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“Not your keys, not your crypto,” is one of the defining catchphrases of crypto—and it’s only become more prominent over the past year, as the risks of keeping crypto on centralized exchanges were thrown into sharp relief by the collapse of FTX.
As user deposits on the doomed exchange vanished, Google searches for “self-custody” reached their highest-ever levels.
With self-custody, says Akash Gupta, Director of Product Management at Ava Labs, “You own and manage all of your assets and you're not dependent on anyone else.”
But although self-custody offers a level of control over your own assets that centralized exchange providers may never be able to provide, it often brings with it a level of complexity that can be intimidating.
Ava Labs is looking to change this with Core wallet, a cross-platform crypto wallet that aims to make fully-functional self-custody as simple as keeping crypto on an exchange.
Core is a free, non-custodial wallet that also acts as an all-in-one Web3 command center, supporting Ava Labs’ own blockchain alongside , , and all Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatible blockchains.
Within the wallet, users can easily purchase crypto, bridge and swap assets between different blockchains, as well as interact with decentralized applications (), decentralized finance ( ), GameFi and NFTs.
“One of the biggest differentiators we provide is an elegant interconnected experience across all your devices with simplicity, credibility, and usability” Akash explained. “This makes users feel at home, and more comfortable moving assets around.”
Streamlining crypto’s user experience
Core wallet enables users to easily bridge and swap assets. Image: Ava LabsStreamlining the user experience is vital if crypto is to onboard mainstream users, Akash told Decrypt. That means including features like a simple fiat on-ramp that uses popular tools such as Coinbase Pay and Moonpay.
It also involves bringing together multiple blockchains under one roof. To that end, said Akash, Core was explicitly designed to be multi-chain; users can seamlessly add their favorite networks and Subnets that switch automatically when transacting.
“People still have to go through a learning curve,” when it comes to self-custody, he explained, adding, “There are technical challenges today around making sure that users are fully comfortable with it.”
To that end, Core has incorporated features to address newcomers’ concerns around safety, complexity, and asset recovery.
Navigating Web3 shouldn't be so fragmented and difficult.@coreapp's all-in-one command center has made it much easier for me to just focus on what I want to do on-chain, rather than how/where to do it.
— Akash Gupta (@akash90gupta) January 30, 2023
Core allows users to import and manage their private keys into one secure platform for unified management. This means that users no longer need to manage a fragmented workflow with multiple private keys across multiple wallets.
For crypto neophytes, minimizing the confusion caused by switching between platforms is vital, too. That means achieving what Akash called “the triumvirate”.
“This is what we call having a homogenous experience across web, mobile, as well as your browser extension,” he explained.
What does Core do differently?
Simplicity doesn’t mean skimping on features, though. Where other self-custody wallets can be bare-bones affairs, Akash highlights how Core’s feature set helps users put their crypto to work for them.
“Users can't really do much with their Bitcoin as is today; however through Core users can bridge it into the DeFi world and take advantage of the yield or borrow against it on Avalanche’s burgeoning ecosystem,” he said. Akash claims that BTC.b, the token the Avalanche network uses to represent bridged Bitcoin, has roughly $200 million in circulation, surpassing the Bitcoin locked in the Lightning Network.
“We're seeing a lot of folks moving away from legacy wallets,” he explains. “Either because they are not EVM compatible and truly multi-chains, or they don't have an app across all device types, or they don’t have native secure bridging capabilities, or they don't have DeFi and BTC support.”
“Core has cross-chain transaction signing capabilities making it easier than ever to transact across multiple networks. Users need not worry about manual network switching or making unforced errors in the process. Another area where Core maximizes users’ experiences is it auto-magically enables user holdings; Core recognizes and indexes crypto transfers, displaying them within the app, with live integrated price updates.”
— Ava Labs 🔺 (@avalabsofficial) December 16, 2022
“You don’t have to go through the stress and the heartache of actually not being able to see token balances in there,” Akash explained. “I know that a lot of folks have freaked out or had a panic attack when it comes to not being able to see large balances in other wallets.”
NFTs and beyond
Rather than having to interact with a third-partymarketplace such as Magic Eden, Core wallet users can view information about their NFTs directly from within their wallet, without leaving the app.
According to Akash, Core is also working on functionalities that will enable Core users to aggregate and trade NFTs inside the app itself.
This exec believes that Core’s combination of simplistic onboarding, ownership of your own assets, and a good product support team provides a good starting point for a broader audience looking to get an introduction to self-custody.
“Increasingly, users want to control their own assets,” said Akash. “We think that the transition may take some time, as awareness of self-custody grows among certain demographics—however, Core is well positioned to absorb that growth. Core has something for everyone; whether you're a crypto-newbie, an avid Avalanche or DeFi user, a Bitcoin enthusiast, or a NFT collector. Core is ready for you to use right away; come check it out.”