Mycelium has set the bar for mobile bitcoin wallets over the past few years, offering the market an extremely simple and secure iOS and Android product
- iOS, Android
- Extremely simple mobile wallet
- Spend directly from “cold” storage with Trezor
- TouchID/pincode enabled
- Mnemonic recording mechanism a bit tedious
- Just the basics, some might prefer more sparkles
Mycelium is an easy to use mobile-only HD wallet. It’s been around since 2013 and is thought to be amongst the easiest-to-use wallets on the market. There is no registration required – simply download mycelium from google play or the app store, securely record the 12-word backup, and you are good to go.
The Mycelium Wallet
The wallet has four different tabs. The balance tab, which loads up when opening the app, displays the amount held in a user’s main account, and the option to send, receive or spend funds from cold storage. Clicking on send automatically opens a QR code – for manually inputting a recipient address, simply close the QR box to find a field to manually input or paste the address. To receive payment, a QR code is displayed, and a user can specify in 11 different currencies or 3 different bitcoin units of measurement (btc, mbits, bits) the amount of money owed. Below the QR code is the address string for manual payment.
The account tab shows each particular account, and allows the generation and naming of new accounts, while transactions shows, obviously, all transactions to or from the wallet. Clicking on the particular transaction opens all the details one would expect, including the txid, the block and the confirmations since it was added and the fee. Users can also name the recipient or add notes to the transaction from this section. And last you’ll find the settings tab, from where you are able to backup the wallet and change the display currency.
Depending on the model of your smartphone, Sending transactions and changing the backup is secured by either touchID or pincode.
Back it Up Now
Mycelium is an HD wallet, meaning that all addresses are generated from one master seed. The master seed must be backed up using a 12-word mnemonic in order to restore the wallet on mycelium or another HD product. This is essential, as should Mycelium be compromised in some manner, you will still have sole access to your funds. They never actually see or store the mnemonic, which is populated only on your handheld device, so it is entirely the user’s responsibility to store securely the mnemonic, as it’s loss would make wallet restoration impossible.
The backup process is a bit of a pain in the neck, but it only takes about 5 minutes. The 12 words are displayed one after the other, and the user is asked afterwards to write them back down into the phone to ensure they were correctly transcribed. If you have fat fingers this is annoying, but must only be done once, when first opening the wallet.
Cold Storage Spending
Mycelium provides a pretty neat method of spending bitcoin directly from cold storage. Navigate to “cold storage” where you are offered the choice to scan the private key QR code from a paper wallet or some other storage device, or to manually write out the private key number string. You are then able to load the bitcoin into an address in your mycelium account, or to grab the receiver address from a clipboard or additional QR code. Nice way of spending from your cold storage unit!
While you may load up only part of the funds from your cold storage unit, please note that best practice would entail always uploading the entire amount or not uploading anything at all. Partial withdrawal of cold storage funds with your phone would constitute a touchpoint which, if you are unfortunate enough to have some sort of malware, would be enough for your cold storage to be compromised. Better safe than sorry!
Mycelium is a great mobile wallet for day to day bitcoin use. A few negatives perhaps – the lack of a desktop platform can make sending bitcoin from mycelium inconvenient to desktop wallets if there is no QR code on the receiver side. For instance, I’ve had to paste my coinbase address into an email to myself, and then copy it from my phone to my mycelium wallet. Bottom line, great little app for bitcoin spending money.