Freewallet review: Multicurrency Mobile & Online Crypto Wallet
Freewallet is a multicurrency wallet that is trying to make it easier for users to store and manage their cryptocurrency both online and on mobile devices.
This wallet began as a simple FantomCoin wallet back in 2016 and has evolved considerably since as they have added support for hundreds of coins. However, the wallet has also been at the center of some controversy in the past.
So, is Freewallet safe and can you trust them?
In this Freewallet review, I will attempt to answer that and give you everything that you need to know about it. I will also give you some top crypto wallet security tips.
Freewallet is based in Tallinn, Estonia and was created by Alvin Hagg. It offers a number of different mobile only wallets for iOS and Android devices as well as another wallet with a web-based interface. Below you’ll be able to get more details about all the different products offered by Freewallet.
Freewallet was the very first mobile wallet supporting Bitcoin Cash in 2017, and later had the same first distinction in its support of Bitcoin Gold and Bitcoin Cash ABC.
Warning ⚠️: The site Freewallet.io is NOT associated with the Freewallet.org wallet being reviewed. Do not trust it!
Freewallet was launched in January 2016 and its very first wallet was for FantomCoin. That was a test of the wallet technology, and after it proved successful the company launched its Bitcoin and Ethereum wallets. Over time the list of Freewallets grew to two dozen different wallets.
Many of the individual coin wallets offered by Freewallet have reached the top position for their given cryptocurrency on the Google Play store.
Is Freewallet Safe?
One of the most repeated mantras in the cryptocurrency industry is that of "Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins".
Essentially, one of the reasons that cryptocurrency exchanges are not viewed as an optimal storage solution is because they retain ownership of the private keys. Your keys are stored on their servers so you are only as safe as how safe the exchange is.
When it comes to the Freewallet crypto wallet, although they are called a "wallet", they still control these private keys. Therefore, you are trusting that the wallet developers are not only trustworthy but also practice strong coin security.
Freewallet claims to practice advanced security protocols including multi signature transactions, transaction number limitations and 2FA / finger print recognition. They also claim to store the coins in cold storage which means that they are offline and inaccessible to hackers.
So, about the same security protocols as most exchanges.
Thankfully though, Freewallet has recently released their "Lite" wallet that is available on iOS and Android. This gives their users complete control of their private keys. When you are setting up the wallet, the private keys will be generated and remain on your device.
Backup NB 🚨: If creating a Lite wallet, be sure to backup your wallet. If you lose your keys, you can never recover it
Of course, you will need to weigh up how much you trust yourself handling the private keys over third party wallet developers. Crypto is not entirely "idiot proof" and if you set up a local wallet and you lose your seed words you can also lose access to your coins forever.
As mentioned above, the list of Freewallet products has grown until it now consists of two dozen different wallets.
There are individual wallets available for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, Doge, Dash, Lisk, Tether, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash on both Android and iOS. In addition, Freewallet offers wallets for ZCash, Decent, NXT, Ardor, Tron, NEM, Bitcoin Gold, IGNIS, Stellar, Ripple, NEO, Bytecoin, and EOS on Android only.
If you would prefer to keep all of your coins in one place then they also have a multi-currency crypto wallet. This allows you to store a total of 30 different coins all on the same wallet. This is available on iOS and Android as well as through your web browser with their online wallet.
You can take a look into these individual app stores if you want to get a sense of how users are finding the app. These are indeed quite mixed with about half of the users with very critical feedback and the other half who are generally quite positive.
It can sometimes be hard to discern which of these are legitimate and which are fake. However, what is positive is that the Freewallet support staff and developers are responsive to the users criticisms and suggestions. This is at least a good sign as it shows they are willing to work with user feedback.
As mentioned, the Freewallet company has released a Litewallet for Android and iOS that gives back control of your private keys. The Litewallet only supports Bitcoin, Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens, and does not offer free transfers to other Freewallet users like the full version does.
Exchange & Transfer Service
If you are using the Freewallet crypto wallet then you do have the benefit of their Exchange and transfer service.
With the transfer service, you can send crypto to other Freewallet users without incurring any fees. This is also done almost instantly and you do not have to wait for a transaction. This is all possible because the transfers are all recorded internally at Freewallet and do not have to be updated on the blockchain.
Note ✍️: Because transactions are handled off-chain, you can use Freewallet's unique transaction tracker
Another really interesting feature is their in-built exchange feature. This means that you can easily switch coins within the wallet without having to send them off to an exchange. This is all done through the Changelly exchange service.
I decided to take a look into the conversion rates that one is likely to get on this app. Below are the Bitcoin to Ethereum rate on Freewallet as well as the live price from the BTCETH order books on the Binance Exchange.
As you can see, the Freewallet rate has a slightly lower value of ETH in BTC which implies that Bitcoin is more expensive purchased on Freewallet. This is about a 0.5% difference which is really not that much at all.
If we were to take into account the cost of sending the funds to the exchange and then placing the order, it works out cheaper to exchange your coins with Freewallet.
Buying Cryptocurrency on Freewallet
Another feature that you may want to make use of with the Crypto Wallet is the crypto buying functionality. This lets you buy cryptocurrency on both the app and through their website.
This is unlike a centralised exchange in that the coins are sent directly to your wallet and don't remain on an exchange wallet for any period of time. They accept all major credit cards like Visa, Mastercard etc. They even accept some pre-paid and virtual cards
This feature is available in numerous countries and they take purchases in EUR and USD. The limits for the transactions are reasonable with a daily max limit of $20,000 and a monthly limit of $50,000. This can easily be done right in your wallet with the "Buy with Card" option.
In fact, you don't even need the Freewallet to buy coins with this feature. You can use this page on their website that has the payment gateway integrated. This is the Simplex payment gateway that is used by exchanges such as Bitstamp.
High Fees 💸: Simplex has excessive fees. You are charged a 7% fee on transactions with a minimum fee of $11. It could be cheaper to buy on Kraken.
There are only 5 coins that you can buy through the Freewallet crypto buy portal and those are Litecoin, Bitcoin, Etheruem, Bitcoin Cash and Ripple. However, once you have bought the coins you can easily convert them through the quick exchange on in the wallet.
One of the purported benefits of the Freewallet crypto wallet is that it has customer support that can help you in the event that you are locked out of your wallet or are uncertain as to the numerous features.
There are are a number of ways that you can reach these agents. Perhaps the quickest is through the use of their online contact form. This will allow you to quote your user ID so that the agents can narrow in on your request.
Quick Tip ✍️: If your request is in relation to a transaction, be sure to quote your transaction ID if you want speedy help.
If you are looking for some immediate help then you can reach out to them through their live chat function. I tried this at about 7pm on a Friday and an agent was able to answer me within 5 minutes. That is really quite impressive for a wallet provider.
Something else that I found quite helpful was their live status page. This page details the the 4 wallet services for all of the coins in the wallet. It shows the Deposit, Withdrawal, Flash Transfer and Smart Exchange status. So, if you are about to use one of these functions, you would be best advised to check this page out before.
The Freewallet Controversy
Freewallet was beset by a huge controversy in July 2017 after a user on Reddit (whose account has since been deleted) claimed that Freewallet was stealing over $8 million worth of ETH. The post was somewhat deceptive in that it made it appear as it the loss was from just one person. The thread exploded with other users claiming a loss of funds as well.
It turns out the original poster was referring to a single ETH address receiving hundreds of Freewallet transactions, which made it appear that Freewallet was stealing users assets.
However we have to remember that Freewallet puts most coins into cold storage, and the transfer to a single address before sending coins to the correct address may be odd, but it didn’t equate to theft. In the end, all users received their coins.
Freewallet founder Alvin Hagg had this to say during the controversial event:
Freewallet stores funds in a multi-signature cold storage with a bank level security grade. From time to time there are rebalancing procedures between different cold storages and hot wallets. There’s no need to worry, this is an ordinary and planned procedure for cryptocurrency systems. All user assets are completely safe. We offer more than 14 wallets and all of them are operating fine.
There was also congestion on the Ethereum network at that time due to the Bancor ICO, and this congestion was making transactions much slower than normal.
Keep in mind that Freewallet does control your private keys, but in this case from 2017 it appears there was nothing to worry about. It’s also notable that to this day the Monero community warns that Freewallet is a scam, although the wallet continues to receive good reviews and no further theft or scam accusations have been made.
Freewallet Lite Setup
Because I will always advice users to own their own private keys, I would prefer to use the Freewallet lite that gives me control of this. Therefore, I am going to show you the simple steps that you require to setup the Freewallet Lite app and to back it up.
You can download the Freewallet Lite app right on the iTunes store or from the Google Play store. Given that I am going to be installing this on an iPhone, I will get it from the iTunes store. Once you have downloaded the app you can open it up and select "Create new wallet". You will be prompted for a 4 digit pin.
Your wallet is now initialized and you can start using it. However, do so so without backing it up would be unwise. Therefore, you will want to complete this final step before you are complete. In your main wallet you will go to to the top right and select the settings.
Once you have done this, you will navigate down to the "Backup wallet" section. Here, you will be given a list of 12 mnemonic words. These are your seed words and are essential for you to reclaim your coins.
Warning ⚠️: Write these out and do not store them on your phone or any electronic device. Once you are done, keep them in a safe and secure location. Your coins are only as secure as that piece of paper
Once you have got all of your seed words, you can now insert them into the app and hit "Submit".
That's it, you are done. Now you can use the Freewallet Lite and be in complete control of your keys. You will also notice that the "Touch-ID" access is enabled by default. This means that all you need to do to log back into your wallet is your finger.
Freewallet has undergone some controversy, but in the end, it doesn’t look as if anything nefarious was being attempted. The company has grown from a single wallet in 2016 to two dozen wallets in 2019, many of which have the highest rating for their coin type on the Google Play store.
The developers were the first to add a wallet for Bitcoin Cash, even before it was certain that Bitcoin Cash would exist. And they were also the first mobile wallet for Bitcoin Gold and Bitcoin Cash ABC. Freewallet is one of the best known mobile cryptocurrency wallets in the industry.
The biggest catch with using Freewallet Crypto wallet is that the company holds your private keys, similar to the way a cryptocurrency exchange holds your private keys. If you’re comfortable with this, then the cold storage method used by Freewallet is very secure.
If you feel that you only own your coins when you hold your private keys, then you should opt for the Freewallet Lite app instead.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.