One of the most popular Bitcoin wallets, Electrum, now supports Lightning Network payments.
The latest swathe of major changes was released in version 4.0, one of its biggest upgrades since the Bitcoin wallet launched in 2011. (Note: Since the 4.0 release, some bug fixes have been added.) Lightning payments are seen as the future of Bitcoin because they’re cheaper and would allow many more users to make bitcoin cryptocurrency transactions at once.
This makes Electrum the oldest wallet to have adopted Lightning payments so far.
Lightning support in Electrum is a long time coming. Electrum founder Thomas Voegtlin first told CoinDesk last summer that Lightning would make it into the next release.
“[We] decided to adopt Lightning because we see it as the way forward for Bitcoin. Lightning is quite complicated and not without its issues but ultimately it is the most promising currently known way of scaling Bitcoin. It also allows fast, cheap and more private payments,” pseudonymous Electrum developer SomberNight told CoinDesk in an email.
Read more: What is Bitcoin’s Lightning Network?
In order to support Lightning transactions, the developers actually wrote an entirely new implementation of the Lightning protocol “from scratch,” SomberNight said, instead of using a popular implementation, such as Lightning Labs’ LND or Blockstream’s c-lightning. That’s one reason the release took so long.
An Electrum watchtower
In addition to support for Lightning payments, Electrum 4.0.2 now supports a number of other innovations with this new release that could make using Lightning more secure and less bumpy for users.
For one, Electrum has implemented its own Lightning watchtower, an important component of the Lightning Network, which scans the Bitcoin blockchain in order to detect and prevent fraud.
Though there are a few watchtower implementations out there now, they still…