Getting into Bitcoin can be a steep learning curve for even the most technical of us; many of us who begin our journey will do so on a centralised service provider like a Bitcoin exchange. To later transition into other custody options as we get more comfortable with the process.
Bitcoin wallets have come a long way, and both desktop and mobile wallets provide user interfaces that have become as easy to use as custodial services, which can make it hard for people to understand the difference.
The front-facing wallets may seem similar, but the backend implementation counts a lot when abandoning or deleting a Bitcoin wallet.
Having a Bitcoin wallet is your gateway to the Bitcoin blockchain. Each gateway makes different trade-offs, so giving a straight answer isn’t easy.
I get this question of how to delete your Bitcoin wallet a lot, and because there are so many ways to interact with Bitcoin, it depends on how you’ve set up your Bitcoin interactions.
First, you need to establish if it is a custodial wallet or a non-custodial wallet. Once you figure out what type it is, you can pick from the options below.
Why would you want to delete a wallet?
Bitcoin wallets are free to use, and a free application that allows you to track, exchange, send and receive money seems like something most of us would keep around.
Nevertheless, people will find reasons to ditch one wallet for another, most of the time, it’s through sheer lack of knowlege. In most cases, I see people want to “delete” their Bitcoin wallet because they found another wallet provider that offers more options or has a better interface than they prefer.
Some like to consolidate their wallets and would instead want one access point for their Bitocin dealings rather than manage multiple wallets.
Another reason I have heard was the fact that their Bitcoin address was tied to an online profile, and they would like to maintain privacy.
Another reason would be they’ve lost the private keys to that wallet and would prefer to use a new wallet instead of going on the painful search for those keys.
A final reason is they don’t feel comfortable having personal data or contact details attached to a wallet which is the case with all custodial ad exchange wallet services.
Can you delete an exchange wallet?
If you’re managing your Bitcoin via an exchange, then sure, you can have your account deleted. Once you’ve sold your Bitcoin or moved all your coins to a new wallet provider, you should have nothing standing in your way.
Many exchanges will have a self-service request to delete an account and those that do not may require a manual request via email or support ticket. Since you’re dealing with a third-party service, your account has zero interaction with the blockchain and can therefore be removed as all your data remains in their walled garden server.
Despite your closing of the account, most exchanges will keep the data you created for a certain period of time. Depending on the country you live in, they may also be required to report your data to your local tax authority.
So if you think deleting your account with a KYC exchange after selling your Bitcoin and cashing ut is going to keep you safe, you’re probably going to be in for a rude awakening.
Can you delete a custodial Bitcoin wallet?
The short answer is yes.
Custodial wallets are similar to exchange wallets in that your interactions are signed by a third party, and not by yourself. When you make a Bitcoin transaction, you request a third party to do it for you, as they hold your coins for you.
If you’re using a custodial wallet tied to your email or phone number, you can generally delete the account within the wallet before deleting the app. If the option isn’t available in the desktop or mobile version of the app, you may need to contact the provider directly via email or support ticket to have your account with them removed.
Can you delete a non-custodial Bitcoin wallet?
The short answer is a resounding no.
When you create a non-custodial wallet with a set of private keys, this is a specific wallet that is uniquely assigned to you. Once you’ve generated the wallet, it remains in your possession until you hand over the private keys to someone else.
The wallet may have already signed transactions to the chain and that history can never be removed from the chain. If you have a non-custodial wallet you no longer wish to use, you can simply leave it dormant.
Alternatively, you can destroy the private keys so no one can ever reaccess the wallet. All you’re doing is destroying access to the wallet, but the wallet will always exist, and people with a public address to that wallet could still send funds to it, regardless of you destroying the keys.
A Bitcoin non-custodial wallet can never be deleted.
You can transfer a Bitcoin wallet.
if you no longer find the Bitcoin Wallet account you’ve been using as ideal and wish to delete it, you can simply delete the application you’re using. Instead of creating a new wallet, you can then migrate your current wallet to a new service provider.
As long as you have your seed phrase, the front end service you’re using doesn’t matter. In fact, you don’t have to be loyal to any provider; if you want to use one desktop wallet and one mobile wallet provider that isn’t the same, it won’t matter.
You can restore your wallet using your seed phrase to any wallet provider.