OK, we onboard new users into Bitcoin. But many of them are confused by the plethora of type of wallets and don’t exactly with which one they should start or is suitable for their own use.
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.
As an OG bitcoiner, that passed through all these types of wallets and testing almost all of them, I can’t say to a new user “hey use this app because is the best”. That will be a fallacy, there’s no such thing as “best BTC/LN wallet”. Telling that to a noob will be devastating and misleading. You, as a knowledgeable bitcoiner, would have to see what that new user need and show the right app with which should start. Then slowly should advance in using more complex apps, depending on their need.
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.
At the end of the guide you will find all the links for all apps and documentation.
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.
Will split all types and characteristics in 4 important sections for a clear view:
Section 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.
BlueWallet | Wallet of Satoshi | Zebedee | CoinOS | Muun | LNTXBOT | CashApp | Strike | Chivo | Bitcoin Beach
Section 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.
SBW | Phoenix | BlueWallet | Electrum
Section 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.
Blixt | SBW | Breez | Eclair | Nayuta Core
Section 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.
Zeus | Zap | Spark | Fully Noded | ThunderHub | RTL | LNbits
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. Again we will split the chart in 4 sections:
Section A – Beginner / Custodial
NOTE: We put Muun wallet in this custodial section, for its peculiar and obscure way to create / restore wallet based on unique words and/or account system. Not being able to use the same seed words into another app makes it to fall into “custodial” category.
Also, is good to mention this thread about Muun here.
Section B – Intermediate / Non-Custodial
Section C – Advanced 1 / Mobile LN node wallets
NOTE: 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.
Section D – Advanced 2 / Node Management wallets
A special case in this section have LNBits, that is a LNDhub wallet management app with many extensions 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.
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?”
Not all are required to be used, not all serve the same purpose. But once you reach a certain level of knowledge, it is good to have 2-3 or even more in your standard usage.
Remember also the previous guide I wrote about “How to stash your BTC in 3 levels“, where you can split your funds in HODL, cache, spending.
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.
Links | Sources | Documentation
CashApp – Official page
Chivo – Official page
Spark – Github
Wallet of Satoshi – Official page
Zebedee – Official page