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With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the derivatives underway, you have likely been surprised at the growing number of retailers to offer cryptocurrency as payment option. No, you are not mistaken! Over the past year we have indeed seen a vast range of retailers onboarding onto crypto, with over 100,000 merchants worldwide and the UK ranking third on the list for the number of crypto accepting merchants.
The movement does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon as PoS (point-of-sale) manufacturer, Pundi X estimates that they would have installed more than 100,000 crypto PoS machines by 2021. The Gyft reward programme that was launched at the beginning of the year has added an even wider range of merchants to the list. The Gyft gift card is accepted at over 200 retailers, including Amazon, eBay, Starbucks and the Apple app store and iTunes, and offers customers using Bitcoin a three per cent discount on purchases.
Enough about all the retail pleasures that crypto enthusiasts can look forward to this holiday season. For, where does one begin the process, after all? The first step will surely be to kit yourself out with the appropriate cryptocurrency wallet for the job.
As cryptocurrency in general and tokens, in particular, have a variety of utilities, the wallet suited for each job will differ. Are you dealing with your crypto nest egg selected for its long-term investment potential? A reliable crypto custody service or cold storage will likely be the best option. When you are planning to spend your crypto as cash, choosing the most suitable wallet requires a different perspective. Here are some of the primary considerations to guide you in taking your first step to crypto retail gratification.
Before any discussion of wallet types and makes is had, let me cry out the importance of verifying the legitimacy of any wallet software. It is not uncommon for fake wallet software containing malware to make it into app stores. Just recently, malware researcher Lukas Stefanko found four fake cryptocurrency wallets on the Google Play Store that were trying to steal users’ personal data, including mobile banking credentials and credit card information. The apps were posing as cryptocurrency wallets for NEO, Tether and an extension for accessing Ethereum, MetaMask.
As you will be downloading the wallet software to your trusted devices, entrusting it with crypto balances, private keys and transaction records, a little bit of paranoia will serve you well in this regard. To avoid getting scammed, start with choosing a wallet by referral (Bitcoin.org lists a range of reputable wallets), ensure that you only use the download link that is listed on the wallet’s official website, check the app’s reviews, number of downloads and ratings on the download site, and if you are still unsure - ask advice from a trusted friend or cryptocurrency advisory service.
Common sense should advise you against storing large balances on a hot wallet such as a mobile crypto wallet, and yet it remains vital to opt for the highest level of security even if you are only planning to use a wallet for small change. The principle is crucial for supporting good security habits, but it will also safeguard you from compromising your funds at a later stage, long after you have lost the mental note of that subpar wallet you downloaded on a whim.
Security measures to look out for beyond password protection include multi-factor authentication, auto-lock settings and timers, biometric authentication and offline transaction signing. Additionally, the architecture of the wallet should have built-in encryption, preferably on both hardware and software levels.
Though security remains a prime consideration, nobody wants to hold up the checkout queue while frantically looking up passwords and approving multiple confirmation notifications on different channels. At the same time, mobile crypto transactions should not be so simple that anyone who gets hold of your phone gains access to your funds.
Imagine the option to unlock or open your wallet with your fingertip instead of a password! The technology is here...
While the wallet software’s design itself contributes significantly to its usability, the user experience could differ vastly from one device to the next. Counting on a fingerprint login feature, for one, could lead to disappointment if your device’s hardware does not support the service. The same goes with features like Handcash’s instant send feature that only works if your device is equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC).
Although you might miss out on some of the most swish features if you are still rocking a Nokia 3310, fear not, even feature phones without internet access can be turned into a crypto wallet with the use of CoinText’s text message transaction service.
Once you have ticked the boxes for software legitimacy, security, ease of use and device compatibility, you are down to the simple matter of currency support. If you are a die-hard supporter of a particular cryptocurrency, no doubt you will want a wallet that supports your purist views. If on the other, you are open to transacting in whatever cryptocurrency a retailer might accept, you would want to get hold of a wallet that supports several widely-accepted cryptocurrencies. Are you planning on travelling and you are unsure of the choices you will be offered? If so, a wallet with a built-in exchange will ensure that you are prepared for whatever the scenario.
At the end of 2018, it is fair to say that crypto retail opportunities are greater and more varied than ever before. While there is reason enough for crypto enthusiasts to be excited, it would be wise to approach the arena with considered steps and the advice of a professional cryptocurrency advisor where needed.