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What is a wallet and what is a bitcoinaddress?

Before you can receive and send bitcoins, you need a wallet, from which you manage bitcoin addresses. There are different types of wallets available, you can determine which one suits you the best by doing good research. You manage and secure your bitcoins yourself. Therefore, make sure that you inform yourself well. Secure your wallet well before you do important and/or valuable transactions with it.

A bitcoin address is a little bit like an accountnumber for bitcoin, except not with a bank: anyone with a bitcoin wallet can create unlimited amounts of new bitcoin addresses. You can provide bitcoin addresses to anyone who wants to send you bitcoin. Your wallet controls the unique access codes (private keys) with which you can spend bitcoins. Wallet software does not have to be ‘turned on’ in order to receive funds, but it does need to be active in order to access or spend funds.

There are many different ways to get a bitcoin address:

  • If you want to manage your own bitcoins you can download wallet software. The Bitcoin-core wallet is the most ‘robust’ and by using this wallet you contribute to the maintenance of the Bitcoin network. The disadvantage is that it requires a lot of computing power and disk space on your computer and it can take hours up to several days before it is ready for use. If you want to spend your bitcoins right away, this might not be the best option. There are other, lightweight, clients that do not require full synchronization. For example, Electrum.

  • There are several apps available for smartphones. These are especially useful if you regularly make bitcoin payments. Our advice: only use these apps for small payments, do not carry more bitcoins (in overall value) than you would carry in cash. Losing (access to) your phone means losing the bitcoins stored on the phone.

  • If you are planning on saving your bitcoins for a longer period of time you can use a paper wallet. You store your bitcoins offline, which gives the added benefit that hackers and/or malware cannot get to them. If you decide to sell or spend your bitcoins, there are several wallets where you can.import the private key.

  • Another way is to store your bitcoins offline by using a USB-device (hardware wallet). These are easier to use than paper wallets, but do require some investment.

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