Good question, I’m going to do my best to keep it simple. So please keep in mind that there are a lot more aspects and things to consider if you want to dig deeper.
Note: Please do not send funds to the following address as these details are in the public domain, it is for demonstration only.
There are 2 parts and they are normally managed by your wallet software;
– A public address eg. 1MsHWS1BnwMc3tLE8G35UXsS58fKipzB7a
– A private key eg. 5HpHagT65TZzG1PH3CSu63k8DbpvD8s5ip4nEB3kEsreAbuatmU
Click on the public Bitcoin address above to see all the transactions that have taken place on this address.
A Bitcoin address is a unique identifier that you can publicly share which allows you to receive Bitcoins. It is made up of 26-35 alphanumeric case sensitive characters, beginning with the number 1 or 3, that represents a possible destination for a Bitcoin payment. Addresses can be generated at no cost by any user of Bitcoin.
Sharing the public address is safe. People can not take your Bitcoins, they can only send them to you with this address.
Different cryptocurrencies normally need a different address specific to that currency.
A private key is a secret code which allows you to prove control of the Bitcoins in the associated address. The address and private key is normally saved in the wallet that controls the balance. Do not share your private key with anyone. Keep your private key backed up in a safe place.
If you loose your private key or it becomes public knowledge then the address you have shared with other people is now compromised. This means that any new payments made to your public address can be removed by anyone who knows the private key.
Why do I keep seeing QR-codes?
The QR bar codes that you see are normally the public address so you can easily make a payment to that address by scanning it with your smartphone. Scanning a QR-code is much easier than trying to type in the case sensitive characters. But copy and pasting the address as text can also be easier if you if you are working on a PC and then a QR-code is not as useful 😉
Now YOU need a Bitcoin address!
How to set up your own Bitcoin wallet to get an address.