Review: Atomic Wallet
A decentralised multi-currency wallet for built-in atomic swaps.
What is Atomic Wallet?
The “physical” wallet itself is a PC application that you can download to your computer. Your private keys and other data will then be stored on your PC in an encrypted form.
This application then interacts with the blockchains of supported coins. For example, if you check your transaction history in the program, it looks it up on the blockchain and then shows it to you rather than storing this potentially sensitive information somewhere else.
It aims for a blend of simplicity and power. It’s intended to be simple enough for anyone to use, even without any kind of technical experience, while also being packed with a range of accessible features, including the ability to add custom ERC20 tokens and to trade coins peer-to-peer directly through the wallet by utilising a global decentralised order book.
How much does it cost?
You can download and use Atomic Wallet entirely for free, although using certain services may incur variable fees at different points.
You can buy cryptocurrency with a credit card and have it sent directly through the wallet, but you should be aware that there’s a significant 7% commission and a minimum $10 fee for doing so. It might be convenient, but there are much more cost-effective options elsewhere.
In-wallet peer-to-peer currency trades can also incur varying fees depending on the currency and the options selected.
There are three types of trade possible and the availability of each depends on the coins you want to trade.
Atomic swaps have a complicated-sounding name and are technically very difficult to achieve given the complexities of blockchain engineering, but the hard work put into them is why actually performing an atomic swap, through a tool like Atomic Wallet, is relatively straightforward and easy.
It works like a combination of a fully automated currency exchange and a community bulletin board.
Anyone can anonymously put a notice up on the bulletin board saying how many of one coin type they want to trade for another at current market rates. When you initiate a trade, you’re putting up a notice on the bulletin board.
The atomic swap itself is like a robot that receives an order from the bulletin board notices, then automatically picks up the coins from two suitable parties and swaps them around, no questions asked.
Atomic Wallet includes features that let you easily write those notices and a system for matching compatible orders to make the robot’s job easier.
Which cryptos can I store?
Atomic Wallet supports hundreds of coins, including almost all major cryptocurrencies. It also supports all ERC20 tokens.
It allows sending, holding and receiving of all supported coins, but the available trading features vary by coin.
How do I add cryptocurrency to my wallet?
You can add cryptocurrency to your wallet by opening the program, logging in and looking at the list of coins.
Next to each supported coin in the list, you will see a section titled “your address”. This address will be different for each cryptocurrency.
Send cryptocurrency to those addresses to send them to your wallet. Make sure you’re using the correct cryptocurrency’s address. Sending funds to the incorrect address will result in permanent loss of your funds.
How do I make payments with my Atomic Wallet?
To send funds out of your wallet, just click on the cryptocurrency you want to transfer. It will expand into a space to enter the destination address and the amount you want to send. It will also ask you to re-enter your Atomic Wallet password for security.
Advanced users can also export their private keys.
Is Atomic Wallet safe?
Atomic Wallet is theoretically completely secure as long as you do everything correctly. It’s open source, which significantly reduces the chances of bugs or hidden vulnerabilities creeping into the programming, and critical data like passwords are encrypted and only stored locally on your device.
However, your funds might still be at risk if you install the wallet on a computer that has malware or which connects to the Internet through unsecured Wi-Fi networks. There’s always some level of risk where Internet connections are involved.
You can effectively mitigate these risks by pairing your Atomic Wallet with a hardware wallet. A hardware wallet creates a physical layer of security, such as a button that you need to physically press, which prevents people from remotely stealing funds.
With the combination of Atomic Wallet and a supported hardware wallet, you can simultaneously get the cool features of Atomic Wallet and the extra security that’s needed to use it with near complete confidence. At the time of writing (February 2019), hardware wallet support is not yet available, but it’s underway.
It’s also critical that you keep your back-up phrase safe. Your back-up phrase is a string of words that you will get when you create your wallet. This phrase acts as a secondary password. It will allow access to the funds held in your Atomic Wallet and you must keep it private.
Unless you have a one in a billion memory, you should write this phrase down in a physical form and then keep it somewhere safe, such as in a bank safe deposit box. This back-up phrase is how you restore access to your funds if your computer gets fried, goes down in a house fire or otherwise experiences misadventure.
How to export Atomic Wallet to another device
Follow these directions to move your Atomic Wallet to a new device:
- Download Atomic Wallet on the new device
- When you start the wallet, select “restore from backup” at the login screen.
- Enter your recovery seed in the field provided.
This is why it’s vital to keep your recovery seed secure. You need it for making backups, but if anyone else finds out what it is, they can follow the same steps to access your wallet.
Where can I get this wallet?
You can download the Atomic Wallet directly from its site.
Pros and cons
- Powerful, yet simple and user-friendly.
- Supports atomic swaps.
- Supports additional decentralised currency trading.
- Supports a wide range of coins.
- None of your vital data is stored by anyone except you.
- You are solely responsible for your wallet’s security.
- It is critical that you keep your password and back-up phrase safe.
- No hardware wallet integration at the time of writing.
Once you’ve downloaded the wallet, get started by installing it.
You’ll see an introduction screen at which point you can either log in to an existing account or create a new one.
To create a new account, you simply choose and confirm your password. No email registrations or confirmation are required.
After choosing your first password, you’ll be given your back-up phrase which you need to write down and keep safe.