Satoshi Nakomoto released the first cryptocurrency wallet in 2009.
That wallet wasn’t particularly feature-rich. It could send and receive bitcoins (the only cryptocurrency back then) and could sign transactions to prove the ownership of an address.
Since then, the blockchain emerged as a new computing platform. A crypto wallet is the main way of accessing it. Today, a wallet does a lot more than simply holding coins.
What is a crypto wallet?
A crypto wallet is a piece of software that generates and stores your private keys, enabling you to interact with a blockchain.
Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum and other smart contract platforms enable a wide range of applications. Anyone can interact with these applications as long as they have a noncustodial crypto wallet.
Noncustodial simply means that no third party (e.g. exchange or a fund) holds custody of the private key that controls the coins in the wallet. For many years, the default noncustodial wallet was MetaMask.
The rise of MetaMask
Today, the most popular crypto wallet is MetaMask.
First released in 2016 by ConsenSys, MetaMask is a browser extension and mobile wallet for Ethereum and other networks that enable the Ethereum Virtual Machine.
In March 2022, ConsenSys revealed that MetaMask has over 30 million active monthly users. While it might seem low compared to hundreds of millions or even billions of users on various Web 2.0 platforms, this number shows a 42% growth over a four-month period. The trajectory of crypto wallet adoption follows exponential paths of other major innovations.
Despite its popularity, the experience MetaMask offers is far from ideal.
That’s because the crypto world today is very different from six years ago when MetaMask was released.