Digital wallets, or e-wallets, are internet-based applications that store your money for financial transactions. Rather than manage everything in a bank or pay by card, you can keep assets in a digital wallet to access and spend more easily online.
Many people are already familiar with an e-wallet without realizing it, such as a bank’s mobile app or a payment application like Venmo or PayPal.
Lately, digital wallets are expanding to include more options for consumers, including the ability to hold alternate funds, such as gift cards, and even identifying information, such as a photo ID or driver’s license.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what an e-wallet is, how to use one, the pros and cons of digital wallets, and three of the best e-wallets to try yourself.
What Is an E-Wallet?
An e-wallet refers to a digital application that stores financial assets for easy access and spending. It helps people eliminate the need for a physical card by placing their money in the palm of their hand — through their smartphone.
Technology allows a digital wallet to make transactions both online and in-person using features such as:
- QR Codes. QR payment systems are becoming increasingly popular, allowing people to simply scan a QR code in-person and approve of a payment on their phone.
- Magnetic secure transmission. Just like magnetic readers can let you pay with your card in a matter of seconds, the same can be done with a digital wallet. By holding the phone to a transmission device, the digital wallet can activate and process a purchase.
- Near field communication. Near field communication (NFC – NOT NFT although some people have confused them because of their pronunciation similarity) allows two devices close to one another to connect. This means placing your smartphone near a payment device and allowing its electromagnetic signals to activate your wallet.
How to Use an E-Wallet
You can use an e-wallet to make purchases in real life and online. In person, holding your phone to a point of service (POS) will trigger the transaction, which you can then approve.
Online, you can connect your digital wallet application to thousands of stores. Apps like Apple Pay, Venmo, PayPal, Google Wallet, and AliPay are all common examples of e-wallets you may already be familiar with.
Once you sync your bank account to your digital wallet, you can easily transfer funds. You can also arrange for the wallet to directly withdraw funds from your account.
Pros and Cons of Digital Wallets
If you haven’t considered using an e-wallet yet, then there are some pros and cons to be mindful of as you explore your options.
- Easy to access and sign up for.
- Accessible funds as long as you have a smartphone and internet connection.
- Limits the need to carry a bank card or physical wallet with you.
- Can be opened without a bank account in many cases, expanding access to financing solutions.
- Minimal to zero maintenance and transaction fees for more affordable banking.
- If your phone is lost or stolen, your finances could be at risk.
- Without a phone, you would lose access to your money.
- Not all stores have digital point of sales systems yet.
- May not be accepted over a bank card in some situations.
The Most Popular Crypto E-Wallets
In addition to the apps we’ve mentioned, there are also e-wallets available for managing crypto. These wallets are different to the previously mentioned in one big aspect: they can store not only digital currency but many different digital assets. One example of another digital asset are security tokens. These tokens can represent any assets and in our case they represent real estate. Learn more on how you can invest in fractionalized real estate at www.brets.io
Here are our top three picks for crypto e-wallets:
Metamask is a cryptocurrency wallet with over 1 million downloads to date. The software application allows users to access information through the Ethereum blockchain, which they can then use to spend any Ethereum-based (ERC- 20) tokens.
Everything in MetaMask is encrypted, so personal information is not stored on the company’s server. Using a security recovery phrase, you can reset your password or recover a lost account.
To use this Ethereum wallet, you use a compatible web browser, like Chrome or Firefox, to get started. You can install add-ons for either browser to make accessing MetaMask easier. You can swap tokens directly in the app, and it’s a great way to easily store and manage your Ether and E-20 tokens.
Coinbase allows you to manage a wide array of cryptocurrencies and digital assets, including NFTs. Over 68 million people use Coinbase to manage their assets, and it is an easy place for anyone who has crypto to store, trade, and manage their data.
Coinbase also creates private keys stored directly on your mobile device. This allows for greater personal security, so long as you have a password-protected phone and keep it close by at all times.
Web extensions allow you to use crypto directly from your browser with ease.
The Pera Algo (Algorand Wallet) application allows users to see what’s happening to their earnings in real-time, so you never have to worry about somehow overlooking a minor detail or miscalculating your assets.
Made by Algorand, this wallet allows you to trade, create, and spend in a secure, decentralized blockchain infrastructure.
Algorand created the Pera Wallet to pair flawlessly within the Algorand ecosystem. This open-source development is still gaining new features all the time, including NFT support, governance support, and soon, a web browser integration.
Wrapping Things Up
As with any new financial endeavor, it’s always a good idea to learn as much as possible before getting started. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the different types of e-wallets and make sure to follow security protocols to keep your private life safe.