Academy > Intro to Crypto

Intro to crypto keys and addresses

Crypto keys and addresses

The difference between crypto addresses and private keys.

Crypto addresses and keys are the security framework for how your personal assets are managed, stored, and moved on the blockchain.

First, there is a distinction between a public key and a private key. Both keys present as nothing other than long strings of numbers, albeit very important strings. The public key functions as your address and can be generally understood as the location of your virtual account, where others can send you coins or tokens and vice versa. 

Sharing your public key/address is widely understood as safe and allows others to send you crypto. Inside your XDEFI Wallet, your public key can be found next to each asset. Be sure to choose the correct address for the network you wish to use. For most blockchains, one public key/address is used for all tokens/NFTs etc, on the same blockchain. For example, native ether (ETH) and all ERC-20 tokens (USDC, USDT) share the same receiving address on the Ethereum network; however, for BTC and some altcoins, this is not the case.

Each public key is linked to a private key, which is securely generated when you first set up your cryptocurrency wallet. In most cases, the private key is generated from the set of 12/24 mnemonic seed words. Therefore, whoever knows the seed words, will know the private key, and thus have full control to spend whatever coins are linked to the public key/address. This private key should be kept as such, and should not be shared with others. 

Your wallet helps to manage your private key for you, but it should be kept in mind that it does not “store” your coins, since all coins are just data on the blockchain. With compatible wallets, you are able to upload the same seed words to re-generate the same private key. Many choose to do this to have control of the coins in a different app that can access the same wallet account.

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