How Seeds Build a Crypto Wallet
In my previous article, I attempted to not only explain what crypto currencies are, but even take on the bold direction of explaining the “blockchain”. For this article here, I build off of one of the key learnings written about, the seed, to share more about its awesome power and capabilities. Please note that for the context of explaining concepts with real world examples, I use the currency Nano as it is closest in parity to traditional cash, only digital.
In the case of Nano, your “seed” can either be 64 characters of hex numbers/letters (0–9,A-F) or a specific 24-word phrase, known as a “mnemonic” which is built from a pre-agreed upon 2,048 list of words where every word’s first 4 letters are unique. In my opinion, seeds are cool because of their many unique properties. For one, whether you prefer the hex string or the “mnemonic” word phrase, they’re mathematically interchangeable, deterministically related so you can convert from one to the other. This is advantageous because you keep the one you’re most likely to be able to save/store.
FWIW, this conversion works because it uses using check sums and binary conversion of numbers (0–2047) to know which of the 2048 words to use. Like to change account numbers? Another really neat aspect of a Nano seed is that one seed can create 4.2 billion accounts to send/receive from. I’ll go over that in just a bit.
Once you have the seed, you are ready to create your “account” address to receive funds. Good news is this part happens automatically. I hinted earlier that Nano uses an index value which supports a number (between 0 and ²³² — 1) meaning one seed is capable of making ~4.2 billion account addresses. This realistically means if you kept your seed safe your entire life, you’d never need more than one. Most people don’t even realize they have so many account options because by default, entering your seed into a Nano wallet to show your first account, such as Natrium or Nault, is going to go right to the “0” indexed account.
For Nano, the account you can give out to someone is a long string of characters that begins with “nano_1….” or “nano_3….”.
LET’S GET STARTED
Between my last guide and now, I think you may be ready to dive in and see this all in action. Here are some top resources I’d share to help you on your journey:
- Start with a faucet (a website that gives currency away in small “drips”🚰 http://trynano.io/. This website will provide you with your first Nano ($XNO) for free. See the speed of transactions and the ease of use. You do not need to sign up at all to participate.
- With new funds in hand, head over to 📲 https://natrium.io/ to install Natrium on your iOS or Android device. It will walk you through creating your first ever seed. There is also a web-based version for Nano found at http://nault.cc/. You may be starting small, but it’s never to early to think about safety: don’t do this on a public computer.
In a later article, I’ll expand on safety discussing how to securely generate seeds, how to save them, and a few ways you can “back up” your seeds. You’ll also learn about the differences in control between how easy (hot wallet) or how difficult (cold wallet) you make utilizing your seed is and what their purposes might be used for.
If you found this article helpful, please be sure to let me know. I’m a community manager for the Nano Foundation and aim to help provide a modern, digital currency, to anyone who needs or wants it.