One of the biggest all-in-one banking apps SoFi has recently introduced crypto accounts. Users can now purchase various crypto assets and hold them in their SoFi account. But do you actually own the crypto you buy on SoFi?
Unfortunately, you do not own crypto on SoFi directly since SoFi does not give you access to the private keys of your crypto wallet. Instead, SoFi controls the crypto assets and holds them in a custodial account for you.
In this article, we’ll go over whether SoFi lets you own your crypto and what the deal is with their crypto wallet. I’ll also cover if you can sell or transfer your crypto out of the SoFi ecosystem. Lastly, I’ll go through step-by-step how to safely and securely buy crypto with ownership.
Does SoFi let you own crypto?
Before we can answer this question definitely, let’s first look at what makes trues ownership in crypto. You may have heard of the saying: “Not your keys, not your crypto”. What this means is that if you do not have the private keys to the public wallet your crypto is kept, you have no direct control and hence no ownership of your crypto assets.
So, the only question we need to ask when wondering whether you own your crypto on SoFi is: does SoFi provide you with private keys to a public wallet when you buy crypto? And the answer is clearly no!
Another way to think about crypto ownership is to consider several metrics such as accessibility, and transferability:
- Accessibility: Accessibility refers to your ability to access your crypto assets at any time. True ownership only exists when you can access and trade your assets regardless of SoFi’s trading hours and office hours.
- Transferability: Transferability is the ability to transfer your crypto assets to any other public Web3 wallet. For true ownership to exist, SoFi would have to let users transfer crypto assets out of their own ecosystem.
Both of the above metrics of ownership are not met by SoFi crypto accounts. Thus, SoFi, unforunately, does not let you truely own crypto.
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Does SoFi have a crypto wallet?
SoFi offers users a crypto wallet on their terms. Users are able to purchase and store more than 30 different crypto assets on SoFi including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Polkadot, and many more. However, SoFi’s crypto wallet is not a crypto wallet in the true sense of the word. What do I mean by that?
A crypto wallet refers to the fact that the wallet and the asset therein are secured by encryption. This encryption is enforced by a public key and a private key. The public wallet address is – as the name suggests – public and visible to anyone. The private key, however, is only known to you and acts as a secret password to unlock the wallet and access funds.
But let’s give credit where credit’s due: SoFi actually does a great job explaining the differences in crypto wallets themselves. Unfortnuately, they fail to put their preaching into practice. Since we know – and SoFi knows – that a cold storage wallet with private key control offers true crypto ownership, why not offer SoFi users exactly that?
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Can I sell my crypto on SoFi?
Crypto assets that are bought on SoFi can also be sold again on SoFi. Notice that I explicitily wrote, “on SoFi”. I did this on purpose to highlight the fact that crypto assets you buy on SoFi cannot be sold on any public crypto exchange but only in the SoFi app.
Usually, crypto assets are platform-agnostic, meaning they can be bought, sold, and traded on any platform or app that supports Web3 integration. However, on SoFi the sale of crypto assets is limited to their platform since you do not truly own your crypto on SoFi as we’ve discussed above.
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Can you transfer your crypto out of SoFi?
Another downside of not owning the private keys to your crypto wallet is that you are never able to transfer funds outside of the SoFi ecosystem. Crypto assets should be transferable to any other public Web3 address instantly. With your crypto on SoFi that is not possible!
In order to transfer your crypto out of the SoFi app, you will need to sell your crypto on SoFi, then withdraw the cash from your SoFi account, and lastly buy the same assets somewhere else.
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How to buy crypto and own it
Since we’ve only talked about SoFi’s lack of crypto ownership up until now, let’s actually look at how to buy crypto so that you truly own it! Since the steps vary a little bit depending on the blockchain you want to engage with I’ll just give the general outline here:
- Create a Web3 Wallet: Every blockchain has their own wallet system to securely store assets. For instance, Ethereum’s most popular wallet is called Metamask and can be directly installed in your browser.
- Buy Crypto: The next step is to buy crypto assets on an exchange that will let you withdraw funds to a Web3 wallet. Some of the most popular exchanges are Coinbase, Binance, and FTX.
- Withdraw Crypto: Once you have traded your dollars for crypto and the balance shows up on your exchange account you will need to withdraw the crypto assets to your newly created Web3 wallet.
As you can see the steps above demand a little more involvement in the process of buying crypto but ultimately pay off since you not only will have true ownership over your crypto but also learn a ton in the process.
While SoFi offers a compelling user interface and easy access to crypto assets, it, unfortunately, does not come with true crypto ownership. Since you do not own your private keys on SoFi, you also do not own your crypto on SoFi. As a result, funds can never be withdrawn to a public Web3 wallet.
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