Future of Crypto is Self-Custody, Dealing Blow to Exchanges, Says Ledger VP

  • Ledger, best known for its crypto hardware wallets, plans to add a cryptocurrency wallet extension to Safari
  • Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said he expects users to be more serious about taking their assets into their own hands.

As retailers and institutions increasingly take an interest in digital assets, wallet providers are betting on crypto holders becoming owners of their assets.

Self-custodial digital assets are “the future,” said Charles Hamel, vice president of products at crypto hardware wallet maker Ledger. He added that the property is “really unique and esoteric for the things we build”.

Ledger’s hardware wallets allow users to store digital assets directly on a USB drive while securely controlling their private keys, as opposed to web or software wallets.

Exchanges are also starting to think about the role that self-custody and ownership play in today’s digital asset landscape, Hamel said.

Crypto holders increasingly want to hold their assets themselves, often for fear of misplacing their private keys and losing their funds forever, he said. As a result, exchanges began offering self-custody services, often at an additional cost.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said he expects users to think more seriously about taking assets into their own hands. The exchange now offers self-custody wallets and will soon offer users the ability to do so directly through the app, Armstrong wrote in a recent blog post.

As investors become more comfortable with technology, concerns about ownership and security become paramount, Hamel said.

“The products that the most crypto-advanced people use today will be used by consumer customers a year from now, and by institutions a few years later,” Armstrong wrote. “We need to start integrating them today.”

Ledger has unveiled plans to add a crypto wallet extension, Ledger Connect, to Safari that will allow users to connect hardware wallets to web3 applications such as Ethereum and Solana.

“We want to reduce friction for ledger users who want to bring their keys to Web3,” Hamel said.

Security is also key when it comes to self-guarding, he added. Ledger Connect plans to add a new layer of security, “Web3 Check,” said Hamel, which intends to report suspicious Web3 apps. Users will be alerted if an app is linked to past scams, hacked websites or fraudulent smart contracts – the latter are on the rise as decentralized finance protocols increase.

“Having something in your hand is essential for people – the tangibility of it is really important,” Hamel said.


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  • Casey Wagner

    blockages

    Senior Reporter

    Casey Wagner is a New York-based business journalist who covers regulation, legislation, digital asset investment firms, market structure, central banks and governments, and CBDCs. Prior to joining Blockworks, she reported on markets at Bloomberg News. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in media studies. Contact Casey via email at [email protected]