For this guide, we’ll go through setting up a Ledger from scratch and importing the keys into MetaMask. These steps may appear extreme, but keep in mind that if you’ve decided to spend money on a hardware wallet, it’s in your best interest to keep your keys as safe as possible. As the saying goes, “not your keys, not your coins,” and if you store your keys digitally they very well might fall into the wrong hands.
Why use a hardware wallet?
While you can “deposit” your tokens into a wallet, it doesn’t actually hold your tokens – those exist on the blockchain. Instead, your wallet contains your private key, which certifies to the blockchain that you are the owner of your allotted tokens. Your wallet’s private keys are critically important – if someone got ahold of your keys, all they would have to do is import them into another wallet in order to steal all of your tokens. With a hardware wallet like a Ledger, your private keys never leave the device. You need to plug it into your computer every time you want to sign a transaction. With extensions like MetaMask, this provides a critical buffer between your wallet and malicious websites.
Buying a Ledger
Buy directly from their site, since secondhand sellers have been known to tamper with the device. However, be wary – the Ledger site has been compromised before, exposing previous customers’ email and home addresses. If you worry that this will happen again, you could order to a PO box using a disposable email.
There are two options: the entry-level Nano S, and the “premium” Nano X. Realistically, there’s no reason to go with the upgraded version – the features are essentially the same. At the moment, the Ledger store is running a Crypto Starter Pack deal, including a discounted Nano S and $25 in credit with Coinify’s exchange. If you’re brand-new to crypto, or looking for a decent deal on some more coins, this is the way to go – just be sure to check that Coinify is available in your region before you buy.
Setting up a Ledger
Unbox your Ledger, then set up a PIN code – from 4 to 8 digits – and go through the process of generating a 24-word seed phrase. While it’s tempting to store this key on your phone, your computer, or in the cloud for the sake of convenience, cloud breaches are too common and could put your key at risk. Instead, physically write down your phrase on the three mnemonic cards included in the Ledger box, or even better, engrave it on steel plates.
For even better security, write a different two-thirds of your seed phrase on each of three cards. For instance, write words 1-16 on card one, words 1-8 and 17-24 on card two, and words 9-24 on card three. If you kept the cards in different locations, a thief would need two of them in order to actually acquire your entire seed phrase. You could even lose one of them with no issue. Of course, if you do find that one of your cards has gone missing, it would be prudent to transfer all of your assets from that account to a new one and set up your Ledger from scratch, performing a hard reset as outlined earlier.
Importing to MetaMask
Download the MetaMask browser extension here – there are options for Chrome, Firefox, Brave, and Edge, so choose your preferred browser. From there, you’ll import your Ledger wallet.
MetaMask supports Ledger natively. Simply open the MetaMask extension, click the circle in the top right corner of the window, and click Connect Hardware Wallet. Since we’ve already done the work of generating private keys, all we have to do at this point is follow the instructions in MetaMask to continue importing the Ledger.
Adding Tokens to MetaMask
Exchanges like changenow.io, Kucoin, and Bitrue, and software wallets like Exodus, run BNB on the BEP-2 protocol, the standard Binance Chain. However, MetaMask and PancakeSwap run on BEP-20, or Binance Smart Chain. BEP-2 addresses start with “bnb,” whereas BEP-20 (smart chain) addresses start with “0x.” If you get an error withdrawing your BNB tokens to MetaMask, the site or wallet that’s holding them might only support BEP-2. If so, you can download the Binance Chain Wallet, an extension for Chrome/Brave and Firefox, which supports both protocols and will allow you to perform on-chain transfers from Binance Chain to Binance Smart Chain. To maximise security, import your Ledger wallet to Binance Chain Wallet as well so that you can keep your tokens safe throughout the transfer from exchange to wallet.
Trading servers are another option for obtaining tokens. One of the easiest to use is run by tip.cc, whose bot supports over 480 currencies, including BNB. The service utilizes BEP-20, allowing direct transfers to and from MetaMask without dealing with Binance Chain Wallet. If you’re looking to get into DeFi without dealing with exchanges, the trading server provides a low-risk opportunity to try new tokens.
If you already have BEP-20 tokens in another MetaMask account or hot wallet, prepare to transfer them to a new account generated from your Ledger key. Be mindful to transfer your BNB last. Otherwise, you will be unable to cover the transaction fees to send your other tokens. If you do so by accident, no big deal – simply send a few dollars’ worth of BNB back into the hot wallet to cover those fees.
Once you have MetaMask set up with your Ledger, you’ll be able to use DeFi with peace of mind. From now on, you’ll need the Ledger plugged in and unlocked in order to sign transactions, such as sending tokens or withdrawals/deposits into dexes. However, there’s no need to sign when receiving tokens – simply input your smart chain address to the exchange you’d like to withdraw from, or give it to someone to receive crypto from them. Your Ethereum and BSC addresses are the same, so if you try to receive ETH while your wallet is connected to the Binance network, or vice versa, you will have no problems – just switch to the correct network and your tokens should appear.
For more info on putting your Ledger/MetaMask setup to work with DeFi, stay tuned – our PancakeSwap tutorial will guide you through liquidity pools and yield farming.