A crypto public address is a key component of what makes it easy to send assets back and forth on the internet. An address is derived from a public key, which along with a private key is used to securely sign digital asset transactions.
There are a handful of important parts that enable secure but verifiable digital asset transactions on an open and permissionless digital ledger or blockchain. These parts all work together cryptographically to allow for security and openness, which ultimately leads to the ability to create thriving decentralized, peer-to-peer financial systems and information systems.
The necessary components to send, receive, and safeguard assets stem from a crypto wallet.
Initializing a crypto wallet creates a secure private key, which then allows for the creation of an associated public key. By having control of the private/public key combo, crypto users can then create a shareable public address (or multiple addresses) to make sending and receiving assets as easy as sending an email or text message (and almost as fast depending on network traffic).
A Bitcoin public address has between 26 and 35 characters and will look something like this:
And an Ethereum public address is 42 characters (staring with 0x) and looks something like this:
Of note, these addresses (along with addresses of other crypto assets) are not the same and are not interchangeable. You can’t send Ethereum to a Bitcoin address for example — it doesn’t work like that.
A crypto address is kind of like an email address. Whether you are moving assets from one crypto wallet to another or accepting crypto payments for a business or as a merchant, a more compact crypto address makes it easier to send and receive.
But still, if you see the lengthy string of letters and numbers that typically make up a crypto address, you’ll see that the current address format is not super easy to share or remember — not like a phone number or social handle.
That’s why a lot of time and energy is going into things like Ethereum Name Service, which takes the 42-character Ethereum address and boils it down to a simple handle that is more user-friendly.