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.
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
The public key is the location where transactions are deposited to and withdrawn from.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.
×