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Public Address Meaning

Mar 27, 2023 | Updated Jul 18, 2023
A public address is what allows individuals to request or receive cryptocurrency payments into their digital wallets.

What is a Public Address in Crypto?

A public address is a unique series of cryptographic codes that can be shared with others to receive messages, coins, or tokens. Public addresses are part of a larger computer science field called asymmetric encryption or Public Key Cryptography (PKC), involving two integral components of crypto, public keys and private keys, that are used as proof that a transaction was not a forgery but was actually approved by the owner of the assets. 

How does this work?

Sending cryptocurrency requires having both private keys and public keys, and a cryptographic link between the public key and the private key. Public-private key pairs create secure transactions or transmissions over a public network. Think of public keys like a postal address which is used to receive mail or packages. Similarly, a public key can be shared with anyone who wants to send you digital assets.

However, to access the contents of your mailbox, you need a key, like a private key in blockchain. Only the person with the key can access the contents of the mailbox, just as only the owner of the private key can access and control the funds associated with the public key in blockchain.

Having someone’s public key allows you to send them data, while access to an account’s private keys allows you to access the assets within the account itself. 

What Is The Difference Between Public Keys, An Address, and a Wallet?

Public keys and public addresses are often considered the same thing. In reality, public keys and public addresses are closely related things that support wallet security. 

  • Public Keys

A public key is an encoded text that enables users to receive assets into their wallets or accounts. It is similar to a bank account number that can be freely shared with other parties, so that anyone can send messages or transactions to them. Public keys are generated alongside private keys. 

  • Public Address

Because a public key is made up of an extremely long series of alphanumeric characters representing a unique number, it is compressed using a one-way function to generate the public address. Hence, a public address is the shortened version of the public key. As such, a public address can be freely shared with other people and they can send crypto to that address.

  • Wallet

A wallet is a virtual keychain that allows you to securely store, manage, and transfer your cryptocurrencies. It stores your public and private keys, which are used to access and manage your digital assets on the blockchain network.

What Does It Look Like?

A public address is derived from an account’s public key. It is what users share with other users to receive funds. Here’s an example: 

1BvBPSEYmtWeeqTFn5Au5y4GFg7xJaNVN2

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