Bitcoin

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a global payment method. It is the first decentralized digital currency to operate without a central bank or central administrator. The idea behind the operation of bitcoin can be read in a document by Satoshi Nakamoto. A bitcoin amount can be sent to another person via the internet. When securing a bitcoin amount (as with many other data), it is on the one hand that the code does not fall into the wrong hands (a criminal who can use it quickly, so that the owner can no longer do it), and on the other hand that the code is not lost in case of technical malfunctions, fire, accidentally throwing away, etc. (so that no one can use the amount anymore). In the former, offline storage (which can also be done as a code on paper), in the latter helps to create backups.

To receive a bitcoin amount, one chooses / generates a secret key of 32 bytes, so 256 bits, from which the corresponding public key is derived. A hash of 20 bytes, so 160 bits, of the public key, forms the internal representation of a bitcoin address in the blockchain. With 0x00 before it and a 4-byte hash after it as checksum, this becomes a 25-byte string, which is often entered and displayed in base58check. It then has 25-34 alphanumeric characters, and then starts with 1 (P2PKH address). A variant starts with 3 (P2SH address). P2PKH and P2SH stand for the two types of transaction output, pay to public key hash and pay to script hash (see also below).

Anyone can convert the internal representation into the base58 representation and vice versa, so in terms of security and privacy they are equivalent; in a context where the representation is irrelevant, “bitcoin address” and “hash of the public key” do not require further designation and can be used interchangeably