Ever since Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies rose to popularity, there has been a surge of online crypto wallet providers. One of which is MetaMask, a growing solution for those who want to use decentralized apps without hindrances. What is MetaMask and how can you utilize it for cryptocurrency-related transactions? Let’s get into it.
What Is MetaMask?
Ethereum is one of the most reputable and popular cryptocurrencies in the realm of decentralized finance – that much is true. However, using its tokens or interacting with Ethereum-based decentralized apps (dApps) still proves to be difficult. With that said, how can users interact with Ethereum’s dApps and tokens without facing obstacles? By using services like MetaMask.
MetaMask is a downloadable browser extension that serves two purposes. The first and most obvious one is that it acts as a crypto wallet for Ethereum and Ethereum-based tokens. Metamask’s second function, however, is arguably what makes it unique to other cryptocurrency-related services. That’s because it also acts as a bridge or interface of sorts for Ethereum-based dApps.
Now, you may be wondering, how does this affect cryptocurrency users? In light of this “bridge” function, what is MetaMask used for exactly? Simply put, you download and install its Chrome or Firefox extension on your computer. With the extension up and running, you can do anything related to Ethereum on your browser. This includes storing Ethereum data (for example, private keys, public addresses, and tokens) and interacting with Ethereum-based sites and apps.
Yes, this means you no longer need to run Ethereum software yourself because MetaMask does it for you. Moreover, you don’t need to avail of a separate wallet just to store your Ethereum coins and tokens. You can simply use your browser normally without worrying about running into obstacles when interacting with Ethereum-based websites.
What Type of Wallet Is MetaMask?
MetaMask is a hot crypto wallet software that you download and install on your browser. Unlike cold wallets, it does not use hardware to safe-keep your cryptocurrency and data. Hence, you can only use the program for hot storage.
Is a MetaMask Wallet Free?
Yes, MetaMask is a free service and is open-source. Anyone can download the program through their website and add it as a browser extension. However, it’s only compatible with specific browsers so you’ll have to check browser compatibility first. If you’re using a mobile device, you can also download MetaMask’s mobile app via the Play Store or App Store.
How to Get MetaMask?
Without further delay, let’s dive into how to use MetaMask and how to download the extension on your device. Just follow the given steps and you should be on your way to interacting with Ethereum dApps in no time.
Step 1: Get a Chromium-Based Browser
Unfortunately, MetaMask doesn’t work with all browsers in existence. It’s only compatible with Google Chrome, Firefox, Brave, and Microsoft Edge.
Thus, if you want to use MetaMask then you should download a compatible browser first.
Step 2: Download MetaMask
As with any browser extension, the next step is to download the program. You can go to the application’s official website for this. Thankfully, you can download MetaMask on multiple platforms including Windows, iOS, and Android. You can get the installation link for each OS on its website as well.
What is MetaMask like in terms of installation? Fortunately, the downloading process is pretty simple. All you must do is follow the directions on the website. Simply click on the “Get Started” button that pops up when you finish installing MetaMask. This will make MetaMask begin the wallet creation process. Just click on the “Create a Wallet” option to get started.
Note: If you want to access MetaMask on your browser, you can do so through the Extensions tab. The placement of this section will be different for each browser. On Google Chrome, you can find this by clicking on Window > Extensions and using the navigation bar. You can turn the extension on or off whenever you want in this section.
Step 3: Create a Password
Afterward, create a strong password that you can remember for your MetaMask login. Your password should be distinct, have at least eight characters, and be difficult to guess. After all, you don’t want anyone hijacking your account and taking your funds. We recommend using a mixture of lowercase and uppercase letters as well as symbols to make the password stronger.
Step 4: Confirm Backup Phrase
Once your password is set in stone you’ll get a 12-word backup phrase for recovery. Now, you might think that it’s overkill to have a backup phrase on top of your password. However, it’s necessary because it can act as the key to recovering your wallet if you can’t use your computer. That’s why we recommend keeping this recovery phrase in a secure place. Write it down on a piece of paper exactly as you see it and store it in a vault afterward.
Once you’ve written your backup phrase, click on the “Next” button. Then write the backup phrase in order on the screen that pops up, and then press “Confirm.” Afterward, you should get a default account connected to a public Ethereum address. You can use this or add another account by pressing the spherical button on the top right.
MetaMask Features and How to Use Them
What is MetaMask like in terms of features? There are two main functions the wallet has to offer: making Ethereum transactions and interacting with Ethereum-based dApps. We’ll discuss both down below.
What is MetaMask good for? One of the key benefits you get by using the extension is the ability to make crypto-based transactions easily. Simply enter the receiver’s address and the amount you’re paying them. Of course, this will incur a transaction fee so make sure to account for that. Afterward, just hit “send” to finish the job.
Apart from this, you can also transfer Ether from other sources to your MetaMask wallet. Just use the address you got through your registration. If you can’t find the address, head to the ellipses icon (…) and press the “copy address to clipboard” option. Afterward, paste the address to Coinbase or any other crypto account so you can send Ether to your MetaMask wallet.
Interacting with Decentralized Apps
What is a MetaMask extension good for aside from storing coins and tokens? To interact with Ethereum-based websites and dApps, of course! Whether it’s a token exchange website, trading domain, or smart contract, you can use MetaMask to interact with almost anything. You can go to CryptoKitties to create an account or trade tokens on EtherDelta without qualms.
To do this, simply click on the “Connect to Wallet” button from your platform of choice. Then allow the dApp to connect to your MetaMask wallet to finish the process. Afterward, the dApp should be able to see your public address and interact with your wallet. Of course, this doesn’t mean the website can access your cryptocurrency and funds. It just means your wallet and the dApp are seamlessly connected eliminating the need to download external Ethereum-based software.
The final thing you must do is simply sign in to MetaMask again. You can do so through the popup screen that MetaMask forwards to you after signing into the dApp. Simply hit “sign-in” and you should be able to make purchases through these websites with your digital currency.
It’ll work like any other online purchase. Simply click on the “buy” button and confirm the transaction through the dApp and then via MetaMask. Check the price of the item and the associated gas fees and then verify your purchase. Afterward, simply wait a while until the blockchain logs your transaction. Once the processing is finished, you now officially own whatever it is you bought.
Pros and Cons of Using MetaMask
What is MetaMask? Now you know the answer to that question and you even know how to use the platform. Congratulations!
However, there’s a difference between knowing how to use something and knowing if you should use it. With that said, you may be asking whether you should actually use MetaMask. If you’re on the fence about the extension, then it may be worth weighing the pros and cons. What are they? Let’s find out.
What We Like
What is the advantage of MetaMask over its competitors? One of the main advantages the platform has is that its code is online and open-source. That means it’s both free and widely available for anybody to download. Moreover, knowledgeable programmers can even modify the extension the way they want – although it’s not generally recommended unless you’re experienced.
In addition, being open-source means that the community can review and update the program anytime. Hence, you can rest easy knowing you won’t run out of updates eventually as long as the community remains active. Furthermore, being able to review the code means the community can weed out any bugs you may find.
Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) Settings
Through these settings, MetaMask can backup your account. It does this by providing a list of recovery words, called seed phrases, to help safeguard your information. You can use it to reset your account data if it ever gets stolen or lost.
What is MetaMask good for if not for purchasing online? Thankfully, one of its key features is that the platform is directly connected to two reputable exchanges: Coinbase and ShapeShift. You can use any of the two to purchase Ether or Ethereum-based tokens.
Easy to Use
Cryptocurrency can be confusing by itself. However, if you throw in all the complications of the Ethereum blockchain, it can be doubly confusing for new users. That’s why MetaMask is so great because it’s such a simple tool. All you need to do is download the extension and follow a few steps to get started.
It’s also easy to use even after you set things up. The user interface is pretty straightforward and displays all of MetaMask’s capabilities. Even a complete beginner can use the platform.
Good Customer Support
What is MetaMask like in terms of customer support? In a word: outstanding. The extension has an easy-to-digest introduction video right on its homepage. Moreover, its support page is pretty thorough so no question is left unanswered.
Local Key Storage
Certain crypto wallet providers, like Coinbase or Binance, store keys on their servers. While this might be convenient for specific circumstances, it can be a nightmare for security. That’s why one of MetaMask’s key benefits is that its keys are locally stored. This simply means the key is on your browser, not on some server in a foreign country. As a result, users have more control over their keys and they’re generally more secure.
One of the best parts about reputable open-source software is that they have such active communities. So, what is the community like in MetaMask? Active, very active. It has over one million active users and even has 700,000 Twitter followers. Hence, you can bet that you have other users to count on whenever something happens.
What Could Be Better
Is Metamask safe? One of the key concerns people have about MetaMask – and browser extensions in general – is safety. While MetaMask cannot access your information, the browser it lives on will.
Of course, the browser can’t view your private codes. However, it can store information about your app use. Specifically, it will record when you use the app and how you choose to employ it. This is why Mozilla and Google-based browsers aren’t so trusted in the cryptocurrency space. Generally speaking, MetaMask itself may be safe but the browsers you use may not be.
What is MetaMask like in terms of security? We already mentioned one of its big downsides is its browser. However, there’s another big security flaw in MetaMask’s design: its online access.
Sure, online wallets like MetaMask have advantages like accessibility and whatnot. Nonetheless, security will always be an issue for these online platforms. That’s because your information might be prone to theft and hacking when it’s online. This is doubly concerning because MetaMask itself doesn’t provide a lot of security features.
Exclusive to Ethereum
What is MetaMask like as a cryptocurrency wallet? Convenient and efficient – but not far-reaching. You see, one glaring flaw in MetaMask’s design is that it only interacts with Ethereum and Ethereum-based tokens. Therefore, you can’t store any other cryptocurrencies in the wallet – ever. Not unless MetaMask one day changes its code.
Now, you may think this isn’t a big deal if you exclusively use Ethereum. However, this is a disadvantage because there are many alternatives out there that support a variety of cryptocurrencies and tokens. With so many compelling alternatives, why use MetaMask at all?
MetaMask vs Other Crypto Wallets
If you’ve used the platform, you’d know that it has its flaws. That’s why we’ve listed a few alternatives just in case the extension doesn’t suit your needs.
One great alternative to MetaMask is the popular Ethereum wallet called MyEtherWallet. Unlike MetaMask, MyEtherWallet isn’t online-only. Hence, you can access it offline and use it as you wish without the internet. Moreover, unlike MetaMask, MyEtherWallet is more like a wallet creation platform.
Through it, you can make a wallet and then use that to access Ethereum. In addition, MyEtherWallet lets users have total control over their keys. You can also use it as hot or cold storage and it’s even a full node wallet.
If you’ve used the extension before, you’d know that MetaMask is exclusive to Ethereum making it a limited software. That’s why some people prefer using alternatives such as Trust Wallet.
With Trust Wallet, you can store over 250,000 digital assets and gain access to multiple blockchains. This gives you tons of space to move cryptocurrency without worrying about storage or asset management. It also has a proprietary exchange feature so you can immediately exchange tokens or buy cryptocurrencies as you please.
If you want a popular Bitcoin wallet that’s both reputable and similar to MetaMask then we recommend Coinbase. Both platforms have similar feature sets but the biggest difference is that Coinbase isn’t limited to Ethereum. Hence, you can make transactions and exchanges with Bitcoin and any other cryptocurrency you want. In addition, Coinbase is unique in that it can integrate seamlessly with the Coinbase exchange. It’s also much more secure despite being open-source. However, it’s still a hot wallet.
Try Out MetaMask Today
MetaMask is a handy browser extension that’s good for both transacting and storing Ether and interacting with Ethereum-based dApps. It’s convenient because all you need to do is install the extension on Chrome, Firefox, or any other compatible browser. Best of all, the program is free so you don’t have to spend a dime on availing of the service.
However, it does come with its downsides including its lack of security and how it’s restricted to Ethereum. Nonetheless, if you don’t mind its drawbacks then it’s a great program to get you into the world of crypto.