What is a Wallet?

Your Ethereum wallet is your gateway to DeFi

Abishek Dharshan avatar
Written by Abishek Dharshan
Updated over a week ago

Your wallet is the application that lets you interact with the Ethereum blockchain and other "Layer 2" blockchains – much like a banking app, but without the bank. In DeFi, you are your own bank. This means unlike centralized crypto services, you have complete custody over your funds.

Get your Zerion Smart Wallet

  1. Download the Zerion mobile app on iOS or Android

  2. Follow the instructions on screen to either create a new wallet or import an existing one

Once connected, you’ll have one place to manage every wallet, seed phrase and private key you own regardless of where you first created it. Use the wallet to place trades on any network, manage your multichain portfolio and store your NFTs.

In addition to the Zerion Smart Wallet, Zerion supports most major Web3 wallets including hardware wallets, mobile wallets, and browser extension wallets.

Custodial versus non-custodial wallets

Most centralized crypto services offer custodial wallets, where a third party such as an exchange stores your private keys for you. The exchange might link your wallet to login credentials, but know that if the company is attacked, your assets will be at risk.

Decentralized applications ("dapps"), on the other hand, are non-custodial: you have full ownership, possession and responsibility over your private keys and assets. Wallets come in different types, from browser extensions, to mobile apps, to a USB-like hardware device.

Types of wallets

Crypto wallets can be bucketed into three broad categories:

  • Hardware wallets: A physical device stores your private keys offline. This type of wallet is thought to be the most secure. Examples include Ledger and Trezor.

  • Web wallets: A self-custody wallet lets you interact with your Ethereum account via a web browser.

  • Smart-contract wallets: These are wallets that live as a program on the blockchain instead of providing the user with a public and private key pair. These wallets are typically associated with a specific app. Examples include InstaDapp’s DeFi Smart Accounts, Argent, Dharma, Gnosis Safe, etc.

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