Crypto public key vs private key

Jake Aquilina
October 5, 2022

What is the difference between a crypto public and private key?

Understanding the difference between a cryptocurrency public and private key is essential to getting started with digital currencies. In brief, a public key is like your bank account number while the private key is like your PIN number. They are a crucial part of cryptography known as Public Key Cryptography (PKC) or Asymmetric Encryption. Let's take a more in-depth look.

Crypto Public Key

crypto public key

A cryptocurrency public key is similar to a bank account number in that it is used to receive funds into your wallet. Anyone can see it, but only you have access to spend the funds associated with that public key. In order for someone to send you cryptocurrency, they need your public key. To find your public key, open up your digital wallet and look for an option called "receive" or "deposit." 

The public key is usually seen in the form of an “address”; a shorter version of your public key. The public key is pretty safe to share with anyone. 

example of crypto public key
An example of a public key

Crypto Private Key

crypto private key

A cryptocurrency private key is like your PIN number in that it allows you to spend the cryptocurrency associated with a particular public key. Just like you wouldn't give just anyone your bank card PIN number, you wouldn't want to share your private keys with anyone either. If someone were to get their hands on your private keys, they could empty out your entire digital wallet. 

The private key can take forms of a 256-character-long binary code, mnemonic phrase, 64-digit hexadecimal code, as well as a QR code. The private key is used to unlock transactions, making sure they are signed by you and you only.

Here is an explanation of how to find your private key on Metamask:

how to find crypto private key metamask
An example of a private key

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding the difference between a cryptocurrency public and private key is essential to getting started with digital currencies. A public key is like your bank account number while the private key is like your PIN number. Remember to keep your private keys safe and secure so to keep your funds safe.

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