How to Get a Bitcoin Address?

As the first cryptocurrency in the world, Bitcoin basically served as a blueprint for future cryptos, providing developer teams with a ready-made solution for transactions, validation mechanisms, and network architecture.

Bitcoin (BTC) introduced the concept of public addresses and private keys as virtual blockchain locations and passwords that prove ownership over a certain amount of BTC and let users send their coins to other addresses.

For crypto beginners, the term Bitcoin address might sound like something pretty complex, but it’s actually very basic and refers to your Bitcoin wallet address, which can be used to receive coins.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at how public addresses and private keys work, how the BTC blockchain operates, and finally, how you can get a Bitcoin address of your own through a trustworthy crypto wallet.

Private Keys and Public Crypto Wallet Addresses

Bitcoin and all other digital currencies use a system of public addresses or public keys, and private addresses, or private keys, to facilitate transactions through the blockchain and keep track of coin ownership and virtual crypto locations. 

Private key crypto wallet

A public address is a blockchain location where you can store coins and keep them safe. That’s why public locations are associated with crypto wallets. Bitcoin public addresses are called Bitcoin addresses, and since BTC is a distributed public ledger, anyone can see everyone else’s BTC address with a Bitcoin blockchain explorer.

All BTC addresses are publicly visible, together with their BTC balance and the records of all transactions sent to and from each address. However, public addresses don’t require users to provide any sort of personal data to link their identity to the addresses, which means that transacting with BTC provides a certain degree of anonymity to crypto enthusiasts. 

It’s safe to share your public address with other people because the only thing that third parties can do with your address is to send you some coins or view your balance and transactions on the blockchain. There’s no way someone can access your funds and steal them simply by knowing your public address.

Private keys are a whole different story because if someone gets hold of them, they can easily take all of your crypto stored at the address associated with those keys by transferring the coins to their public address. You can think of private keys as passwords guarding your crypto and proving your ownership over the coins stored in your public address.

Without the appropriate private keys, you can’t access, transfer, spend, and manage the coins associated with a given public address. That’s why private keys are a prime target for scammers and hackers. To increase their security, developers have created various types of crypto wallets that use different types of security measures to protect your private keys from hacks at all times.

The BTC Blockchain

In order to understand the reliability of BTC addresses and private keys, we need to take a look at the Bitcoin blockchain architecture and how it works.

When BTC was launched in 2009, there was a lot of scepticism about the project, especially from the TradFi sector, because it was so unbelievable that a digital currency system could function in a reliable manner without any centralised authority controlling the network. Bitcoin soon proved to be extremely reliable in terms of transactions and network security, thanks to its blockchain network. In fact, a lot of altcoin projects like Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) copied much of the BTC architecture because of its high reliability and efficiency.

Bitcoin blockchain with binary code

The Bitcoin blockchain is composed of a simple chain of data blocks that are set in chronological order, from the first genesis block mined by BTC founder Satoshi Nakamoto to the most recent data block. Each block contains 1MB of transaction data, and it takes an average of 5 to 10 minutes for a new block to get created and verified on the blockchain. The data blocks are filled with transaction data, and depending on the size of a transaction, one block can contain multiple BTC transfers. 

A key component of BTC blockchain security is the immutability of approved Bitcoin transactions and data blocks. This means that once a data block is verified and added to the blockchain, its contents can’t be changed because the blockchain was created without any possibilities for editing approved blocks. Users can rest assured that once their transactions get approved, they can’t be changed and hacked by third parties once their transactions get approved. 

The only way to alter the contents of a BTC block is if at least 51% of all network nodes agree to change a block, but this is nearly impossible because it would require hackers to gain control over thousands of Bitcoin network nodes, which would require enormous amounts of computing power and logistics. 

Bitcoin Transactions

Bitcoin transactions and the Proof of Work (PoW) mechanism are essential parts of the Bitcoin blockchain’s daily operations. A BTC transaction is a cryptographic message sent out from one Bitcoin address to another, carrying detailed information about the number of transferred coins and the sender and receiver addresses.

Every Bitcoin transaction has a unique transaction ID (TXID) and a timestamp. The TXID and the timestamp help users track their transactions through blockchain explorers. Each TXID is fully unique, and you can always find your transaction with it on the blockchain.

The PoW mechanism is Bitcoin’s blockchain consensus algorithm. It’s based on network nodes, which are actually BTC miners with their powerful computers or mining rigs, which use GPU computing power to validate transactions and mine BTC.

Every time you initiate a BTC transfer, your transaction goes into the Bitcoin blockchain memory pool (mempool), where it waits for a miner to select it for processing. Miners choose transactions based on the attached miner fees, so it’s best to include at least an average BTC fee with your transfer because if you’ve added a low fee it might take a longer period of time for miners to choose your transaction. 

Pay with bitcoin on mobile

When a miner picks your transaction, they start manually trying out loads of 64-digit alphanumeric combinations through an automated process using their mining equipment to find the right hash for your transaction. This can take a while, which is why miners team up in massive online mining pools with thousands of members who pool together the hashing power of their rigs so they can find the right hashes faster and earn more block rewards.

When the miners finally find the right hash for your transaction, they present it to the rest of the network as proof of work, and additional miners run a quick check of the hash to confirm that it really fits your transfer. Once your transaction receives several additional confirmations, it gets approved, added to the next blockchain block, and processed to its destination. In return for their services, miners get block rewards of newly mined bitcoins.

How Do Bitcoin Wallets Work?

Bitcoin wallets act as safeguards for the BTC addresses where users keep their coins, and they also keep the private keys necessary to access those coins out of the reach of cyber attackers and scammers. A BTC wallet provides users with a Bitcoin address by default when users download and install a wallet app or purchase a hardware wallet device and start using it.

There’s no specific procedure for creating a Bitcoin address because that’s automatically done by the software of your BTC wallet. Without a Bitcoin address, you can’t receive any bitcoins, and you can’t send any either because you need to have a virtual location from which you’re sending BTC to initiate a transaction to a third party.

Once you install a BTC wallet and start using it, you’ll be provided with a 12 or 24-word recovery seed phrase, which acts as the key protection for your private keys in case you lose access to the device you’re using to manage your wallet, or if you lose your hardware wallet device. The recovery seed phrase is your guarantee that if you use another hardware device or software-based crypto wallet, you’ll be able to restore your assets by entering the phrase in the correct order. 

Bitcoin wallets also use various additional safety measures, such as passwords and PIN codes to add an additional layer of security for your private keys because if someone simply steals your phone or hardware wallet, they can’t get to your private keys without the right password or PIN code.

However, hackers have become very clever in stealing passwords through various keylogger viruses, malware, and phishing attacks, so many wallets also use two-factor authentication (2FA) as a method for adding even more safety. 2FA requires users to confirm every transaction to or from their wallets, either with an email or text message code, which makes it more difficult for scammers to access private keys and steal crypto.

Crypto Wallet Types

Every Bitcoin-compatible wallet will provide you with a BTC address in alphanumeric and QR code form, but not every wallet has strong security measures. Here’s a quick overview of the two key types of BTC wallets along with a few examples of reputable, trustworthy wallets.

Software wallet crypto

Cryptocurrency Desktop and Mobile Wallets 

Desktop wallets and mobile wallets are the two most trustworthy types of software wallets. It’s important to choose a non-custodial software wallet that doesn’t take control of your private keys. Non-custodial wallets keep all of your private keys safely stored on your device so that you have full control over your crypto, and they come with multiple layers of protection in the form of passwords, PIN codes, 2FA, and recovery phrases.

Atomic Wallet, Trust Wallet (only mobile), and Exodus Wallet are examples of top-quality non-custodial, multi-currency crypto wallets for iOS, Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows operating systems that support BTC. You can also choose a Bitcoin-only software wallet, such as Electrum or Mycelium if you only plan to buy/sell Bitcoin on a cryptocurrency exchange platform like Coinbase.

BTC Hardware Wallets

Hardware wallets are cold storage solutions that don’t rely on a constant internet connection like software wallets. Instead, these wallets come in the form of USB devices with multiple layers of software and hardware encryption, and they keep your private keys stored safely offline, out of reach of hackers. Hardware wallets are managed through specialised firmware on a PC, laptop computer, or mobile device. The internet connection is always kept separate from your private keys.

Hardware USB crypto wallet on top of laptop with bitcoin

The Ledger Nano S, and the Trezor Model One are some of the most reliable examples of hardware wallets compatible with Bitcoin.

A Few Ending Words…

As you can see, getting a Bitcoin address is quite easy because it only requires you to install a trustworthy BTC wallet or buy a hardware wallet device. All the heavy lifting is done by the wallet software, which automatically generates a Bitcoin public address for you.

It’s important to understand the underlying mechanism behind Bitcoin addresses and how the blockchain operates, in order to comprehend the security measures that make crypto wallets a secure choice for storing your BTC.