What is the Ledger wallet?
Cryptocurrency wallets are generally categorized as “software” or online wallets, such as MetaMask, and “hardware” or offline wallets. French wallet maker Ledger is one of the leading manufacturers of hardware wallets. These include three products aimed at individual retail crypto users – the Ledger Nano X, Ledger Nano S Plus, and the newest product, Ledger Stax. These models are used in conjunction with Ledger’s Live app for transacting and storage of a range of cryptocurrencies, tokens, and NFTs.
Types of Ledger wallets
Ledger makes several wallets for retail users: the Ledger Nano X, Ledger Nano S Plus, and Ledger Stax.
The Nano X
The Nano X comes with its own built-in battery, so it can be used wirelessly to connect to the Ledger Live mobile app via Bluetooth, enabling transactions from anywhere.
Ledger Nano S
The less expensive Ledger Nano S Plus is an older model powered through the device’s USB connection, so it must be physically plugged in and connected to Ledger Live to transact. The Nano X also has more storage than the Nano S Plus.
Ledger’s new wallet, Ledger Stax, is due to begin shipping in 2023. Whereas the Nano X and Nano S Plus look similar to USB drives, the Stax looks more like a miniature book or tablet, with an e-paper touchscreen display that wraps around the “spine” of the credit card-sized device.
The lock screen can be customized to show a personal photo or NFTs from a collection held on the Stax deviceto. Stax is designed to support 5000+ digital assets and NFTs, wireless charging, and offers both Bluetooth and USB-C connectivity for smartphones and laptops. As the newest and most feature-laden model, Stax is considerably pricier than the other Ledger wallets.
Setting up a new Ledger wallet
When ordering a Ledger wallet, always make sure you order a new device from the official Ledger website, or an authorized reseller. Hardware wallets can be a target for supply chain attacks or other scams that aim to steal users’ crypto. Ensure that the device packaging has not been tampered with or opened.
When you receive your new Ledger wallet, the first steps after powering on the device will prompt you through the steps to set up a PIN code and the recovery passcode (also known as a seed phrase). Do not use a device that already has a PIN code or recovery code set up, as it means the device may not be new. Never reveal your PIN or recovery code to anyone.
If in doubt, all instructions for setting up the device and updating the firmware are available for each device on the official Ledger website.
How to use Ledger Live
Ledger Live enables you to manage your holdings and transactions, as well as update the firmware of your Ledger wallet device. It also offers features such as staking and fiat purchases of crypto via third-party payment providers. Available features may depend on the user’s jurisdiction.
To get started with Ledger Live, you will need a Ledger hardware wallet and the computer or smartphone on which you want to install the Ledger Live app. You will need to download the appropriate version of the app for your device operating system from the official Ledger Live download pages.
Ledger Live uses what it calls “apps” to manage different types of crypto assets, so you need to download the Ledger Bitcoin app to manage BTC holdings, the Ledger Ethereum app to manage ETH and ERC-20 holdings, and so on. Apps allow your Ledger wallet to use its private keys for the blockchain network where the asset is issued.
Furthermore, within each type of asset, you can have multiple Ledger Live accounts. So it could be that each type of ERC-20 asset held has its own account or even that each ERC-20 token has multiple accounts for different purposes – for example, one for saving and one for trading.
To install an app, navigate to “My Ledger” to access your hardware wallet. From here, you can access the App Catalog as well as the apps installed on your device. To install an app for any given network, simply search for it and click to install. The number of apps that your device can support will depend on the storage available.
To add an account, select Accounts and then Add Account. Search for your chosen asset and follow the steps on the screen to set up the new account.
Sending and receiving cryptocurrency with Ledger Live
Within the Ledger Live app, select the “Send” option from the main menu, and choose which account you want to debit from the drop-down list. Alternatively, you can navigate to your account page in the Portfolio function and choose the “Send” button from within the account page.
Enter the recipient's address and double-check it is correct, along with the amount. Once you verify the fees, you’ll be prompted to authorize and sign the transaction using your PIN. This extra step of confirming the transaction on the physical device is why hardware wallets offer greater security.
To receive cryptocurrency, you will need to have the relevant app and account already set up in your Ledger Live account and on your device. Choose the Receive option from the main menu and select the account you want to credit. Connect your wallet and follow the instructions to obtain a receive address on your device. Once you have verified that the receive address is the same on the Ledger Live app and on your device, you can provide the receive address to the transaction sender.
Use Ledger Live to update your wallet firmware
Connect your Ledger wallet to your device, and from the main Ledger Live interface, go to “My Ledger.” Firmware updates are only available if a notification banner shows a new update, allowing you to download the latest version. You will be prompted to enter your PIN code to confirm the update.
How to use Ledger essentials
- Obtain a brand-new Ledger wallet device, such as the Nano X, by purchasing one through the official Ledger site or an authorized reseller.
- Download the Ledger Live app for desktop and/or mobile and start installing apps and accounts for your cryptocurrency holdings.
- Send and receive assets securely using Ledger Live in conjunction with your wallet device.