Crypto 101: What’s an Address?

An address is a string of numbers that functions much like your mailbox. Well, a really secure version of your mailbox. Like, if your mailbox didn’t have your last name printed on the side… and was protected with a very long impenetrable password lock.

If you want someone to send you some data – in many cases that data being cryptocurrency – then you give them your address. Likewise, if they want to know who sent them some money, then they can check the address of who sent it – like a return address. Remember, there are no names, though. They can only see the address and what was sent from that address.

Your address is public information. You know your address, the sender knows your address, and the “delivery” network knows your address. Anyone who cares to look knows your address – and they also know what data was sent and when. This probably isn’t as anonymous as you had heard or hoped. What makes it pseudoanonymous is that your name does NOT need to be on your mailbox.

When someone sends you cryptocurrency, then the network will deliver it to your address – your super secure mailbox. If you lose your password for your mailbox, though, then the money is doomed to sit inside until you can remember it. Beware: if someone else ever gets your password, then they have access to everything inside your mailbox!

Some people think that the idea of public addresses must be hard to understand, because these addresses can look complicated like this:

0xFDE0D2A105227bF6A2b75d9BF285b958759A6190

But don’t be intimidated… just think of this:

Don’t lose your password, keep your private key PRIVATE – and anything in your modern-day mailbox will be perfectly safe and sound.

You got this… keep learning.

I’m passionate about blockchains. I’m excited about decentralization, autonomous organizations, cryptocurrencies, and uncensorable dApps.

I’m also overwhelmed – with questions about these cutting edge technologies. I want to understand the tech, the politics, and the implications of the blockchain revolution.

Most of all, I want to share what I discover – because broader understanding will lead to greater participation, more rapid adoption, and, subsequently, a better world.