Just like for real money, there are several different types of wallets for Bitcoin. Which Bitcoin wallet is best simply depends on one’s needs and personal preference. This post will review available Bitcoin wallets for people wishing to buy Bitcoin in the UK.
Desktop Wallet Clients
A desktop client is software stored on a computer. All transactions are recorded on the computer and private keys are kept on the hard drive. Hence, the user has complete control. This is a double-edged sword though. If, for example, a computer is infected with malware, it can potentially steal the private key and then bitcoins. Also desktop Bitcoin wallets that require users to download the blockchain, require a significant portion of the hard drive; they are not recommended for computers that cannot handle more resource-intensive processes.
Best Desktop Bitcoin Wallets for the UK
Bitcoin-QT is the original client and only has basic features such as storing, sending and receiving Bitcoins. The major drawback with this client is that the entire blockchain must be downloaded, which means that those intending to buy bitcoins quickly in the UK should chose a different Bitcoin wallet.
A strong alternative is Multibit. According to the wallet’s website,
“If you are an ordinary user of Bitcoin and simply want a wallet that just works without hassle, then Multibit is the right choice for you.”
Unlike Bitcoin-QT the blockchain does not need to be downloaded. Hence to buy Bitcoin instantly in the UK, using Multibit and not using an exchange is the best process.
If buying Bitcoins quickly is not a priority, Armory is worth considering. This is a wallet with security in-mind. Armory features include AES-256 encryption, offline transactions, and easy paper wallet backups. But the wallet’s major downside is that it must be run along with Bitcoin-QT, therefore it is a more resource-demanding option.
Web Bitcoin Wallets
Rather than using a desktop wallet, web wallets are available. These are wallets where coins are stored with a third-party that offers greater service than found from desktop wallets. The one main feature web-based wallets have in common is that they sacrifice some security for some convenience - such as not having to download the blockchain and automated Bitcoin paying.
Best Web Bitcoin Wallets for the UK
The most commonly known and most used web wallet is Coinbase. Coinbase’s main feature is also working as a payment gateway. This allows users to buy bitcoins with a bank account directly. However this is not supported in the UK yet. Hence, this is not the best Bitcoin wallet for UK day-traders. Despite this, merchants and savers may find Coinbase more useful. Namely, according to Coinbase’s website, they keep “up to 97% of customers funds in cold storage, to prevent theft or loss”. Coinbase also encrypt transactions with AES256 encryption.
Best Mobile Bitcoin Wallets for the UK
Mobile wallets are designed to appeal to convenience more than anything. The ability to pay via QR code and near field communication, makes mobile wallets best for point of sale transactions. But phones are easier to steal than computers; convenience does come at a security cost.
The two most popular mobile Bitcoin wallets are Mycellium and Bitcoin wallet. Bitcoin wallet is a great all-rounder, performing basic functions reliably, and also offers offline Bluetooth capabilites. For a no-frills app, Bitcoin wallet is the best UK wallet. But for more advanced users, Mycellium may be more appealing. With cold-storage capabilities, and PDF backup and restore features, this makes using mobile wallets that much safer.
Best Paper Wallets for the UK
Lastly, it is possible to store Bitcoin offline in a paper-based wallet. This option provides maximum security, but limits the ability to spend Bitcoin. Therefore Bitcoin paper wallets are best for long-term savers.
In summary, the best bitcoin wallet for a UK user may be different from one person to the next. However, Multibit is the best all-rounder and is recommended by QuickBitcoin.