Spring 2016: Top Rated Bitcoin Wallets

Spring 2016: Top Rated Bitcoin Wallets

Welcome to our Spring 2016 edition of the top rated and reviewed bitcoin wallets, where we highlight the best ranked bitcoin wallets on the market according to community reviews.

For those unfamiliar with our website, we have the largest database of bitcoin wallets where we monitor every wallet and provide tools to the bitcoin community to rate and review each one.

Through our ranking system, bitcoin wallets can rank high or low, and for the Spring 2016 report we are taking the top three highest ranking wallets to feature. Since our rankings are in real-time, there is an opportunity that after the publishing of this report, the wallet rankings may change based on community feedback and wallet rankings may fluctuate, which is to be expected, and overtime we expect the rankings to normalize. We encourage more community members to participate by rating and commenting on their favorite bitcoin wallets.

The top three ranked bitcoin wallets for Spring 2016

Ranked #1: Electrum

The best ranked bitcoin wallet for Spring 2016 is Electrum. At the time of publishing, the Electrum wallet listing is ranked 3.24 out of 5. Electrum ranked number one in our Fall 2015 report too, although they dropped some ranking points since Fall without changing positions.

Electrum is bitcoin client software, not a web wallet, where you download it and run the software locally. Electrum gives full access to the user, where the user controls the bitcoin private key and backups of the wallet can be made and recovered from a secret phrase.

Another reason for Electrum’s popularity is that their community is growing, and their servers are decentralized, which makes their wallet network spread out and redundant. Electrum is a Simplified Payment Verification (SPV) wallet, so it’s lightweight and faster than some other wallets. Electrum is a Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) wallet and supports multisig accounts. Electrum has proven themselves over the years of being reliable, secure, and easy to use making it a popular bitcoin wallet. They also recently launched an Android wallet app.

Electrum was launched by developer Thomas Voegtlin in September 2011, and is privately funded.

Ranked #2: BreadWallet

The second best ranked bitcoin wallet is BreadWallet. At the time of publishing this report, the BreadWallet listing is ranked 3.21 out of 5, ranking just under Electrum. This is the first time BreadWallet has made the top ranked wallets list, out ranking other previous wallets from Fall 2015.

California based BreadWallet launched in September 2014 and is bitcoin wallet software that is made for Apple iOS devices and is open source. Wallet users can store, send, and receive bitcoin transactions. BreadWallet is a standalone client, meaning it uses bitcoin SPV to quickly download the blockchain for faster performance. BreadWallet uses AES wallet encryption, and keychain and code signatures. BreadWallet also allows users to use a single backup phrase to restore their wallets. Wallet users have full control over their private keys.

BreadWallet has gone through a couple of venture seed rounds in January and April 2015, with a final seed round of $1.2m in venture capital in October 2015.

Ranked #3: Mycelium

The third ranked bitcoin wallet is Mycelium. At the time of publishing this report, the Mycelium wallet listing is ranked 3.19 out of 5, ranking third on the list of top rated bitcoin wallets. With the Mycelium bitcoin wallet you can send and receive Bitcoins using your mobile phone. The Austrian based wallet not only has their web wallet, but also has a hardware wallet that they have been working on. In addition they have other resources such as merchant tools and payment processing.

Their most popular feature though may be their Local Trader option in their mobile wallet, which acts as a platform to connect other wallet users with each other who may be interested in buying or selling bitcoin with each other. This decentralized platform is akin to LocalBitcoins, providing users with the ability to conduct in-person trades.

Mycelium is privately funded, with a recent undisclosed round of private funding in August 2015.

The Bitcoin Wallet Landscape

In the past six months or so, bitcoin wallets have experienced several fluctuations, both positive and negative. However overall growth appears to be on the rise as more wallets have entered the bitcoin market which shows the demand for wallet solutions which developers and investors are willing to throw their hat in the ring for.

As shown in the CoinDesk State of Bitcoin 2016 report, popular web wallet Blockchain.info has shown significant signs of growth, which is in-line with other popular wallet providers. We’ve also seen several new bitcoin hardware wallets come on the market recently which also shows a positive trend of demand and those who are attempting to fill that void with wallet products and services.

Since our Fall 2015 report, our overall wallet count has grown. As of this publishing we currently are tracking 80+ bitcoin wallets in the entire bitcoin ecosystem spanning over 62 countries that have been rated and reviewed by the bitcoin community. Shown below are some user stats, where 42% of our users come from Northern America and are almost 70% Windows users.

We’ve also seen wallets continue to iterate their offerings, which is also a good sign. Wallets like Blockchain.info created an HD wallet, Trezor hardware wallet has been working on new features, Electrum entered the Google Play store, and DarkWallet resumed development. All of these changes point to a healthy wallet market.

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns in the wallet market though, as we have seen some wallets shutter such as Coinkite, Armory, and Ninki. We are also seeing bitcoin companies pivot away from the wallet business, for example Coinbase who wants to focus on their exchange business doesn’t see a value in being a bitcoin wallet. It should be noted though that any bitcoin business that lets you store, send, and receive bitcoin though is technically a bitcoin wallet.

We also should be aware that in the world of bitcoin wallets, privacy is a major issue. There were wallets that excelled in a recent Open Bitcoin Privacy report, however, even those didn’t rank as high as they should have, showing overall signs that privacy is a real problem for wallet providers. Out of the top list, Breadwallet ranked in the top five of all the wallets reviewed.

Final Thoughts

If there is one signal in the top three wallets on the market for our Spring 2016 report, it’s that mobile wallets are most in demand. Although the Electrum wallet remains in the top spot and has historically been a desktop client, they too created a mobile app for Android, and BreadWallet and Mycelium who entered the second and third spots are both wallets made specifically for mobile applications. This could possibly be a signal that bitcoin users are more mainstream and diverse now and not narrowed to hardcore bitcoin users who want to be in control with desktop clients and stronger security.

We anticipate that just like with bitcoin exchanges, we will also see more bitcoin wallets shutter as the market continues to feel itself out, investors who may or may not want to get into the market, and developers who may see an already overly saturated market of wallets. We may see more wallets pivot, such as Coinkite and Coinbase in attempts to fill different needs and generate revenue in other areas where there is more demand. This could make existing popular wallets more successful as new and old users will need somewhere to store their bitcoin, provided that bitcoin itself remains in demand. It’s also important to realize that the bitcoin market cap has stayed in the $6B range regularly for the past six months, and without a growing overall dollar value in bitcoin, there will be less general investment interest which will also tighten the market forcing exchanges to make changes in order to rise above the rest.

It will also be a challenging year for wallets, as there are several big changes coming down the road to the bitcoin core base code such as Segregated Witness, which will require wallets to commit to major development time to make themselves compatible with the new code changes. For wallets that are already running behind, this could be the trigger for some to close down. We’ll probably see some mergers and acquisitions in this market as well. All in all, 2016 should be an interesting year for the wallet ecosystem.

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david@bitcoin.com'
David is a writer, researcher, and developer who is passionate about bitcoin and blockchain. He writes for Bitcoin.com, Blockchain.com, and is the founder of Bitcoinx.io (which was acquired by Bitcoin.com). David previously used to write and curate for Myspace and has worked in the fintech and payments space for over 15 years.