Crypto Basics
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What is a Wallet Address? (Beginner’s Guide 2024)

What is a Wallet Address? (Beginner’s Guide 2024)
What is a Wallet Address? (Beginner’s Guide 2024)
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Key Takeaways 

  • A wallet address is a unique string of characters used to receive cryptocurrency — like an email address for your crypto! 
  • Your wallet address is not the same as your private key — which can be used to access the holdings in your crypto wallet and should be kept secret.

In this guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about cryptocurrency wallet addresses — including how they work, how you can create one, and how you can find your wallet address on your crypto wallets and exchanges

What is a wallet address in crypto? 

A cryptocurrency wallet address is like an email address for your crypto transactions. 

Your wallet address is a unique string of letters and numbers that can be used to send and receive cryptocurrency to and from your wallet. Just as you would share your email address to others to communicate, your wallet address is what you share to receive cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. 

Example: What is a wallet address? 

Imagine you want to receive Bitcoin from a friend. 

You would provide them with your Bitcoin wallet address, a string of characters such as "1A1zP1eP5QGefi2DMPTfTL5SLmv7DivfNa", which directs the Bitcoin they send to your cryptocurrency wallet. 

How do I create a wallet address? 

Creating a wallet address is a straightforward process:

Step 1: Choose a reputable cryptocurrency wallet application or hardware wallet.

Step 2: Follow the setup instructions, which typically involve creating a new wallet. 

Step 3: Once your wallet is set up, it will automatically generate a wallet address for you.

You can create multiple addresses within the same wallet for increased privacy.

How do I find my wallet address? 

To better understand how to find your wallet address, let’s take a look at how you can find your wallet address on one of the world’s most popular exchanges — Coinbase. Remember, the exact steps may vary depending on the exact platform you are using. 

  1. Log in to your Coinbase account. 
  2. Click the button labeled ‘Transfer’. 
Click 'Buy & Sell'
  1. Click the button labeled ‘Receive Crypto’.
Click 'Recieve crypto' to find address
  1. Now, you’ll see a wallet address as well as a scannable QR code. Here, you can toggle between different wallet addresses for different blockchains. 
Scan wallet address

You can follow similar steps to find your wallet address on most wallets/exchanges. 

Remember, if your exchange/wallet supports multiple blockchains, you’ll have a different wallet address for each blockchain. Be sure to pick the correct wallet address for your transaction. 

How do wallet addresses work? 

Because crypto transactions are ‘pseudo-anonymous’, wallet addresses are used to verify senders and recipients. When someone sends cryptocurrency to your wallet address, the transaction is recorded and verified on the blockchain — with a publicly visible record of the transaction and the wallet addresses of both parties. 

Why do cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin use a two-key system? 

Cryptocurrencies use a two-key system, comprising a public key (which evolves into your wallet address) and a private key, for enhanced security. 

Public key: A public key is derived from your wallet address. It’s comparable to your bank account number and can be freely shared with others. 

Private key: A private key is used to access your cryptocurrency and approve transactions. You should not share your private keys with others, because it will give them access to your crypto wallet and its holdings. 

What’s the difference between wallets, keys, and addresses? 

Let’s walk through the differences between your wallet, your keys, and your wallet address. 

  • Wallet: A digital tool that stores your keys and addresses, acting as a secure means to access and manage your cryptocurrencies.
  • Keys: Your wallet has public and private keys. 
    • The public key is like your bank account number — it can be shared with others without compromising your security! 
    • The private key is like your bank account PIN — it can be used to access your holdings, so you should keep it secret and in a safe place. 
  • Wallet address: A wallet address is a shortened version of your public key. Your wallet address can be shared with others to allow you to easily send and receive your cryptocurrencies. 

Is there any way I can create a short, customizable wallet address? 

Because crypto addresses can be difficult to memorize, some crypto wallets/services do give the option to create a short, customizable wallet address. 

Is my crypto wallet address anonymous? 

Technically, your cryptocurrency wallet is anonymous. However, it’s important to note that there are methods that can be used to identify ‘anonymous’ wallets. 

Remember, transactions on blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum are publicly visible. In the past, contractors like Chainalysis have worked with the IRS to match blockchain transactions to known individuals. 

Frequently asked questions

  • How do I find my wallet ID?
  • Can anyone do anything with your wallet address?
  • What is a wallet address for Bitcoin?
  • What does a Bitcoin wallet address look like?
  • Does every crypto wallet have a wallet address?
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