Ledger, one of the largest cold storage crypto wallet providers, 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 usernames and passwords, Web 2.0 as log in with Facebook, Google, iCloud, Twitter, and web3 is [about] connecting to your wallet,” Ian Rogers, chief experience officer at Ledger, said. “But that connectivity experience is still not super trivial and that’s what we’re talking about here and fixing this major 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 is 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 currently is available for use through a handful of dApps and platforms like 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 is more susceptible to online attacks — it will remain a cold wallet that allows users to interact directly with dApps through Bluetooth.
“A lot of people say web3 is hard to use, when you ask specifically how is it hard to use, they shrug, but I think it’s onboarding and connectivity,” Rogers said. “This is meant to fix that.”
It has two features that aim to keep users safe when interacting with crypto: It analyzes smart contracts and warns users whether a transaction is potentially malicious, Carl Anderson, VP of consumer engineering, shared. It will also simulate a transaction to show how it’ll impact the wallet, even when it’s a secure transaction. “Essentially what we’re doing here is showing users how to keep their keys secure,” Anderson added.
Ledger is a nine-year-old crypto hardware wallet and cold wallet provider that has sold more than 6 million devices across 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 being easy to use and bringing in that security.”
In December, the company partnered 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 bring the world of crypto digital assets and wallet-connected apps from what Tony Fadell calls from ‘business to geek’ to ‘business to consumer,'” Rogers said. “There’s plenty of ground to cover there. But that doesn’t bother me at all.”
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, obviously, music is at everyone’s fingertips.”
These transitions into 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 analogous because it started as something only geeks were interested in and ultimately we got the iPod, iPhone and services like Spotify to become mainstream.”
Going forward, Ledger plans to focus on improving connectivity and security in the crypto space so it becomes 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 adoption 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 thinks. “It will just be the web. And for us, it’s about bringing security to it because of the immutable nature of blockchains. We want to bridge the gap between for ease of use.”