Whatever you’re looking to do in the world of cryptocurrency – whether that’s mint and sell your own NFT, lend people decentralised assets, or just make some crypto transactions – you’re going to need a cryptocurrency wallet. In short, the wallet is where your cryptocurrency is stored; after all, you can’t really store actual currency without a wallet, and cryptocurrency is no different. It helps to protect your currency and lets you see all of it in one place, so it’s a necessary thing to have.
One of the best options for a cryptocurrency wallet you’re going to find on the market is MetaMask. It’s totally free, and you can use it with pretty much any platform based on the Ethereum blockchain, which should allow you to buy and sell NFTs on the vast majority of marketplaces (including popular options like OpenSea). If you’re just getting started, though, it can be hard to know where to begin with MetaMask. Here’s our guide on how to set up MetaMask in less than 5 minutes!
1. Download it
First, you will, of course, have to actually download MetaMask. It’s available as a browser extension for several popular browsers, and you can also download it as a standalone mobile app on either Android or iOS. You can check out the official website if you want to see all the ways you can download MetaMask; it’s currently compatible with Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and Brave, so make sure you pick the right browser when you install, or you’ll have no end of headaches later. If you use a mobile device, we’d strongly recommend downloading it on that, even if you intend to use it mostly as a browser extension.
2. Set up your account
Once you’ve downloaded MetaMask, you’ll then be asked to set up your account. You can either import an existing account or create a new one; this means you can use MetaMask across several devices, which, again, we’d strongly recommend. If you’re creating a new account, set up a strong password and add as much security as you like.
After that, you’ll be asked to set up your secret recovery phrase, which consists of 12 words strung together in a random order. It’s important you note this down physically rather than just digitally, as then, it can’t be stolen by enterprising hackers. Entering the words in the wrong order, no matter whether you got all of them right, will mean you can’t access your account, so be sure to write them down exactly as you see them.
3. Access your wallet
It really couldn’t be simpler to set up and access MetaMask; once you’ve created your account and noted down your secret recovery phrase, that’s it. You’re well on your way to dealing in cryptocurrency! From the main window, you’ll see an overview of your wallet, including how much crypto you have. You’ll also be able to access several functions, including buying, sending, and swapping your currency.
Make sure that when you’re looking for NFTs on any marketplace you use – assuming this is one of the things you want to do with cryptocurrency – you try and spot the “Connect” function. This will allow you to connect your MetaMask wallet with whatever marketplace you’re using, so it’s very important. If a transaction involving cryptocurrency goes wrong – if it’s sent to the wrong wallet, for example – then it could be lost forever, so getting things right in this area is extra-critical.
Things to know
If you’re a beginner cryptocurrency user and you’ve never dabbled in this world before, there are a few things it can be handy for you to know. The last thing you want is to be caught out by some hitherto-unknown rule or regulation that you couldn’t have seen coming, so here are a few tips and tricks to help you navigate the difficult world of cryptocurrency.
- Transactions cost gas fees. Whatever you’re trying to do on the blockchain, whether it’s buying cryptocurrency, minting an NFT, or anything else you might want to do, you’ll incur a gas fee. These fees are to offset the computing power necessary to move cryptocurrency around. Given how much discussion there is around the environmental impact of cryptocurrency, it’s important that these fees are in place, and some say they don’t go far enough!
- Cryptocurrency is decentralised. Given that cryptocurrency relies on an interconnected network of computers to function (which is a massive oversimplification, but it will do for our purposes), it’s decentralised, which means there’s no single authority that regulates it. While this can be good – it allows transactions to happen without bureaucratic intervention – it also means your transactions might not be safe, so extra caution is always needed.
- MetaMask isn’t the only wallet option. While many will tell you that MetaMask is one of the best cryptocurrency wallet options out there, it’s certainly far from the only one. Alternatives like Coinbase, ZenGo, and Exodus could be better for you depending on what you want to achieve with your cryptocurrency wallet, so before you settle down with MetaMask, shop around to see if there’s something that might suit your needs better.
- Cryptocurrency can be extremely volatile. We know we might sound a little like fussy parents here, but it’s very important to know that cryptocurrency can be excessively volatile, even by tech investment standards. The value of cryptocurrency can literally plummet or skyrocket based on a simple tweet, so if you don’t like volatility or uncertainty, then investing in crypto is definitely something you’re going to want to think twice about.