Over the past several years, you’ve probably heard a lot of chatter about Bitcoin—what it is, the mystery behind its creator, its usage on the black market, the Mt. Gox robbery that shook the Bitcoin industry and community to its core, causing controversy worldwide. But unless you use Bitcoin, you probably don’t know what Bitcoin is, though since you clicked on this article, you might be interested to find out. If you already know the very basics of Bitcoin, and you’re just here to learn some of the best Bitcoin wallets available, skip the next paragraph; otherwise, here’s a very brief, very introductory definition of Bitcoin.
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Bitcoin is a response to the flawed digital payment systems of our time. Because of how digital systems can copy and duplicate information, it’s impossible to make sure no one is spending the same currency over and over again by copying it without using a centralized authority to verify each payment (like Paypal). This is where Bitcoin comes from: instead of having to rely on that third party payment system, Bitcoin is an encrypted peer-to-peer transaction that allows for some added benefits, including keeping payments non-reversible and lowering transaction fees between two parties. There’s also a controlled supply of Bitcoin in the world around us, meaning only a certain number of Bitcoins—21 million—can exist in the world. Bitcoins are created by “mining” with computers, which is a bit too technical to go into here. The 21 million number isn’t expected to be reached until about 2140, meaning there’s still a century of mining to go before Bitcoin is close to topping out. The controlled supply keeps Bitcoin safe from inflation, and from government control of currency.
That’s our basic, by no means complete explanation of what Bitcoin is and does. If you want to learn more about Bitcoin, we suggest this Medium post or reading the Bitcoin Simplified website. For now, let’s move onto our recommendations for wallets, and what a wallet is.
When it comes to keeping your Bitcoin safe, you’re going to want to use a wallet, and preferably one through a trustworthy enough system that won’t run you into any trouble. Your Bitcoin funds will use a password, which only you have access to—just like any other online private or banking account. The value of Bitcoin is determined by the number of users that buy and sell at any particular moment, similar to how standard currency markets function. The price and worth of Bitcoin ebbs and flows based on supply and demand of the digital currency. Because of how important it is to keep your finances safe, you’re going to want to ensure your Bitcoin collections is stored in a secure wallet. Luckily enough, we’ve collected eight of the best choices for Bitcoin wallets below—let’s take a look!
Our Recommendation - BitcoinCore
In our tests, we found BitcoinCore to be most secure—and the original—Bitcoin wallet on the market right now. BitcoinCore ensures every block of your Bitcoin is valid, along with each and every transaction in your account. It also keeps miners and banks from taking control of your Bitcoin savings, a must-have when looking for your choice in wallet. And since BitcoinCore is one of the oldest wallets on the market, it's well-armed with privacy features you won't see anywhere else.
One major problem with BitcoinCore: it does use more resources than most other applications out there, so if you're running your wallet on older or insecure platforms, you'll want to try to choose something a bit more resource-friendly. If you're using a modern computer with a decent processor and a good amount of RAM, you should be good to go with BitcoinCore. Even better, Bitcoin Core is supported on Windows, MacOS, Ubuntu, and any ARM-based Linux platform, so you're nearly guaranteed to be able to use the program on your computer of choice. We found the app to feature a better user-interface than most other Bitcoin wallets out there, which was a plus in our book. Between the easy-to-use application design and the security features built into the app, we found Bitcoin Core to be excellent and one of our top picks in wallet choice. If you're new to Bitcoin, or just looking to try something new, check this one out for sure.
Runner Up: Copay
Copay's Bitcoin wallet is available across a huge number of platforms and devices, making access easy and quick from anywhere and any device, while maintaining the same security features Bitcoin users will be looking for in a wallet. The Copay app supports multiple users and additional wallets associated within one overarching account, making Copay ideal for business use. Copay uses full Bitcoin protocol as well, meaning your Bitcoin funds will always end up at the right destination, and can be verified by any Bitcoin protocol-enabled merchant. Again, great news for those readers looking to get out and use Bitcoin for business payments and requests.
Another great feature: Copay is an entirely open-source, so you can use their code and fork the platform if you have the need to tweak the platform for your needs. The program is available on a host of desktop and mobile platforms alike, including the requisite Windows, MacOS, and Linux support, but also applications available on iOS, Android, and even ChromeOS and Windows Mobile. It's one of the widest-available wallets we've seen in our research, so if you're a developer—or you just use a lot of different operating systems—Copay might be the wallet for you.
The Copay app is maintained and approved by the community at large, so you never have to worry about a risky update coming from an unknown source. Even better, the open-source nature of the app basically ensures that you'll always have your wallet up and running for payments and services, so you never have to worry about an outage. Copay is great for individuals, but if you're a small business operator looking for a fantastic wallet choice, you can't do much better than Copay.
BitGo's Bitcoin wallet is another wallet intended for small business customers—specifically those always-on-the-move entrepreneurs. Though independent accounts can exist through BitGo, if you're looking for something and the above descriptors fit you accurately, you'll definitely want to check out BitGo. The wallet offers a huge selection of security features for businesses, including 2-step verification, audit logs, address whitelisting, and so much more, helping to protect you from fraud while keeping your business running smooth and efficiently. Even better, with BitGo's premium support, you have 24/7, always-on monitoring protection, keeping you safe from intruders in your wallet. You'll receive instant alerts for all your transactions, and monthly in-depth statements keep you informed on what's going on in your account. BitGo is a web-based wallet client, but also features mobile apps on Android and iOS.
StrongCoin's wide-reaching security features have attracted a huge following among Bitcoin users, and it's easy to see why. Unlike some wallets, StrongCoin processes your transactions through your web browser, so that your key is encrypted on their independent servers. You're the only one who can access your account and Bitcoins on their servers, creating a hybrid wallet for Bitcoin and allowing safer, more secure transactions than some competitors. Like Copay, you can contain multiple Bitcoin accounts within one individual wallet. Some other security features offered by StrongCoin: offsite secure backup protection guarantees your Bitcoin funds will never be lost due to an accidental delete of your wallet, and encrypted keys help make sure your information is only accessed by you. Your Bitcoin wallet through StrongCoin cannot be held at ransom, and there's built-in escrow, keeping your finances safe and secure. StrongCoin is another web-based platform, along with mobile apps on iOS and Android.
We hear you: you aren't a fan of storing anything on local or cloud-based servers, no matter what kind of encryption is used. Encryption can be broken by anyone with enough experience and time on their hands, so if you're looking for something to balance out your security with a local, hardware-based key you can take with you, you only have one really great choice: Ledger Wallet. Ledger is a two-in-one hardware and software-based wallet for your Bitcoin collection, with several different "smartcards" capable of storage and managing your Bitcoin collection. Since you need the physical key to access and transfer your Bitcoin currency, you're guaranteed additional safety and protection from hackers or thieves aiming to steal your cloud-based wallet funds. There are a few different sizes and models for your Bitcoin wallet, so head on over to Ledger's website to view their various hardware. One note: since you need the USB-based key to access your Bitcoin account, you won't be able to access your info on your smartphone of choice unless you buy the newer, much-more expensive Ledger Blue card, which uses Bluetooth to connect to your platform of choice. You can use the Ledger software on Windows, MacOS, or Linux, so no matter your desktop choice, you're all set to store.
UberPay is one of the newer wallets on our list. It's main premise: allowing for users to swap Altcoin for Bitcoin, gold, or silver currencies, making it easier for a greater number of people to adopt various cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Altcoin. It does have some options available for business users, but nothing quite as substantial as Copay's various wallet functionalities, and it's designed less for business use and more for daily transactions with worldwide merchants available online. UberPay doesn't stress its security functions, but it is a decentralized wallet, so you shouldn't have to worry too much about your finances or information falling into the wrong hands. Like with plenty of the other apps on this list, UberPay is available for download on desktop operating systems of your choice, as well as your Android or iOS phone.
CoolWallet Bitcoin Hardware
Ledger isn't the only hardware-based Bitcoin wallet system—if you're looking for something a bit more convenient or high-tech, CoolWallet has you covered. The actual CoolWallet device looks really similar to a debit or credit card, and is designed to fit inside your real wallet. Just like Ledger, CoolWallet prides itself on being hack-proof, theft-proof, and—a new one on our list—even waterproof. What makes CoolWallet great compared to something like Ledger is the connectivity of the device. Whereas Ledger is a USB key designed to fit into a desktop or laptop, CoolWallet transfers information over a local Bluetooth network between you and your devices, allowing you to keep your device information on your iOS or Android phone. You can even set up an alert service that will tell you when your Bitcoin wallet and mobile phone are a certain distance apart, called Watchdog. There's only two noticeable flaws with CoolWallet. First, the Bluetooth connection means the device isn't quite as secure as Ledger's key-based system, even if it is far more convenient. You'll have to weight the two options to decide which is right for you. Second, CoolWallet is expensive—it runs $119 US dollars, an expensive device for someone just dipping their toes in the Bitcoin pool. Still, if you're an experienced Bitcoin user, or you need something with this type of functionality, it's more than worth the cost—even if it's another device you'll have to charge.
Luno (formerly BitX)
Luno (formerly BitX) is another great choice in Bitcoin wallet, and lacks any kind of Bitcoin fees for using the app to charge or collect Bitcoin from clients or friends. You can store, send, and receive Bitcoin inside your Luno wallet, all for free. The app also allows you to transfer funds, shop online, and manage your Bitcoin funds right from their client. Luno even has smart-wallet functionality to learn and become smarter about your uses the more you use it. Luno is a great choice for newcomers to Bitcoin; it has a great help center that can allow you to learn everything and anything you need to know about spending and earning Bitcoin online. It doesn't feature any notable strong security features, so if you're after always-available support, you'll want to look elsewhere. Overall, Luno is a great follow-up to BitX and a great choice for beginners. It’s available on Android, iOS, and through a Web browser.