How Do I Send and Receive Bitcoin?

  • Bitcoin wallet software provides a free and easy way to send, receive, and store bitcoin. Every wallet is different, with varying levels of security and privacy.
  • Depositing and withdrawing from a brokerage or exchange is as easy as sending bitcoin to the address your exchange provides or providing your exchange with an address from your wallet, respectively.
  • Once confirmed, bitcoin transactions cannot be cancelled, changed, or reversed.

Like the internet, a user does not need to know the layers of technology that make up a complex system like Bitcoin before being able to successfully navigate it.

Creating a Wallet and Generating Bitcoin Addresses

Wallets are software applications that allow you send, receive, and manage bitcoin. An address is encoded in either an alphanumeric string or a QR code and is generated by your wallet. Typically a wallet will generate a new address with each new transaction you create. This makes it more difficult for someone to track your payment history on the blockchain.

To obtain a bitcoin wallet, you can download a software wallet in the form of an mobile or desktop app, or you can buy a hardware wallet.

Learn more about Bitcoin wallets

How to Receive Bitcoin

To receive bitcoin, you simply need to provide a bitcoin address to the sender. Your wallet can generate these addresses as needed. Once the sender has your address, they are responsible for creating the transaction using their own wallet software.

How to Send Bitcoin

In order to send bitcoin, you will need to have an address to send it to. The receiver of the payment should send you an address, which you can then enter into your wallet. The wallet will ask for your password before sending your bitcoin to the sepcified address.

How Long Does It Take to Receive Payment?

There are a number of factors that come into play in the speed at which a transaction settles on the blockchain. Factors include traffic and activity on the network and how high the fee is set by the user on the transaction. Typically, a Bitcoin transaction takes anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours to clear.

How Do I Know the Transaction Worked?

Part of the ethos of Bitcoin is the idea that any user can audit the state of the blockchain. Services called block explorers allow users to quickly query the blockchain to confirm that their transaction has settled.

Using a Block Explorer

Many block explorers exist that allow a user to cross reference their specific transaction with Bitcoin’s blockchain in order to see whether it has been confirmed and included in the latest block.

Blockstream's Block Explorer is a popular example. You can input a transaction ID or bitcoin address and it will populate any transactions associated with your entry.

Some wallets and most exchanges will include a link to a block explorer in your account history. Click on the transaction link and you will be able to see your transaction’s status on the blockchain.