Ledger launches browser extension to improve crypto wallet connectivity

Ledger launches browser extension to improve crypto wallet connectivity

Image credit: Ledger

Ledger, one of the largest providers of cold storage crypto wallets, launched a browser extension to improve online security and connectivity for digital assets, the company exclusively told TechCrunch.

“You think of Web 1.0 as username and password, Web 2.0 as logging in with Facebook, Google, iCloud, Twitter and web3 is [about] connects to your wallet,” said Ian Rogers, chief experience officer at Ledger. “But that connection experience is still not super-trivial, and that’s what we’re talking about here, fixing this big connectivity usability problem in web3.”

The Ledger extension is compatible with Ethereum and Polygon-based dApps and platforms and plans to support more EVM-compatible chains and Solana in the future, the company shared. It’s only usable on Safari, iOS, and MacOS today, but will roll out additional support for Windows, Chrome, and Chromium-based browsers like Brave, Opera, and Edge “shortly after launch.”

It is currently available for use through a handful of dApps and platforms such as NFT marketplace OpenSea and decentralized exchanges PancakeSwap and Curve, among others.

The extension aims to provide similar experiences to crypto wallets with browser extensions such as MetaMask, but instead of being a hot wallet – which is connected to the internet and more vulnerable to online attacks – it will remain a cold wallet that allows users to interact directly with dApps via Bluetooth.

“A lot of people say web3 is hard to use, when you ask specifically how it’s hard to use, they shrug, but I think it’s onboarding and connectivity,” Rogers said. “This is supposed to fix that.”

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It has two features aimed at keeping users safe when interacting with crypto: It analyzes smart contracts and warns users if a transaction is potentially harmful, shared Carl Anderson, VP of consumer engineering. It will also simulate a transaction to show how it will affect the wallet, even when it is a secure transaction. “What we’re doing here is essentially showing users how to keep their keys safe,” Anderson added.

Ledger is a nine-year-old crypto hardware wallet and cold wallet provider that has sold more than 6 million units in 200 countries and to more than 100 financial institutions and brands. About 20% of crypto assets globally are secured through Ledger, the company stated.

“We’re building on top of what we already have, which is hardware security,” Anderson said. “The Ledger extension is about ease of use and bringing in that security.”

In December, the company partnered with the designer behind the iPod, Tony Fadell, to create an easier and more accessible way for users to secure their crypto through their Ledger Stax product. Earlier in 2022, Ledger partnered with venture capital firm Cathay Innovation for $1.5 billion to launch a $110 million fund dedicated to securing crypto assets. In 2021, it raised $380 million in a funding round led by 10T Holdings, valuing Ledger at $1.5 billion at the time.

“For us, our goal is to bring the world of crypto-digital assets and wallet-connected apps from what Tony Fadell calls from ‘business to nerd’ to ‘business to consumer,'” Rogers said. “There is plenty of ground to cover there. But it doesn’t bother me at all.”

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Rogers has a background in digital music and compared the crypto space to the early days of digital music. “Only the most technical people had an MP3 in the beginning, and now music is obviously available to everyone.”

These transitions to new technology always start with very difficult usability and limited consumer options, Rogers noted. “But over time they evolve and reach a large audience. The digital music path is analog because it started as something only geeks were interested in, and eventually we got the iPod, the iPhone and services like Spotify to become mainstream.”

Going forward, Ledger plans to focus on improving connectivity and security in the crypto space, making it easier for consumers and businesses to engage with dApps and platforms in the space, Rogers and Anderson shared.

“If you look at the puzzle pieces, it’s about making them better tomorrow, better than yesterday and getting use across dApps and making sure we have platforms covered,” Rogers said. “There’s always more ground to cover, but the pieces are there.”

Fast forward to 2030, and the industry won’t be talking about Web 2.0 versus web3, Anderson believes. “It will only be the web. And for us, it’s about bringing security to it because of the immutable nature of blockchains. We want to build a bridge between for ease of use.”

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