Crypto 101: What Is a Crypto Wallet and How Does It Work?

To utilize a cryptocurrency, you must first obtain a crypto wallet to hold your virtual cash.

Like a bank account, it also has a unique address. It could look like this depending on the coin. There is more to it than what appears to be a perfectly random sequence of characters and numbers. The first thing we need to determine is how these items are made. Anyone can generate a public and private key pair for a new wallet by following a certain protocol.

This is performed via an elliptical curve digital signature method in the case of Bitcoin or Ethereum. That’s a mouthful, but the bottom thing is that the procedure will generate a private key and a public key that corresponds to it.

These keys have a mathematical relationship with each other. The public key can be generated using the private key. A public key, on the other hand, cannot be converted to a private key.

These two keys now have different purposes

The public key will act as your wallet’s address, comparable to your bank account number. And the private key is your way of proving that you are the owner of the wallet and hence have the authority to spend the funds inside. To conclude, public keys can be shared with everyone, whereas private keys must be kept private unless you want others to decide how your money should be spent. So far, everything has gone according to plan. However, there are a few intriguing side effects to this method that I’d like to discuss.

What Is the importance of crypto wallets?

To begin with, anyone with access to a computer can build a limitless number of crypto wallets. It’s simply constrained by how quickly your computer can generate key pairs. Unless your wallet receives some coins, no one will be aware of its existence. After all, a cryptocurrency is nothing more than a ledger of transactions between crypto wallets. It does not contain a comprehensive list of all available wallets.

So, if you haven’t utilized your newly constructed wallet in a transaction yet, it simply doesn’t exist in the eyes of the outside world. Think of the blockchain as a giant spreadsheet with transactions flowing from one wallet to the next. Whether or not these wallets exist is unimportant to the blockchain.

You must prove your ownership of coins in order to spend them in a wallet. Only the private key associated with the wallet’s address can be used to do so.

You can also send money to a wallet address that does not exist, which is an unexpected effect. Because a blockchain does not keep track of genuine addresses, it cannot ensure that you are sending coins to a legitimate address. If you send money to an invalid address, it will be lost unless the private key for that address can be generated. For the time being, due to the way the algorithm works, this isn’t really possible.

This is referred to as “coin burning.” It is often done on purpose by cryptocurrency projects that want to reduce total supply and increase the value of their coin. They also do it to get rid of coins that were not distributed during the initial coin offering.

The other great side effect I’d like to mention is that you can build a wallet while offline and then provide that address to someone else so they can send coins to it. When you return to the internet, you can use the private key from that wallet to spend the coins.

So, if you want to keep some money safe, you can create an offline wallet, print off your public and private keys, destroy the key on your computer, and transfer coins to it. This is referred to as a “paper wallet,” and it is the most extreme but also the most secure manner of storing money. So that was a quick summary of how cryptocurrency wallets work.

What is the best way to use a crypto wallet?

The sophistication of crypto wallets varies, from simple apps to more comprehensive security solutions. Wallets come in a variety of styles, including:

Wallets made of paper:

This makes it more difficult to use your crypto because it can only be spent as digital money on the internet. Crypto keys are written on a physical medium, such as paper, and safely kept.

Wallets made of metal:

The keys are kept on a thumb drive that is kept in a secure area and is only linked to a computer when you need to access your bitcoin. The goal is to strike a balance between security and convenience.

Wallets on the internet:

In online wallets, keys are saved in an app or other software; look for one that supports two-step encryption. Sending, receiving, and using bitcoin is now as straightforward as using an online bank account, payment system, or brokerage.


Each type has its own set of compromises. Paper and hardware wallets are more difficult for unscrupulous individuals to access because they are stored offline. Regardless, their utility is limited, and they are at risk of being lost or destroyed. The simplest way to get started in crypto is to use an online wallet provided by a major exchange like Coinbase, which offers a decent mix of security and ease.

DISCLAIMER: The Information on this website is provided as general market commentary and does not constitute investment advice. We encourage you to do your own research before investing.

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