How To Send and Receive Crypto — Including Bitcoin
Although fairly intuitive, sending and receiving bitcoin and crypto is different than using a credit card, Venmo, or PayPal to transfer funds. But once you've learned it, the process for transferring bitcoin is essentially the same for all other cryptocurrencies.
Updated January 27, 2021 • 2 min read
You’ve purchased some cryptocurrency, let’s say bitcoin, but you’re not sure what to do next. At some point, you’ll likely want to send it somewhere and receive some crypto from someone else. While fairly intuitive, sending and receiving bitcoin and crypto is different than using a credit card, Venmo, or PayPal to transfer funds. And the good news is that once you’ve mastered sending and receiving bitcoin, the process is essentially the same for all other cryptocurrencies.
Send Crypto and Receive Crypto
A cryptocurrency wallet will have at least one private key and public key pair. The private key proves ownership of your funds and gives you the ability to spend the funds associated with your public address. Therefore, it must be kept secret. Your public key allows you to receive cryptocurrency transactions. It’s a cryptographic code that’s paired to a private key. While anyone can send transactions to the public key, you need the private key to “unlock” them and prove that you are the owner of the cryptocurrency received. The public address that can receive transactions is usually a hashed form of your public key. Therefore, you can freely share your public address without worry.
Reasons to Send and Receive Crypto
There are many reasons to send or receive crypto. Often, the sender and the receiver are the same person. You may want to:
Send crypto between your exchange wallets
Send crypto between your mobile, desktop, or hardware wallets
Send crypto from your mobile wallet to your exchange wallet, or vice versa
You may also want to make a purchase with crypto or send crypto to someone else. Likewise, you could also be the recipient of a gift, airdrop, or payment. Cryptocurrency payments have gained significant popularity in many parts of the world.
How to Send Bitcoin and Crypto
This varies slightly depending on the wallet you are using, but the basic procedure is as follows:
First, you need a wallet that contains cryptocurrency. This can be a mobile wallet, an exchange wallet, or a desktop wallet. You’ll be given the choice to select Send or Receive. Select Send.
If your wallet has multiple cryptocurrencies, you’ll need to select which one you plan to send. (For some wallets, steps 1 and 2 are reversed. You’ll select the cryptocurrency first and then select Send.)
You need the public key or public address of your recipient. This can be a QR Code or a long series of random letters and numbers. Scan the QR code or copy and paste the public address into the recipient field in your wallet. It’s recommended to use a QR code if available.
Type in the amount you wish to send. You will usually be given the option to denominate this value in either a cryptocurrency or fiat (dollar) amount, so be aware of this distinction. There’s a big difference between $3.50 USD and 3.5 bitcoin. Sometimes a scanned QR code will already include a requested amount, so you won’t need to manually input an amount to send. Just check to be sure the designated amount is correct.
Prior to sending, be sure to double- or triple-check the recipient’s address, especially if you’re copying and pasting an address. Make sure you trust the source from which you got the address to ensure the address you are sending to is actually associated with your intended recipient. These transactions are irreversible.
Simply click or swipe Send — and your transaction is on its way. You’ve now successfully sent cryptocurrency.
Besides triple-checking the recipient’s address, there are a few other things you should do as a beginner. First, send a small test transaction of trivial monetary value. You don’t want to make a mistake with a large amount of cryptocurrency. Also, be sure that the cryptocurrency you’re sending is going to the proper corresponding address. You can’t send bitcoin to an Ethereum address. (Well, you can, but it would be lost in the crypto abyss forever.) Pay careful attention when it comes to cryptocurrencies that look alike — don’t send BTC to a BCH address or ETC to an ETH address.
How to Receive Bitcoin and Crypto
In order to receive crypto, you must:
Open your wallet and select Receive.
Share your public key or address. This can be a QR code or a string of numbers and letters. You can send your QR code as a picture or allow someone to scan it in person.
Now, anyone with your public address can send you cryptocurrency. A sender may sometimes give you the transaction ID as a courtesy. This allows you to look up the transaction using a block explorer.
Learning the Basics
Some recommend setting up multiple wallets and practicing sending transactions back and forth to yourself. You can use two phones, a computer and a phone, or even two mobile wallets on the same phone. You should practice by sending and receiving transactions of minimal value using both the QR code and the copy and paste function until you’ve got it down. Now you can feel confident in sending or receiving crypto.
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