What is a personal wallet?

A personal wallet is a piece of software used by people who interact with blockchains and Web3 experiences and wish to conduct and control their own activities without an intermediary.

The personal wallet holds the 'private keys' to each of the owner's accounts on one or more public blockchains. Private keys give the owner control over the holding, storing and transferring of all manner of crypto-assets. Personal wallets ensure this control rests only with the owner and without the participation of an intermediary, custodian or other third party.

A personal wallet is sometimes referred to as 'unhosted' or 'self-custodial' because the user and no one else has access to the private keys that operate each blockchain account.

Personal wallet software continues to evolve and the next generation includes Web 3 browser functionality in addition to storing and using private keys. Like current browsers, these advanced wallets will unlock blockchain-based websites and experiences in the metaverse, while storing the tokens necessary to participate fully in such worlds. For consumers, those tokens might include your avatar, the cryptocurrencies needed to make payments in different games or commercial settings, the digital goods acquired along the way such as a virtual swords or land in the digital realm or a concert ticket or a library card used in the real world, and the user's digital identity. The owner is in full control and will utilize the wallet software to enter a website, view and navigate it, make payments or barter goods, and communicate with others, whether for personal, commercial or recreational purposes.

Comparison with Web2 browsers: Web 3 browser capabilities are much like current 'web2' browsers, allowing access to different blockchain-based websites and unlocking their functionality. The cryptocurrencies are equivalent to stored credit cards in a current browser, but without the credit card company as intermediary.

Where Web 2 typically requires usernames and passwords to access and interact with platforms and services on the internet, Web 3 requires tokens held in wallets to access and interact with platforms and services on the blockchain.

Comparison to the physical world. The key management capabilities are much like a physical wallet that one carries in the real world: its contents are varied and valuable (cash, credit cards, identification, membership cards, tickets, photographs), used in different settings (shops, museums, office buildings), and personal to the owner. A peer-to-peer transfer can be compared to a cash-like transaction over the internet: it combines the autonomy of cash and the convenience of an electronic payment. They just dispense with intermediaries, leaving the user in full control.

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At Owl Explains, we collaborate with trade associations, think tanks, policymakers, and industry partners to further understanding of blockchain, crypto, and Web3.

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