Ledger launches browser extension to improve crypto wallet connectivity
Ledger, one of the largest providers of cold storage crypto wallets, has launched a browser extension to improve online security and connectivity for digital assets, the company told CoinTech exclusively.
“You see Web 1.0 as usernames and passwords, Web 2.0 as logging in with Facebook, Google, iCloud, Twitter and web3. [about] connecting to your wallet,” said Ian Rogers, chief experience officer at Ledger. “But that connectivity experience is still not super trivial and that’s what we’re talking about here and solving this big usability problem of connectivity 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 currently only usable on Safari, iOS, and MacOS, but will roll out additional support for Windows, Chrome, and Chromium-based browsers like Brave, Opera, and Edge “soon after launch.”
It is currently available to 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 like MetaMask, but instead of being a hot wallet – which is connected to the internet and more susceptible to online attacks – it remains a cold wallet that users can interact with directly with dApps over Bluetooth.
“A lot of people say web3 is hard to use. If you ask specifically how hard it is to use, they shrug, but I think it’s onboarding and connectivity,” Rogers said. “This is meant to fix that.”
It has two features intended to keep users safe when interacting with crypto: it analyzes smart contracts and alerts users if a transaction is potentially malicious, said Carl Anderson, VP of Consumer Engineering. It also simulates a transaction to show how it will affect the wallet, even if it is a secure transaction. “Essentially what we’re doing here is 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 devices in 200 countries and to more than 100 financial institutions and brands. About 20% of crypto assets worldwide are secured through Ledger, the company said.
“We’re building on what we already have, which is hardware security,” said Anderson. “The Ledger extension is about ease of use and providing that security.”
In December, the company teamed up with the designer behind the iPod, Tony Fadell, to create an easier, more accessible way for users to secure their crypto through their Ledger Stax product. Earlier in 2022, Ledger partnered with $1.5 billion venture capital firm Cathay Innovation 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 take the world of crypto-digital assets and wallet-connected apps from what Tony Fadell calls ‘business to geek’ to ‘business to consumer,'” Rogers said. “There’s plenty of ground there to cover. But that doesn’t bother me at all.”
Rogers has a background in digital music and likened the crypto space to the early days of digital music. “Only the most technical people had an MP3 in the beginning and now, of course, music is within reach.”
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, iPhone and services like Spotify mainstream.”
Going forward, Ledger plans to focus on improving connectivity and security in the crypto space to make it easier for consumers and businesses to interact 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 adoption by dApps and making sure we have platforms,” 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 thinks. “It will just be the web. And for us, it’s about providing security because of the immutable nature of blockchains. We want to bridge the gap between ease of use.”