MEWconnect: A New ‘Hardware’ Wallet Without All the Hardware

MyEtherWallet
Feb 21, 2019 · 4 min read

UPDATE 8/12/2020: The MEWconnect app has been discontinued to make way for our fully-fledged MEW wallet app, which allows users to store ETH and tokens, send transactions, and swap directly from their smartphone. Download the MEW wallet app for iOS or Android and migrate your account!

Since the release of MEW V5 last week, it seems that more users have become aware of MEWconnect, our mobile app which provides a hardware-like functionality right on your smartphone.

Even though MEWconnect was released to the iOS AppStore in 2018 and the Android GooglePlay version has been available since the beginning of this year, we continue to receive questions and requests for clarification on using the app. Let’s address some common issues!

First and foremost — you will create a NEW wallet with MEWconnect

What does that mean? When you first install MEWconnect, we recommend that you generate a completely new wallet, just as you would if you started using a new hardware wallet like Trezor or Ledger. After creating the new wallet on MEWconnect, you can transfer the funds from your old wallet to the new address.

There are a few reasons why this is the best option for the security of your funds.

  • We like to call MEWconnect a ‘hardware wallet’ without all the hardware, because it adds a hardware wallet-like functionality to your smartphone. Your private key is kept encrypted in the secure vault on your device. This is a significantly safer way to access funds than JSON/keystore file, mnemonic phrase, or direct private key entry on the web.
  • By creating a new wallet, you can be sure that you are the only one who has had access to your 24 word recovery phrase.
  • Restoring an existing wallet with MEWconnect will null the increased security benefits of the app, because your old keys may already be compromised — especially if you’ve been using private key, keystore file or mnemonic phrase for access online. Therefore, we do not recommend MEWconnect to be used for restoring wallets generated on other platforms — including ours.
  • MEWconnect helps protect you from phishing. There are no links to click, no danger of ending up on the wrong website and less vectors for attack.

You can’t restore an existing wallet on MEWconnect with private key or keystore file

When you first open the MEWconnect app, you will see two options — to create a new wallet, or to restore an existing wallet.

The only way to restore a wallet in MEWconnect is with a recovery phrase. Here’s an example when this applies: if you install MEWconnect on your phone, then proceed to lose the phone, get a new phone, and install MEWconnect again — you will be able to use the recovery phrase that you wrote down when you first created the wallet to restore access.

Now, if you created a MEW wallet on the website previously, you wouldn’t have gotten a recovery phrase. Rather, you created a password and saved a keystore (JSON) file. Neither the keystore file nor the private key can be used to restore in MEWconnect, because they are highly unsafe ways of accessing your wallet. In fact, if you’ve been using either of these access methods online, we think it’s a really good idea to update your storage solution anyway — whether it’s with MEWconnect or with a hardware wallet.

MEWconnect is a more secure access solution than private key, keystore file, or mnemonic phrase

What makes MEWconnect more secure? It stores your private keys safely in a local, isolated and secure vault on the mobile device, separating them from the device that actually carries out the transactions (your computer). That is what we mean by ‘hardware-like’ functionality. Your private keys are never exposed — even though the smartphone is continuously connected to the internet, the keys are kept safe in a separate location.

If you are doubtful about the security of mobile apps in general, you may be surprised to discover that they are as safe to use, and sometimes even more so, than web applications. Take a look at our article on the subject and see if it changes your mind!

MEWconnect must be used together with the MEW website to manage funds

Finally, MEWconnect is not like a banking app that “mirrors” your account activity on your mobile device. While you can view your balance, share your address, buy ETH with a credit card and access our Knowledge Base right from the app, you will need to connect to the MEW website in order to send transactions, carry out swaps and interact with contracts.

This is another way in which MEWconnect is like a hardware wallet. The reason hardware wallets are considered the safest way to access Ethereum accounts is that they separate the transactions from the location of the private key storage. The hardware device never exposes the keys — the computer interface receives a signed transaction that can be sent to the blockchain, but it never “sees” how the transaction is being signed.

Where to find more information

We hope this has been a helpful explanation, but if you’d like to learn more or watch a video tutorial, you can find more information on the MEWconnect website and our Knowledge Base.

Always here to help you have the best possible crypto experience,

#team MEW

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