One of the main talking points of crypto sceptics is the fact that you can’t physically store digital currencies in a bank account or in your fiat money wallet. The key concern is that virtual currencies simply can’t be safe from cyber attackers and scammers who are trying to steal other people’s money.
However, this isn’t a valid argument against crypto because blockchain technology uses cryptographic consensus mechanisms, public addresses, and private keys to ensure that only the owner of the funds can access them.
Bitcoin (BTC), as the first digital currency, is the pioneer of crypto transaction mechanisms and blockchain addresses. Every time you’re conducting a BTC transfer, you’re actually sending Bitcoin from one public address to another through the blockchain and the complex BTC Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus model.
Let’s take a closer look at how crypto addresses work, what is the operational model of the Bitcoin blockchain, and how you can find out what your Bitcoin address is.
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Cryptocurrency Public Addresses and Private Keys
Cryptocurrencies never leave their native blockchains. For example, all bitcoins always stay within the BTC network. They just change blockchain locations, known as BTC public addresses or public keys. A public address is a virtual location on the blockchain where you can receive coins that are native to that chain.
You can only receive BTC to a Bitcoin public address. There’s no way someone can send you Ethereum (ETH) or any other crypto to a BTC public address. Public addresses are associated with crypto wallets or user accounts on cryptocurrency exchange platforms like Coinbase and Binance and you can freely share them with third parties because there’s no danger of someone stealing your crypto.
Anyone can see the exact balance of a public address through a blockchain explorer like Blockchain.com. It’s important to note that different blockchains usually have different block explorer platforms, but you can use Blockchain.com to trace transactions and browse public addresses on BTC, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and the Ethereum network.
Private addresses, commonly referred to as private keys, aren’t visible through block explorers. These keys act as passwords that protect the user’s ownership over the crypto located at their public address. In order to make a crypto payment or transfer coins from one address to another, you need to have the appropriate private keys.
Unlike public addresses, you should never share private keys with third parties. The private keys are what hackers are after because if they manage to steal your keys, they can simply drain your public address of crypto and transfer it to their account.
That’s why crypto wallets were created to keep private keys safe with the help of security measures like PIN codes, passwords, two-factor authentication (2FA), and recovery phrases.
The BTC Blockchain
The Bitcoin network is the original crypto blockchain that introduced the concept of public addresses and private keys. BTC uses the Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism to validate Bitcoin transactions and process coins between different Bitcoin addresses.
When you want to send some Bitcoin as payment for a given service or to send coins to an exchange platform account for trading, your BTC transaction first goes into the blockchain memory pool. Bitcoin miners, who act as network nodes with their powerful mining rig computers, select your transaction for further processing.
The validation process is a monotonous, manual procedure during which miners use the computing power of their rigs to find the right 64-digit transaction hash that confirms the validity of your transfer. This can take quite some time for an individual miner, which is why miners usually join online mining pools with thousands of members who combine their computing power to find the right transaction hashes faster and share the BTC block reward.
When miners find the right hash for your transfer, they present it to the rest of the BTC network as proof of work, and multiple additional miners quickly run a check of the hash to make sure that the transfer is really legit.
Once this process is finished, your transaction gets approved and added to the next block of the BTC blockchain, and the miners who participated in the validation process get a block reward of newly mined BTC.
This is the procedure every Bitcoin transfer needs to go through before it can reach its destination BTC address.
Bitcoin Wallet Addresses
A BTC address is basically the same as a Bitcoin wallet address. When you download and install a popular software wallet app compatible with iOS and Android mobile devices like Atomic Wallet or Trust Wallet, you automatically get public addresses for dozens of popular cryptocurrencies.
Your wallet’s Bitcoin address is protected by the safety measures used by the wallet manufacturer, and it’s always a good idea to use a non-custodial wallet that keeps the private keys to your Bitcoin stored on your device and not on company servers.
How to Check Your BTC Address?
For software wallets like Atomic Wallet and Trust Wallet:
- Checking the BTC address of your crypto wallet is quite easy. The procedure can vary a bit depending on the wallet you’re using, but it’s usually a straightforward procedure, very similar in most wallet apps.
- Open your wallet app and choose Bitcoin.
- You’ll see the option to Send and Receive BTC.
- Click on Receive, and your wallet will show you two versions of your BTC address. One in QR code form, ideal for scanning, and an alphanumeric version that you can copy and send to third parties.
- It’s this simple to check your Bitcoin address.
For hardware wallets like Trezor:
- Open your Trezor Suite on your PC or laptop.
- Choose Bitcoin from the crypto list.
- Click on Receive.
- Now click on Show full address, and the Trezor Suite will show you your full BTC public address.
A Few Ending Words…
BTC was the first digital currency project in the world to introduce Bitcoin/public addresses, and altcoin developers have been able to copy this operational mechanism since the Bitcoin Core programming code is fully open-source. In fact, all cryptocurrencies use the public address/private keys model, just like Bitcoin.
It can be a bit confusing for crypto beginners when someone asks them for their BTC address, which is why we prepared these simple, straightforward instructions for locating your BTC address in your crypto wallet.