Bitcoin was developed to operate as electronic cash transferred directly between users. It is in your best interest to be familiar with the process of a bitcoin transaction, regardless of whether you want to spend bitcoin or accept it as payment.
Transactions in Bitcoin are similar to emails in that they are digitally signed using cryptography and then sent to the entirety of the Bitcoin network for verification.
The information about transactions is open to the public and can be located on the digital ledger referred to as the “blockchain.” The origin of every Bitcoin transaction can be traced back to the point at which the digital currency was “mined” for the first time.
Anyone can view the blockchain and the details of any bitcoin transaction at any time. To send or receive bitcoins, a user needs a bitcoin address.
Unlike money, which is printed or minted and physical, bitcoin addresses and private keys are simply strings of numbers and letters. This is one of the main reasons why bitcoins are referred to as a cryptocurrency, as they are not issued by a central bank or government authority.
It is important to know that the public Bitcoin address (the “address”) you use to receive bitcoin is not linked to any identity, including your name or email address. The only thing that can be associated with a bitcoin address is previous transactions in which you have received funds.
What Is a Bitcoin Transaction?
A bitcoin transaction is the transfer of information between users. Users send a message to the network using their bitcoin address when they send bitcoins to another person. The network then verifies that the user has enough balance to send the desired number of bitcoins.
If so, the transaction is added to a “block” of other recent transactions and recorded on a blockchain, which serves as a public ledger for all Bitcoin transactions.
How Is a Bitcoin Transaction Verified?
For a Bitcoin transaction to be verified, it must be added to the blockchain, which involves solving what is known as a “proof of work” problem. A proof of work is a mathematical puzzle requiring significant time and computational power to solve.
This process is called mining, which translates into creating new bitcoins. Each time someone successfully solves the proof of work (mines), they are rewarded with some new bitcoins.
The difficulty of the proof of work problem that needs to be solved changes over time, which serves to prevent automated Bitcoin mining. The difficulty is adjusted according to how rapidly the network processes Bitcoin transactions.
In this way, miners are rewarded for contributing their computing power to confirming transactions and not just solving a pre-determined set of mathematical puzzles.
Why Should You Care About Bitcoin Transactions?
In many ways, making bitcoin transactions is similar to sending emails. And just as you wouldn’t want your email and identification information sent through the postal service, you should also be careful about revealing sensitive information directly to the Bitcoin network.
This is not to say that it doesn’t have its benefits, but it is important to keep in mind that anyone can access your bitcoin address and use it to send or receive money.
The fact that transactions are open to the public is one of the main reasons Bitcoin has been associated with illicit activity. It is impractical, if possible, to trace a real-world identity of an individual behind a bitcoin address.
If you are looking to accept bitcoins as payment for goods and services, then you should be aware that there is always a risk that your business could be mistaken for illegal activity due to transactions made on the blockchain through your Bitcoin address.
Public and private keys:
Public keys are used by anyone to send bitcoin and are stored on the blockchain. The rest of your private keys are stored on your computer or other hardware and remain yours alone. No one but you can access your private keys; therefore, no one can spend your money without your approval. This is what makes bitcoin transactions so secure and reliable.
Why do some bitcoin transaction confirmations take so long?
It usually takes about 10 minutes for a bitcoin transaction to be confirmed. During that time, a transaction may be reversed. This can happen due to a change to the blockchain ledger or “transaction malleability.”
A change can be made to the blockchain ledger if another person creates an entirely new block with a different hash than the original block. This can cause two or more transactions to be connected and appear as one. It is impossible to know which transaction will be confirmed when this happens.
When receiving a bitcoin payment, the sender must wait until the network confirms the transaction before receiving their correctly-executed payment, which may take a few minutes to several hours, depending on network traffic.
For example, if you buy something from a friend, both of you must wait for confirmation before you can trust that the payment was made.
With the rise of Bitcoin, there are many ways to store and use your bitcoins safely. Therefore, it is important to know how to manage your bitcoins when you receive them to keep them safe from hackers or misuse.
There are plenty of methods for keeping your bitcoins safe, but you must follow these methods to protect yourself against theft and fraud. If you are interested in learning more about bitcoin, you can head to the next page of our guide to learn more about different bitcoin wallet options.