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
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