Understanding the difference between a public and a private key

In today's crypto world to send and receive any tokens, you need to have a public key and to access it, you need to have a private key

As the world is moving towards adopting cryptocurrency, it has become important for everyone to understand the importance of two very important features, public key & private key without which we will not be able to gauge the power of decentralization.

These keys hold your crypto in any wallet you save them. Without them, no one can send and receive any digital/cryptocurrencies. 

What is a public key?

The public key is the visible address of the recipient where the tokens are received. The public key is available for everyone to view and access in a public domain.

What is a private key?

In order to check the wallet and to see whether you have received the desired cryptocurrency, the recipient must use the corresponding private key that goes with the public key. Without the private key, the message is therefore worthless as it cannot be decoded without it.

Do all cryptocurrency have public & private keys?

All cryptocurrencies work with the concept of public key cryptography. The public and private keys are more common on open source, mobile wallets that connect with decentralized exchanges for swapping cryptocurrencies. However, some centralized crypto exchanges only have public keys. The users don't get private keys, as all the cryptocurrency in the wallet are in the custody of the exchange.

Can we share public key & private keys?

Public key is your wallet address, where you want to receive cryptocurrencies. Just like your bank account numbers, which you share to get fiat in your account. They can be freely shared with everyone, and anyone can potentially send transactions to them.

Private keys, on the other hand, should be kept private, as their name suggests. It is basically a 12 or 24 word phrase that you remember or write it down, stored at some other place. If you want to access your wallet, you need to use it. Just like your bank account ATM pin code or verification code, which provide you access to your fiat. 

The public key along with the private key provide you. You can think of them as a kind of PIN or verification code, which, together with its access to the actual funds on the blockchain. 

You should never, under any circumstances, share your private key(s) with any other person. If you lose your private keys, you lose your wallet, or if you share your private keys, all the funds in your wallet will be stolen. Just like you keep your house is robbed if you keep it open for all.

Note that the keys are not stored on a blockchain. Instead, they can be kept in an (encrypted) file, which can be saved anywhere and stored offline.

Without public and private keys, cryptocurrencies would have been just like fiat today. 

Due to its decentralized powers and no third party to verify the transaction, public and private keys are core to the success of the cryptocurrency sector today. 

Kleverly save your private key!

Jagdish Kumar
Klever Writer  

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