S12 E1: Thomas Voegtlin on Electrum Wallet & Lightning Trampoline Nodes

Thomas Voegtlin is a living legend among Bitcoin wallet developers. When he first announced Electrum as a lightweight Bitcoin client in the fall of 2011, nobody expected this project to become the backbone of most SPV payments. In other words, Thomas Voegtlin’s code provided the backbone for lots of wallets (mostly mobile) that run on top of Electrum servers.

But there’s so much more to Electrum: it’s the feature-rich Bitcoin wallet which integrates pretty much every feature. Want to gain extra privacy? It has an option to enable Tor routing. Want to set up a multisig? There probably isn’t a better way. Would you like to connect your hardware wallet to a more private piece of software? It’s very likely that your device is supported. Interested in extending the capabilities of your Shamir backup on the Trezor Model T or KeyStone Vault? Well, Electrum will boost the basic 20-word setup to optionally generate a godly 33-word “Super Shamir”.

In recent years, Electrum also started focusing on integrating Lightning network features. And in the true spirit of the project, the approach seeks to deliver a lightweight, elegant and practical solution that people can use without needing to stay connected 24/7. Not all users are interested in routing transactions, and increasing adoption certainly requires ways to send and receive payments in a non-custodial way without being online all the time.

This is why Thomas Voegtlin decided to integrate ACINQ’s Trampoline node solution, which can also be found in Phoenix wallet. Furthermore, Electrum offers a great way to run a watchtower which protects your Lightning node.

This interview with Thomas Voegtlin was recorded in July 2022 at Mallorca Blockchain Days. It covers most of the Electrum features, explores Thomas’ personal opinions on some technical matters (big blocks, protocols built on top of Bitcoin, privacy), and is meant to remind everyone what a great wallet Electrum is. If you’ve never played with Electrum, this is your chance to give it a try.

Listen to Thomas Voegtlin on Spotify, Apple Podcasts & more!

If you’re searching for a more private way to listen, which doesn’t require registration, then you can use this player. Open the page with the Tor browser and you’ll be able to enjoy the content without worrying that I (or some transnational corporation) might know anything about your IP address. You can also download the episode for offline listening, so you can load it on your rugged iPod Nano and take it with you during a weekend trip or morning jog.

Here are the episode’s time stamps:

00:51 – Intro

01:49 – How Electrum started

02:36 – Electrum was a response to the MyBitcoin.com catastrophe 

03:08 – Wien did Thomas Voegtlin discover Bitcoin?

03:35 – What does Electrum mean?

04:21 – What is the difference between an Electrum server and a full Bitcoin node?

05:04 – Electrum connects to a random server by default

05:32 – Tor integration on Electrum for network-level privacy

05:50 – Various Electrum implementations (ABE, ElectrumX, Rust)

06:55 – Trezor Suite and BitBoxBase use Electrum too

08:30 – Famous bitcoiners and companies run Electrum servers

09:40 – If you want to make sure that you have privacy, run a full node

11:30 – Pretty much every hardware wallet works with Electrum

11:50 – Electrum had their own PSBT format before standardisation

13:00 – Before multisig, Electrum was the only way to do multisig

13:30 – Vaultoro 

14:42 – Wasabi wallet

15:44 – Maison MAACHI

17:08 – Lightning network on Electrum wallet and how it’s different from LND

18:40 – What is a Trampoline node?

20:33 – Electrum’s multiple Trampolines

21:50 – Trampoline is a lot like SPV

22:30 – Is there any difference between Electrum’s SPV implementation and Satoshi’s description?

23:56 – Neutrino in Electrum? Bloom filters?

25:03 – The next version simplifies the user interface

25:50 – Lightning or on-chain choices should happen in the background

26:58 – Thomas Vegtlin’s attempt to create something like Bitcoin in 2000

28:46 – What would Thomas Voegtlin change about Bitcoin if he could travel back in time to speak with Satoshi?

30:00 – We don’t know how the game theory of mining is going to play out in the coming years

30:25 – Proof of Stake is untested 

32:39 – The issue with DeFi

33:20 – Does Thomas Voegtlin like Bitcoin sidechains?

34:50 – Should we add some other features to Bitcoin in the event of a hard fork?

35:50 – Thomas Voegtin on big blocks in Bitcoin

36:58 – Extension blocks

38:30 – What gets Thomas Voegtlin most excited about Bitcoin?

39:36 – Counterparty and Omni?

41:40 – Bitcoin tokens and incentives

43:20 – Electrum simplifying the Lightning experience

45:21 – Electrum on Android

46:10 – Thomas Voegtlin on Phoenix wallet

48:05 – Phoenix vs Breez

49:50 – Thomas Voegtlin is not on Twitter, but Electrum is

Bitcoin Takeover Podcast is sponsored by Vaultoro & Wasabi wallet. Maison MAACHI provides the clothing!

Vaultoro is the hard money exchange which helps you beat inflation with instant swaps between the best stores of value known to man: gold and bitcoin. Unlike most exchanges, Vaultoro understands the importance of transparency and security. All gold holdings are secured in top tier swiss private vaults and fully insured against theft, fire and more.
Maximize your purchasing power today by going to vaultoro.com/bitcointakeover. This is not financial advice, but gold has been humankind’s most reliable store of value in the last 6000 years. Do your own research! Use the promotion code takeover for a one time bonus of 1 gram of gold for the first 50 new customers buying gold with bitcoin.

Are you concerned that your friends, neighbours, or KYC exchange might know how much bitcoin you own? It’s time to take your financial privacy seriously with Wasabi wallet: a free and open source wallet solution which makes use of mega CoinJoins to mix your coins with those of hundreds of other strangers.

Thanks to the groundbreaking Wabisabi engine, your coins get divided in smaller untraceable units which grant you great anonymity for both HODLing and spending. Download Wasabi wallet 2.0 today at wasabiwallet.io and take advantage of the mega CoinJoins.

What are you gonna wear when Bitcoin hits $1 million? Same old $20 t-shirt? Try Maison MAACHI, designer clothes made in Paris by bitcoiners for bitcoiners.

They’re not your average mass-produced sweatshop clothes: MAACHI will ask for your measurements and tailor every piece of clothing according to the shape of your body, so you will always look and feel great in your t-shirt, hoodie, or dress. And it’s all made in French by real artisans who also happen to be bitcoiners.

Get a Maison MAACHI t-shirt or hoodie today, it might even help you find a girlfriend. And once you get a girlfriend, you can also buy her a Maison MAACHI dress too.

Stop having fun looking poor and check out maisonmaachi.com.

Vlad Costea

I'm here for the freedom, censorship-resistance, and unconfiscatability. What about you?

So, what do you think?

Follow Me