Everything you need to know about crypto addresses
A crypto address, also known as a public key, is a sequence of letters and numbers where cryptocurrencies can be sent to and from. Each address has a corresponding private key that controls spending the funds stored at that address.
In this article:
- What are crypto addresses?
- How are addresses generated?
- Why are addresses sometimes displayed as QR codes?
- Why do some assets use multiple addresses?
- Crypto address FAQs
- Is it safe to share my address?
- Why is it essential an address is entered correctly?
- Are addresses case-sensitive?
- How do I avoid sending crypto to the wrong address?
- Why do I get an error when entering an address?
- Why do some addresses begin with 0x?
- Why are there different types of Bitcoin addresses?
- Can I create a new address?
- What makes a crypto address valid?
What are crypto addresses?
A crypto address is a unique string of characters, usually a combination of letters and numbers, used to identify a specific wallet or destination on a blockchain. This is similar to how a bank account number identifies a specific bank account.
Whenever you want to receive crypto, you can share your address with the sender so they can send crypto to your wallet. Likewise, if you send crypto, the receiver shares their address.
In this article, you can learn about crypto addresses, how they're generated, what makes an address valid, and why it's essential to enter the correct address when sending crypto.
For a guide on how to find your address in Exodus, please visit: How do I receive Bitcoin and crypto in Exodus?
How are addresses generated?
Addresses are generated from your wallet's private keys through cryptographic algorithms.
The process only works in one direction. So while it is possible to generate an address from a private key, it is not possible to generate a private key from an address. This one-way process ensures that your private keys are kept secret.
Anyone with access to your private keys can spend your funds, so it's crucial not to share them with anyone.
The exact method of generating addresses differs from crypto to crypto. Some cryptocurrencies use public keys to manage multiple addresses.
Why are addresses sometimes displayed as QR codes?
QR codes are a pattern that can store information, similar to how barcodes work. When you scan a QR code with a camera on your mobile device, it reads the QR code and shows you the information.
In crypto, an address can be converted to a QR code. This makes sending crypto easier. The sender can scan the QR code instead of entering the address manually or copying and pasting.
Always check the address after scanning a QR code. Crypto transactions are permanent, and you cannot reverse them once they are sent.
It's good to be aware that scammers can pre-fill amounts in QR codes, so double-check the amount of crypto before you hit send.
In Exodus, your address will be displayed in text format and as a QR code.
Exodus Mobile and Exodus Desktop both support scanning QR codes to send crypto. To learn more about sending crypto with Exodus, visit: How do I send Bitcoin and other crypto out of Exodus?
Why do some assets use multiple addresses?
Some UTXO-based assets, like Bitcoin, support multiple addresses. Using multiple addresses for the same wallet can enhance your privacy.
If you always use a new address to receive crypto, then if you share one of the addresses with someone, they can only view the transactions and balance associated with that address. They would need all the addresses, or your xpub or zpub, to see your entire transaction history and total balance.
In Exodus, multiple addresses are supported for Bitcoin and Monero. For information on enabling multiple addresses, visit:
For UTXO-based assets that use multiple addresses, you will have a corresponding xpub or zpub that allows you to view all the addresses generated from your private key.
Be cautious about sharing your xpub and zpub. Although they don't provide access to your wallet, anyone with this information can view all your addresses, transaction history, and total balance.
To learn more, please visit: What does the xpub/zpub do?
Crypto address FAQs
Answers to common questions about crypto addresses.
Is it safe to share my address?
In general, it is safe to share your address with anyone sending you crypto.
The only thing to keep in mind is that anyone with your address can search for it on a block explorer. They will be able to view the transaction history and balance of that address.
Why is it essential the address is entered correctly?
If you enter an incorrect address, your funds will be sent to the wrong address and lost. Crypto transactions can not be reversed, so recovering crypto sent to a wrong address is most often impossible.
Only the owner of the address's private key can access the funds. If you send crypto to a wrong address, you would need to know the owner of the address, and then contact them to recover the funds. But you can't see who owns an address on a block explorer because they don't contain any identifying information.
If you enter an address incorrectly, your crypto will likely be sent to an address not owned by anyone. In these cases, it is impossible to recover your funds.
For tips to ensure you enter addresses correctly, jump to: How do I avoid mistakes when entering an address?
For more information on why transactions cannot be reversed, please visit: Can you cancel or reverse a transaction?
Are addresses case-sensitive?
It depends. Addresses on some networks, such as Solana, are case-sensitive. In these cases, it is crucial to use the correct capitalization to ensure you send crypto to the correct address.
There are also some addresses, such as Ethereum addresses, where capitalization is used for checksums: Checksums for Ethereum and EVM-compatible networks.
How do I avoid sending crypto to the wrong address?
Here are some good practices to follow to avoid sending your crypto to the wrong address:
- Avoid typing the address manually: It's easy to make a mistake when typing an address. Even if a single character is incorrect, your crypto will be sent to the wrong address. Crypto transactions are permanent, and it is impossible to reverse a transaction.
- Copy and paste the address: By copying and pasting the address, you reduce the chance of making a mistake.
- Scan a QR code if available: Many wallets, including Exodus, support scanning QR codes to send crypto.
- Always double-check the address before sending: No matter how you enter an address, you should always double-check it before sending funds. Review the entire address and check every single character. Make sure no characters are missing, that all the characters are in the correct order, and that the capitalization is correct. Only send crypto when you are sure the address is an exact match.
- Test by sending a small amount: When sending funds, consider testing an address by sending a small amount first. Be aware that some wallets and exchanges have minimum requirements when receiving crypto. If there is a minimum requirement, ensure the amount you send is above the minimum requirement.
Why do I get an error when entering an address?
You might get a warning or an error if the address you enter is invalid or incorrect. If you receive this error, check the following:
- Correct address: Check if the address is entered correctly or if any characters are missing or changed. Some addresses are case-sensitive, so ensure the capitalization is correct. Avoid typing the address manually. Instead, copy and paste the address or scan the QR code (if available).
- Correct network: Some tokens exist on multiple networks. When sending funds, ensure that the receiving wallet supports the network. The sender and receiver must select the same network. For example, if the sender wants to send USDC on Ethereum, the receiver must share their USDC address on the Ethereum network.
- The platform supports the address format: Some blockchain networks, like Bitcoin, use multiple address formats. Not all exchanges and wallets support all address formats. To learn more, please visit: Bitcoin FAQs - Learn more about BTC.
Why do some addresses begin with 0x?
Addresses on the Ethereum network use the prefix 0x. 0x indicates that the address is a hexadecimal number.
The 0x address format is also used by EVM-compatible blockchains. These include Arbitrum, BNB Smart Chain, Optimism, and Polygon.
Be aware that the VeChain network uses the 0x address format, but is not EVM-compatible.
In Exodus, your address for Ethereum and all EVM-compatible blockchain networks is the same. This is because you have the same private key for each network in Exodus.
Why are there different types of Bitcoin addresses?
To start, there was only one Bitcoin address format, now known as Legacy.
As Bitcoin evolved, Nested SegWit, Native Segwit, and Taproot were introduced. Newer address formats have improved functionality and lower fees.
On the Bitcoin network, there are no limitations in sending Bitcoin to or from different address formats. They are all compatible.
However, not every wallet or exchange supports every Bitcoin address format. Because of this, some exchanges and wallets might not support sending or receiving Bitcoin to all address formats.
To learn more about Bitcoin in Exodus, the different address formats, and how to enable other Bitcoin addresses in Exodus, please visit: Bitcoin FAQs - Learn more about BTC.
Can I create a new address?
Exodus does not support manually creating new addresses.
However, while it is not possible to manually create a new address in the same portfolio, you can create a new Exodus portfolio that will generate different addresses. You can have up to 3 separate portfolios in Exodus.
Your new portfolios will remain tied to the same 12-word secret recovery phrase. For more information about multiple portfolios, please visit: How do I manage multiple portfolios in the same wallet?
Exodus supports multiple addresses for Bitcoin and Monero. By default, the multiple address feature is disabled. If you enable multiple addresses, your wallet will generate a new address every time you receive a transaction.
What makes an address valid?
An address is only valid on a blockchain network if it follows the formatting standards the network sets.
Different blockchains have different standards for how to format addresses. Sometimes, you can identify what blockchain the address belongs to by looking at it.
Some blockchains use identical address formats. All EVM-compatible networks use the same address format. Because the format is the same, it is possible to accidentally send unsupported crypto to an address on a network not supported by the receiving wallet.
When sending crypto, always check that the receiving wallet supports the network and asset you are sending.
If you send unsupported crypto to Exodus, then please email Exodus Support for help in retrieving your funds.
How are crypto addresses formatted?
Crypto addresses are complex, and there are many variations in how addresses can be generated and formatted.
In this section, we will go over the basic elements that make up an address, such as length, characters, prefixes, checksums, and capitalization.
Knowing how addresses are formatted can help prevent errors when sending funds.
The length of addresses can vary, even on the same network. For example, Bitcoin addresses are 26-35 characters long.
Some networks have a set length. For example, Ethereum addresses are always 42 characters long.
Crypto addresses are usually quite long to ensure that networks can generate an almost endless amount.
Crypto addresses usually use a combination of letters and numbers. However, the characters used can vary depending on the network.
Ethereum addresses are written in the hexadecimal number system, so they only contain the numbers 0 to 9 and the letters A to F.
Some networks leave out certain characters to avoid confusion. For example, Bitcoin does not use uppercase O, the number 0, uppercase I (i), and lowercase l (L) as these characters can often look similar.
Some networks will use prefixes for crypto addresses. A prefix is one or more characters that are always put at the beginning of an address and can have different functions.
Some blockchains, such as Bitcoin, use multiple address formats on the same network. Bitcoin uses prefixes to identify which format the address uses. For example, Legacy addresses always begin with "1", and Nested SegWit addresses start with "bc1q".
Ethereum also uses prefixes. Ethereum addresses always start with 0x. This is because 0x is a common prefix that indicates a string of characters is written in hexadecimal. All EVM-compatible networks also use the prefix 0x.
A checksum is a method to check that information has not been altered. A checksum is a value that is calculated from a piece of information. If the information changes, the checksum value will also change.
As a simplified example of how checksums work, let's take the example of counting the characters in an email. The number you get is the checksum of the email. When the email arrives, you count the characters again to get another checksum. You can compare the two checksums. If they're different, you know that the email's content has changed.
Some blockchains, like Bitcoin, use addresses with built-in checksums.
Bitcoin has a checksum in the address. It works by running the Bitcoin address through a formula, which creates a value attached to the end of the Bitcoin address. If the checksum does not match the address, then the address will not be valid.
Checksums can help check if a crypto address is entered correctly and prevent sending funds to the wrong address.
Checksums do not guarantee that the address is correct. It is always crucial that you check the address before sending funds. Blockchain transactions are permanent and cannot be reversed.
Checksums for Ethereum and EVM-compatible networks
Ethereum and EVM-compatible networks use checksums that are encoded into the address with the use of upper and lowercase letters.
Ethereum was not originally not created with a checksum in the address, and checksums were added later. It is not a requirement for the address to have a checksum.
This means an Ethereum address can be written in two ways:
- Non-checksummed address: These addresses will be written entirely in lowercase.
- Checksummed address: These addresses will use a mix of upper and lowercase letters. Some wallets can read the encoded checksum to check if the address is entered correctly. However, not all wallets can read checksums, so using checksummed addresses does not guarantee sending funds to the correct address.
When you send funds to an Ethereum address, to avoid errors. It is always recommended that you enter the address exactly as you see it, whether it is a non-checksummed or checksummed address.
Ethereum addresses and EVM-compatible addresses use capitalization for checksums, which means that the address is the same regardless of capitalization.
However, some networks that use capitalization in their addresses, such as Solana, are case-sensitive.
If you enter an address with incorrect capitalization, depending on the network, your funds could be sent to the wrong address.
To be safe, you should always ensure that the capitalization of the address is correct.
Exodus is not affiliated with any third-party platforms, external links, or any other third-party resources mentioned in this article. As such, Exodus cannot guarantee the performance of third-party products or services, or that the steps shown and the information provided will always be accurate.