Electrum Cryptocurrency Wallet Review

A secure Bitcoin-only wallet with a no-frills user interface.

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Electrum

Electrum

Investopedia’s Rating
3.3

Our Take

Electrum, our top pick among Bitcoin wallets, is an open-source wallet that has been enabling investors to securely store digital currency for over a decade. This Bitcoin-only wallet also allows users to send and receive near-instant payments over the Bitcoin Lightning Network.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview 
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Secure Bitcoin wallet with a 10+ year track record

  • Enables the creation of Lightning Network payment channels

  • Open-source wallet

Cons
  • User interface unsuitable for beginners

  • Limited customer support

  • Only supports Bitcoin

Key Takeaways
  • Electrum is our top choice for the best Bitcoin-only wallet.
  • The wallet is open source and many developers have worked on Electrum to ensure security and usability.
  • Enables users to make near-instant, low-cost Bitcoin transactions over the Lightning Network.
  • Beginners may struggle with Electrum’s no-frills user interface.
Company Overview 

Created by Thomas Voegtlin and launched in 2011, Electrum was one of the first Bitcoin wallets to enable investors to securely manage their digital currency on their desktops. 

Over a decade later, this Bitcoin-only wallet is still a popular choice among experienced Bitcoiners who care more about security and functionality than a user-friendly interface. 

Electrum has been released under the MIT License, enabling anyone to download and use the wallet for free. Since its launch, numerous open-source developers have contributed to Electrum’s software. 

While Electrum is primarily known as a desktop wallet, a mobile version for Android is also available. It was released in 2016 by Voegtlin-owned Electrum Technologies GmbH.

Type of wallet Desktop, Mobile
Price  Free
Fees  Customizable 
Number of cryptocurrencies supported 1
Bitcoin and Ethereum supported?  Bitcoin only
Earn (staking/rewards) No 
Customer Service  Documentation, Twitter, Reddit, BitcoinTalk 
In-App Features Lightning Channels, Multi-Sig
Hardware Compatible  Yes 
SPV or Full Node SPV
Mobile App  Yes (Android Only) 

Features

The Electrum wallet offers a range of advanced functionalities, including compatibility with hardware wallets for highly secure cold storage, the creation of multi-signature wallets, and the ability to set custom Bitcoin transaction fees. 

It also lets you use replace-by-fee (RBF) and batch RBF transactions. During times when the network is congested, replace-by-fee allows users to send a second Bitcoin transaction that’s similar to the original one but with higher fees to ensure that the original transaction is processed in a timely manner. 

Moreover, Electrum users can open Lightning Network channels to send and receive low-cost, near-instant Bitcoin payments over the Lightning Network. 

Security

Electrum is an open-source wallet created in 2011, which means the security of its code has been thoroughly vetted. Numerous developers have contributed over 14,000 commits to the wallet’s open-source code.

Moreover, Electrum is a non-custodial wallet so users have complete control over their private keys

Users can also choose to set up two-factor authentication and Electrum requires you to set an encryption password for enhanced security. 

While leading cryptocurrency wallets may provide a high level of security for safekeeping your crypto assets, improper security practices on behalf of the user can lead to a complete loss of funds. Never share your wallet’s login details, recovery phrase, or private keys with anyone.

Privacy and Anonymity

Electrum is a non-custodial Bitcoin wallet, which means that Electrum users have complete control over their funds as only they hold their private keys. 

Moreover, Electrum enables users to create multiple Bitcoin addresses and discard old wallet addresses to enhance user privacy. 

Since the Electrum wallet does not require users to complete a Know Your Customer (KYC) process, nor does it store any user data on company servers, Electrum provides privacy and a high level of anonymity for Bitcoin users. 

Setup 

Desktop

To set up Electrum on your desktop, you’ll need to access its official website. There, you click on the Download Electrum button at the bottom of the homepage. On the next page, you will find the available operating systems that support Electrum. Choose the operating system your computer runs on, and download and install the wallet software. 

To set up Electrum Bitcoin Wallet, open the software and choose whether you want to create a new wallet, open a multi-signature wallet, or restore an existing wallet. Click ‘Create new wallet’ and write down the twelve-word seed phrase you will need to recover your wallet in case your computer crashes or you accidentally delete the software. Once you have secured your recovery phrase and typed it in again to confirm, you need to set an encryption password for your wallet. You can start using your Electrum Bitcoin Wallet after setting your password. 

Mobile

To download the mobile version of Electrum, you can search for the wallet in the Google Play Store or click on the Android version of the software on the Downloads section of the Electrum website. 

After downloading the Electrum mobile wallet to your Android device, open the app and click on ‘Next’ to create a new wallet. Then, you'll be asked if you’d like a standard wallet, a wallet with two-factor authentication, or a multi-signature wallet. Additionally, you can choose to restore an existing wallet. 

If you’d like to create a standard wallet, click standard wallet and proceed to create a new seed phrase. Write down the seed phrase and re-enter it to confirm you’ve written it down and stored it securely. Finally, you’ll enter an encryption password and wait for your wallet to synchronize, which typically takes less than a minute. 

Usability

Desktop

Setting up Electrum on your desktop is as easy as installing any other wallet software. However, the open-source wallet’s user interface has a very basic Windows 95 feel, which may deter beginners used to more user-friendly, gamified financial applications.  

Mobile

Like the desktop version, the mobile version of the Electrum wallet (only available for Android) has a very basic user interface. Nonetheless, the mobile version comes with the same functionalities as the desktop version, including Lightning Network support.

Customer Service

Electrum is an open-source Bitcoin wallet built and maintained by dedicated open-source developers. However, there is no dedicated customer support. 

Instead, users who have questions must read through the wallet’s official documentation or reach out to the Electrum community on Twitter, Reddit, or BitcoinTalk Forum. Despite the lack of dedicated customer support, the BitcoinTalk Forum and Reddit communities seem responsive and helpful.  

Cost & Fees 

Electrum Wallet is free to download and provides users with the ability to customize Bitcoin transaction fees. 

Users can set how many sats per byte (sat/KB) they want to pay in the advanced settings when they make a transaction. The higher the amount, the faster the transaction will be confirmed. 

Final Verdict

Electrum is a feature-rich Bitcoin-only wallet that enables users to manage their Bitcoin securely. 

The developers who built and improved the open-source wallet focused primarily on functionality and kept its user interface basic, making it less beginner-friendly than many of today’s popular cryptocurrency wallets. 

Experienced Bitcoiners, however, will likely appreciate the wallet’s advanced functionalities and the ability to set up Lightning payment channels to send and receive payments over the Bitcoin Lightning Network. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Blockchain Wallets

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Most adults have a beginner's understanding of cryptocurrency, but plan on using such assets as a key source of retirement funds, according to the 2022 Investopedia Financial Literacy Survey.

Methodology

One of the most important things to consider before you transact in and store cryptocurrencies is that you have a suitable crypto wallet in place. To help determine the wallet that works best for you, we conducted a comprehensive review process of the top cryptocurrency software wallets. 

Our review process is built around a quantitative ratings model that weighs key factors like security, costs, privacy, usability, customer support, and features according to their importance. Our team of researchers gathered over 40 data points and conducted extensive research for each of the 19 companies we reviewed. Our team of writers, who are experts in this field, then test drove each wallet to lend their qualitative point of view.

Our model gave preference to companies with the strongest security measures and reputations. Companies with rich features, such as supporting a large number crypto assets, giving users the ability to sync with hardware wallets, and allowing for fee customization, also ranked highly.