Learn How Bitcoin Transactions Work

Bitcoin transfers are one of the main concerns for those taking their first steps at the crypto-currency ecosystem.

For sure you already know how the usual electronic transfer operates. There are two parties and a middle man. The two parties want to electronically move money from one side to the other. To do so they need a middle man that provides the service, call it bank, Paypal, Western Union, etc. who will almost always take a pretty relevant percentage of the money being sent.

> So, What is Different with Bitcoin Transfers?


In the first place, the middle man is now out of the equation. Transfers are made from peer to peer (P2P) using bitcoin wallets. This is digitally signed for security reasons.

> The Transaction Structure Involves 3 Pieces of Information

Those are: Input > Amount > Output

Supposing that John wants to send bitcoins to Mark, the first piece of information is the “Input”, which specifies the address from where John received bitcoins in the first place (from Peter’s address). The second piece of information is the “Amount” that John want to send to Mark, and the third is the “Output”, which will be Mark’s wallet address.

The transfer is distributed through the network and registered in a vast general ledger (public record) called block chain that validates all transactions. This means that everyone can know about transactions being made and trace its history to the point of its inception.

> Sending Bitcoins is Fairly Simple

To send bitcoin, both the address (public key) and the private key assigned to your bitcoin wallet are needed.

At the time John (from the example above) wants to send bitcoins to Mark, the private key is what he will use to sign the message that includes the input, amount and output (Mark’s address).

After the bitcoin is sent from John’s wallet into the BTC network, miners will verify the transaction, put it on a transaction block and solve it. This verification process made by miners usually take up to 10 minutes or less. The bitcoin protocol is set on that time frame to mine each block. You should wait until the process is fully confirmed, but usually some merchants will trust on you assuming that you will not try to spend the same bitcoins before the process is completed.

> Bitcoin Transactions May Involve Fees

Bitcoiners will not always have to pay transaction fees, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Wallets usually let you manually set the transaction fees. Miners usually process transactions for free as they are rewarded by the block (with bitcoin), but we might see miners starting to raise some low fees in the future, as the block reward decrease.

Sometimes there are portions of transactions that the recipient doesn’t pick up or is considered as change. This is usually considered a fee or a tip for the miner’s good job!

If you have any doubts about how bitcoin transactions work, please let us know by leaving us a comment in the comments section below.

Maximiliano Garcia
Cryptor Trust Inc.