Explaining Bitcoin addresses
Similar to an email address, a Bitcoin address, or simply address, is used to receive
and hold bitcoin. While people typically have one primary email address, Bitcoin
users have many addresses. They are created at no cost by your Bitcoin wallet each
time you request to receive money. Anyone with access to a Bitcoin wallet can create
an unlimited number of addresses.
Bitcoin addresses usually have 26-35 characters and are case sensitive, as in the
following example: 15CW3U7UbAJLEkDQVL17SXts7NVkLnwaiY
The address can contain numbers and letters, both uppercase and lowercase. To help
reduce confusion, there are no capital O’s, zeros 0’s, lower case l’s, and capital ‘I’s’.
These characters are removed to reduce the errors made from writing with pen and
paper, as often encountered in the past. The result is a format that is easy to share
digitally and/or physically.
Bitcoin addresses have an error-checking code called a checksum. Computing the
checksum of an address will detect if any single character is incorrect. This helps to
prevent errors when sharing your address. Most wallets will validate and reject an
invalid address. As an example, note the following two addresses:
• Valid Bitcoin address: 15CW3U7UbAJLEkDQVL17SXts7NVkLnwaiY
• Invalid Bitcoin address: 15CW3U7UbAJLEkDQVL17SXts7NVkLnwaiy
They both appear valid, yet the second address does not compute a valid checksum.
They are nearly identical except for the uppercase N at the end of the second address.
Your Bitcoin wallet will typically hold many Bitcoin addresses. It’s important to
know that a single Bitcoin address is not a wallet nor is it your account; rather, it’s
simply a way to receive money.