The public key is the location where transactions are deposited to and withdrawn from. This is also the key that appears on the blockchain ledger as a user’s digital signature, not unlike a username on a social media newsfeed. The private key is the password required to buy, sell, and trade the bitcoin in a wallet. A private key should be a guarded secret and only used to authorize bitcoin transmissions. Some users protect their private keys by encrypting a wallet with a strong password and, in some cases, by choosing the cold storage option; that is, storing the wallet offline.
After you’ve set up your wallet with a payment method, you'll need a place to actually buy bitcoin. Users can buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from online marketplaces called “exchanges,” similar to the platforms that traders use to buy stock. Exchanges connect you directly to the bitcoin marketplace, where you can exchange traditional currencies for bitcoin.
Remember that the bitcoin exchange and the bitcoin wallet are not the same things. Bitcoin exchanges are similar to foreign exchange markets. The exchanges are digital platforms where Bitcoin is exchanged for fiat currency—for example, bitcoin (BTC) for U.S. dollars (USD). While exchanges offer wallet capabilities to users, it is not their primary business. Since wallets must be secure, exchanges do not encourage storing large amounts of bitcoin or for long periods. Therefore, it is advisable to transfer your bitcoins to a secure wallet. Because security must be your top priority when choosing a bitcoin wallet, opt for one with a multi-signature facility.
Despite receiving significant attention in the financial and investment world, many people do not know how to buy the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, but doing so is as simple as signing up for a mobile app. With cryptocurrency back in the news again, now’s a better time than ever to delve into the weeds and learn more about how to invest. Here's a breakdown of everything you need to know in order to start buying bitcoin.
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