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April 7, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 2:05pm

5 best Bitcoin wallets

The best web, computer and phone app wallets for your bitcoins.

By Joe Curtis

Many people write Bitcoin off as an exciting experiment that just isn’t safe enough to use securely. Headline-making news like the collapse of exchange house Mt. Gox following its loss of around $350m in lost bitcoins make interested parties shy away from buying a few of their own.

But with a little bit of research you can actually ensure your bitcoins stay yours. Digital wallets are not only necessary to be able to trade more bitcoins (they act as a send/receive address for the currency as well as storing them), they’re actually a pretty safe way of securing your cyber cash if you pick the right one.

There are lots of web-based wallets, downloadable wallets and app-based wallets for your smartphone.

But instead of you having to trawl the web to find the best ones, we at CBR have listed our favourites below.

Blockchain (web)

Blockchain is a really convenient web wallet in which to store your bitcoins. Its Javascript-based eWallet is what is known as a hybrid. That means that instead of the wallet keeping your bitcoins on, it holds them in your browser.

Don’t worry, there’s a backup copy stored on Blockchain’s server, but the idea is to let you be in control of your cash: no transactions can be made on the server-held copy.

It’s pretty secure: access is only granted with a password, and it gets locked for four hours with too many failed attempts. It also offers multi-factor authentication, while you’re advised to create a copy of the wallet too, which is easy to send to your email address.

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Coinbase (web)

Coinbase is used by more than a million Bitcoin users worldwide, boasts bank integration and has 5,000 API applications. Not bad for a firm only founded in 2012.

Coinbase’s goal is to make Bitcoin easy to use, and to that end it allows you to sync your bank account to the service, meaning you can buy with bitcoins and Coinbase will just debit your bank account (selling works in reverse).

In addition to that, 97% of customers’ funds are stored in offline storage, then encoded with bank level encryption. If that wasn’t enough, two-factor authentication is necessary to access your account.

Coinpunk (app)

Okay, okay, it’s not technically an app. But it is designed for mobile use: Coinpunk is, as its name suggests, a bit of a renegade and says it doesn’t want to create an app that Apple can ban. However, it’s still optimised for mobile use and works with all Bitcoin merchants.

The HTML-based service runs on donations, but simplifies the whole Bitcoin wallet experience, so you don’t have to be a talented techie to join in.

Just one word of warning: Coinpunk wallets are always connected to the web, and the organisation recommends users don’t put more than $300 in there – it’s not a storage service, but it is convenient as a payment method. Go for a more secure option if you’re looking to store your bitcoins.

Bitcoin Wallet (app)

Does what is says on the tin, really. This Android app is all about ease of use, offering conversion between currencies, an address book for regular payees, and notifications when coins are received.

You can pay in a variety of ways too: via Bluetooth, NFC, QR codes and Bitcoin URLs.

MultiBit (PC)

This lightweight wallet is designed for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems, is free to download and a cinch to install. There’s two types of wallets available here: password-protected and no password. Obviously the former is the much better option, BUT there is no way to recover your password if you lose it.

However, MultiBit automatically generates a backup of your wallet in case a problem crops up. It’s encrypted (as is the original), but to be safe it’s best to store it in a storage service like DropBox.

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