Custodial vs Non-custodial Wallet - What's the Difference?

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 13, 2024

In custodial wallets, a third party controls your private keys, while non-custodial wallets allow you full control over your account but demand technical knowledge


While you are stepping into the world of cryptocurrency? Choosing a wallet is your first crucial step, but with so many options, getting one that suits your preference may not be very clear. Custodial wallets offer a user-friendly experience, but who controls your crypto? It will not be under your control. On the other hand, non-custodial wallets hand you the reins, but with great power comes great responsibility. Let's dive into the guide and understand the key differences that may help you make a better choice.

What Is a Custodial Wallet?

In a custodial wallet, a third-party platform manages the private keys on behalf of the user. The user does not have direct control over their private keys and relies on the custodial service to securely store and manage their crypto assets. A third-party platform takes custody of the user's private keys in custodial wallets. They ensure the safety and security of crypto assets, potentially protecting them from malicious attacks. Users manage or transact their crypto assets through accounts provided by the custodian using a username, password, or other authentication methods. Wallets offered by cryptocurrency exchanges, online wallet services, and certain mobile wallet apps are fine examples of custodian wallets. These user-friendly wallets provide services like trading, lending, and earning interest.

Custodial Wallet Pros and Cons


  • Convenience and ease of use
  • Enhanced security through professional management
  • Integrated services like trading, lending, and earning interest


  • Risk of losing assets if the third party is hacked or goes out of business
  • Less control over your own funds
  • Potential privacy concerns

What Is a Non-custodial Wallet?

In a non-custodial wallet, a user has complete control over their private keys and is responsible for securing their cryptocurrency and ensuring it is safe. Non-custodial wallets are generally more secure than custodial wallets because the user has direct control over their private keys, and a third party is not involved. However, users have to create a backup of their private keys and recovery phrases to ensure that they can recover their funds if they lose access to their wallets. Non-custodial wallets can be accessed offline, which makes them more secure than custodial wallets that require you to stay connected to the internet.

Types of Non-Custodial Wallets

  1. Software Non-Custodial Wallets: These wallets are software applications that store private keys within an interface that is always connected to the internet. Trust Wallet, MetaMask, and Electrum are prime examples.
  2. Hardware Wallets: These wallets store private keys offline in a secure physical device isolated from an internet connection. Trazor, Ledger, and BitSafe are key examples of Hardware wallets.
  3. Paper Wallets: These wallets store private keys offline in a printed piece of paper containing the keys and QR codes.

Non-custodial Wallet Pros and Cons


  • Complete control over your cryptocurrency and private keys.
  • Censorship-resistant because users have direct control over their private keys and can access their funds anytime.
  • No need to trust a third party to manage their cryptocurrency, making it more secure.


  • Users are solely responsible for securing their private keys and recovery phrases. If these are lost or stolen, the user cannot recover their funds.
  • More complex, especially for beginners, as users must understand concepts like private keys, recovery phrases, and wallet backups.
  • Transactions are irreversible once broadcast to the network. There is no third party to dispute or reverse transactions.

Custodial vs. Non-custodial Wallets

Here are the key differences between custodial and non-custodial wallets:

Private Key Ownership

In a custodial wallet, the private keys are held and managed by a third-party custodian, such as a cryptocurrency exchange. The user does not have direct access to or control over the private keys. In contrast, with a non-custodial wallet, the user fully controls their private keys and is responsible for securely storing and managing their own private keys.


Non-custodial wallets are generally considered more secure because users have complete control over their private keys. If the custodian of a custodial wallet is hacked or mismanages the funds in the account, users may lose their cryptocurrency. However, self-custody also means the user is responsible for securely storing their private keys. The user cannot recover their funds if private keys are lost or stolen.

Backup and Recovery

Custodial wallets typically have a user-friendly backup and recovery process managed by the custodian. If a user loses access to their account, they can work with the custodian to regain access. Non-custodial wallets require users to securely back up their private keys and recovery phrases. If this information is lost, the user cannot recover their funds.

User Experience

Custodial wallets generally have a more user-friendly interface and experience, as the custodian handles the technical aspects of wallet management. This makes them easier for beginners to use. Non-custodial wallets require the user to understand private keys, recovery phrases, and wallet management. The user experience is more complex but gives the user more control.

Transaction Speed

Transactions from custodial wallets are typically faster, as the custodian can process transactions internally before broadcasting them to the blockchain. Non-custodial wallet transactions are broadcast directly to the blockchain and are subject to network confirmation times.


Custodial wallets may charge additional fees for wallet management, trading, or withdrawal. Non-custodial wallets typically have lower fees, as users are responsible for their own wallet management.


Custodial wallets are accessible through the custodian's platform, which may have limited availability or downtime. Non-custodial wallets can be accessed at any time through the user's device.

Some Arguments Summarizing on Custodial vs Non-custodial Wallet

In conclusion, dealing with cryptocurrency wallets requires a clear understanding of custodial and non-custodial options. The deciding factor boils down to control versus convenience. Custodial wallets offer a user-friendly experience, similar to online banking, but at the cost of relinquishing control of your private keys to a third party. Conversely, non-custodial wallets empower you to manage your own funds and transactions but demand more technical knowledge and responsibility for safekeeping your private keys.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is Coinbase Wallet a custodial wallet?


Coinbase is a custodial crypto exchange, while Coinbase Wallet is a non-custodial wallet.


Are custodial wallets safe?


A custodial wallet is generally considered less secure than a non-custodial wallet.


Is Binance wallet a custodial wallet?


While Binance does provide a custodial wallet option called Binance Custody, the standard Binance account and wallet is a non-custodial service where users maintain control over their private keys and cryptocurrency holdings.

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Ishan Jain

About Ishan Jain

Ishan Jain is a technical enthusiast with a knack for financial analytics and trading. Ishan primarily works on AI algorithms, business development, and software engineering for his ventures and side projects, and he produces Web3 content for Benzinga. Ishan has been involved in DeFi in a variety of ways, including heading a project at a crypto asset investment firm along with leading a blockchain security research project.