What is a bitcoin address and how do you use it?
Excerpts from Mastering Bitcoin, 2nd Edition by Andreas M. Antonopoulos.
“… a bitcoin address is generated from and corresponds to a public key. The bitcoin address is the only representation of the keys that users will routinely see because this is the part they need to share with the world. … a bitcoin address is used in the same way as the beneficiary name on a [paper] check (i.e., ‘Pay to the order of’ )”
“A bitcoin address is a string of [26-35] digits and characters that can be shared with anyone who wants to send you money. Addresses produced from public keys consist of a string of numbers and letters, beginning with the digit 1 [or 3].”
Here’s an example of a bitcoin address:
It is recommended to use a different bitcoin address for every transaction to increase privacy. However, I find this is not always practical. Sometimes I use the same bitcoin address multiple times.
Below is an example of a paper bitcoin wallet. The public address is 33 characters and starts with a ‘1’. The private signature key is even longer. If you owned this paper wallet, you would never show the private key to anyone except trusted family and friends.