Penumbra Guide

Penumbra is a fully private, cross-chain proof-of-stake network and decentralized exchange for the Cosmos and beyond. Penumbra brings privacy to IBC, allowing anyone to shield any IBC asset just by transferring it into Penumbra’s multi-asset shielded pool. Within Penumbra, users can transact, stake, swap, or marketmake without broadcasting their personal information to the world.

Unlike a transparent chain, where all information is public, Penumbra is end-to-end encrypted.

Using Penumbra on the web

The easiest way to get started using Penumbra is with the Prax Wallet web extension. The web extension runs entirely locally, and contains an embedded ultralight node that syncs and decrypts only the data visible to your wallet. Websites can request to connect to your wallet and query your data.

The Using Penumbra on the web chapter describes how to use Penumbra on the web.

Using Penumbra from the command line

Penumbra also has a command-line client, pcli. Some protocol features, such as threshold custody for shielded multisigs, do not yet have support in web frontends and are only accessible via the command line.

The Using Penumbra from the command line chapter describes how to use pcli.

Running a node

Running a node is not necessary to use the protocol. Both the web extension and pcli are designed to operate with any RPC endpoint. However, we’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to run nodes so that users can host their own RPC.

There are two kinds of Penumbra nodes:

  • Penumbra fullnodes run pd and cometbft to synchronize and verify the entire chain state, as described in Running a node: pd.
  • Penumbra ultralight nodes run pclientd to scan, decrypt, and synchronize a specific wallet’s data, as well as build and sign transactions, as described in Running a node: pclientd.

The web extension and pcli embed the view and custody functionality provided by pclientd, so it is not necessary to run pclientd to use them. Instead, pclientd is intended to act as a local RPC for programmatic tooling (e.g., trading bots) not written in Rust that cannot easily embed the code for working with Penumbra’s shielded cryptography.

Participating in development

Penumbra is a decentralized, open-source protocol, built in public.

The Participating in development chapter has developer documentation for working on the protocol itself.


The Resources chapter has links to other resources about the Penumbra protocol.