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Leather (Hiro) Wallet: What It Is and How To Use It

Beginner
Grey closed belt on a purple background.
KEY TAKEAWAYS:
— Leather is an open-source wallet that allows you full control to access, secure, and manage assets across Bitcoin, Stacks L2, and other emerging Layers.

— Leather bridges Bitcoin and Layer 2 solutions, providing a seamless and secure way to tap into Bitcoin’s economy.

— Leather is compatible with the Ledger Bitcoin wallet, enabling an extra layer of security while ensuring user convenience.

Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency not just because it is the first, but because it is the perfect store of value. Often dubbed digital gold, Bitcoin is often associated with long-term investments or financial storage. Meanwhile, other blockchains have thrived for separate purposes like NFTs and dApps. Bitcoin wasn’t designed with these capabilities in mind. However, today, you’ll find a number of protocols introducing new assets and functionalities to the chain. Two of these assets you may have heard of include Bitcoin stamps and Ordinals.

These types of Bitcoin assets are experimental, meaning education is key. Essentially, if you want to start managing any type of alternative Bitcoin asset, you’ll need a wallet to support them. 

One such wallet is Leather. Essentially Leather is one of the few wallets you can use to protect ordinals and Stamps. Plus, it works with your Ledger device too! But before we get there, let’s first attack the basics.

What is Leather (Hiro) Wallet?

Leather (Hiro) is a non-custodial software wallet for BTC and alternative Bitcoin assets. Today, it’s probably the most popular wallet for managing alternative Bitcoin assets such as Ordinals, BRC-20 tokens, Stamps, and Runes. But of course, you can also use Leather to deposit, view, create, trade, and transfer assets on the Bitcoin mainnet. It also supports Bitcoin layer 2 chain Stacks, with support for the Lightning network coming soon. 

Apart from these main uses, Leather aims to give users access to hundreds of decentralized apps. Some of these applications include NFT Marketplaces like Gamma, and Magic Eden, and decentralized exchanges such as ALEX and Velar. In short, it’s a highly versatile wallet that offers ways to get involved with the ever-growing ecosystem. 

To understand more about it, let’s first dive into its history.

Origin of Leather Bitcoin Wallet

Formerly known as Hiro, Leather was originally released in December 2018. It was primarily designed to be compatible with the Bitcoin blockchain and Stacks, a Bitcoin Layer 2 solution.

In August 2023 Hiro became Leather Wallet during a major rebranding. This was following the acquisition of Hiro Systems PBC by Trust Machines. At this point, it had amassed over 375,000 installations, 100,000+ monthly active users, and transactions exceeding 300,000 monthly.

Today, Leather continues to evolve, offering a versatile wallet helping users navigate Bitcoin Web3 with one vision: driving the global transition to a digital economy built on Bitcoin.

How Does Leather (Hiro) Wallet Work?

Like all non-custodial wallets, Leather doesn’t actually store your Bitcoin assets. Your assets are stored on the blockchain and Leather Wallet stores your private keys instead. How it does so works a little differently depending on which version you have. 

The browser extension version operates via your web browser. Currently, it’s supported by four different browsers: Firefox, Chrome, Brave, and Edge. With this browser extension version, the private keys to your account are locally encrypted within your browser’s data storage. Then for the desktop version, these keys are stored on the host device (i.e. your laptop or PC). 

These approaches are ideal for quick and fast transactions, however, they are not incredibly secure. Similarly to all software wallets, their built-in private key management system is vulnerable to online threats such as malware and spyware. As such, using Leather alone is only suitable for storing minimal amounts of crypto.

If you want to use Leather to store assets long-term, you’ll need to connect your account to a hardware wallet. Luckily, connecting Leather to your Ledger device Ledger allows you to benefit from Leather’s functionality while keeping your private keys safe.

Pros of Leather (Hiro) Wallet

To see why Leather is so popular, let’s take a look at some of its perks.

Protecting Alternative Bitcoin Assets

With a rapidly changing Bitcoin ecosystem, crypto wallets must adapt, and Leather has been committed to doing so. To clarify, Leather was one of the first Bitcoin wallets to provide testnet support for Bitcoin Ordinals, allowing early access to manage and perform inscription-based transactions. That means you can also collect rare sats or participate in trading BRC-20 tokens. The ordinal ecosystem is still growing, and Leather is committed to growing with it.

Plus Leather doesn’t just support the ordinals protocol. It also supports other protocols using Bitcoin to create alternative assets, such as the STAMPS, and runes protocols. And of course, as a Bitcoin wallet, you can also set up accounts to manage BTC itself.

Accessibility

Leather wallet is free for anyone to download and install on their device via easy and quick-to-set-up options. You can choose between a browser extension wallet and a Desktop application depending on your trading styles and preference or download them both. With Leather’s software wallet, you can connect and interact with the Bitcoin applications with just a click of a button.

Cons of Hiro Wallet

Its Security

Leather wallet has multiple security layers to encrypt and password-protect your private keys. It has also undergone a comprehensive audit to identify improvement areas and address potential threat vectors. 

However, all software wallets have a higher chance of hacks and vulnerabilities since they operate on your web2 device, which is vulnerable to online threats.

That said, Leather wallet is compatible with a Ledger device. That means you can manage Bitcoin ordinals and STAMPS with your Leather wallet, but use your Ledger device to secure the private keys of your accounts. All you have to do is connect these two wallets and you can have the best of both worlds. Let’s see how that works.

How To Connect Your Ledger Device to Leather (Hiro) Wallet

If you want to connect your Ledger device to Leather wallet, you will first need to decide what kind of assets you are going to protect. To access Bitcoin layer 2 chain Stacks, you will need to install a new Stacks app via Ledger Live. To do that, follow the steps in our help center article on how to add a stacks app.  Then create a new stacks account. From there, you should be able to initiate your Leather wallet and choose the “Use Ledger” option to link the 2 accounts together. For a full explanation, check out this support article on connecting Leather to Ledger.

If you want to protect Ordinals or stamps with a Ledger device and Leather wallet, the process is slightly different. First of all, you will need to create a new Bitcoin account with your Ledger device and make sure it’s taproot enabled. From there, you can choose an ordinals-specific account in your Leather wallet and then connect it to your Ledger device. The best bit? You can manage a range of alternative and experimental assets without worrying that a bad actor may hack and reveal your private keys.

Final Thoughts on Leather (Hiro) Wallet

Leather wallet gives you an easy-to-use and secure interface to store and manage various Bitcoin assets like BTC, Ordinals, BRC-20 tokens, etc. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced user, Leather’s advanced features allow you to explore the Bitcoin ecosystem and Layer 2 solutions. Leather says it’s focused on giving users the choice as to “when” and “how” they use their assets.

As such, Leather integrates with Ledger devices, giving you the best of both worlds: the security of a hardware wallet and the convenience of a software wallet. So what are you waiting for? Start managing your Bitcoin Ordinals with ease using Leather wallet and Ledger devices. Only you have true ownership of your assets and can control your crypto journey. After all, what else is self-custody about?


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