As 2021 is already set to be the year of NFTs and estimated market projections are increasing at an almost daily rate, the associated hype is dominating over mainstream media news. As a result, ever more people are looking to hop on the NFT train, with creators and artists being no exception.
Although the required process might seem rather straightforward for crypto-familiar people, it is reasonable enough that many non-crypto native creators may feel a little overwhelmed. The ultimate entry point for one to engage with the global, decentralized crypto community (and, NFTs) is the wallet; not all wallets are NFT-compatible, therefore, making the right choice should be nevertheless, a wise decision.
This article is meant to provide some basic terminology about the wallet side of NFT things, as well as inform creators about popular NFT wallet options.
First Steps & Terminology
Before anything else, creators looking to create and publish their NFTs should first consider which blockchain they’d want their NFTs to be issued on. Being independent networks, each blockchain comes with its own token standards, wallet providers, and supported marketplaces, while as of now cross-platform NFT interoperability is still at its infancy.
Although there are currently several networks that support NFTs, such as Binance Smart Chain, EOS, Tron, and Enjin’s native chain, Ethereum remains undoubtedly the largest NFT ecosystem; afterall, the ERC-721 token standard was introduced by Ethereum’s dev community, while the highest marketplace sales volumes come from Ethereum-based marketplaces. Therefore, for the purpose of this article, we discuss NFTs as Ethereum-based tokens.
If you are a newcomer to NFTs (and Ethereum), we recommend you do not fast forward this section. At start, some terms might seem confusing, however, understanding the differences is simple and key for one to navigate with safety within the ecosystem.
Ethereum blockchain or network: the DLT networking architecture that powers all transactions, data storage, applications, and smart-contracts that are deployed and/or registered on top of Ethereum’s decentralized infrastructure in a public and transparent manner.
Ether (ETH, Ξ): the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network. Many refer to it as Ethereum, although there is a significant difference between the blockchain that supports all digital assets including ETH, and the cryptocurrency as a token within the network itself.
Ethereum account: an entity that has a balance and can send/receive transactions. It is similar to a bank account, just without the bank component.
Ethereum address: an Ethereum account has an Ethereum address, much like a bank account has an IBAN address, that can be used for sending and receiving funds.
Ethereum wallet: a wallet is a product that lets you interact with your account, e.g. view your balance, engage in transactions, store/view/sell NFTs, and more.
Most wallet providers will generate an Ethereum account for you, so it is not necessary to have an account before downloading a wallet. There are many more terms that are relevant to NFTs, such as smart-contracts, the ERC-721 protocol, and more that you can learn about by reading our relevant RC3 Academy publications here.
Ethereum Wallets In A Nutshell
As aforementioned, a wallet is a prerequisite for Web3 interactions, such as creating (or minting) an NFT. However, not all Ethereum wallets are NFT-compatible.
Wallet providers can be mainly distinguished by their degree of (de-)centralization. On one hand, users can find custodian wallet providers of the likes of Binance and Coinbase, who essentially have pre-made wallets that get assigned to each new user. Centralized services make it easy for newcomers to interact with the crypto industry, as an email and a password is usually enough to create an account with the respective platform, while in case of forgetting your password, the provider can recover it for you, meaning that they can practically access your wallet at any given moment. Naturally, this seemingly easier process comes at the cost of one’s anonymity and lack of true ownership of assets, considering there is a centralized point of authority that decides what you’re eligible to do and what is out of reach, similar to traditional asset management institutions.
On the contrary, decentralized wallet providers value anonymity and decentralization the most, therefore, a different process is required in order to create/use/secure a decentralized wallet. Instead of registering with the usual mail and password procedure, decentralized wallet providers generate an Ethereum address that once created belongs to the wallet user and only. Being decentralized first, such wallet providers have no custody whatsoever of the wallet and its contents, thus, the wallet owner is the true and only owner of the respective wallet. Ultimately, security comes down to two unique passwords (the seed phrase, and the private key), and only these can be used to recover one’s wallet or import it to another device and/or platform. Essentially, the person that owns these keys has truly exclusive access to the respective wallet, thus, safely storing these keys (preferably somewhere offline) becomes the most important thing. True decentralization comes with true responsibility.
Popular Wallets for Creators
When it comes to NFTs, not all Ethereum-compatible wallets offer support for ERC-721 tokens. In fact, it is mostly decentralized wallet providers that allow users to host, view, and interact with their NFT assets. In addition, the fundamental premise behind NFTs is that it’s empowering creators, collectors, and users to truly own their assets and distribute them as they wish without the need for centralized intermediaries.
Ethereum wallets run on the Ethereum blockchain and require ETH, Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency, for all kinds of transactions within the ecosystem. Once you have an Ethereum address and a wallet, you only need to charge your account with some ETH, and you are ready to go! Check this link to a relevant article explaining how to top up your Ethereum account.
This being said, let’s take a look at some of the most popular decentralized Ethereum wallets.
MetaMask by ConsenSys
MetaMask is probably the most popular and frequently used Ethereum wallet both by NFT creators/collectors, as well as non-NFT related folks who want to navigate the web3 domain. You can download it for free on their website, and it comes in a mobile, desktop, and web version. If you want to use MetaMask, it is recommended that you install the handy browser extension, which lets you interact with Web3 websites (e.g. NFT marketplaces, decentralized exchanges) in the simplest way. Once you download and install the wallet, then a simple 2-step guide will take you through the process of generating an Ethereum address for you, as well as securing your seed phrase and private key.
Trust Wallet by Binance Holdings
Trust wallet is a multi-token wallet that allows for hosting multiple tokens from different networks, and it makes storing NFTs as easy as it goes. It is free to download, and comes in a mobile version, so you can use it on the go anytime anywhere. A built-in Web3 browser enables interactions with the decentralized Internet, while Trust wallet offers its own dapp marketplace.
Fortmatic by Magic Labs
Fortmatic is another popular Ethereum wallet, which comes as an alternative to Web3 wallets requiring browser extensions and/or specific web browsers. Its basic proposition is that it offers an alternative authentication method, which utilizes phone numbers and/or email addresses instead of seed phrases. That way, it is more user-friendly and more accessible to newcomers, while setting it up is as straightforward as possible. With regard to NFTs, Fortmatic is integrated with most of the largest NFT marketplaces, such as OpenSea, Rarible, and SuperRare.
Arkane Wallet by Arkane Network
Arkane is a blockchain agnostic layer that provides wallet solutions and has its own marketplace. Although it might not be as popular as the aforementioned wallets, Arkane’s wallet is more versatile and inclusive. It is device and browser agnostic, meaning that it can be seamlessly used in any kind of device (mobile, desktop, etc.) and is offering support for assets on multiple blockchains. With Arkane, you can host your NFTs from different blockchains (Ethereum included) in a single wallet.
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