Best Lightning Network Wallets
By: Ofir Beigel | Last updated: 11/20/20
The Lightning Network is one of the most anticipated features currently in active development. This post explains what the Lightning Network is and what the best wallets are that support it.
Lightning Network Wallets Summary
At their core Lightning Network (LN) wallets are normal Bitcoin wallets with a capability to open an LN payment channel on the first layer Bitcoin network. LN wallets are not very user friendly, possibly since the Lightning Network is still in its early stages.
Many of these wallets are still in public testing stages, so never deposit too much funds into them.
That’s Lightning Network Wallets in a nutshell. If you want a more detailed review of Lightning Network wallets keep on reading, here’s what I’ll cover:
- Lightning Network in a Nutshell
- Best Lightning Network Wallets
- Lightning Network Services
The Lightning Network is a second layer on top of the Bitcoin network that allows for instant, feeless payments. It works by opening a payment channel on the main Bitcoin network and then “keeping tabs” with your counterparty until you want to close the channel.
When using the Lightning Network, you only see two transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain – one to open the channel and one to close the channel (i.e. settling the bill). All of the other transactions are done off-chain between the two users who opened the payment channel.
If you want a detailed explanation of the Lightning Network watch this video:
For the easiest experience with a Lightning Network wallet, you can download the Wallet of Satoshi. This is a mobile custodial wallet, which means that you don’t control your Bitcoins. The wallet is available for iOS and Android.
Wallet of Satoshi is a centralized service that stores Bitcoins for you and takes care of opening payment channels for you as well.
The wallet is super simple to operate. You just download the app and can instantly start sending and receiving LN payments.
There’s no need to even create an account. Your device acts as your “username”, and as long as you don’t delete the app or lose your phone you can continue using the wallet.
You can also sign up with an email address in order to backup your account (in case your phone gets broken or lost). Additionally, you can also view merchants in your area that accept LN payments.
If you’re just looking to test out some LN payments, this is probably the best way to get started. Fund your wallet with a small amount of Bitcoin and start making payments.
Breez is an open source, non-custodial mobile wallet (iOS and Android). What’s unique about Breez is that it takes care of opening up an LN channel for you.
Once you install the wallet you can receive up to 1m Satoshis in LN payments. However, you will need to wait for 3 confirmations before the channel is functional.
Breez can also encrypt your channel state to your Google Drive. This is handy since losing your wallet or deleting the app can result in losing your funds. Keep in mind that connecting this service with Google Drive may affect your anonymity.
Breez payment requests are called “invoices”. You can add funds to the wallet by sending BTC to the wallet’s address or by redeeming a FastBitcoins voucher.
If you want an easy solution that allows you full control over your funds, Breez is a good choice. Keep in mind that Breez is still in Beta – both for Android and iOS.
Bitcoin Lightning Wallet (BLW) is an Android only, non-custodial, standalone Bitcoin SPV node with LN functionality. It means that you have total control over your funds and that you need to manage your payment channels yourself (unlike Breez).
BLW uses Olympus Servers, which help with several tasks such as:
- Collecting fiat prices of coins
- Maintaining a list of public LN nodes that BLW uses to open payment channels
- Providing partial payment routes
- Storing an encrypted backup of your payment channel
- Provide watchtower services (meaning you don’t have to be online to receive funds)
Some Bitcoiners have raised issues regarding the wallet’s privacy, however, Bitfury quickly addressed them. I suggest reading Bitfury’s blog post if this is a concern for you.
Eclair Mobile is an Android only Bitcoin wallet by ACINQ, with the option to connect to the Lightning Network.
It’s non-custodial and open source, and runs a stripped-down Lightning node on your mobile phone. It also computes payment routes on the user’s device, offering better privacy than wallets that rely on third parties for route calculations.
Eclair Mobile can also be used as a regular Bitcoin wallet, with the option to customize transaction fees.
The wallet is not very beginner friendly and is more suitable for advanced users. Also, keep in mind that this wallet is maintained by a single developer (with some help on Github).
Jack Mallers maintains a list of tutorials over at his YouTube Channel, where you can see how to set-up the wallet, open channels and send payments.
Tippin.me is a custodial LN wallet that sits on your Chrome or Firefox browser as an extension. It connects to your Twitter account and is mainly used for tipping users on Twitter. Alternatively, you can add a Tippin QR to your website to receive tips and donations.
The wallet was created by Sergio Abril. Since this is a custodial wallet, you don’t have any access to your coins. Tippin manages the payments for you, through a centralized service.
Once you have your LN wallet, you may want to test it out with some services that accept Lightning payments. Here are a select few:
Bitrefill allows you to buy gift cards with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Gift cards are available from retailers such as Steam, Viber, Skype, Hotels.com and more. Bitrefill also allows you to top up prepaid phones with cryptocurrency payments.
Fold allows you to shop at your favorite retailers using Lightning Network payments. The app allows you to purchase gift cards for Amazon, Burger King, Starbucks and more. You also earn back up to 20% of your purchase when using the app.
Fold also launched Lightning Pizza, which allows you to order Domino’s Pizza with Lightning payments anywhere in the US.
Moon is a browser extension that offers an alternative payment method when shopping online. Pay with Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether or Bitcoin Cash directly on Amazon.com. Here’s a short demo of how it works:
Y’alls is a social news platform that requires you to pay micropayments in order to read articles. You can also buy emoticons and other icons to display how you feel about articles. All payments are done via the Lightning Network.
While the Lightning Network is still in its early stages there are already a handful of wallets that are available for public use.
Keep in mind that these wallets aren’t as battle tested as your everyday Bitcoin wallet, so make sure not to deposit amounts you can’t afford to lose in them.
Overall, it seems that LN development is accelerating worldwide and soon we will probably see more wallets and services supporting it.
Have you used Lightning to pay for anything online? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below.