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How can you message a crypto wallet?Hundreds of millions of people use crypto wallets today. How can you use them for private, secure, and trustworthy communication?
One of the most substantial innovations in the blockchain and crypto spaces over the last few years has been the widespread adoption of cryptocurrency wallets. Wallets such as MetaMask, Coinbase Wallet, and Trezor’s hardware wallet have been downloaded, purchased, or used by tens of millions of users around the world. Wallets are the most basic form of crypto identity - safeguarding the private keys needed to transact, own tokens, and sign attestationsThere are many advantages and benefits to using different kinds of crypto wallets, including custodial, non-custodial, and hardware wallets - some of which we will discuss in this piece - but something that has not been possible until very recently has been the ability to send messages directly between crypto wallets. New players in the Web3 field, such as Skiff, dm3, and XMTP have been busy building the Web3 communication protocols and platforms for the future of communications.In this piece we will cover how you can message a crypto wallet directly, either from your own crypto wallet, or in some cases, using a standard email address.
What’s a crypto wallet?Before we get into how you can easily and securely message any crypto wallet with only a wallet address, we’ll first cover what a cryptocurrency wallet is and a few tips on how they work.A cryptocurrency wallet is any device, hardware, software, or service that stores cryptocurrency private keys. Private keys are the most basic form of crypto identity associated with any wallet address on any chain. As a result, you will always have an associated private key with all wallets you use for every cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, Ethereum or Solana. Private keys are one part of an asymmetric cryptographic keypair; all private keys are derived from the particular elliptic curve or encryption scheme used on a given chain. For example, ETH keypairs use the curve secp256k1. There are many different types of wallets, but the most common form are software wallets which exist as extensions on your web browser (such as MetaMask or Coinbase Wallet).Each wallet will also have an associated public key. You can think of your wallet’s public key as the public address of your wallet; unlike private keys, which are needed to generate signatures or prove ownership over a token, a public key can be widely shared. Depending on the blockchain in question, your address may be some transformation of your public key, such as a hash or a certain subset of characters.If anyone wants to send cryptocurrency or an NFT to your wallet, they will only need to know your public key. Your private key, on the other hand, should never be shared with anyone. If your public key is like your public address, your private key is like the password to your bank account. Hackers and malicious actors are always trying to steal users private keys and drain crypto wallets, so be sure to never divulge your private key to anyone.You might be wondering how users can be sure they are transacting with the real owner of a wallet. This is done by signing messages, Signing a message with a crypto wallet is a way to prove that you own the wallet and that you approve of the message. This can be used to sign transactions, to prove ownership of a wallet, or to sign a message from another person. To sign messages, you will need to use the private key associated with your wallet - another reason to be extremely guarded whenever using your wallet and private key. This signature will prove that you are the owner of the wallet and that you approve of the message.While it is fairly straightforward for even new crypto users to sign and complete transactions using a browser based crypto wallet, there were previously no robust systems for communicating directly between crypto wallets. Users have had to rely on Web2 methods of communication, such as using text messages, phone numbers, messaging apps, or Discord to communicate between owners of crypto wallets. These platforms have been large sources of fraud, scams, malware, and spyware.Recently, however, newcomers to the wallet messaging space have released protocols and products to allow for private and direct communication between crypto wallets. So, whether you are doing a bitcoin transaction, or participating in any other form of smart contract, consider using one of these tools to help you communicate effortlessly with other crypto wallet owners.
SkiffSkiff is an all-in-one Web3-native and privacy-first suite for communication and collaboration. Skiff Mail allows for end-to-end encrypted email, similar to other private email providers, as well as linking crypto wallets to an email account for seamless, private, wallet communication. This allows users to not only receive emails directly to their wallet address (which would be [wallet-address]@skiff.com), but also to send and receive emails to any standard email provider, such as Gmail or Outlook.Skiff Mail currently supports connecting MetaMask Ethereum wallets, Coinbase Wallet, Brave Wallet, Phantom Wallet (for Solana), and an Unstoppable Domains address.Skiff’s products are not limited to crypto wallet messaging. Skiff also offers fully decentralized private document collaboration and file storage. The decentralization is accomplished by leveraging the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) network created by Protocol Labs.
dm3dm3 is another end-to-end encrypted and decentralized messaging tool. Unlike Skiff, which uses some of the customs and protocols from email for crypto wallet communication, dm3 acts more like an instant messaging service between users who have a MetaMask wallet and an ENS domain.dm3 also allows user to freely store messages in a variety of different ways, including locally on their browser, a local file, on IPFS, or on any other personal cloud storage provider.dm3 is a great web3 messaging service if you prefer instant messaging style messages over email and you only need to communicate with other users who have an ENS domain and MetaMask wallet.
XMTPXMTP is a Web3 communication protocol built by XMTP Labs. Unlike Skiff and dm3, XMTP is a protocol which other services and tools can implement to allow for wallet to wallet communication. The protocol is designed to be fully decentralized and aims to use cryptography and economic disincentives built into the protocol to reduce spam, scams, theft, and fraud.XMTP is only available through an early access program at the moment but is a great choice for those who want to implement their own Web3 communication capabilities within their services without building out the infrastructure from scratch themselves. If you are a developer looking to build products in Web3 communication, we encourage checking out XMTP as well.
What can you do with crypto messaging?Communicating directly with a crypto wallet yields numerous benefits, including for trustworthy communications, facilitating transactions, and providing key anonymity benefits.Trustworthy communications: On wallet-integrated communication platforms, such as Skiff, using a wallet can facilitate more trustworthy communications, either signed by your wallet or on a platform that requires wallet attestations.Facilitating transactions: On DeFi platforms or crypto marketplaces, using a wallet for communication can help facilitate transactions or buyer/seller negotiations. For example, using your ENS address on Skiff, you could send and receive information about selling your ENS name on a single communication platform.Anonymous messages: A wallet is simply a private key. So, if you generate a new crypto wallet, you could easily create an email address for anonymous, secure, and private communications.
ConclusionThe ability to communicate directly between crypto wallets solves a huge pain point for crypto consumers and users who often still find themselves in situations where there is no easy way to send a message to a counter-party in a transaction. Crypto wallet communication is in its early days but some players, like those above, are already offering users great utility and value which will no doubt will only improve with time.
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