Step-by-step guide to buy and sell bitcoin

Keys to unlock your bitcoin transaction
Keys to unlock your bitcoin transaction | Key: © Norwayblue/, Woman with hat: © Macrovector/, Wallet icon: © Artco/

Keys to unlock your bitcoin transaction

Sites like Coinbase are working to make it easier for people to trade in bitcoin.

To transfer bitcoin, a private key and a public key must be used in conjunction. Every bitcoin address, or the coded public key, has a matching private key, and that key is needed to unlock your bitcoin transaction.

Instead of worrying about remembering your private keys or keeping them safe, Coinbase solves that for you. You log in to Coinbase, just as you would log in to your online banking page.

"It takes away the user from having to be tech-proficient," says Kashmir Hill, a senior editor at Forbes who wrote "Secret Money: Living on Bitcoin in the Real World," a book about her experience living only on bitcoin for a week.

"If somebody who is not tech-savvy wants to be involved in bitcoin, it's a lot like opening a normal bank account," she says.


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