A Quick Guide to Browser Extension Wallets
Extension wallets are a convenient way to access your crypto wallet through your web browser. They work like any other browser extension and offer good functionality while being limited to a small icon in the upper right corner of your browser.
Storage is one of the most important aspects of owning cryptocurrency. Over the years, the need for safe and convenient crypto storage has led to the introduction of dozens of different wallet solutions, including offline, online, desktop, and even paper wallets.
However, perhaps the latest addition to this long list of options is the browser extension wallet. Follow along as we unpack everything there is to know about these easy-to-use crypto storage solutions.
What are extension wallets?
Extension wallets are a convenient way to access your crypto wallet through your web browser. They work like any other browser extension and offer good functionality while being limited to a small icon in the upper right corner of your browser. Clicking on the icon exposes you to a larger interface with more functionality when you need it.
Plus, with companies like MetaMask & Coinbase, creating and using a browser extension wallet from scratch is quite simple. All you have to do is google the name of the provider, add the extension to your browser, click “create wallet”, choose a username, then store securely your key phrase.
Please note that the passphrase is universal and can be used to transfer funds from any provider, but passwords are provider specific. If you lose your password or passphrase, extension wallets or wallets in general usually don’t have a recovery process, and the crypto they hold can be lost forever.
How are extension wallets useful?
Browser extension wallets are useful because they are easy to create, and even beginners can intuitively create a wallet and get started. Second, the availability of your wallet where you need it most. Chances are, you mostly use crypto or NFT related websites on your laptop or phone browser, in which case you will be able to access them right away.
Third and most importantly, browser extension wallets usually give you connectivity to many web3 portals like OpenSea. You don’t have to log in every time; your wallet will be ready to use when you need it.
Popular Extension Crypto Wallets
Being one of the most popular crypto wallets, MetaMask works with all major web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. It’s easy to download and use as it explains all aspects of the wallet when you get started. It supports an in-wallet crypto exchange system that saves you the tedious task of transferring crypto to an exchange for exchange. It is also suitable for many major hardware wallets available in the market.
Coinbase offers self-custodial extension wallets. And since it is one of the largest crypto exchanges, it also provides various direct facilities for which you would otherwise have to approach the exchanges. Moreover, it supports non-EVM coins like Doge and more. The two downsides are that it’s not as universally supported as MetaMask, and it doesn’t walk you through the installation process as well as others.
Brave is one of the few browsers with an integrated wallet that supports both Ethereum and Solana chains. The browser is easy to download and also provides browsing rewards for earning in the form of its native BAT token. It lacks widespread support for dapps, unlike the wallets mentioned above. The browser itself gives you an experience of a Web3 Internet, a glimpse of what the future could be.
Disadvantages of Extension Wallets
The main disadvantage of an extension crypto wallet is the fear of a hack. Although wallets cannot be hacked per se, the browser could be. And with the rise of browser extension wallets, there is also an increase in attempts to hack and steal crypto assets.
Additionally, these wallets are web wallets, which makes them more vulnerable to exploits. As such, there is a bit of a security trade-off for convenience, which remains the only major downside of these crypto wallets.
As someone who is jumping into the cryptoverse, expansion wallets can be a good first wallet. They are easy to use and walk you through the process of sending and receiving crypto. Remember to compare several extension wallets and choose the one that you find the easiest and most intuitive to use.