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Crypto Wallets Demystified: Which One is Right for You?

By Romeo F.
24 Mar 2023
9 min read

Crypto has taken the world by storm, revolutionising the way we perceive and use money. With this new technology comes the need for secure storage solutions that allow users to store, manage, and transact their digital assets safely. This is where wallets come in.

In this article, we will provide an in-depth explanation of the different types of wallets available to cryptocurrency users. Our goal is to help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type of wallet so that you can make an informed decision when selecting the best wallet for your needs.

There are two main types of wallets: custodial and non-custodial. Custodial wallets are provided by third-party companies that store and manage your cryptocurrencies on your behalf. On the other hand, non-custodial wallets give you more control over your private keys and cryptocurrencies, without the need for intermediaries.

While custodial wallets offer convenience and ease of use, non-custodial wallets are becoming increasingly popular due to their advantages in terms of security and control over assets. In this article, we will focus on non-custodial wallets and explain their importance in the world of cryptocurrency.

This article will provide a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages of custodial and non-custodial wallets, such as their superior security features, their ability to provide users with full control over their assets, and their protection of user privacy.

What are wallets?

A wallet, in the context of cryptocurrency, is a software application or hardware device that stores private keys and enables users to send, receive, and manage their digital assets. Think of a wallet as a digital equivalent to a physical wallet that stores your cash and cards.

In the cryptocurrency ecosystem, wallets play a critical role in facilitating transactions and enabling users to interact with the blockchain. They are essential tools for managing digital assets such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies.

Custodial wallets are provided by third-party companies that manage and store users' private keys on their behalf. The user typically entrusts the custody of their funds to the wallet provider, which takes care of the security and management of the assets. Using such wallets can be convenient but also comes with potential risks such as loss of funds due to hacks or the bankruptcy of the wallet provider.

On the other hand, non-custodial wallets, also known as self-custody wallets, allow users to retain full control over their private keys and assets without the need for intermediaries.

These wallets provide users with a higher degree of control and security over their digital assets. They are usually software applications or hardware devices that users can download or purchase to store their private keys securely.

Hot/Cold Wallets 😕

Hearing a lot about hot/cold wallets?

These are umbrella terms for wallets that are connected to the internet (hot wallet) and the ones that are not (cold wallet).
Hot or Cold wallets can be custodial or non-custodial.

Let’s take a closer look at these wallets

Non-custodial wallets

Non-custodial wallets are becoming increasingly popular due to their superior security features, their ability to provide users with full control over their assets, and their protection of user privacy.


Examples of non-custodial wallets include desktop wallets, mobile wallets, hardware wallets, and paper wallets. Desktop wallets are software applications that can be downloaded and installed on a computer, while mobile wallets are applications that can be downloaded and installed on a mobile device.

Some of the most popular desktop wallets include Metamask, Trustwallet, Coinbase wallet, etc.

On the other hand, Hardware wallets are physical devices that store private keys offline, while paper wallets are printouts of a user's private key.

One key example of such wallet is Ledger Nano X.

So why are non-custodial wallets so effective?

Non-custodial wallets offer several advantages over custodial wallets. First and foremost, they provide superior security. Since the private keys are stored locally on the user's device, they are less susceptible to hacking attempts or security breaches.

Users also have complete control over their assets and can send and receive cryptocurrencies at any time without needing approval from a third-party intermediary. This allows for faster transactions and greater flexibility.

Another advantage of non-custodial wallets is privacy. Since users do not need to provide personal information to a third-party wallet provider, they can maintain anonymity and protect their identity.

Is there anything you need to worry about?

Non-custodial wallets do have some disadvantages. First, they can have a steep learning curve for new users who may not be familiar with the technical aspects of managing private keys.

But once you get familiar with the process, you’re good to go.

Additionally, since users are responsible for securing their private keys, any loss or theft of the keys could result in the loss of their digital assets.

So keep your keys, wallets addresses, and seed phrases secure. And if you’re using a hardware wallet, make sure to keep it in a safe place.

Custodial and non-custodial drawing
Credit: Atomic Wallet

Custodial wallets

Custodials wallets are still the go-to product for most beginner crypto users. Primarily because it closely resembles the existing web2 services like your trading or banking account.

Similar to other web2 entities, when you keep your crypto in a custodial wallet, it’s essentially managed by a centralized third party entity.

The essence of crypto is to get rid of centralization of power, especially in the banking system. As such, custodial wallets shouldn’t be your first choice.

However there are certain exceptions where choosing a custodial wallet is prudent.

Should you get a custodial wallet?

The one thing custodial wallets are pretty good at is the ease of use. If you’re a beginner crypto users, learning the ropes can be daunting at first.

Not only are you keeping track of different cryptocurrencies but also engaging in yield farming activities like staking and liqudity providing.

Custodial wallets do a job of presenting and segmenting these features in a way that’s easier to navigate. So if you’re learning and don’t have a lot of investment, you can decide to start out with one such wallet.

What custodial wallets are the best?

As of now Binance and Coinbase are the most popular and trusted ones. There are other custodial wallets like Kraken, etc.

What exactly is the problem with custodial wallets?

The primary problem with a wallet like Binance is that you don’t really own your asset because you don’t have the keys to it.

Without the Binance interface, your coins are essentially locked inside Binance’s banks. And just like any bank, they are using your money in the markets to make a profit.

In the event of a bank run or fraudulent practice by the company, the depositors lose their money.

The FTX Fiasco

FTX was the third biggest centralized crypto exchange (as well as a wallet) last year. It amassed $32 billion in worth with over a million users. However, it all crashed overnight due to malpractices. FTX not only lied to its users about the fiscal solvency but also actively embezzled funds out of the exchange.

Hundreds of thousands of users lost their money, and the crypto market took a massive hit adding trauma to an already traumatized market. Several other similar solvency related issues bankrupted major centralized crypto entities like Celcius, Voyager, 3AC, etc, ushering a year-long crypto winter.

How to choose the right wallet for you?

Factors to consider

Security: The security of your digital assets should be your top priority when choosing a wallet. Look for wallets that offer strong encryption and two-factor authentication. Consider the wallet's track record and reputation for security.

Ease of use: A wallet that is easy to use and navigate is essential, especially for those who are new to cryptocurrency. Look for wallets with intuitive user interfaces and clear instructions.

Features: Different wallets offer different features, such as the ability to buy and sell cryptocurrency within the wallet or support for multiple cryptocurrencies. Consider the features that are important to you when choosing a wallet.

Compatibility: Make sure that the wallet you choose is compatible with the cryptocurrencies you want to store and manage. Some wallets only support certain cryptocurrencies, so check before you download or purchase a wallet.

Reputation: It's important to choose a wallet with a good reputation in the cryptocurrency community. Look for reviews and feedback from other users, and choose a wallet from a reputable company with a track record of security and reliability.

By considering these factors and doing your research, you can choose a wallet that best suits your needs and helps you maintain control over your assets. Remember to always keep your private keys secure and back up your wallet in case of loss or damage.

Steps to take when choosing a wallet

When choosing a wallet, it's important to take certain steps to ensure you make the right choice for your needs. Here are some steps to consider:

Research: Do your homework and research different wallet options. Look for wallets that are reputable, have strong security features, and offer the features you need.

Try before you buy: Many wallets offer a free trial or demo version, which can help you get a feel for the wallet and its features before you commit to buying it.

Consider the cost: While some wallets are free, others may charge a fee for use. Consider the cost of the wallet and any associated fees when making your decision.

Check reviews and ratings: Look for reviews and ratings of the wallet from other users. This can help you get an idea of the wallet's reputation and how well it works in practice.

By taking these steps and being informed about your options, you can choose a wallet that meets your needs and helps you maintain control over your assets. Remember to always keep your private keys secure and back up your wallet in case of loss or damage.


The world of crypto can be complex, but choosing the right wallet can help simplify the process of managing and storing your digital assets. By choosing a wallet that works for you and keeping your private keys secure, you can enjoy the benefits of cryptocurrency while maintaining control over your assets.

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