Electrum Wallet Review 2020

Electrum is one of the oldest, best-known Bitcoin wallets on the market. While it’s not a full node, Electrum allows users to control their own private keys and gain access to a variety of advanced Bitcoin features such as multi-signature addresses and hardware wallet integration.

Electrum has existed since 2011, and its the Bitcoin wallet included by default in the privacy-focused Tails operating system. The wallet software uses simplified payment verification (SPV) and a system of full node servers to verify payments.

It is estimated that Electrum is responsible for around 10% of all transactions on the Bitcoin network.

Screenshot of Electrum logo

Electrum

  • Two-factor authentication available for transactions
  • Hardware wallets can be used with this wallet
  • Default wallet included in the Tails operating system for privacy-focused users

At a Glance

Wallet type Software
Price Free download
Cryptocurrencies supported Bitcoin
Size of app 8.5MB
Released 2011
Pin code protected Yes
Frequency of updates Medium
Trust rating High

Beginner Perspective of Electrum

Electrum allows newcomers to Bitcoin to take full control over their funds via a rather easy to understand user interface. Users are unable to purchase cryptocurrency from within the app, however, that’s a security advantage as it gives the user full custody of their bitcoin. It is a solid option for new users who wish to have control of their private keys to the wallet, after purchasing Bitcoin on an exchange and sending it their Electrum wallet.

Although some users are disappointed by the lack of altcoin support from Electrum, the reality is this setup simplifies the user experience and avoids any confusion through complexity. The support of hardware wallets and multi-signature addresses also makes it easy for users to make sure that their funds will remain secure and out of the hands of hackers. The integration of the Lightning Network will also enable faster and cheaper transactions for Electrum users.

Best Features

The best features of the Electrum wallet revolve around advanced Bitcoin functionality and security features. Additionally, the ability to perform on-chain transactions at a cheaper fee.

Electrum is also extremely useful for those who wish to gain better privacy at the network level. Tails is generally regarded at the best operating system for retaining online anonymity, and Electrum is the default Bitcoin wallet included in that particular distribution of Linux. However, it should be noted that Electrum does not include any method of mixing coins by default, which is the ability to make transactions more anonymous, enabling greater privacy. Thus, there could be some improvements when it comes to tracking user payments via the blockchain.

The ability to use a hardware wallet with the Electrum wallet also allows users to make sure their funds are as secure as possible.

What Cryptocurrencies are Supported?

Electrum only works with Bitcoin. However, the wallet software has been forked by separate development teams to support various altcoins such as Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold. These alternative forms of the Electrum software go by different names.

Security

Electrum offers a wide variety of different security options for its users. In terms of keeping your private keys safe, there are a few different setups that can be used. When creating a new wallet, you get to choose from the following options: wallet with two factor authentication, standard wallet, multi-signature wallet, and hardware wallet.

Two Factor authentication gives you an added layer of security. With each transaction that is made on the Electrum wallet, a two-factor authentication code from another device must be supplied in order for that payment to be sent.

Hardware devices are another option when it comes to enhanced security protections with Electrum. Devices from Ledger and TREZOR, which are the two most well-known brands in the hardware wallet industry, will work with Electrum. Coldcard devices from Coinkite also work with Electrum.

It should be noted that old versions of Electrum had a security vulnerability that allowed malicious Electrum servers to trick users into downloading malware that allowed hackers to steal user funds. The attack was enabled by the fact that Electrum servers were able to send arbitrary text along with error messages related to transactions. Attackers were able to use this vulnerability to send fake requests for users to update their Electrum software. The download links sent to users were in fact for malicious software. Hence, it is important to always have the latest version of electrum when using the wallet.

It should also be remembered that Electrum is not full node Bitcoin software, which means miners and server operators are somewhat trusted to provide correct information about transactions.

Supported Operating Systems

Electrum is available on Mac, Linux, and Windows desktop environments. Notably, the Electrum wallet software is included in the privacy and anonymity-focused operating system Tails by default.

In terms of mobile operating systems, Electrum is currently only available on Android devices.

Potential Dealbreakers

Electrum will be the perfect wallet solution for a large number of Bitcoin users, but there are some niche features missing that may turn off some people.

If you’re someone who is interested in using a variety of cryptocurrencies, then you’ll need to find another wallet. Jaxx Liberty and Exodus are other greats options for altcoin users because they offer a wide variety of different cryptocurrency integrations.

If you’re a die hard Bitcoin maximalist who wants to reach the highest level of trustless-ness possible, then the fact that Electrum is not a full node will be an issue. If you want to be able to completely verify the entire history of the blockchain on your own, then you’re probably better off going with Bitcoin Core. Having said that, it is possible to use Electrum in a trustless manner by pointing the wallet to your own backend server.

It’s also not yet possible to use the Lightning Network via Electrum, but support for this layer-two Bitcoin payments technology is expected soon.

Electrum Frequently Asked Questions

About the Author

Arthur Crowson, CryptoVantage

Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson is an award-winning writer and editor who hails from the Pacific Northwest. His career began in traditional news media but he transitioned to the online arena in the mid-2000s and has written extensively about the online poker boom and the rise of cryptocurrency.