Lightning Wallets Comparison
In depth functionalities review of all Bitcoin Lightning Wallets, analyzed in 4 categories.
OK, we onboard new users into Bitcoin. But many of them are confused by the plethora of type of wallets and don't know exactly with which one they should start or is suitable for their own use.
If you are new to Lightning Network, I suggest to read first this guide.
We will talk ONLY about Lightning Network wallets. Let's consider the onchain ones, for other purposes than just spending. Anyways, in general almost all LN wallets already have functionality of using onchain too.
Yes, I know, there are also other “LN wallets” out there, but many are still in development, are NOT real LN wallets (just faking it), are heavily custodial KYC or simply not worth mentioning here.
This is an important aspect: learning curve is slow and have to be from simple to advanced, passing through all steps. Never push the noob into complicated things that in that moment do not understand, let him to learn slowly. Have patience.
Lightning Wallet Categories
So let's categorize a bit the types of wallet apps. Later we will dive into each one, explaining why and how was categorized and presenting main functionalities.
There are many users and each one with his own level of knowledge and understanding, usage. In this section will see which app is suitable for specific level of knowledge.
We have to make an important distinction between those that user can have full control of the keys or not. In Bitcoin this is a very important aspect and should not be ignored.
I will try to keep is short, only with main characteristics and functionalities that users appreciate most and looking to use. Not too many technical details, more usability aspect.
Here is also a detailed list of wallets and services that support LNURL specs if you want to know more technical details about how is working and what more services can be used with LNURL.
Will split all types and characteristics in 4 important sections for a clear view:
A - Beginner / Custodial
Beginner - the user that start now with Bitcoin and Lightning Network, doesn't have too much knowledge, just want to experience with some small amounts and learn the basic, the terms, not entering too deep into security and privacy. In general here can enter all custodial wallets, for simplicity of onboarding.
Custodial - wallet app that do not offer full control of the keys, export them or even restore the wallet into another app. The user is trapped to stick with the wallet provider and should take that in consideration seriously. For small amounts is totally OK.
A.1. - Functionalities Chart
A.2. - NOTES:
Bitcoin Beach wallet, is used only locally in El Salvador, El Zonte beach, specially designed for the people living there, to help them with easy onboarding. The wallet was created by Galoy Team and is also used in Costa Rica for Bitcoin Jungle project, similar like El Zonte beach.
Chivo wallet is also a wallet designed to be used only by El Salvador people, is KYC and linked to a salvadorean identity. I mention these two wallets just to be a comparing example with the others.
A.3. - Resources:
CashApp - Webpage
Chivo - Webpage
Strike - Webpage
Wallet of Satoshi - Webpage
Zebedee - Webpage
B - Intermediary / Non-Custodial
Intermediary - the user already have some base knowledge about how Bitcoin works, how payments are done, is time to do some more steps into security and privacy.
Non-Custodial - wallet app that offer full custody of the keys, backups, export, fully compatible to be imported in another app.
B.1. - Functionalities Chart
Keep in mind that SBW is an abandoned project now and was forked into OBW (ObiWan - Open Bitcoin Wallet), where will be added new more interesting features.
B.3. - Resources
C - Advanced 1 / Node Mobile LN wallets
Advanced 1 - the user manage very well previous wallet apps, now wants something more complex, even managing his own BTC/LN mobile nodes but still doesn't have a full node at home.
Node Mobile - app offer full custody of the keys, backups, export and also running a LN node on the mobile so you have control of the funds management. Is still not full BTC/LN but offer a certain amount of sovereignty. Neutrino sync.
C.1. - Functionalities Chart
A special case here is the Nayuta Core wallet. This is running actually a node with Neutrino but it doesn't contain a wallet interface, so in order to use its LN part, user have to install additionally Zap or Zeus and connect to local mobile node directly.
C.3. - Resources
D - Advanced 2 / Node Management LN wallets
Advanced 2 - the user wants to manage his own home node, from mobile apps or desktop apps, with more advanced apps that have dedicated features for these tasks.
Node Management - apps that offer full control of BTC/LN node, are actually interfaces to manage your remote / home full node, with functionalities of wallets.
D.1. - Functionalities Chart
We mention that LNbits and Alby are accounting system software that can be connected to your own node as funding source.
A special case in this section have LNBits, that is an accounting system (based on LNDhub) on top of your LN node, with many extension apps that makes it very powerful as an additional layer on top of your node. Is not a real node management app, just user management so to speak.
See bellow in resources more guides about LNbits.
D.3. - Resources
Spark - Github
As you can see we have so many wallets to use, choose, test, combine...
So before you start your own selection, ask yourself: "what I will do with such wallet app? In which situations I will use it?"
Choosing the right BTC/LN wallet
We've seen many users that are stuck with using one or max two wallet apps and also choosing them for their features and NOT for the specific situation of use.
This is a wrong approach.
Choose your wallets based on your own usage and situation you encounter using your BTC. Some aspects to be taken in consideration:
There's no such thing as "best wallet" for everything. Remove this bias from your mind. Choose with your own knowledge, not because x and y told you so.
I would not "recommend" any wallet app in particular, but those that are open source and have a good reputation/history and respect the golden rule of Bitcoin: not your keys, not your bitcoins.
Stay away from "multicrapto" wallet apps. Are a fucking trap and usually are not open source! Bitcoin Only! You have been warned!
Use not just 1 or 2, but 3 or 5-6, each one will have its own moment to be used and take advantage of their best features for the case you need.
Learn more about each wallet app, to know them better and know in which case you could use the one that have the most appropriate features.
Learn how to use the method of "3 levels stash", as I describe it in this guide.
Think like a bank, not just be a bank...
A. HODL = your "central bank" with most of your stash, your reserve bank, barely moving it, onchain
B. CACHE = your "commercial bank" with medium size amounts, for redistributing to HODL and SPEND, onchain and LN, nodes channels etc
C. SPEND = your spending pockets, with small amounts, enough to cover your regular spending, LN, with funding source from your "CACHE bank".
Don't be too obsessed with "self custody only". If is non-KYC it could have advantages in some cases. Not all custodial is bad. Be obsessed with "self-custody-only" for your HODL wallets not the spending wallets. This is where many users make the mistake and do the opposite. You can easily have your own wallets on your own node, as a "funding source" for all these custodial wallets. Move small amounts (enough to cover your spending habits) to them and use them. If are non-KYC, you have almost nothing to worry about "privacy", sometimes is even better not to reveal your own private node when you receive, not talking also about spending from these wallets as a good front wall.
Each wallet app have its own technology implemented: some use directly nodes, some use electrum server, some will use neutrino, some use Tor, some use LND others Immortan or CLN, or both. Don't make the mistake of putting them all in the same situation/use case. Each implementation have its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on which situation you are.
We are still early into Bitcoin and LN development. So first, test, learn the functionalities of each app you use and if you can, help the developer(s) of the app to improve it, give them the right feedback, don't complain. They don't know all situations or devices you are using, so give them as much information you can and explain ALL steps you did if you have an issue. Try to collaborate and help to make it better. Once you know better the app, help other new users to use it. Devs usually are busy with coding and they get bored with people complaining all the time about same things (mostly because users do not read manuals, FAQs, do not investigate more how to use the app). Bother the dev only when is a real issue or bug, that the community couldn't help you too much or many other users encounter the same situation with no exit.
NOTE: If you find that a wallet app described in this guide review, it is not correctly presented or changed some functionalities, please contact me and will update the guide. I was trying to present as much accurate I could this functionalities chart.
This guide review could be updated with new more information.
MAY THE ₿ITCOIN BE WITH YOU!
If you appreciate DarthCoin work, you can send some satoshis through LN:
or using Lightning Address to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Section A - SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT MUUN WALLET
NOTE 1: We put Muun wallet in this custodial section, for its peculiar and obscure way to create / restore wallet based on unique codes and/or account system created by the same Muun servers. Not being able to use the same seed words into another app makes it to fall into "custodial" category.
I will keep Muun in this category until will be proven:
the seed generated for a new wallet can be restored directly into another wallet app.
Who controls / read the xpub of a Muun wallet?
We could say that Muun is an onchain wallet, that pretend to be using LN, with obscure custodial submarine swaps where user have 0 control.
There’s a way to recover your wallet keys, separately from the app with this tool.
Also, is good to mention this thread about Muun here.
Muun node Magnetron is charging exorbitant fees!
NOTE 2: Is very easy to fuck Muun and make its users to pay high fees, with this simple trick:
- open a new account in Muun, send 1 sat to Muun (you can’t say you open a wallet)
- recover that account separately and I get 2500 sats for free
- those 2500 sats will be pushed as fees on you and other users by Muun
- I get 2500 free sats
Repeat this every few hours... with a new account, as described in this reddit post.
Muun sucks - users pay high fees. Example here:
Here is a test of recovering a Muun wallet with their “recovery tool”.
Contacted their support to email indicated… after 1 month no answer. So be aware what you should expect from this wallet app promoted as “non-custodial”…
NOTE 3: Muun wallet is literally stealing your funds!
User sent from LNTXBOT 61000 sats to a Muun wallet and received only… 6494 sats.
Fiatjaf (LNTXBOT dev) investigate this incident and the conclusion is that Muun is holding the sats.
The answer from Muun was the following:
Update Jan 2023
Mononaut found out that all the drama of bloating blocks have a culprit: Muun wallet.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
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