How to Create a Bitcoin Wallet App

How to Develop a Bitcoin Wallet App
Aran Davies
Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer

Before undertaking Bitcoin wallet app development, any aspiring crypto developer needs to know exactly what the app needs to do. Here is a list of the main things a cryptocurrency wallet must do:

  1. It must generate the required Bitcoin addresses.
  2. The wallet needs to recognize transactions and be able to send funds to the above-mentioned addresses.
  3. At the other end of the spectrum, the wallet needs to recognize and process Bitcoin transactions being received from other addresses.
  4. The wallet must store the transaction history, and be able to show it when needed. Remember, Bitcoins are basically just digital transaction histories.
  5. The wallet needs to be able to handle the impacts of the Bitcoin blockchain database reorgs and other conflict resolution actions undertaken by the Bitcoin community.
  6. Bitcoin transaction fees vary, based on several factors. The wallet should be able to dynamically calculate the fees based on the latest rates.
  7. Must be able to build and sign Bitcoin transactions.
  8. Upon completion of the transaction, the wallet needs to broadcast the transaction to the Bitcoin blockchain.

Creating a Bitcoin wallet will require a set of good programmers. As I said in the introduction, bad code will lead to project failure.

If you are not sure that your development team has the necessary skills or background to code a great bitcoin wallet app then we recommend considering outsourcing the jobs you are not sure about.

That said, there are various tools and libraries available to help developers. These include full node, pruned node, and various application programming interfaces (APIs), which I will briefly touch upon.

Additionally, a developer unfamiliar with blockchain technology should definitely spend the time to fully understand it. Many of the libraries and tools mentioned below presuppose a reasonable amount of knowledge on this subject. If you need to brush up on blockchain then a good starting point is this blockgeeks article.

The Bitcoin protocol has its own unique characteristics. For developers planning to code a Bitcoin wallet from scratch, a range of skillsets are essential that relate to blockchain technology.

Developers need to understand the importance of the cryptographic hash function, the need for a decentralized protocol, how to prevent the problem of ‘double-spend’, ‘proof of work’ (POW) consensus algorithm, and public and private key cryptography.

To gain the necessary familiarity with these concepts, we recommend this article by Michael Nielsen, as a starting point.

How to create a Bitcoin wallet app using popular libraries

One way to create a Bitcoin wallet app is to rely heavily on existing tools.

There are loads of free libraries and tools to help developers. The most important of which are the ones that synchronize the wallet app with the blockchain to make the transaction process easier.

Coinbase Software Development Kit (SDK):

The digital currency exchange Coinbase has an SDK to help developers build a cryptocurrency wallet app. This cross-platform Java library can be used for Python and Ruby also.

The SDK allows users to use Bitcoin to purchase other currencies, has a good transaction management capability, and supports crypto payments. Coinbase SDK supports development for the iOS and Android platforms and has a very good guide that offers a detailed explanation of how to build a cryptocurrency wallet app.

There is a registration process for the developer to follow, and some features may not be available in every country.

BitcoinJ SDK:

If you are a Java developer, this SDK is a good choice to build your own wallet app. It’s a cross-platform library, and can also be used from Java Virtual Machine (JVM)-compatible languages such as C++, JavaScript, Ruby, and Python.

The BitcoinJ SDK has the following capabilities:

  • It allows the developer to create a Bitcoin wallet app with factor authentication encryption.
  • Works with existing wallets.
  • Makes sending, receiving Bitcoin, and checking balances easy.
  • The developer can work with TestNet3, i.e. the official Bitcoin test network, and MainNet, i.e. the main Bitcoin network.
  • Both Windows and Android wallets can be created.

A significant advantage of this SDK is that the wallet is created in the user’s device, and the developer doesn‘t need to store her private key or bitcoin address anywhere else. There is no registration required, and the quality of documentation is very good.

Blockchain wallet API:

Blockchain Luxemburg Ltd. has arguably the most popular Bitcoin wallets. A developer can create a Bitcoin wallet app using their application programming interfaces (APIs).

The company provides excellent documentation which is easy to follow. Using this a developer can complete all the necessary steps in a very short time:

  • Installation;
  • Create wallet API:
    • Set a password for the wallet,
    • Configure an API code for managing the permissions in the wallet,
    • Set up a private key,
    • Designate an optional label for the first address in the wallet,
    • Associate an email address with the wallet.
  • Make outgoing payment transactions;
  • Send Bitcoin to multiple recipients;
  • Check wallet balance;
  • List the active addresses;
  • Get the Bitcoin balance of an active address;
  • Generate a new address;
  • Archive or unarchive an address.

It supports all prominent platforms – Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. All major programming languages are also supported, including Java, Python, and Ruby.

The API is free, which is another advantage for developers who are on tight budgets or planning any other blockchain wallet development or Bitcoin application projects.

Develop a Bitcoin wallet app from scratch

Colorful code on a dark background

There are times when a developer may opt to create a Bitcoin wallet from scratch without using any existing libraries.

Such a decision may be down to specific requirements for the app or the limitations of existing libraries.

To code a bitcoin wallet app development project from scratch requires significant programming skills, and the developer is likely to stumble onto several issues. We recommend reading this helpful article before starting the project. It should help first-time developers avoid many of these traps.

A difference in this approach is that the developer needs to address the following:

  • Synchronization of the blockchain network by installing the required APIs or tools;
  • Creating the Bitcoin wallet app, including all the necessary programming;
  • Develop the program to adjust permissions for outgoing and incoming transactions;
  • Writing, testing, and implementing standard programs for the commonly used transaction process steps, for e.g. checking the wallet balance.

The first step – Build a great development team

Since there is quite a range of diverse skills required, a good development team will need people with the following skills:

  • UX/UI designers, who will build the user interface of the wallet;
  • Mobile and backend developers, to work on the main app as well as the mobile version;
  • QA specialists to thoroughly test the Bitcoin wallet app.

We recommend that the development team install a full node of the Bitcoin blockchain for this project.

While other approaches can be used, for e.g. pruned node, full SPV node, or SPV node, using a full node is generally the most recommended one.

The development team can do this using Bitcoin Core‘s RPC, i.e. ‘remote procedure call’. We recommend using NBitcoin for this. The team should first fully synchronize the node, and the subsequent operations can be done using the RPC commands.

The ’initial blockchain downloading‘ (IBD) can take more than a day. After it‘s complete, the team should start ‘bitcoin’, i.e. the program that implements the Bitcoin protocol for RPC calls.

Here is a good guideline to help developers learn the necessary commands to manage the wallet in a full node. Simply click this link and you can read it in full here.

This approach has a few distinct advantages, namely the following:

  • This is one of the oldest approaches and has been tested by many Bitcoin developers.
  • While not an everyday occurrence, a fork of the Bitcoin network may happen to generate a lot of debate in the community. Using a full node gives any developer the ability to decide which version of the Bitcoin blockchain they want to use should a fork occur.
  • There is good documentation available.

There are also some disadvantages, e.g.:

  • For someone unfamiliar with Bitcoin Core, the APIs may appear less user-friendly;
  • IBD is a time-consuming affair, but it‘s a must for using a full node;
  • There are limits to the number of transactions the wallet can support;
  • Every wallet addition requires a restart of ’bitcoin‘;
  • Only a limited number of wallets can be created.

Developers can add a wallet on top of RPC, or use ’Bitcoin Knots‘, i.e. a Bitcoin Core fork created by another Bitcoin developer named ‘luke-jr’.

From this point onwards, developments can proceed as they do in any other app development, for e.g. setting a password for the app, or integrating a QR code scanner and push notifications in the mobile app.

Choose cloud platforms for Bitcoin wallet app development

You will develop web and mobile Bitcoin wallet apps, therefore, you need to choose the appropriate cloud platforms.

What kind of cloud platform should you use for web app development? I recommend that you use AWS Elastic Beanstalk, which is the “Platform-as-a-Service” (PaaS) offering from AWS.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk offers several advantages, e.g.:

  • It manages the cloud infrastructure, networking, operating system, middleware, and runtime environment. You can concentrate on development.
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk has excellent DevOps and auto-scaling solutions.
  • You can easily integrate APIs when you use this PaaS platform.

Want to know more about PaaS? Our guide “10 top PaaS providers” can help.

How about the mobile Bitcoin wallet app development? You will need a cloud platform for that too, wouldn’t you? I recommend that you use AWS Amplify. It’s the “Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service” (MBaaS) platform from AWS.

AWS Amplify offers plenty of advantages, e.g.:

  • It manages cloud infrastructure and persistent storage. This significantly reduces your workload of developing and managing the mobile backend.
  • You can easily integrate APIs when you use AWS Amplify.
  • Building a scalable mobile app is easier when you use an MBaaS platform like AWS Amplify.

Our guide “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?” can offer more insights about MBaaS platforms.

Use the right technology stack for developing your Bitcoin wallet app

Which technology stack should you use? Well, we spoke about the APIs already, therefore, let’s talk about the programming languages now.

I recommend the following:

  • Use Node.js for developing the web app. This open-source runtime environment helps you to develop scalable web apps. It’s based on JavaScript, and many developers know JavaScript. They can easily learn it, moreover, Node.js offers high productivity. We have explained its advantages in “10 great tools for Node.Js software development”.
  • For native Android development, you can consider either Java or Kotlin. Java needs no introduction! On the other hand, Kotlin is relatively new. However, it’s a powerful language that helps you to code performant apps. You can read our guide “Kotlin vs Java: Which is the best choice?” and make an informed choice between the two.
  • You can use either Swift or Objective-C for native iOS app development. For a long time, Objective-C has been the mainstay of iOS development. Many iOS developers know this powerful language. However, Apple is championing Swift in recent years, and it’s a feature-rich language too. This modern language helps you to code highly performant iOS apps, moreover, it lowers your maintenance costs. Wondering which one to choose? Our guide “How to migrate your Objective-C project to Swift?” can help.

How do you find competent developers for these languages though? Depending on the local job market, you could face challenges in onboarding competent developers.

Remember that the programmers you onboard should know the technology stack you choose. At the same time, they should also have experience in developing a cryptocurrency wallet app. Our guide “How to find a good software developer” can help you.

Important points to consider when developing Bitcoin wallets

Consider the following key aspects when building Bitcoin wallets:

1. Security is very important for a crypto wallet

Indeed, many crypto users pay plenty of attention to the security aspects before transacting in digital currencies. They explore hardware wallets, software wallets, and paper wallets.

Within the ambit of physical wallets, crypto users evaluate several wallet providers. Security considerations play a key part in this evaluation.

It’s no different when crypto users evaluate software wallets. They review the security features closely when evaluating mobile wallets, desktop wallets, and web wallets.

Users opting for Bitcoin paper wallets prioritize security too. They explore various ways to keep their paper wallets safe.

Your project planning exercise needs to factor this in. Demonstrate the security features clearly during the product demonstration and other marketing efforts.

2. Hire developers with relevant experience in developing crypto wallet apps

A lot goes into developing online wallets! In the case of hardware wallets, the focus is clearly on hardware-related technologies. That changes considerably when you develop mobile wallets and online wallets.

Developers need to simultaneously handle several key aspects. These include the management of private keys. Programmers need to effectively develop functions like linking the Bitcoin accounts of users.

You need sufficiently experienced developers. Hire them from trustworthy hybrid software development companies like DevTeam.Space.

3. Focus adequately on the user interface

Many users find it hard to send and receive Bitcoin. Transacting in cryptocurrencies is harder than managing a traditional bank account online.

In the first place, many users are new to this. They can get overwhelmed with the number of things that they must manage securely. These include the private key, Bitcoin address, wallet address, etc.

You need to provide a user-friendly crypto wallet. Users should be able to manage their wallet addresses easily. The crypto wallet must mask the complexities. When it comes to using crypto wallets on mobile devices, simplicity is even more important.

Providers of most wallets now understand this well. They are prioritizing the user interface. To compete in this market, you need to focus on ease of use too.

The Easy Route: Integrate ready-made payment services, or develop a Bitcoin wallet app?

While we have so far discussed how to develop a Bitcoin wallet app using available libraries or by building one wallet from scratch, it‘s pertinent to note that for a small business going down either of these routes may not be necessary.

There are ready-made Bitcoin payment solutions that small businesses can just integrate into their app.

Below are a few examples:

  1. Stripe users in the USA can receive Bitcoin payments in USD, following an API integration.
  2. Cryptopay Ltd., a UK-based company, allows a small business owner to add a Bitcoin payment option to her website.
  3. Shopify, using which a small business owner can create her personal store, allows Bitcoin as a payment method.
  4. BitPay, the USA-based payment service provider, allows Bitcoin payments and has mobile solutions for this as well.
  5. BitBay is another service provider that allows Bitcoin payment and has an Android app for this.
  6. Australia-based BitPOS has a payment platform that accepts Bitcoin.
  7. Coinbase Commerce: This is an excellent suite of services! The small business owner needs to create a Coinbase Commerce account, and it’s free. Entrepreneurs can accept Bitcoin payments on their website via their Bitaddress using simple payment buttons and pages. There is also a cool integration with Shopify, and custom integration with Commerce API is also possible. The integration with Shopify is very useful especially for small business owners using shopping carts on their websites. It’s easy to generate the necessary API keys, and there is good documentation
  8. Virtual currency platform Coinify has their ’Coinify Merchant‘, using which merchants can accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency payments on their website. There are easy integration options available for many platforms. The payment process flow is automatic but still allows the owner to retain full control of funds all the way to their bank account.
  9. Coinkite, the maker of crypto security hardware, offers Bitcoin payment options through its merchant tool and point-of-sale (POS) payment terminals.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take a cash app to verify a bitcoin wallet?

Approximately 24 hours.

How to send Bitcoin using a crypto wallet app?

You only need the recipient’s address to send Bitcoin. Open your app and click send. Once you have done this you will be asked to fill in your details before sending the Bitcoin.

How to Develop a Bitcoin Wallet App?

A Bitcoin wallet app requires expert developers. If you do not have developers with the required expertise then contact DevTeam.Space to get them.


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