Cryptocurrency wallets have been closely linked to other transactional services. A digital wallet refers to an electronic device or online service that allows someone to make electronic transactions. Usually they are bundled with other services, like exchanges (Coinbase, Binance), physical devices (Trezor, Ledger), or other services (Casa). What if cryptocurrency wallets weren’t just about storing digital assets, but were about identity, serving as a single passport to both the physical and digital world?
Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at DailyFintech.com.
In the cryptocurrency world, wallets act as a gateway to access a service. A crypto wallet, unlike a physical wallet, a custodial or exchange wallet, or bank account, doesn’t control currency. It moves money between two parties, similar to services like Paypal.
Cryptocurrency wallets let people connect to services to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. They also act a way to store the user’s cryptographic private key, needed to perform these transactions. In essence, your cryptocurrency wallet holds the private keys to your assets sitting on a blockchain and lets you transact by “signing” orders.
Crypto wallets have become very popular in recent years. Over 36 million crypto wallets have been created since 2012.
Also a study from Juniper Research found that the number of people using digital wallets will increase from 2.3 billion to nearly 4 billion, or 50% of the world’s population, by 2024. This in turn will push wallet transaction values up by more than 80% to more than $9 trillion per annum.
Usually, when users signup to use a cryptocurrency wallet, they validate their identities, before being able to transact. If you live in the US, you were most likely asked to provide your social security number and license or equivalent if you’re outside the US. Depending on other factors, the cryptocurrency wallet provider may have also ask for more information in alignment with KYC regulation.
The world’s economy is built by institutions that collect our data, such as banks, telecoms, insurance companies, brokers, drug companies, governments, online services and others. Every year, hackers steal billions of dollars worth of data. Our data, not just the data we give voluntarily but also data collected as we interact with the services we use, is harvested and processed by few huge centralized companies and organizations. Our data is trapped inside accounts on services and apps. Companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon Microsoft,, LinkedIn, Experian, and Visa, all exist collect and monetize our data.
The need to decentralized our data is an absolute necessity. As we move from accounts to wallets, we will be able to manage our data, just like we manage Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital assets, being able to switch between vendors easily and freely.
Wallets will evolve beyond the simple function of buying and selling digital assets. Our wallets will become our primary identity authentication platform, that will contain everything we carry in our physical wallets and more.
A wallet in the physical world contains multiple pieces of your identity. Imagine your passport, drivers license, medical card, and other types of IDs being replaced by a single digital wallet on your phone. A driver’s license can is used to prove your ability to drive, to buy alcoholic drinks or accessing identity-specific services like opening a new bank account. Most of us have debit cards that allow us to access funds from our bank accounts and use them wherever we want to buy things, with our pin that validates our identity to merchants. Our wallets will be able to store everything related to our identities along with cryptocurrencies and tokenized assets (stocks, bonds, etc).
Since crypto wallets already validate our identity, they could act as a third party references of our identity for others. One of the biggest pain points is that every we sign up for a service we need to verify our identities, uploading passports or other documents. It’s not far-fetched to think that companies might be willing to accept a trusted wallet verification, instead of conducting their own independent checks.
The internet was not built to transfer value. It was built to transfer information which didn’t need as much security, as value does. Today, blockchain technology allows us to store and keep our data and assets in our own secure wallets, with absolute control over how and when they’re used. Being in full control of your own identity and assets in a decentralized way makes a lot of sense.
The future wallet will be an interface to protocols and services, and will represent our professional financial status, and personal identity. Wallets will change from something we use sometimes, when we want to buy and sell things, to something we use all the time. Our digital wallets will become the single most important place, where we store everything, from our money, to our identity.
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