The new Mycelium wallet is integrating fiat currencies, debit cards, personal finance, and more

Mycelium provides one of the oldest, most popular, and feature-rich bitcoin wallets on offer. The company's latest estimate is close to 200,000 active wallet users, with over 157,570 installs from Google Play, and about 150,000 more from alternative platforms in China.

The main reason that this dark-themed wallet stood out from the crowd before now is security. Bitcoin private keys never leave the user's control, unlike popular competing apps from Coinbase and Circle.

The wallet also includes a range of services, like a way to buy and sell bitcoins from inside the app, a local trader marketplace, hardware wallet support, and even a secure chat app.

An upcoming “massive upgrade” promises to “make it useful for everybody,” and includes the ability to hold, send, and receive tokenized versions of fiat currencies, such as US dollars and Japanese Yen.

Users will have to buy fiat-backed tokens from a gateway first, which could be any bank or exchange that is configured and licensed to sell them. Tether, Counterparty, Monetas, Ripple, and Stellar already tokenize a range of such assets. Surprisingly, Mycelium chose to partner with a relative unknown service, the WAVES Platform; a European startup run by Sashsa Ivanov, formerly of Coinoindex.

Forex trading in the cryptocoin space is typically a multiple-step process. Each exchange, such as BitFinex or Shapeshift, required a tokenized national fiat, like Tether's USD token, to be exchanged for bitcoin before moving into a different fiat currency. WAVES claims one important advantage over the other platforms; tokens can be traded directly for other tokens on their website-based exchange, not just for a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.

- WAVES Whitepaper

Their platform has some other interesting applications, like crowdfunding, built right in. However, Mycelium chose WAVES because they simply asked first, according to project manager Dmitry "Rassah" Muraschik, and were a great fit for their needs. “Waves actually approached us,” Rassah told Brave New Coin. “They seem to have the resources and connections to make it happen too.”

There are several other features that Mycelium promised to debut in the new wallet, including a remittance solution powered by the new token trading solution, added layers of privacy, and debit cards will be linked to each wallet, and can even be requested from within the wallet.

A Quicken-like app will allow each wallet to keep up with personal finances, including bill payment and issuing invoices. An investment portfolio, business escrow app, and even a way to create and issue your own tokens, are all slated as new features this summer.

Rassah mentioned that he's excited about the personal finance application. “Personally I would just love to be able to manage my money on my wallet without wondering where it disappeared to.” Meanwhile, he is working hardest on implementing the advanced privacy features. “Being able to focus on those is one of the major reasons we went with the plugin API model.”

While the developers work on new core features, external developers can use the APIs to integrate their own features, including adding new currencies. “Having the third parties do their own thing, and leave us alone to focus on what we think is important,” Rassah explained.

- Project manager Dmitry "Rassah" Muraschik

All of this flexibility will be possible while still securing assets safely, in the same way it always has done for bitcoin. “The wallet will securely store the required private keys,” said Rassah, “and will use the plugin to get balance updates and send transactions.”

Backing up the new types of coins won't be much harder than it is now either. In some cases there is no need to do any more backups at all. “For colored coins, since they are bitcoin based, they should be derived using the same 12-word seed as Mycelium's other accounts,” Rassah stated. “In the future we'll also support encrypted cloud backup of metadata and other keys. The plan is to have that also be encrypted using the 12-word seed.”

The upgraded wallet is such a major change to the code that they had to rebuild it from scratch. This means two different wallets will exist for a while, giving users enough time to migrate. “The upgrade would involve importing your 12-word seed into the new wallet, and we may add a way to export metadata from the old wallet and import it into the new one.”

Part of the reason the change is so drastic is because the decision was made to put the whole wallet on a more scalable platform, which it needed for the plugins, and platform compatibility. “The new wallet is built in ReactNative,” explained Rassah, “which currently runs on Android and iOS, and will soon run on Windows Phone, Windows PC, and xBox. As long as ReactNative support for various devices keeps growing, we should be able to get our new wallet out on those devices as well.”

With such an ambitious upgrade on the horizon, Mycelium chose run a crowdsale for funding, which ends in nine days. The page states that a maximum of 7,500 BTC will be accepted for a total five percent stake of Mycelium wallet, and to date they've raised over 1,440 bitcoins already, worth over US$665,000. Waves is also running a crowdsale at the moment, ending in 22 days, and has raised over 8061 bitcoins, worth over US$3.5 million.