(Last Updated on February 18, 2022)
Mobile wallets are competing to deliver a practical balance of security, skill level, and needs for the user.
Each user varies, some need instant micropayments with low security while others are looking for strong, durable mobile security and longer term key management.
This mobile wallet has been developed to focus on strong mobile phone based security while balancing ease-of-use and speed.
Muun developers have been in the game since 2013 and it shows! They are a small team coming from Buenos Aires and have been evolving the project over the years by continuing to update to the latest Bitcoin tech.
The UX is beautifully designed with one click ergonomics for the beginning Bitcoin user.
Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, can setup and use this within a few minutes.
You get to choose what level of security works for you at the time of setup.
Our review of their lightning wallet left us impressed and excited about recommending this to many new users like friends and family. The issues they had in the past seem to be resolved. This should be especially successful for newcomers as a flexible, long term, mobile spending wallet that is making a lot of smaller transactions for daily uses like shopping and restaurants.
Submarine Swaps through Hashed Time-Locked Contracts
Muun has been criticized early on for their use of instant submarine swaps for the Lightning functionality of their wallet.
A “swap provider” will include you into a channel for instant settlement – instead of your wallet or node selecting and creating a channel.
It streamlines the entire channel creation and utilization for ease of use but was causing higher fee costs. Fees are now consistent with average Lightning network fee rates.
- Do not need to manage channels to utilize Lightning
- Instant transactions without worrying about fees
- Very beginner friendly
- Latest update has improved average fee cost
- Less secure due to using a “middleman” type of swap provider
- Swap provider establishes and sets up batches for efficiency
- Is not a “true” confirmation on-chain for Bitcoin at time of transaction
See their website for a detailed explanation of their process -> “Muun: Submarine Swaps”
The Lightning Network is best used for small balance and high frequency Bitcoin wallets.
I would never recommend any Lightning based Bitcoin wallet for large transactions or for use as cold storage.
Creative Security for your Pocket
The real story is how unique Muun is with their use of a 2 of 2 multi-sig wallet setup for your phone.
You setup both a physical written seed phrase with a “Emergency Kit”. The emergency kit holds both private keys and is encrypted for access only by seed phrase. Adding a new element to physical security with a separation of trust between mobile device and your emergency kit saved backup.
Adding a powerful 2nd layer of security to defend your private keys from threats.
Right now Muun is one of the highest security, fully self-custodial Bitcoin mobile wallet that utilizes the layer 2 Lightning payment network for faster and cheaper transactions. Their creative use of 2 of 2 multi-sig with a seed phrase and “emergency kit” backup shows how additional layers of security can make hacking a mobile wallet a lot more difficult.
But on top of that – they utilize Taproot already!
The Taproot upgrade (BIPS 340-342) introduces MAST (merkle tree) structures to make signature functions more efficient by batching them before validation so they look like a standard transaction. Making it impossible to distinguish as a lightning channel.
Easy option for Taproot use – Taproot is a recent group of BIPs that helps make multi-sig transactions more efficient through Schnorr signatures and is a large privacy improvement by obscuring the transaction type. Taproot helps all transactions look similar and less information about the UTXOs are given to any spectators.
I would wager this is one of the easiest and most technically capable Bitcoin mobile wallets today.
Why do we like Muun?
Fastest, most secure, and simplest UX I’ve seen to walk a new user through a complex multi-signature wallet setup.
- Self-custodial Bitcoin only
- 2 of 2 Multi-signature security
- Beginner friendly interface
- Easy wallet recovery
- Mempool-based fee estimator
Mempool-based fee estimator allows for better timing and averaging of transaction fees through the Bitcoin network. This is done by the estimator constantly checking the state of the mempool for active transaction fees.
You’ll always be paying the lowest rate – generally micro sized fees for Lightning.
Utilizing lightning, mempool-based estimator, streamlining the seed phrase and private key process for beginners to instantly take ownership of their private keys makes this one powerful tool in your pocket.
Absolutely in the top 5 best mobile lightning wallets for beginners by ease-of-use for setup, transactions, and interoperability with all QR code address scanning. The enhanced security with multi-sig which creates another layer of added security to stop physical attackers or online hackers from obtaining instant access to your keys. Can’t really beat that for a creative solution to self-custodial phone wallets. Most people should be using this style of “cash” wallet for daily operations and pass on all the exchange fees, deposit waits, withdrawal delays and all that sh*^coin nonsense.
Main complaints we hear about Muun?
-> Fees are too high with Submarine swaps and other Lightning wallets, like Breez or Wallet of Satoshi are cheaper
Is fixed with their latest round of updates and they are inline with the average transaction fee today. The initial difference was maybe 10-25% more expensive than the average Lightning fee – which was still a LOT cheaper than any average legacy transaction.
-> Slow setup with 2 private keys
You can’t take 3 minutes to write down a physical seed phrase then send an email to yourself?
This simple few minutes will make your PHONE wallet unhackable if stolen, easily recoverable, and much more secure than a single seed mobile setup.
Manage your private key risk in relation to how much value you will transact or store through the wallet.
Not your keys, not your coins!
Whoever owns the private key owns your Bitcoin. Period. Do not risk hacks, insolvencies, credit risk, or whatever else is attached to a 3rd party holding YOUR coins.
Holding your own private keys is the basis for Bitcoins principles of financial sovereignty and necessary to operate autonomously over the Bitcoin network.
Your private keys are the only way to utilize instant access to the Bitcoin Network 24/7/365.
Connect anytime, from anywhere, to the world’s most powerful decentralized network for instant, secure, validated settlements. No 3rd party verifications, gatekeepers, waiting periods, or approval delays. No required account setups, ID checks and mountains of paperwork. Utilize entirely new remittance solutions with Layer 2 solutions like Lightning for micropayments and global transfers with minimal fees.
100% trustless transactions over the world’s most powerful and only decentralized computer network.
What is multi-sig?
Multi-sig = “K of N signatures required to verify”
Every transaction on the Bitcoin network is signed by the private key holder(s) that owns the unspent transaction output(s) that are sending the Bitcoin. The majority of cold storage holders probably use a single private key setup which requires only one signature for any spending.
The most common use today is with a 2 of 3 multi-signature wallet that allows the 3rd key, or “spare key”, to be used for an additional backup if another key is lost or stolen.
The addition of multiple private keys adds complexity to the security arrangement of your Bitcoin ownership. Being that this exists in both physical and digital realms, it is the easiest way to greatly increase the difficulty for any attacker to gain full access over all of the required signatures.
How does Muun’s Multi-sig work?
Muun operates a bit different with their 2 of 2 setup compared to the much more common 2 of 3 or 3 of 5 multi-sigs.
2 of 2 private key multi-sig that requires BOTH private keys to spend Bitcoin
-> Your phone stores only the first private key.
If it gets stolen and attackers can extract your secured media files, then they will only control one key and cannot spend your bitcoin.
This is a common attack whether through malware, malicious downloads or media, or a SIM-swap. Protect yourself by adding another layer of security that creates a 2nd signing requirement making the phone useless by itself.
-> Muun’s servers store only the second private key.
Muun and any potential hackers can only access one private key through Muun’s servers.
-> Your Emergency Kit holds both private keys and is encrypted.
For full self-custody, you need to have both private keys, but there are smarter ways than carrying both keys inside your mobile phone. Instead, each private key is encrypted and stored in your Emergency Kit with a code written down as a physical backup on paper. Neither the Emergency Kit, nor the Recovery Code are enough to move any Bitcoin alone.
Simple idea providing a lot of security
If a hacker or physical attacker gets one of your private keys they cannot access your Bitcoin.
-> You must have BOTH keys to access your Bitcoin inside a Muun wallet.
Many other wallet platforms are susceptible if your phone is stolen or sim-swapped. Many other wallet platforms would have funds lost if your email is hacked. Muun combines both a physical seed written off your phone and an emergency kit sent directly to your email that you can store offline.
Secure your keys, secure your Bitcoin, and take your responsibility for your wealth.
For more information and transparency around the wallet see their GitHub -> “Muun Wallet GitHub Files”