Crypto wallets vs crypto exchanges: How they compare

  • Control and custody represent one of the primary distinctions between crypto wallets and exchanges.
  • Wallets prioritise secure storage and direct transactions, making them ideal for long-term asset management.

Crypto wallets and exchanges are two different things. Crypto exchanges are like online marketplaces where people can buy, sell, and trade crypto. A crypto wallet is a piece of software or hardware that can be used for storing, receiving, and sending crypto. Many exchanges provide custodial wallets for their users, so people can also hold crypto on an exchange if they choose. Here, the similarities and differences between holding cryptocurrencies in crypto wallets and holding cryptocurrencies on exchanges will be discussed. Different users might prefer one option over the other for different reasons.

Crypto wallet vs. crypto exchange: Key differences

Control and custody represent one of the primary distinctions between crypto wallets and exchanges. While non-custodial wallets (a.k.a. self-custody wallets) grant users full control over their private keys, centralised exchanges hold custody of users’ funds. This disparity in control has significant implications for security and access, as users rely on exchanges to safeguard their assets.

Wallets prioritise secure storage and direct transactions, making them ideal for long-term asset management. In contrast, centralised exchanges focus on facilitating trading activities, catering to users’ needs to buy and sell their holdings.

Security considerations play a crucial role in determining the suitability of wallets and exchanges for managing cryptocurrencies. While wallets offer enhanced security through self-custody and encryption, exchanges are susceptible to security breaches and potential mismanagement/theft of user funds. However, most centralised exchanges often implement robust security measures to mitigate these risks.

Ease of use and accessibility vary between wallets and exchanges, catering to different user preferences and requirements. Wallets prioritise security and control, sometimes sacrificing convenience for enhanced protection. Exchanges, on the other hand, prioritise accessibility, offering seamless trading experiences.

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Also read: Who is Bartosz Lipinski? CEO of Cube Exchange

Similarities and differences

A wallet and an exchange are two very different things. Yet they still have some characteristics in common.

  • Crypto wallets vs. exchanges are similar in that they both:
  • Allow for the storage, receiving, and sending of crypto
  • Provide an easy way for people to interact with the crypto ecosystem
  • Are designed to be as simple as possible

Despite performing some of the same functions, wallets and exchanges differ in some important aspects.

Crypto wallets vs. exchanges are different in the following ways:

  • Wallets allow people to hold their own private keys, exchanges do not
  • You can’t buy crypto with a wallet alone, although some have connected exchanges
  • Most exchanges require users to verify their identity, whereas wallets can be used pseudonymously.

Making the Right Choice for Your Crypto Needs

For beginners entering the crypto space, exchanges offer a straightforward starting point, providing liquid markets to trade a wide range of cryptocurrencies. As users gain experience using cryptocurrencies and seek greater control over their assets, transitioning to self-custody wallets becomes increasingly appealing.

Experienced users interested in self-custody can benefit from utilising crypto wallets to take control of their digital assets fully. By managing their private keys, users eliminate reliance on third-party entities and gain autonomy over their funds. Wallets offer peace of mind and protection against potential centralised exchange security breaches.

A hybrid approach combining wallets and exchanges presents another option for managing crypto-based financial plans.


Revel Cheng

Revel Cheng is an intern news reporter at Blue Tech Wave specialising in Fintech and Blockchain. She graduated from Nanning Normal University. Send tips to

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