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Difference between wallet addresses, public and private keys

10 min. read • Published 2020-08-20

Address

A public address consists of randomly generated numbers and letters that represent a unique number similar to a bank account number.

Example: 1EUXSxuUVy2PC5enGXR1a3yxbEjNWMHuem

An address can be created for free and within a matter of seconds without needing a third party. You can freely share your public address with others. That way, people can send cryptocurrencies to your address.

Public Keys

Public keys are comparable to account numbers. They can be freely shared with everyone, and anyone can potentially send transactions to them.

Example: 02b4632d08485ff1df2db55b9dafd23347d1c47a457072a1e87be26896549a8737

Private Keys

Private keys, as their name suggests, should be kept private. Think of them as a verification code or PIN, which, together with its corresponding public key grants you access to the actual funds on the blockchain. 

You should NEVER share your private keys with anyone. Store them on a paper or a hardware wallet.

Example: ef235aacf90d9f4aadd8c92e4b2562e1d9eb97f0df9ba3b508258739cb013db2

Note: The keys are not stored on a blockchain. Instead, they can be kept in an encrypted file, which can be saved anywhere and stored offline.