Brave launches browser-native crypto wallet to combat fake extensions


Privacy-oriented browser Brave continues to deepen its commitment to cryptocurrency adoption by replacing its extension-based cryptocurrency wallet with a browser-native one.

The company announced to Cointelegraph on Tuesday that it is prepping the official launch of Brave Wallet; a self-custody cryptocurrency wallet built into the Brave desktop browser, enabling users to store and buy cryptocurrencies like Ether (ETH).

Brian Bondy, chief technology officer and co-founder at Brave, told Cointelegraph that the new wallet replaces Brave’s MetaMask extension fork named Crypto Wallets. According to the CTO, the new implementation that was “built from scratch, natively into the Brave Browser.”

The new wallet is different from other web3 wallets like MetaMask in that it does not require users to download an extension, but is rather built directly into the browser itself as a core feature. According to the firm, this is supposed to reduce security risks and reliance on extra CPU and memory.

Bondy said that the browser’s cryptocurrency wallet is similar to hardware crypto wallets as it implements its own BIP32 hierarchical deterministic wallet.

“The funds are always stored on the blockchain, but the keys to unlock those funds are stored in the Brave Wallet,” Bondy said. He added that user’s private keys always remain on hardware devices if the user chooses to connect a hardware wallet by providers like Ledger or Trezor.

According to Bondy, the industry’s reliance on crypto wallets in the form of browser extensions is one of the main impediments to mainstream crypto adoption due to their limited security.

“One of the biggest problems with extensions is how easy it is for criminals to make fake ones pretending to be a good wallet extension — such spoofing attacks are quite common,” the CTO said. Bondy cited examples like fake MetaMask extensions aimed to steal users’ crypto, noting that these also “tend to accumulate a number of code dependencies” that may potentially lead to unresolved security audit errors over time, adding:

“Extensions cannot paint on the “full canvas” of the browser’s user interface, especially not the address bar or unspoofable toolbar. Brave Wallet can make full use of this user-interface area to help protect users from being tricked.”

The Brave Wallet allows users to transact in “almost any crypto asset,” supporting all chains compatible with the Ethereum Virtual Machine, or EVM, including Polygon, xDai, Avalanche and others. Bitcoin (BTC) support is in development and will come at a later date, Bondy said. As the company plans to expand its browser with more blockchains, the Brave Wallet will also integrate the Solana blockchain in 2022.

Apart from supporting DApp interactions, the Brave Wallet also allows users to send and receive nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, based on EVM-compatible blockchains. The wallet also allows users to buy crypto with many fiat currencies including the United States dollar or euro via the crypto-to-fiat service Wyre.

The Brave Wallet is free and immediately available on desktop, while its mobile application will integrate the wallet at a later date. In order to get started with the Brave Wallet, users need to download the Brave browser and upgrade it to the latest 1.32 version. The new wallet is different from Brave Rewards, the opt-in feature that rewards Brave users with Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) for viewing privacy-protecting ads.

Related: MetaMask pushes institutional offering with BitGo integration

Brave Browser is a brainchild of JavaScript creator and Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich, who co-founded the Brave Software startup with Bondy back in 2015. In June 2017, Brave raised $35 million in 30 seconds during its BAT initial coin offering.

The crypto-friendly browser has become extremely popular in recent years, with monthly active users surging from 25 million in February to over 42 million as of November 2021.

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