Custodial and Non-Custodial NFT Wallets Explained

Custodial and Non-Custodial NFT Wallets Explained

The popularity of NFTs is rising within the expanding DeFi ecosystem. In the realm of trading and holding NFTs and other crypto assets, individuals have the option to utilize custodial or non-custodial services. Custodial services take possession of your wallet's private key and safeguard your assets. On the other hand, non-custodial services provide users with full control over their wallets and digital assets. This enables users to directly trade their NFTs from their wallets, eliminating the requirement for intermediaries and fostering a decentralized market.


Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are highly sought after in the blockchain and DeFi ecosystems. When it comes to NFTs, it's essential to consider custodianship and who has control over them. Whether you choose to hold custody of your NFT or entrust it to someone else depends on your preferences and desired level of responsibility. This decision applies to both wallets and the platforms used for NFT trading and creation.

About Crypto Wallets

A crypto wallet is an essential tool for holding cryptocurrencies and interacting with blockchains. It consists of a public key, used for generating addresses to receive crypto, and a private key, which serves as a confidential password for signing transactions and accessing funds. There are various options available for crypto wallets, including paper-based keys, desktop software, and hardware devices. Additionally, some wallets can also store and transfer NFTs, tokens issued on a blockchain, alongside cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), and stablecoins.

Custodial Crypto Wallets

A custodial crypto wallet, unlike non-custodial wallets, doesn't provide full control over your private keys. In this arrangement, a third party, such as an exchange or custodial service provider, stores your assets on your behalf. While this means you can't access your private key directly, it can have its benefits depending on your needs.

By having a custodian for your private key, you transfer the responsibility to them and reduce the risk of permanently losing access to your wallet. Even if you forget your exchange password, customer support can help you regain access to your account.

However, it's important to note that with custodial wallets, a third party has control over your funds, so their reliability is crucial for the security of your crypto assets. Choosing a reputable exchange or service provider becomes essential in this case.

Non-Custodial Crypto Wallets

A non-custodial crypto wallet provides the wallet holder with full ownership and control of the private keys, making it the preferred option for users who want maximum control over their funds. However, this control also entails the responsibility of safely managing the keys and remembering the backup seed phrase. Non-custodial wallets are available as apps, executables, and browser extensions, with popular examples such as Trust Wallet and MetaMask. Some wallet services offer added security and convenience by allowing users to secure their keys through social logins.

NFT Compatible Wallets

You can store your crypto art or other NFTs in both custodial and non-custodial wallets. However, it's important to choose a wallet that supports the specific type of NFT you want to keep. NFTs exist on different blockchains, and each blockchain may have different token standards. The most common token standards are ERC-721 and ERC-1155 for Ethereum, and BEP-721 and BEP-1155 for BNB Smart Chain.

If you plan to use a custodial wallet like those provided by cryptocurrency exchanges, or a non-custodial wallet such as MetaMask or Trust Wallet, make sure to check if they support the blockchain and token standard of your NFT.

How Do I Buy NFT With My Wallet?

When buying NFT collectibles, the process will depend on the type of wallet and marketplace you prefer. If you desire full control over your NFT and prefer storing it in a non-custodial wallet, you will need to use a decentralized platform.

For non-custodial options, decentralized exchanges are commonly used. These exchanges don't require you to create an account or go through a signup process. Typically, trades occur directly between the wallets of the involved parties.

On the other hand, custodial NFT marketplaces act as intermediaries during the purchase. To participate in auctions, you must send your funds to the platform, which holds them in escrow. Once you acquire the NFT, you can choose to keep it in their custodial wallet or transfer it to another wallet of your choice.

Custodial marketplaces also necessitate transferring funds into their designated custodial wallet to buy and bid on NFTs. These platforms don't directly interact with external wallets and require your account to be funded with crypto.

The Custodial NFT Services’ Pros and Cons

Custodial services offer a convenient option for both newcomers and experienced users in the NFT space. They provide a straightforward way to connect NFT buyers and sellers, eliminating concerns about losing private keys. The platforms are designed with user-friendly interfaces, making the process more forgiving in case of errors. Additionally, reliable support is typically available to assist users when needed.

However, for crypto enthusiasts who prioritize decentralization, the lack of direct asset control poses a significant drawback. Some custodial NFT services require KYC checks, involving the submission of personal information such as name, address, and ID. Storing this data carries the risk of potential theft or breaches. It's also not uncommon for custodial services to experience hacking incidents.

The Non-Custodial NFT Services’ Pros and Cons

Non-custodial NFT platforms offer increased control and advantages during transactions. Trading NFTs directly from your wallet mean lower fees and enhanced privacy, depending on the network you use. Anonymity is possible without the need for KYC checks, requiring only a wallet to start.

However, non-custodial options may have drawbacks for new users. They can be less user-friendly and convenient compared to custodial platforms. Thankfully, service providers are improving the usability of decentralized applications (dApps).

Currently, non-custodial exchanges generally have lower liquidity and volume, except for major players like Uniswap. In the NFT industry, which is still in its early stages, it's challenging to measure liquidity accurately. Nevertheless, as the user base and trading volume grow, there's a strong possibility that non-custodial services will surpass custodial ones in the future. Additionally, cross-platform non-custodial marketplaces are under development to address liquidity concerns.


Custodial NFT Service

Non-custodial NFT Service

Private KeyThird-party ownershipWallet holder ownership
AccessibilityRegistered accountsAccessible to anyone
Transaction CostsTypically higherTypically lower
SecurityTypically lowerTypically higher
SupportTypically higherTypically lower


The choice between custodial and non-custodial NFT services depends on individual preferences and needs. Custodial services offer convenience and reliable customer support, but may not be suitable for those who prioritize decentralization. On the other hand, non-custodial services provide full control over the private keys, enhancing security and privacy, but may be less user-friendly and convenient for some. Understanding the pros and cons of each type of service and choosing a compatible wallet is essential for successful NFT trading and holding.


Custodial Wallet
Non-Custodial Wallet
Non-Fungible Token (NFT)
NFT Marketplace