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MetaMask is a popular cryptocurrency wallet known for its ease of use, availability on both desktops and mobile devices, the ability to buy, send, and receive cryptocurrency from within the wallet, and collect non-fungible tokens (NFTs) across two blockchains. While experienced crypto users will appreciate the simplicity and fast transactions, those new in the space are at a higher risk of losing their tokens from lost secret phrases, malicious websites, and other cryptocurrency scams.
- Pros & Cons
- Key Takeaways
- Company Overview
Easy download and setup across devices
No signup process involving personally identifiable information
Create multiple wallets inside one app
Supports all ERC-20 tokens, NFTs, and multiple blockchains
No password reset option
Limited technical support
Doesn’t support Bitcoin
- With 30 million users, MetaMask is a popular cryptocurrency wallet application available in web browsers and mobile devices.
- Setting up MetaMask is quick, because it requires no personally identifiable information. Simply download, follow the prompts, write down your 12-word secret seed phrase, and you're ready to use the wallet.
- MetaMask supports tokens and NFTs on the main Ethereum blockchain and BNB blockchain (formerly Binance Smart Chain).
- While MetaMask is one of the most supported wallets, the customer support cannot help users reset their passwords or recover lost secret phrases.
- New MetaMask users are also susceptible to malware, viruses, and social engineering attacks from scammers seeking to drain their assets.
Launched in 2016, MetaMask is the creation of Consensys, a Brooklyn-based software developer creating products to support the Ethereum blockchain. The cryptocurrency wallet is available on most Chromium-based browsers, as well as on Android and Apple iOS devices.
Since its launch, MetaMask wallet has found wide adoption around the world, based in part on its continual product additions. In September 2020, MetaMask launched on mobile devices, bringing on new users from around the world. In March 2021, MetaMask added Swaps, allowing users to exchange their tokens at competitive rates from multiple decentralized exchanges. Today, MetaMask serves over 30 million users, allowing them to buy, sell, and exchange cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens built on both the Ethereum and BNB blockchains.
As a non-custodial wallet, users who are familiar and comfortable with cryptocurrency will get the most out of MetaMask wallet. The software is free, is set up in minutes, and requires no information about a user’s identity to get started. But those who are new in the cryptocurrency space could be better served by using a centralized cryptocurrency exchange wallet because they usually offer multiple layers of client protection, including transaction multi-factor authentication, wallet whitelists for sending and receiving tokens, and customer support in case an account becomes inaccessible.
|Type of wallet||Non-custodial software hot wallet|
|Fees||Payment methods have various fees depending on the region-- users will pay a processing fee, a MetaMask fee and the market rate for gas; Service fees for using MetaMask Swaps|
|Number of cryptocurrencies supported||Over 450,000 across the Ethereum Network, BNB Chain (formerly Binance Smart Chain), Polygon, and Avalanche|
|Bitcoin and Ethereum supported?||Bitcoin: No; Ethereum: Yes|
|Customer Service||Support via Help Center and community board|
|In-App Features||Send and receive cryptocurrency, exchange cryptocurrency, buy, and store NFTs|
|SPV or Full Node||SPV|
|Mobile App||Available on Apple iOS and Android|
Pros & Cons Explained
- Easy download and setup across devices: Getting set up with MetaMask on a computer and multiple devices is easy. Start by creating one wallet, then import it across devices using the 12-word seed phrase.
- No signup process involving personally identifiable information: MetaMask is a wallet only, not an exchange. To open a wallet, users only need to download the software without exchanging any personally identifiable information.
- Create multiple wallets within one app: After setting up MetaMask, users can create multiple wallet addresses across blockchains, granting even more anonymity and allowing users to dedicate wallets for different types of transactions.
- Supports all ERC-20 tokens, NFTs, and multiple blockchains: MetaMask users can use wallets to store Ethereum-compatible tokens and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) across multiple blockchains, including the Ethereum main blockchain, Binance BNB blockchain, Polygon, Avalanche, and other test networks.
- No password reset option: The only way to restore a wallet is through the 12-word seed phrase created when starting a wallet. Because MetaMask is a non-custodial wallet, technical support cannot help users recover their passwords or seed phrases.
- Limited technical support: Support channels are limited to the self-help portal, the community bulletin board, and e-mail. Moreover, assistance is limited to issues with the app. Support staff can’t help with lost passwords, lost seed phrases, missing transactions, or stolen cryptocurrency.
- Doesn’t support Bitcoin: MetaMask only supports Ethereum-based tokens, which excludes the world’s biggest cryptocurrency – Bitcoin.
Two of the key attractions of cryptocurrency are the ability to send and receive tokens anonymously in a secure setting. MetaMask excels in both of those categories. To start using MetaMask, users simply have to download the software and create a new wallet without giving any personally identifiable information, including their name, address, or Social Security number. In addition, MetaMask is a non-custodial wallet, meaning data is not stored on a central database, and the company does not collect user information from wallet use. Once the wallet is created, it can only be accessed using a password selected by the user or restored using the 12-word seed phrase.
MetaMask wallet is a versatile product in the marketplace, supporting multiple protocols across blockchains. In addition to supporting over 450,000 coins on the Ethereum ERC-20 protocol, users can also store non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the wallet and connect them with marketplaces like OpenSea. MetaMask also supports multiple blockchains, including the BNB Chain (formerly known as the Binance Smart Chain), Polygon, Avalanche, and several other test blockchains.
There are some downsides to using MetaMask as your primary wallet. The biggest fault is that it does not support the world’s best-known cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Although there are workarounds in development, they are experimental and not considered safe for beginner users. Moreover, while MetaMask supports different blockchains, users cannot send their coins across one to another because there is no native bridge. For example, if you hold the stablecoin USD Coin on the BNB Chain, you can’t send it to a wallet on the Ethereum chain because they are incompatible. If a user wants to transfer value across chains, they would either have to send to another chain-supported wallet, withdraw the value in fiat, and re-purchase tokens on the other blockchain, or use a bridge to move the tokens across chains.
Top supported cryptocurrencies:
- USD Coin
In many ways, MetaMask’s approach to security is through user anonymity rather than traditional security measures. Because the software is non-custodial, MetaMask doesn’t keep any user data. Instead, wallets are protected by a user-generated password upon setup, biometric data on mobile devices, and restored using the unique 12-word seed phrase. Technical support cannot help users recover their passwords, which makes the seed phrase even more important. If a user loses their seed phrase, they run the risk of losing access to their wallet forever.
Because there is only one way to recover a single wallet across multiple devices, it also makes MetaMask susceptible to hacks, malware like banker Trojans, social engineering attacks, and other cryptocurrency scams. Some of the most common attacks on MetaMask wallet users include viruses targeting cryptocurrency wallets, giving out the 12-word seed phrase on a phishing website or to another party, or installing a fake MetaMask extension which gives a hacker control of your wallet. Users should never give out their seed phrase to anyone they don’t know and trust, and should immediately contact MetaMask support if they believe their wallet has been compromised.
Privacy and Anonymity
MetaMask wallet takes the topic of privacy very seriously. Unlike a cryptocurrency exchange, the wallet doesn’t require users to submit any personally identifiable information to get started. Rather, users have complete control of the cryptocurrency collected and traded through their wallet, including their secret seed phrase. MetaMask does not store user data, and technical support will never ask users for their secret phrase.
However, while users are free to transact business and exchange coins or NFTs using their MetaMask wallet, the product warns that blockchain transactions are not truly anonymous. Instead, they classify exchanges as “pseudonymous.” The wallet ID acts as a pseudonym for the user because all transactions are publicly logged on the blockchain. If the user ties their identity to their wallet by making an NFT their Twitter profile picture, or using an Ethereum Name Service domain, their true identity could be compromised.
After downloading, users will be prompted to import their existing wallet using the 12-word seed phrase, or creating a new wallet. New users will select “Create a Wallet,” where they will be asked permission to gather anonymous usage data to improve the product (although MetaMask will never collect keys, transaction data, or IP addresses, those concerned with privacy can opt out).
Next, users will set a new password with a minimum of eight characters, followed by a short presentation on their secret recovery phase. It is critical for every user to write down their 12-word seed phrase, as this will be the only way to import the wallet to other devices or reset the password if it is ever lost.
Once the 12-word seed phrase is confirmed, the process is complete. With their wallet address, MetaMask users can use the app to send and receive cryptocurrency, as well as add NFTs to their digital collection.
MetaMask is available as an in-browser application for desktop or laptop computers, as well as a smartphone app available on both major app stores. What makes it so popular is its seamless integration with many different major crypto websites, including NFT marketplace OpenSea, and decentralized exchanges including 1inch, Uniswap, and Quickswap.
As a popular cryptocurrency wallet choice, MetaMask has over 30 million monthly users across multiple browsers. Within the app itself, users can send or receive coins with any other wallet or smart contract on a supported blockchain, or purchase cryptocurrency from providers Wyre, Transak, and MoonPay. While MetaMask will not collect personally identifiable information from users buying cryptocurrency, their partners may use “Know Your Customer” (KYC) procedures to maintain regulatory compliance, which includes submitting proof of identity, as well as providing a purchase method (like a credit card) to obtain coins. MetaMask also works with hardware cryptocurrency wallets Ledger and Trezor, allowing users to transfer crypto and NFTs from the software-based hot wallet to the hardware-based cold wallets for secure storage.
It is easy to use MetaMask on a connected website to send, receive, or trade tokens. Before exchanging any tokens, MetaMask will pop up in your browser to confirm the details, including the contract, price, and anticipated gas fees. Before confirming the transaction, users will be able to adjust their gas limits to either pay more to speed it up, or reduce their max price while slowing down the confirmation.
The MetaMask wallet app is available on both the Apple App Store and Android Google Play store, supporting both major smartphone platforms. On the App Store, users give MetaMask a rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 based on over 22,100 ratings, while Google Play users give the app a rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 based on over 85,000 ratings. Many of the complaints across both stores are based around the wallet automatically setting high gas fees for transactions, and slow speeds using the built-in web browser.
Like the browser app on computers, users can use the smartphone app to send and receive cryptocurrency on the supported blockchains, as well as view NFT collections, and will ask users to confirm transactions and gas fee maximums before sending them. Users can also purchase Ethereum in the app via Transak. Transak on MetaMask mobile supports purchases with credit cards, bank transfers, or Apple Pay on iOS devices. Once again, the provider may require users to input certain personally-identifiable information as part of their KYC regulatory protocols.
Despite being built and supported by one of the largest companies in the Ethereum space, MetaMask wallet offers very limited customer support. Service is limited to technical issues users experience when using the wallet on their personal devices or engaging with the various blockchains. Users can get help using the self-driven Help Center, Community message board, or using their ticketing system to connect via e-mail. No live support is available through their website.
Cost & Fees
Users will be responsible for paying any gas fees to the blockchain for their transactions, depending on how fast the exchange needs to process. Users will also be charged a service fee that ranges between 0.3% - 0.875% for any swaps.
The site also notes that, when buying crypto, users can "expect to pay a processing fee, a MetaMask fee and the market rate for gas."
Because of its simplicity, availability across devices, integration with exchange and NFT websites, and support for thousands of tokens across multiple blockchains, it’s easy to see why MetaMask is a popular wallet. On most sites, using the wallet requires little more than following the prompts to send and receive cryptocurrency, or trade NFTs on the internet. Beginners will appreciate being able to purchase, use, and swap Ethereum immediately, while more advanced users will enjoy adjusting their maximum gas fees to reduce costs for working on the blockchain.
While the MetaMask wallet is great for those who are comfortable around cryptocurrency, it isn’t the best option for those very new in the space. Because the wallet is susceptible to malware and social engineering attacks, those who don’t understand what red flags to watch for are at a high risk of losing their assets. Moreover, because there is no way to reset a password without the 12-word secret seed phrase, users can easily lose access to their crypto assets forever. New users should do research on how to use cryptocurrency wallets before jumping into MetaMask or any other app.
One of the most important things to consider before you transact in and store cryptocurrencies is that you have a suitable crypto wallet in place. To help determine the wallet that works best for you, we conducted a comprehensive review process of the top cryptocurrency software wallets.
Our review process is built around a quantitative ratings model that weighs key factors like security, costs, privacy, usability, customer support, and features according to their importance. Our team of researchers gathered over 40 data points and conducted extensive research for each of the 19 companies we reviewed. Our team of writers, who are experts in this field, then test drove each wallet to lend their qualitative point of view.
Our model gave preference to companies with the strongest security measures and reputations. Companies with rich features, such as supporting a large number of crypto assets, giving users the ability to sync with hardware wallets, and allowing for fee customization, also ranked highly.