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April 25, 2022

What is the difference between public and private keys in crypto?

Welcome to the cryptohunt jam where we spend one minute a day to explain crypto. In plain english.

Today, let’s talk about crypto keys. More specifically, what public and private keys are and why you should absolutely know about them if you have any crypto.

Let’s take the example of sending old school mail, where you have a mailbox outside your house. 

The public key is like your mailbox address. Anyone can send you a letter to your address, the postal service will put it through the slot, and it sits there safely until you retrieve it. It works the same for crypto. You can safely share your address with anyone, as they can only send you something, and never take something.

The private key is the one you need to guard closely. Like your mailbox key unlocks your mailbox, the private key unlocks your wallet and allows you to take the money out of it. If you have your own wallet, for example Metamask, the wallet will make sure to manage that key for you. If you are using an exchange like Coinbase, they will manage the key in the background and you’ll actually never see it nor would you need to. 

But regardless of where the private key is, don’t give it to anyone. Whoever is asking, the only reason they need it is to transfer money out of your account. And don’t lose it either, because that’ll lock you out of your wallet forever.

And now that you know what public and private keys are, next time we’ll talk about how to invest your first $10 in crypto. End to end, in about a minute.

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