be using Firefox for example. The process is quite similar for other browsers too and you can complete the setup on any of these browsers by following the given process.
Below is a step-by-step process;
1). First of all, go to the MetaMask homepage to download and install the MetaMask add-on/extension for your Firefox browser.
2) After the successful installation you will see a welcome screen like this (below). Now click the “Get Started” button to create your Ethereum wallet using MetaMask.
3). Next, click “Create a Wallet” button.
You can use a Hot wallet in the same way, you use your physical wallet to keep some cash for daily spendings, but it can’t be used as storage for your lifelong savings!
4). In the next step, MetaMask will ask you to allow permission to gather usage data to improve its services. Here, you can choose accordingly.
6). On the next page, MataMask will show a 12-word seed phrase to recover your wallet, in case you lose access to your PC. Make sure to write it on paper in the same order shown on the screen. Keep this piece of paper in a safe place because it is the only way to recover your funds should your device crash or your browser reset. Keep it private and never share it with anyone, otherwise, you may end up losing your funds. After writing down the seed phrase, Click “Next”.
7). In the next step, you have to confirm your seed phrase by entering the words in the same order, as you have saved previously. Click “Confirm” to continue to the next step.
8). Finally, you will get a “Congratulations” message with some safe storage tips. Click “All Done” and you will be automatically logged in to MetaMask wallet.
You have now successfully completed the Metamask setup process and your wallet is ready to use.
6. How to Use MetaMask Wallet?
MetaMask offers an intuitive user interface that delivers a seamless user experience. Buying and sending Ether and ERC-20 tokens using Metamask is quick and easy.
Below is a step by step process;
1). How buying works?
To buy Ether or other tokens, click on “Buy” and choose either Coinbase or Shapeshift to fund your wallet. You can also buy Ether with Wyre (through debit card) using one of the 5 supported fiat currencies.
While using its mobile application you can also buy Ether with 50+ fiats using a debit card or bank transfers via its payment partner Transak. The live prices that are shown during buying are quite reasonable.
2). How sending works?
To send Ether and ERC-20 tokens, simply click “Send”, then enter the address to which you want to send the selected token, and enter the amount. Then confirm the transaction by clicking “Accept”.
That’s the simplest process by following which you can buy, send and receive Ether and ERC tokens with ease.
7. MetaMask vs MyEtherWallet
When it comes to the Ethereum network, Metamask and MyEtherWallet (MEW) are the two most popular Ethereum wallets that sometimes make it difficult for a user to make a choice. Let’s have a quick comparison;
Mode of Working
MetaMask operates as a browser extension. It interacts with the Ethereum network through a set of tools called Infura. It means that it depends on other computers to communicate with the Ethereum blockchain.
MyEtherWallet (MEW) is not a browser extension but a website that works as a platform that connects to the MEW ledger. Contrary to MetaMask this wallet acts as a full node wallet and it doesn’t need to rely on other computers to connect with the Ethereum network.
Metamask allows users to purchase Ether and tokens directly from already integrated exchanges. Users can also buy crypto using fiat currencies via debit cards and bank transfers.
MyEtherWallet also offers crypto purchasing via Simplex using a credit card.
Security and Storage
In terms of security both the MetaMask and MEW wallets are considered quite safe by the Ethereum community.
Metamask is a hot Storage wallet, hence the Ether and other tokens are stored only on online platforms.
On the other hand, MyEtherWallet works in both the ways i.e as a online and offline storage wallet.
Several cryptocurrency storage platforms store wallet keys on their remote servers. But MetaMask stores it on the browser.
Similarly, MyEtherWallet also stores keys locally on your device instead of storing them on a distant server. The only difference is that the keys can be stored offline, along with storing online.
Seemingly, it may be clear now that both have some similarities and differences. MyEtherWallet is great in some ways and MetaMask is better in others, but when it comes to utility both are quite similar. However, in terms of who is better than the other – MyEtherWallet is a bit better.
Have you found this reading worthwhile? If yes, please do share this post with your friends and people around you and spread the security awareness surrounding cryptocurrencies.