Decentralized Finance (DeFi) allows users to carry out financial transactions without intermediaries or third parties. Thus it is necessary for users to have a repository where they can store and manage their funds as they transact on DeFi. This is where DeFi wallets come in.
These are digital wallets where users can store and manage their crypto assets. They facilitate access to DeFi protocols, allow the execution of smart contracts, and enable a range of financial transactions including lending, borrowing, and trading. By understanding how DeFi wallets work, users can take advantage of the transparency, security, and autonomy decentralized finance offers.
A DeFi wallet is a key tool for participating in the DeFi ecosystem. With a DeFi wallet, a user has total control over their funds and has access to secure, transparent, and trustless transactions.
Furthermore, DeFi wallets allow users to easily integrate and interact with multiple DeFi applications. As a result, DeFi wallets act as launchpads for the development of innovative financial services.
This is the major difference between CeFi wallets and DeFi wallets. CeFi wallets are owned and operated by a centralized authority and act as an intermediary between the user and their assets. CeFi wallets are usually hosted on a centralized server or computer that controls the user's access, storage, and management of assets. They may require users to undergo Know-Your-Customer (KYC) procedures to prove their identity and address. While these procedures may provide a level of authenticity, they limit anonymity and privacy.
DeFi wallets, on the other hand, are non-custodial and are based on a decentralized network. They allow users to have complete control over their assets without the need for intermediaries. Through them, users can interact directly with DeFi protocols and smart contracts. Since users have total control over their assets, DeFi wallets provide users with greater transparency, control, and privacy.
DeFi wallets are highly interoperable and can interact with different DeFi protocols, thus offering users access to a range of financial transactions. For instance, a user can lend or borrow some assets on one protocol, trade some assets on another protocol, and save some assets on another protocol all at the same time without having to hold separate wallets.
CeFi wallets, on the other hand, provide limited access to financial services since they are restricted to the services of the centralized institution that owns the wallet.
CeFi wallet providers have to comply with a lot of regulations. Since they are centralized, there's a face to them and that face would need to undergo regulatory scrutiny as a way to ensure the safety of the user. In contrast, DeFi wallets are often unregulated. There's no central institution that regulates the services provided. Therefore, it is essential to note that the use of unregulated financial services may expose users to fraud and loss of funds.
There are two broad classes of DeFi wallets: cold wallets and hot wallets.
These are always connected to the internet, thus they are always accessible for transactions. They are usually used for daily transactions or trading since they are quick and easy to access. Since hot wallets store private keys online, they are generally considered less secure than cold wallets. Examples of hot wallets include software wallets, mobile wallets, and web wallets.
Non-custodial DeFi wallets: These are decentralized wallets that offer users complete control over their assets. They are hosted on open-source platforms and enable users to interact directly with DeFi protocols. Examples include MetaMask, MyEtherWallet, Trust Wallet, and Atomic Wallet.
Web3 DeFi wallets: Also called browser-based wallets, Web3 wallets operate as browser extensions or plugins that allow users to interact with DeFi protocols seamlessly through a web browser.
Multi-asset DeFi wallets: These wallets allow the storage and managing of multiple cryptocurrencies at the same time. Multi-asset DeFi wallets are flexible and allow users to easily switch between different cryptocurrencies and DeFi protocols. Examples are Exodus and Edge.
Mobile DeFi wallets: These wallets are designed as mobile apps for users to access their DeFi wallets and protocols. Examples include Metamask, Trust Wallet, and Enjin Wallet.
These are not connected to the internet and their private keys are stored offline. They provide a higher level of security since they cannot easily be accessed. This makes them generally impervious to online hacks and cyber-attacks. Cold wallets are typically used for the long-term storage of cryptocurrency assets. Examples of cold wallets include hardware wallets and paper wallets.
Hardware DeFi wallets: These are physical devices that allow users to store their private keys. which provides greater security and protection against hacks or fraud. Popular examples of hardware wallets are Trezor and Ledger.
Security is an essential aspect of DeFi wallets. Since they are decentralized, extra care must be given to security to prevent malicious actors from exploiting any loophole.
To ensure the safety of assets stored within them, DeFi wallets usually have the following security features:
The risks associated with DeFi wallets include theft, loss of private keys, hacking or phishing attacks, and smart contract failure. Here are some ways to minimize the risk:
Step 1: Choose a DeFi wallet
Choose from any of the ones listed above such as MetaMask, Trust Wallet, and Coinbase Wallet. Once you have decided on which wallet to use, visit their website and download the wallet extension or mobile app.
Step 2: Create a new wallet
Once you've downloaded the wallet extension or mobile app, you'll be prompted to create a new wallet. Follow the instructions and create a strong password that only you know.
Step 3: Backup your seed phrase
After creating your wallet, you'll be given a seed phrase. This is a group of 12 to 24 words that allows you to restore your wallet if you ever lose access to it. Write the seed phrase on a piece of paper and store it in a safe place. Never store it online or on your computer, as this increases the risk of it being hacked.
Step 4: Add funds to your wallet
Once your wallet is set up, you can add funds to it by purchasing cryptocurrency from a reputable exchange.
Although DeFi wallets have more advantages than CeFi wallets, they aren't left without limitations and challenges. Some of them include:
DeFi wallets are becoming increasingly popular as individuals seek to take control of their financial assets and interact with DeFi protocols. However, it's not without its limitations. But despite the challenges, the benefits of DeFi wallets make them an attractive option for those looking for a private and secure way to store and manage their investments.