What is a Public Address And What Is Its Use?

Blockchain Addresses are an important component when it comes to understanding cryptocurrencies. What is a public address, the one crypto term that you have seen a few too many times? Keep reading to find out.

What is a public address?

A public address is a unique string of code used by individuals to receive or request payments in cryptocurrency.

How is a Bitcoin public key used?

Unlike a private key, this code is meant to be shared with others as it does not provide direct access to your coins and is only, as aforementioned, used to ask for or receive cryptocurrency from others. 

In more technical terms, by using public-key cryptography, you can “validate” information with your private key and third-parties who know your public key can verify the validity of your signature.

Different forms of public addresses

Cryptocurrency wallet addresses can be created both online and offline using a different code structure depending on the coins you want to hold on them. For example, if you are creating a Bitcoin wallet, your public key will start in one of the following ways:

  • With the number 1, eg: 1BvBMSEYstWetqTFn5Au4m4GFg7xJaNVN2
  • With number 3, eg: 3J98t1WpEZ73CNmQviecrnyiWrnqRhWNLy 
  • Or with bc1, eg: bc1qar0srrr7xfkvy5l643lydnw9re59gtzzwf5mdq

More information on the different formats and how you can create a wallet can be found here.

Find the Public address of your wallet

If you are reading this, you probably have a wallet to store your Bitcoins. if not, go ahead and choose one from our comprehensive list. Once your wallet is created, you will need to know how to find your public address.

And here’s how you do it.

  • Most cryptocurrency wallets will have a specific tab labeled as “Receive”. Click on the tab and you will see your public key.
  • In most cases, especially when using mobile wallets, you will also see your wallet in a QR form. This is an easy way to ensure that there will not be any issues since you will not be copy/pasting your wallet address manually.
  • You will now have to present your public address to the individual that has to send you Bitcoin. Most wallets will have a dedicated copy/paste button to help you give out your public address in an easier way. If not, you can always select your text, copy it, and paste it manually.
  • Once your transacting partner has your public address, they will be able to send you Bitcoin.

What happens if I give out the wrong public address?

Giving out wrongfully copied public address, or one that does belong to a wallet of the supporting cryptocurrency is something that happens quite often.

In these types of situations, one of two things happen:

  1. The address you give out simply doesn’t exist and your transaction cannot be completed. In this case, you will need to review your address and make the necessary changes.
  2. The address you used is correct but belongs to a different wallet or a different person. In this case, there is nothing you can do and your coins are lost. There will be no way to retrieve the coins, as there is no third party that keeps an overview of the Bitcoin network.

As such, it is very important that you take good care when making a transaction with Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.

Now that you know what is a public address and how it works in the context of cryptocurrency, you are ready to start making Bitcoin transactions.