Got crypto? Here are 3 software wallets for storage, staking and swapping

“Not your keys, not your coins” is short for “Don’t leave your crypto on exchanges.” Here are three soft wallets that are trusted by millions of investors.

Nearly every segment of the crypto sector underwent explosive growth in 2021. The steady inflow of institutional funds could possibly be interpreted as a signal that the best is yet to come.

For new users, figuring out how to obtain cryptocurrency can be a tedious task, and the challenge of securing the assets off exchanges is another hurdle some investors find difficult to overcome.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most used cryptocurrency soft wallets that support a wide swath of tokens and offer users access to decentralized finance (DeFi), nonfungible tokens (NFTs), staking opportunities and airdrops.

MetaMask

MetaMask was originally launched to support the Ethereum blockchain and decentralized applications (DApps) that run on top of it. It is now available as a browser extension and smartphone application.

The company launched in 2016 and has largely benefited from a first-mover advantage to become one of the most popular and widely integrated wallets, and it is one of the few to support nearly every blockchain network.

A quick scroll through the supported networks on Chainlist, a platform that provides a list of Ethereum Virtual Machine- (EVM)-compatible networks and instructions on how to add any listed network to their MetaMask wallet, shows hundreds of blockchain networks supported by MetaMask including many of the top smart contract competitors.

Currently, MetaMask supports Avalanche, Fantom, Binance Smart Chain, Polygon, HECO Mainnet, Optimism and Arbitrum, and it’s easy for users to use various bridges to transfer tokens between the supported networks.

MetaMask has also integrated a swap feature directly into the wallet to give users access to an aggregated list of decentralized exchanges (DEXs). According to data from Dune Analytics, the daily swap volume on MetaMask swap has steadily increased throughout 2021.

MetaMask swaps daily volume. Source: Dune Analytics

The rise in swap volume has also come alongside rumors that MetaMask will eventually release a token of its own and many users are anticipating an airdrop.

Phantom

Phantom is a popular software wallet and browser extension available for Solana network users.

Similar to MetaMask, the Phantom wallet has a built-in DEX that allows users to make direct swaps within the software, thus avoiding the risk of connecting to a scam website or paying gas fees to transfer the funds out of the wallet to another exchange.

There are rumors that Phantom could launch its own token and airdrop a portion of the supply to early adopters. So far, however, this is nothing more than pure speculation and nothing has been mentioned by the developer yet.

The wallet also has an NFT tracking feature and users can also transact with available NFT marketplaces.

Similar to other wallets, Phantom users can stake Solana (SOL) tokens without needing to transfer the assets. Recently, the team announced a partnership with MoonPay that will allow users to use fiat currency and credit cards to purchase tokens in the Solana ecosystem.

The project is also developing smartphone applications that will allow users access to the Solana network directly from their smart devices.

Keplr

Keplr wallet is the first inter blockchain communication– (IBC)-enabled wallet and browser extension for the Cosmos network that allows users to store and access tokens within the ecosystem.

It currently supports more than 15 networks including Cosmos, Secret Network, Kava, Crypto.org, IRISnet and Persistence, and the team regularly adds support for new chains with several projects currently under beta access.

Holders of the supported tokens are able to stake their holdings directly through the Keplr wallet and the app works on Android and iOS devices.

At the moment, there are no rumors of a possible Keplr token or airdrop to users, but one can never be sure about what might happen in the crypto sector. If Keplr integrates popular features like its own swap interface or an NFT marketplace, then the chance of a native token is always a possibility.

Want more information about trading and investing in crypto markets?

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Continue reading

Online content streaming is dead. Long live the music NFTs

Goodbye Spotify, music nonfungible tokens have arrived: Reimagining the music streaming model in the Web 3.0 era.

The music industry has undergone a massive transformation in recent years. We have seen the advent of the internet leave its mark on music, and most notably, 1999 spelled the coming of Napster. This then-revolutionary peer-to-peer online streaming service defined a whole generation and enabled musicians to share their creations with the world.

Streaming has become the dominant format for music today, through Apple, Amazon, Tencent Music and the clear category winner — Spotify. The goal of distribution services and platforms like Spotify is to enable and empower artists to create more without worrying about anything besides honing their craft.

However, that’s just on paper — does reality reflect this utopian ideal? Not so much.

Sure, the “transformation” of music in the past decades is evident, but it seems that someone got left behind. And the saddest thing is that those who got left behind are the very artists that make us all get goosebumps, make our feet move and bring the widest of smiles on our faces.

The economics of streaming are tough. Platforms like Spotify operate under a business model where the platform operator takes a cut for each stream. That makes sense as Spotify offers better-than-nothing distribution, but there is still a huge problem. Ultimately, it is roughly 70% that ends up with the music rights holders, and the discovery feature tends to put lesser-known artists at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the household names. The result is a top-heavy distribution funnel benefitting the already-made-it musicians.

It isn’t yesterday’s news that music is still a rather damp and dark place for most artists trying to win bread by creating and doing the above. The industry is still plagued by revenue-hogging intermediaries seeking to undercut those who matter most. If you aren’t like the Taylor Swifts, Billie Eilishes and Justin Biebers of the world, you are likely struggling to make ends meet. And even if you are like them, you are probably not getting your due either.

On the bright side… change is coming. No, scratch that — change is here.

Ushering in a new era of music

Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and the underlying technology are introducing a whole new ball game and a level-playing field that will enable and empower artists. What NFTs do is unlock value by making digital scarcity real and assetized. At the same time, they allow musicians, designers and everyone in between to exercise control over their work, effectively making them masters of distribution.

Related: NFTs are a game changer for independent artists and musicians

Do you remember the first NFT you bought? And do you also remember the feeling after you bought it? Felt quite remarkable, didn’t it? That’s another thing about digital collectibles — owning them, stacking them, is simply intoxicating.

Now, imagine if you could support your favorite artist and get your hands on their latest hit directly from them and get the “NFT kick” out of it too. Say you want to attend a festival filled with all your favorite DJs — wouldn’t it be an absolute delight to be able to get your ticket straight from the source? And how rad would it be to also get a unique, customized and one-of-a-kind proof of attendance with your very own name in there? Now we’re talking.

Alright, that’s all cool and soon to be ubiquitous, but what’s the deal with streaming platforms like Spotify? Great question. Most certainly mean well (at least so we hope) and have moved the needle in the right direction. However, that’s not quite enough in a world littered with arbitrary numbers and standardized screens.

Reintroducing scarcity and making music feel unique again

Digital scarcity is necessary to create a unique user experience and enable fans to form longer-lasting and more profound connections with their favorite artists.

As it stands, there is nothing truly unique about music on Spotify — tracks don’t come in limited editions, music connoisseurs are not able to get their hands on rare album releases, and Spotify lacks a scarcity system. Think about it — if you are a diehard fan of the Canadian DJ and producer Deadmau5, you would probably want to own the #1 release of a given track or an album. Or then the #10 release, or #50 — something with a higher intrinsic value that showcases your love for a given artist. Why doesn’t that exist?

Such a “tiered” system of releasing music would undoubtedly benefit the artist since limited and early editions imply higher value. At the same time, it also enables fans to grow together with the artist. Take that #1 release of a Deadmau5 track you own as an example. The moment the track makes it into, say, the Weekly Top 10, others will see your name right next to it — that way, fans can get a slice of the “fame” pie.

At some point and for whatever reason, it might make sense for a fan to sell that #1 release NFT. Care to guess who would get a cut of that sale? Correct — the artist.

Related: Celebrities are embracing NFTs in a big way

Direct one-on-one interaction, a margin of clout for the fans, an enhanced sense of belonging, and deeper connections — that’s one reason, or three reasons rather, why NFTs are en route to causing a fair share of trembling at the next Spotify shareholder meeting. The other? Enabling and empowering artists and putting them back in the driver’s seat.

A new era of the creator economy

You see, music streaming platforms stripped value away from musicians by standardizing everything, and the past few decades’ worth of digitalization largely created an environment that limits the artist’s control over distribution. With NFTs, this control is now present again — you can program and track anything and do whatever you want with your music if its initial release to the world utilizes NFT technology.

Oh, and you can now also give your fans a piece of the pie by introducing other creative twists such as revenue-sharing. The more popular the artist, the happier the fan — everybody wins. Couple that with the ideas outlined above, and we’ve got ourselves a recipe for success. Who would have thought that’s possible?

Related: Bull or bear market, creators are diving headfirst into crypto

We are entering a new era of the creator economy, and NFTs are the next logical step in enabling and empowering artists even more. It is high time to reintroduce scarcity in an industry predicated on uniqueness and vacate the driver’s seat for those best-suited to take on the road ahead.

Move aside Spotify; NFTs are coming.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Joan Westenberg is a Web 3.0 writer, angel investor and creative director. She founded a tech PR and communications firm called Studio Self and is a part of the MODA DAO team. Her writing has been published in The SF Chronicle, Wired, The AFR, The Observer, ABC, Junkee, SBS, Crikey and over 40+ publications and her regular work can be found on Pizza Party, sharing notes on Web 3.0, the Metaverse and NFTs.
Continue reading

Rocket Pool Eth2 staking service launches, hits stage two cap in 45 seconds

The Eth2 staking provider only requires 16 ETH to run a minipool, and stakers with as little as 0.01 ETH can put their crypto to work on the Beacon Chain.

The launch of ETH2 staking service Rocket Pool saw it hit its stage two cap in just 45 seconds according to the co-founder of hosting partner Allnodes Konstantin Boyko-Romanovsky.

In its first two days of operations, Rocket Pool has registered 237 node operators across 42 global locations, with 1088 ETH staked. According to an announcement the platform now has Total Value Locked of 4000 ETH ($13.9 million USD) in value, including collateral from the platform’s Rocket Pool (RPL) token.         

Rocket Pool aims to become the “primary staking infrastructure for Ethereum, by providing a decentralized, easy to use staking network for individuals and businesses,” according to the whitepaper.

The protocol is progressively rolling out over four weeks. During the stage one of the launch on Nov 9, protocol limits quickly maxed out. During yesterday’s stage two launch on November 10, node operator minipool slots maxed out in just 45 seconds after launch. The stage two deposit pool limit of 480 ETH ($2.3 million) was quickly reached.

Rocket Pool was initially forced to postpone its Oct. 6 launch due to a potential vulnerability discovered on the network.

Boyko-Romanovsky said this week’s two stages went off without a hitch, aside from some minor tweaks made Monday night to change the website to show ‘mainnet’ and not ‘testnet’.

The launch of Rocket Pool marks the removal of several entry barriers for Eth2 stakers. To run an Eth2 node you normally require a deposit of 32 ETH ($155,000) and need to maintain permanent uptime.

Rocket Pool enables individuals, businesses and decentralized applications (DApps) to earn staking rewards on anything above a minimum amount of 0.01 ETH using the Beacon Chain, without the need to maintain staking infrastructure.

Related: Rocket Pool delays launch after vulnerability discovered by rival

While centralized services such as Binance or Coinbase have benefits in terms of making staking a quick and easy option for beginners, using a centralized service provider comes at the price of handing over your custody of private keys and reduced rewards.

Decentralized staking services like Rocket Pool (and other protocols such as Blox Staking and Stkr) use a trustless implementation for staking and don’t hold private user validator keys or withdrawal keys.

Boyko-Romanovsky told Cointelegraph that Rocket Pool is an “amazing example of a decentralized solution for Ethereum.”

“The more services like that, the more use cases Ethereum can have, and the more people who will admire decentralization.”

Continue reading

Truly decentralized finance will be beyond siloed blockchains

To be the future lifeline of industries, blockchain technology needs to embrace the old-fashioned quality of interconnectivity.

“Yahoo users will not be able to interact via mail with Google email (Gmail) users,” — If tomorrow’s headlines sounded like this, the earth would come to a halt. This headline shall never see the light for all the right reasons. However, blockchain tech and its favorite son, decentralized finance (DeFi), are heading towards this rabbit hole.

Siloed blockchains with no window for external communication are dominating the nascent space. Interconnectivity is elementary and synonymous with the primitive human quality of being social. From the days of the barter system, transfer and exchange have been the two core practices on which the world has been built.

Networking among blockchains and the need for IBC

Currently, blockchain applications and the DeFi juggernaut are nothing but a balkanized group of solutions failing to realize their true potential. To resolve this concern, blockchain networks need to shake hands with other networks and be open to a sovereign network of interconnected blockchains.

The Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol shall facilitate this shaking of hands. It lays the platform that can transfer data across different networks and facilitates the cross-chain transfer of assets and tokens. And since IBC is a blockchain agnostic protocol, it has no native network and offers an unbiased solution to the entire world of blockchain solutions.

Major blockchains, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, are siloed without a transport layer. This limits their capabilities. Imagine Bitcoin being able to power Ethereum-based smart contracts in a permissionless manner. Had this been so, users would have been able to embrace the boundless functionality of Ethereum’s smart contract alongside the world’s popular currency in Bitcoin (BTC).

Related: A multichain approach is the future of the blockchain industry

Also, Ethereum’s scalability concerns are a testament to why siloed blockchains need Inter-Blockchain Communication. By making networks interoperable, transactions can be parallelized to avoid network congestion. Using IBC, Ethereum can validate transactions quickly with fewer gas fees, attracting more people to use the network and its applications.

Moreover, blockchains seeking to be enterprise-level solutions need IBC and interoperability to cater to their clients at scale. By enabling cross-chain transactions, networks like Ethereum and Bitcoin can enjoy institutional adoption. How? To date, these networks work on the probabilistic conduct of transactions, i.e., the finality of blocks. But with IBC, chains and peg-zones can be used to guarantee finality.

With blockchain tech desirous of revamping the working of huge industries like supply chain and healthcare, IBC injects a potion of reliability into the technology and its solutions.

Prior efforts to achieve IBC were unitedly fragmented

Inter-Blockchain Communication and interoperability are not novel concepts in the blockchain world. Efforts to achieve them have been in the talks for years now and there have been multiple projects working towards connecting different blockchain networks. But the projects championing interconnectivity were themselves fragmented as their approaches, designs and use cases differed.

Related: Professional traders need a global crypto sea, not hundreds of lakes

Protocols like Cosmos with its Tendermint core, Polkadot and Chainlink have championed IBC and interoperability in their solutions. The emergence and adoption of these solutions are a giant stride towards an interoperable future.

Blockchain agnostic and omnichain is the way forward

Moving forward, exclusivity will be the biggest enemy of blockchain tech. In times of decentralization and community-first approaches, exclusive networks tread a dangerous path. Protocols must embrace IBC and provide solutions at scale.

Besides integrating IBC, two weapons with which future protocols can equip themselves are blockchain agnostic and omnichain. This would remove the element of exclusivity and open them to limitless utilities across networks. It would also improve the feasibility and reliability for institutions, corporations and maybe even governments to adopt blockchain-based solutions.

The DeFi juggernaut catalyzed the growth of blockchain and crypto space in 2021. Interoperability and IBC are the ones to look out for in the future.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Jared Moore is the director of marketing at Sifchain, the omnichain solution for decentralized exchanges. Jared has extensive experience in the crypto space, especially with exchanges.
Continue reading