Planning to gift your friend some Satoshi? Looking to introduce your family member into Bitcoin? That’s great!
First they need to purchase the cryptocurrency. Either you could buy it for them as a gift or you can point them to an exchange and tell them how to purchase BTC from there. We recommend Binance. They accept bank deposits and credit / debit card payments.
Once they’ve acquired some BTC they need a wallet to securely store their holdings. Remember “Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins”. Inform them not to keep their Bitcoin on an exchange. To have greater control over their Bitcoin they need to use a wallet.
Now do not recommend Bitcoin-core. Instead show them a simple lightweight Bitcoin wallets which combines a wide range of features and that are simplified for beginners.
No, we are not talking about unreliable online wallets and third party custodial wallet providers like Coinbase. There are new generation of light wallets that are designed to specifically solve problems such as speed, convenience and most importantly security.
They are called lightweight software clients; also popularly known and SPV clients or light wallets.
Here we’ll be listing some of the best lightweight Bitcoin wallets which are completely free. Anybody can download it start using it right away. Jump to this section here to grab your light / SPV Bitcoin wallet.
Now before we take a look at lightweight Bitcoin wallets or SPV wallets let’s see what light weight / SPV clients are and the advantages they offer in comparison with core wallet.
What are SPV wallets? Bitcoin light wallets
Lightweight Bitcoin wallet is sometimes referred to as SPV wallet or SPV client. SPV means Simplified Payment Verification which speed up the verification process lot faster. To understand SPV wallets you first need to know how core wallet works.
Bitcoin blockchain is just a linear series of blocks. Each block in a blockchain mainly includes
- Block header (contains reference to previous block hash) and
- Transactions (A list of all transactions included in the block).
To verify a particular transaction the client needs to scan all the preceding incoming / outgoing transactions to and from the particular senders address. To do so the wallet has to download the entire blockchain to your local machine. This is what core wallet does.
Problem with core wallet
The biggest problem with Bitcoin core wallet is storage space and bandwidth requirements. It downloads and stores the entire blockchain to your device. Currently to setup and run core wallet you’ll need around 330+ GB of disk storage space (https://www.blockchain.com/charts/blocks-size). Also as the Bitcoin blockchain grows overtime the storage space requirements also becomes too large.
Other than high internet bandwidth and disk storage requirements the official Bitcoin core wallet is also slow. Especially fresh install takes a lot of time (even days) depending on your internet speed. Until it has completely sync up with the blockchain you cannot initiate any transaction.
Even if you’ve already setup the core wallet and used it before it will still take significant amount of time to catch up with the blockchain, later when you are opening the wallet.
This can get quite inconvenient at times and to tackle this issue SPV wallets are designed.
Lightweight Bitcoin Wallets
What makes a Bitcoin light wallet light? In simple there is no need for downloading the entire blockchain to your computer. Light Wallets works by connecting to a server that runs a fully synchronized node.
Lightweight wallet or Simplified Payment Verification (SPV) wallet is a client that is typically in contrast to running a full node client. The main difference is that they do not download the complete blockchain hence saving bandwidth and storage space.
A light wallet or light note instead only downloads the block headers to validate the authenticity of the transactions.
Since Bitcoin light wallets doesn’t store blockchain on your computer they only rely on a trusted server to send and receive transactions.
- These wallets are faster, lighter, easy to maintain and run. They save you sync time and significant amount of storage space.
- They offer same security as QT clients and other popular desktop wallets. Private keys are stored on your device and only you control it.
- Most light wallets are cross compatible and they work well in all environments such as Desktop, Mobile or even from a pen drive. Moreover they are easy to backup and replace as most wallets uses BIP39 standard.
- Light nodes has some privacy issues since they completely rely on third party operated full nodes.
- They are not as secure as Bitcoin core when it comes to payment verification as light wallets use Simplified Payment Verification (SPV) to verify transactions.
Read more about SPV: https://en.bitcoinwiki.org/wiki/Simplified_Payment_Verification
So to operate; these wallets effectively depend on full nodes that are run by a trusted party. Is it safe to connect wallet to a certain full node servers?
Are SPV clients safe?
SPV wallets are not new. They’ve been around since the early days of Bitcoin and it is even described in section 8 of Satoshi Nakamoto’s original white paper (https://coinguides.org/bitcoin.pdf).
Lightweight client existed right from the beginning and they are a perfectly fine way to operate a wallet. One good example is Electrum Bitcoin wallet which saves the user the hassle of running a full node.
These wallets are safe and does not affect your security in any way. Your Bitcoin private keys are stored locally on your device.
Thin wallets are way better than storing coins on exchange and some web wallets. Moreover it makes sure your transactions are in a block and it provides confirmation.
For sending storing and receiving; Bitcoin light wallets are more than enough.
Best Bitcoin Light Wallets
Below are some of the popular lightweight Bitcoin wallets or Bitcoin SPV clients. They do not download blockchain to your computer, hence enabling faster load up time and less bandwidth / storage requirements.
Desktop light wallets
Electrum is one of the oldest, most popular and most trusted Bitcoin thin wallet. This wallet is free, open source software that is available for Windows, Mac, Linux as well as Android.
Bitcoin Electrum is fast, secure and easy to use. Being a thin client it uses SPV for payment verification hence no blockchain download is required. Users can setup the client, launch it and use it almost instantly.
Moreover Electrum has some advanced features like manual fee setting, RBF, coin selection, 2fa, watch only, wallet encryption and hardware wallet option.
Its a simple yet powerful lightweight Bitcoin wallet that is securing Bitcoin payments since 2011.
- Open source
- HD wallet (Hierarchical deterministic wallet) uses 12 word mnemonic seed for backup / restore.
- Easy to setup and use
- Multisig made easy
- Supports lightning network payments
- Windows, Linux, OSX and Android compatible
- Works with most hardware wallets (Trezor, Ledger)
Note: There are many phishing websites and fake versions of electrum available. Beware and be sure to verify electrum wallet before using. Always download from the official website.
Download Electrum: https://electrum.org/#download
Wasabi is an open-source, non-custodial, privacy-focused Bitcoin wallet available for Windows Mac and Linux Desktop.
This wallet maintains privacy by implementing trustless Coin-join over the Tor anonymity network. It makes Bitcoin transaction more secure by combining multiple inputs and outputs.
If you care more about the privacy of your Bitcoin transaction then this wallet is for you.
- Free and open source
- Coin control option
- Full SegWit support
- Build in coin-joins
- TOR integration
- Thin client that connects to a full node
- Works with hardware wallets
- Supported platforms: Windows, Mac OS, Linux
Download Wasabi Bitcoin wallet: https://wasabiwallet.io/
Bither is another simple, thin and secure Bitcoin wallet. This light weight wallet is free, open source and is available for both Desktop as well Mobile.
One of the special feature is that this wallet can operate primarily in two modes hot /cold wallet modes. On cold mode private keys are store offline on your cold storage device. In hot mode you can monitor transaction and also go online and create an unsigned transaction. Then later on you can sign it with your cold wallet.
With Bither Bitcoin wallet you’ll get both safety and simplicity.
- Legacy and SegWit addresses
- SPV client
- Open source
- Multisig support
- Cross platform compatible
Download Bither: https://bither.net/
4. Specter wallet
Specter solutions is an open source product suite for Bitcoin HODLers and developers. While the Specter desktop wallet requires you to connect to Bitcoin core node it can also operate using remote specter server. Meaning this wallet can be used as both full node client and light node client. You have the option to Run local Specter server or Use a remote Specter server.
Specter Desktop functions as a watch-only coordinator for multi-signature and single-key Bitcoin wallets. This wallet can connect to all hardware wallet devices. Moreover the interface is simple to use. However it is not recommended for beginners as the setup can get quite complex.
If you want to experiment with Multisig then Specter is the right wallet.
- Free and open source
- Full node / Light node options (Using own node can improve privacy)
- Advanced multisig settings
- Connects with Ledger, Trezor, Keepkey, cold card, Bit Box and even DIY hardware devices.
- Windows, OSX and Linux compatible.
Download Specter desktop: https://specter.solutions/downloads/
5. Blockstream Green
Blockstream is a blockchain technology company that develops a range of products and services for the storage and transfer of Bitcoin and other digital assets.
Green is an open source non-custodial Bitcoin wallet developed by Blockstream. This wallet allows users to safely store, send and receive Bitcoin.
It is one of the leading and feature-rich Bitcoin wallet, that providers users an unrivaled blend of security, convenience and ease-of-use.
It is available for Desktop (Windows, Linux, Mac OS) as well as Mobile (Android & IOS).
- Feature rich Bitcoin wallet
- Simple, secure and easy to setup
- Multi platform support
- Two factor multisig
- Offers 2FA and has 2 of 2 style backup
Download Green wallet: https://blockstream.com/green/
While the above ones are dedicated light weight Desktop wallets for Bitcoin the following ones have support for multiple cryptocurrencies. They are light wallets but other than Bitcoin they also support a wide range of altcoins which adds more convenience and is very much suitable for beginners.
Jaxx is a multi platform, multi currency light wallet that supports almost all the popular coins including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, BNB, ADA, DOT, UNI, XRP, FIL etc.
Its a HD wallet. All your cryptocurrency private keys are stored in your device and all private keys are backed up using 12 word mnemonic seed phrase.
The setup is very simple and what’s interesting is that it supports 7 different platforms. Available for desktops, mobile and as a browser add-on/extension.
To know more check out our Jaxx wallet review & beginners guide.
Exodus is another interesting multi-currency light wallet that has support for over 100+ cryptocurrencies. You can manage & exchange cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, ETH, BNB, ADA, Monero, and many more.
Its a secure & easy to use crypto wallet that is available for both Desktop and Mobile platforms. Other than using the wallet separately you can also pair and use it with your Hardware wallets. However do note that Exodus wallet is not fully open source.
Exodus is ideal for storing, managing and exchanging small amounts of Bitcoins and Altcoins.
Download Exodus: https://www.exodus.com/download/
Coinomi is another popular multi chain wallet that is available for both Desktops and Mobile. Using Coinomi you can send, store and receive over 1000+ cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum and other top altcoins.
It has features such as build in exchange, Native SegWit, Dapp Browser, DeFi ready, UTXO control and wallet connect etc.
While this wallet has tons of features do note that it is a closed source software. So use it temporarily and only to store small amounts.
You can read more about Coinomi here: Coinomi wallet review
If your purpose is to store Bitcoin securely and use it seamlessly then stick to Light weight desktop clients and Mobile Bitcoin wallets instead of multi-currency wallets.
Mobile light wallets
Due to limited storage space most Bitcoins mobile wallets are light weight. There are no full node Bitcoin client available for mobile. Almost all of them are thin, simple and easy to use wallets. However not all wallets provide the best security.
Following are some of the best mobile Bitcoin wallets that can keep your coins safe and secure.
If you own Android device then you can use Electrum wallet. If you own IOS device then use Bither which is also available for Android. Other than these two here are few mobile wallets that you can consider for storing and transacting your Bitcoin.
1. Bitcoin Wallet – Android only
Bitcoin Wallet is a standalone Bitcoin payment app for your Android device. It is the first mobile Bitcoin app and arguably the most secure. Plus it has top rating on Google play store.
This wallet app allows you to send, receive and store Bitcoin seamlessly.
- Free, fully open source and decentralized peer-to-peer Bitcoin wallet.
- No altcoin support and no unnecessary feature making it simple for non-technical people.
- Displays amount in BTC, mBTC and µBTC. To know more check out the table in Satoshi calculator.
- Supports BECH32, Legacy and SegWit address.
- Sending, receiving Bitcoin via QR-codes, NFC or Bitcoin URLs.
- Enhanced privacy: Supports Tor via the separate Orbot app.
Download Bitcoin Android wallet: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.schildbach.wallet
2. Mycelium Bitcoin wallet – Android only
Mycelium is one of the oldest Bitcoin mobile wallet that focuses on safety and privacy. Launched in 2012 it claims itself as a default Bitcoin wallet. Initially it was a Bitcoin only wallet but later it added support to Ethereum (ETH) and ERC-20 tokens like USDT, USDC, LINK, BNB, 0x etc.
This is an open source wallet that has several noteworthy features such as:
- Integrated marketplace
- Multi account types
- Wallet encryption using PIN
- HD wallet
- Hardware wallet support
- Supports Legacy, SegWit and Bech32 addresses
- Support for BIP 38 Keys and most importantly
- No blockchain download. You can install and run in seconds.
However Mycelium is only available for Android.
Download Mycelium: https://wallet.mycelium.com/
3. BitPay (Android & IOS)
BitPay is a popular Mobile multi currency wallet that has support for Bitcoin and a wide range of cryptocurrencies. This one is a HD multi signature wallet originally built to secure BitPay’s funds.
Some of the unique features of this wallet are:
- Multi factor security – Leverage multi-sig security ensures safer storage.
- Build in exchange – Allows you to exchange coins / tokens right from the app.
- Cross platform compatible – Easily manage funds across platforms.
- Supported platforms: Android, IOS and also available for Windows and Linux Desktops.
Download BitPay: https://bitpay.com/wallet/
4. Bread Bitcoin Wallet (BRD) – Android& IOS
Bread or BRD is another simple, secure and easy to use Bitcoin wallet that is available for both Android as well as IOS. BRD wallet uses SPV and it connects directly to the Bitcoin network. Aside from Bitcoin it also supports Ethereum and other digital currencies.
BRD is simple and one of the best rated Bitcoin wallet available on the Play store and Apple store.
Download BRD Bitcoin wallet: https://brd.com/
Other than the wallets mentioned above you can also consider Trust wallet and Math Wallet. Both are multi-currency mobile wallets that has support for Bitcoin and large number of altcoins. However do note that both the wallets are closed source.
Also use the Bitcoin.org “choose your Bitcoin wallet” page to find out the right wallet that suits your needs.
Consider Hardware Wallets
All the above mentioned wallets are light weight Bitcoin wallets. All these wallets are non custodial and that gives you full control over your Bitcoins. No third party can freeze your funds and only you are responsible for backing up and securing your wallet.
These wallets are a great option for anyone looking to send frequent Bitcoin payments from their computer or mobile. But other than transacting if you are looking to hodl your Bitcoin long term then consider buying a hardware wallet.
Please note that all the Bitcoin wallets listed above are classified as hot wallets. Meaning these wallets are connected to the Internet most of the times. Hot wallets are prone to attacks and so they are considered less secure.
If you are planning to hold large amounts of Bitcoin then they should not be stored on your computer or mobile wallets. Instead use a cold storage. Hardware wallet provides the most secure storage solution for your Bitcoin. However they come at a cost.
Bitcoin core – Also consider this
Bitcoin light wallets provides ease of use. For just sending & receiving Bitcoin you don’t need to run a full node.
But you also need to understand that full node is what forms the back bone of the Bitcoin network. Without full nodes there would not be a Bitcoin network.
If you are a Bitcoin enthusiast and want to support the Bitcoin network then consider running Bitcoin core.
Bitcoin core is a full node Bitcoin wallet. It is more secure, offers completely control and is one of the most private Bitcoin wallet. However the downside as we discussed earlier is that it downloads the entire blockchain to your PC. So it takes some patience and time to setup and operate.
Anyways if you do not have huge HDD / SSD space left and if disk-space is your main concern then you can consider pruning the blockchain. It won’t affect the security, privacy of your core wallet and additionally the file size never exceeds 5 GB. Moreover sync time is not as bad as old core wallets especially if you have SSD.
So that’s all!
If you are looking for small wallet that doesn’t require installation then use the standalone, lightweight bitcoin wallet mentioned in this article. For long term secure storage use hardware wallets.
Always do your own research before downloading and installing a Bitcoin wallet.
These are the rundown of the best Bitcoin light wallets out there which is lightweight, easy to set up, simple to use and easy to backup / recover using wallet seed.
Do you know any other lightweight wallet for Bitcoin using SPV (Simplified Payment Verification) or other similar techniques? Please let us know in the comments below.