Developed by ConsenSys in 2016, Metamask was launched as a browser extension for Ethereum users to interact with ERC Dapps. The flagship function, however, of the Metamask browser extension is that it is first a cryptocurrency wallet, although there are other functions you will find with the wallet. The introduction of a mobile version allows users to merge the Metamask browser extension with the Metamask mobile app.
Simply put, Metamask is first an Ethereum wallet on your browser that permits Dapp users to create and manage their ERC portfolio, broadcast transactions, send, receive and swap ERC tokens using their Ether private key.
The Metamask Dapp provides a user-friendly interface for users to interact deeply with Ethereum-based smart contracts while performing transactional activities like sending and receiving ETH and every other ERC-20 compatible token.
That being said, in this article, we will be exploring the Metamask wallet along with the lines of how it works, in terms of; transactions, asset swaps, its connection with Dapps, and general security practices that you might want to observe while using the Metamask wallet software.
How Metamask works
The flagship goal of Metamask has been to provide a web browser plugin equivalent for ERC Dapp users to interact with ERC smart contracts easily and seamlessly. This is the major reason Metamask was launched as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Brave, and Edge. With the mobile versions, the interactions are more seamless across all possible devices the user may decide to use.
How Metamask interacts with the Ethereum blockchain
The Metamask browser extension uses ERC API tools to allow your browser, interact directly with the Ethereum network via an API service — called Infura. Infura is a development suite that supplies instant API access to the Ethereum network.
How Metamask private key/mnemonic key phrase works
Metamask assigns a private key (usually in alphanumeric format), which is used to sign off any funds associated with a wallet. By implication, anyone in control of your private key has access to your funds. Your private key can also be translated to a human-readable format, which is the mnemonic key phrase. By implication, your mnemonic key phrase is your private key in readable language.
On Metamask, the private keys, once generated, are saved locally on the user’s device. Metamask doesn’t have a backup. In other words, you have full control of your funds, which makes you fully responsible for their protection.
How to Send Tokens with Metamask
In this section, we will explore various functions of the Metamask iOS app. Also, to send funds on Metamask, you will need the recipient’s wallet address and sufficient funds to cover the network fee.
To send funds, click on the hamburger icon at the top-left corner of your dashboard. Select “Add funds’’ and follow through to the end to fund your account.
Select the token you wish to send from the Token’s tab once signed in to your dashboard. Then click the Send button on the token’s transaction page.
Enter or paste the recipient’s wallet address or select the option to transfer tokens between your accounts and hit Next. As an alternative, you can also choose the account you would like to use to initiate this transaction. Input the amount you wish to send in the amount field and hit the Next button
Make sure you have enough to balance for the token and enough ETH to cater for the transaction gas fee, that is, if you are using the Ethereum Mainnet network. You can perform such functions on the resulting page as reviewing your transaction details and the network fee. Once satisfied with the transaction details, hit Send.
In cases where you might want to opt-out of the Ethereum Mainnet to use some other RPC Network like the Binance Smart Chain Network, be sure to have a sufficient amount of the native token of that Network for gas fees. E.gThe BNB token is used for gas fees on the Binance Smart Chain Network.
Receive or buying tokens into your Metamask Wallet
Beyond fetching your wallet address and sending it out to a sender to send you some cryptocurrencies, Metamask has a third-party merchant service known as Wyre that allows you to buy Ether from your Metamask wallet using card payment.
Metamask on mobile
Metamask iOS and Android versions were officially introduced in September 2020. The mobile version allows you to create an independent wallet and allows you to link your newly created Metamask wallet account with an existing ERC-20 wallet. To sign in to an existing account, click on “Import using seed phrase.”
For this, a password is required and subsequently, a set of backup mnemonic phrases is generated which you are expected to store off safely.
Metamask iOS and Android versions were officially introduced in September 2020. The mobile version allows you to create an independent wallet or link your newly created Metamask wallet account with an existing ERC wallet. To sign into an existing account, click on “Import using seed phrase”.
A password is required from there onward, a set of backup mnemonic phrases is generated, which you are expected to store off safely.
Metamask security best practice
Metamask is a hot wallet – and a bridge to access the Ethereum distributed ledger via your web browser. For this reason, it is very necessary to consider certain precautionary measures to protect your assets from online hackers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using Metamask:
- Metamask does not have access to any of your private/personal data; hence it cannot retrieve your account if your device is lost, stolen, or damaged.
- All of your information is encrypted on your browser – or mobile device – and therefore protected by the password you set on your Metamask.
- As earlier stated, do not reveal your seed phrase or a private key to anyone.
- In cases where you possess a large amount of ETH or ERC-20 tokens, consider getting a hardware wallet like Ledger or Trezor wallet.
One major advantage of using Metamask is storing a user’s seed phrase encrypted with their password. With this technology, an attacker with full access to your device will also need the Metamask software unlocked to access your account.