Basic Wallet Science Cryptocurrency wallets function through a pair of cryptographic keys, one public and one private. The public key is the wallet’s address, the private key is securely stored in the wallet. Both are required to send an asset from the wallet.
Wallets are split into two categories: custodial and non-custodial. With a custodial wallet a 3rd party, e.g. an exchange or service provider, possesses the wallet’s private key. With a non-custodial wallet you alone possess the private key. Whoever controls the private key controls the wallet’s funds. Hence the mantra: Not your keys not your coins. A wallet’s security can also be increased by storing it on a hardware wallet.
Wallets are either light or full node. Full node wallets download the whole Cardano blockchain, interacting directly with it, and are less affected by network congestion than light wallets, which require other nodes to send their transactions. Full node wallets exist on computers, light wallets exist on devices and as browser extensions.
A basic wallet allows for the viewing of its balance and the sending and receiving of funds, but wallets can have many other functions, including: delegating the wallet’s funds to a stake pool, registering to vote in Project Catalyst, displaying the wallets NFTs, hardware wallet integration, and using integrated DeFi services.