What are Self-Custody (Non-Custodial) Wallets and How do they Work?
A self-custody wallet, also known as a non-custodial wallet, is a crypto wallet that gives you complete control over your private keys. This means that you are responsible for storing your keys securely and using them to access your funds. Continue reading to find out more.
13 JUN 2023, 5 min read
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In traditional finance, custody refers to institutions like banks or asset managers legally managing and transferring your money. However, self-custody empowers you to control and manage your funds without any intermediaries. Imagine being the only one with the keys to a vault containing all your wealth. That's precisely the level of control a self-custody wallet offers.

Self-custody wallets, like MetaMask, TrustWallet, or the innovative Okto wallet, are digital applications that allow users to store, manage, and control their funds on the blockchain, ensuring absolute ownership, complete autonomy, enhanced security, and superior privacy.

Let us understand through this blog what self-custody is. How does it work? And everything else to know about it.

How Does a Self-Custody Wallet Work?

To grasp how a self-custody wallet functions, it's crucial first to understand what happens when a crypto transaction is initiated. Let's use Bitcoin as an example of simplicity.

Creation of the Transaction

When you decide to send Bitcoin to another user, you create a transaction. This includes the sender's and receiver's Bitcoin addresses and the amount of Bitcoin to be transferred.

Signing the Transaction

Next, you 'sign' the transaction using your private key. Think of signing the transaction with your private key as entering your bank PIN to complete a transaction. This is a cryptographic process that essentially validates the transaction. Your private key is unique to you and must be kept secret as it proves that you own the Bitcoin you wish to send.

Broadcasting the Transaction

The signed transaction is then broadcasted to the Bitcoin network. Miners (people who validate transactions and add them to the blockchain) will see this transaction and add it to the block they're currently mining.

Confirmation of the Transaction

Once the block containing your transaction is added to the blockchain, your transaction is confirmed. The Bitcoin has effectively transferred from your address to the receiver’s address.

Now, where does a self-custody wallet fit into all of this?

A self-custody wallet is a software application that stores your private keys. It allows you to interact with the Bitcoin network (or any other blockchain network) by creating, signing, and broadcasting transactions on your behalf.

However, it's crucial to understand that the cryptos itself does not reside "in" the wallet. Rather, it's stored on the blockchain. The wallet is simply a tool that allows you to interact with the blockchain in a secure and user-friendly way.

Moreover, a self-custody wallet gives you full control over your private keys, unlike custodial wallets, where a third party manages the private keys. This means you are the sole person responsible for keeping your private keys secure. They provide a user-friendly interface for interacting with blockchain networks while securing your private keys. They allow you to make transactions on the blockchain while giving you full control over your digital assets.

Importance of your Private Keys

Think of your self-custody wallet as an email account, holding transactions (emails) of crypto (messages). Your private key is like your email password. Just like the password is needed to access your email, the private key is needed to access your wallet.

If someone obtains your password, they can access your email, send messages, and lock you out. Similarly, if someone gets your private key, they can make transactions and steal your funds.

If you lose your password without a recovery option, you lose access to your email. Similarly, losing your private key without a backup means losing access to your wallet. So, like your email password, manage your private key securely.

Benefits of Using a Self-Custody Wallet

Control Over Funds

Self-custody wallets provide users with full control over their assets, removing the need for intermediaries like banks or exchanges.


Self-custody wallets enhance privacy as transactions can be done directly between parties without revealing sensitive information to third parties.


Self-custody wallets offer robust security, making it difficult for unauthorized parties to access your funds without your private keys.

Gateway to DeFi

Self-custody wallets often integrate with DeFi platforms, allowing users to participate in yield farming, staking, and other DeFi activities.

Difference Between Self-Custody (Non-custodial) and Custodial Wallets

Self-Custody Wallets

Custodial Wallets


Users have full control over their funds

The service provider has control over users' funds


Users are responsible for their own security

The service provider is responsible for security


Transactions are private between users

Transactions go through the service provider and are less private


Users can access their funds anytime

Accessibility depends on the service provider

Different Types of Self-Custody Wallets

When it comes to storing your cryptos, there are several types of wallets to choose from, each with its unique pros and cons.

Hardware Wallets: The Fort Knox of Crypto Storage

These are the most secure self-custody wallets which store your private keys in a hardware wallet (think of hardware wallets like your pen drive). As long as you keep your hardware wallet safe, your funds are next to impossible to be stolen. Hardware wallets are also known as cold wallets as they are disconnected from the internet. You must protect your wallet from getting damaged, misplaced or stolen.

Example: Trezor, Ledger, etc.

Software Wallets: The Convenient Crypto Safes

Conversely, software wallets or 'hot wallets' offer internet-connected storage, making them more accessible and slightly more vulnerable. These wallets can be broken down into two types: browser/extension-based wallets and app-based wallets. Regardless of the category, your private key is encrypted and saved within your device or kept externally, based on your choice.

Furthermore, software wallets can manifest in different forms such as mobile wallets, smart contracts wallets, and desktop wallets. The defining factor here is the location of your private key storage. For instance, a desktop wallet would store your key on your computer.

Paper Wallets: The Old-School Crypto Safe

Paper wallets offer a blend of the digital and the physical. Just as the name implies, your private and public keys are printed and stored on paper. To conduct transactions, you use software applications, giving you a unique mix of hardware and software wallets' features.

Okto - A Revolutionary Self-Custody Wallet

Among the myriad of self-custody wallets, Okto stands out with its innovative features and robust security mechanisms. Developed by CoinDCX, India's largest crypto exchange, Okto offers multi-party computation, AI-based multi-factor authentication, and support for nearly all protocols that crypto users might need​1​.

One of Okto's standout features is its use of consensus-driven Multi-Party Computation (MPC) technology. This feature eliminates a single point of failure, giving users full control over their funds without the need to safeguard a single seed phrase​1​.

Okto also simplifies transactions by enabling users to pay gas fees in any token, thanks to an in-built gas optimisation service operating across blockchains​​. Additionally, Okto supports virtually unlimited protocols, making it a compelling solution for investing in DeFi. And you can also view your crypto Profit and Loss (P&L) in one place​.

Also Read: How is Okto different from other self-custody wallets

Best Practices to Secure Your Self-Custody Wallet

Keep Your Private Keys Safe

Your private keys are the keys to your crypto vault. Never share them with anyone, and make sure they are stored securely.

Update Your Wallet Software Regularly

Wallet software updates often include security enhancements. Make sure your wallet software is always up-to-date.

Consider Using Multi-Signature Wallets

These wallets require multiple signatures to authorize a transaction, providing an additional layer of security.

Be Careful with Online Services

Be wary of online services that require access to your private key. Always do your due diligence before trusting a service with your keys.


In the ever-evolving world of decentralized finance, self-custody wallets stand as a beacon of financial sovereignty. They offer control, security, and privacy that traditional financial systems cannot match. With myriad options available, including the revolutionary Okto, embracing self-custody wallets is a strategic move towards fully leveraging the benefits of DeFi. Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility, which holds true for managing your funds in the decentralized world of cryptos.

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