Once you have a bitcoin wallet, you can use a traditional payment method such as a credit card, bank transfer (ACH), or debit card to buy bitcoins on a bitcoin exchange. The bitcoins are then transferred to your wallet. The availability of the above payment methods is subject to the area of jurisdiction and exchange chosen. Below is a screenshot of the bitcoin interface on Coinbase showing how to buy and sell bitcoin and also Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin​, which are other popular virtual currencies. The user clicks the "Buy" tab to buy digital currency and the "Sell" tab to sell digital currency. You select which currency you are buying/selling and which payment method (your bank account or credit card) you want to use.
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.
The public key is the location where transactions are deposited to and withdrawn from.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.
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