What is a Bitcoin Private Key?

Cryptocurrencies have been a constant topic ever since their popularisation and explosion in 2017, where prices climbed to more than ten times the one they had when the year began. Considering their presence and how influential they have been for the rest of the world, from economics to politics, the number of people who don’t understand them may come as a surprise. However, they still remain a somewhat obscure topic for a lot of people.

While most people today know that Bitcoin is an electronic payment protocol or a digital currency, there is still a significant portion of its community (even some who are actively trading it) who have no idea of the actual technology involved in every transaction.

They may know it was created by Satoshi Nakamoto and that it handles peer-to-peer operations. However, they don’t understand underlying concepts such as the one we’re prone to talk about today: Bitcoin private key.

What Are They?

A private key is a secret line of code that is generated with each wallet, and it’s necessary for any movement related to moving funds. Every time a new user is issued a Bitcoin address, a private one is also handed to them.

Traditionally, they come as a 256-bit number which must be kept secured at all times given the fact that, without them, spending your coins is a no-no.

Since there is no point in having money you can’t spend, your interested should be directed towards how to keep these addresses safe.

One of the methods people use is storing them in an encrypted disk kept on their computers.

Another intriguing option is printing them using a service such as Pywallet, which is a functionality developed from Python. Pywallet is used to extract the private addresses directly from the files of your digital wallet, giving you the possibility of printing them on a piece of paper.

As we mentioned earlier, anyone needs a tool or program that lets them import their private keys so that they can make a transaction. While some wallets let you do so without importing this line of code, there are still many wallets that require you to do it.

And, considering that private addresses are a key security feature (pun unintended), you might want to favour the latter kind of wallet.

So, how do you import a private key?

Blockchain.info, an online tool and wallet, is one of the most popular methods for this operation. You must access the hybrid wallet offered by the website. You needn’t worry, it doesn’t store information about your wallet but is kept in the browser as an encrypted file.

Another option is BIPS, which lets you import any private key by typing it manually from a paper wallet. Another option is to use a QR reader on your smartphone.

There is Mycelium, the wonder wallet available through Google Play which lets you scan a code from a paper wallet.

Nice apps especially for Bitcoin forks are Bitpie and Coinomi. They are easy to use and support you to redeem your forked coins. We will show you how to use them under “How to claim”

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