How Do I Open My First Bitcoin Wallet?

Step 0: What is a Bitcoin wallet?

A Bitcoin wallet is where you can store, receive, and send bitcoins. It’s like your own “bank account”. All wallets have a Bitcoin address (also known as a public key). Your Bitcoin address is like your email address; it’s what you give out to people to be able to receive bitcoins.

A Bitcoin address is a long string of random characters, and is often represented in QR code format, to make it easy for phones to scan and copy them.

ShuBitcoin Donation QR code

Step 1: Create your first wallet

Using a Bitcoin wallet is similar to banking online: you can easily manage your funds from any internet connected computer or phone: send and receive bitcoins, view a transaction log, etc.

There are different types of Bitcoin wallets depending on your preferred device: web-based, mobile apps, or desktop applications.

Web Wallets

The easiest way to get started is to setup an online web-based wallet. BitOasis (based in Dubai), Circle, BitGo, and Coinapult are popular options that offer free and secure web wallets.

Mobile wallets

There are many apps you can choose from for your smartphone. On iPhone, Blockchain and BreadWallet offer good apps. On Android, Blockchain and Schildbach’s are two popular options. And finally on Windows, check out the Bitcoin App.

Desktop wallets

A desktop wallet is an application you download and run on your computer. They are generally more secure than web or mobile wallets, but are less convenient. You can try Hive (Mac only), Electrum, or Armory for extra security.

Step 2: Keep your bitcoins safe

Bitcoin is like cash. If you lose your wallet, you lose your money. So, you have to be extra careful when managing and storing your bitcoins. Don’t worry though; it’s not as scary as it sounds. As long as you follow some simple rules, you can be assured that your bitcoins are safe:

Use unique, strong, and long passwords when you create any Bitcoin account
Use Bitcoin services that offer two-step authentication (e.g., SMS confirmations, or mobile apps like Google Authenticator)
If you are using a mobile wallet, be sure to lock your phone with a pin
Only keep small amounts of bitcoins in your mobile or online wallets. Your Bitcoin savings should always be stored offline, away from potential hackers (such as on a desktop wallet or paper wallet)
Keep all your computer software up-to-date, and make sure to run regular scans for viruses and other malicious software

Step 3: Start spending your bitcoins

Every day more and more physical and online stores are starting to accept Bitcoin. Here’s just a short selection of businesses where you can spend your bitcoins.

Fore a more complete list of businesses that accept Bitcoin, check out Coinmap.Org. You can also check out other suggestions on what to do with your bitcoins today.