Has your Bitcoin address changed? When sending / receiving Bitcoin or while just checking the account page of your online wallet you might have observed this. The Bitcoin address currently displayed is different from the one you’ve used in the past.
If you are just getting started with Bitcoin then it may seem quite scary and confusing. If you are concerned then you don’t have to be. This is just a security measure provided by your wallet service provider or the exchange. It’s a quite common occurrence and particularly you’ll notice that your Bitcoin address changes when you request a new transaction.
So why does your Bitcoin wallet receiving address change? What happens to your old address? Do they expire or can you still send funds to your previously used Bitcoin address? Before we explain this there is one thing we’d like to clear.
Different Bitcoin address – Should I be worried?
The confusion here is that beginners think of Bitcoin address as an account number. No, the public BTC address should not be used an account number. Instead consider it as a payment tracking number. Will you be using a single tracking number for all your payments? No, right. This is why most of the online wallets such as Coinbase and blockchain.com automatically generates a new address for every new transaction.
Now another confusion is that you think that you only have one address. No, you have a wallet and the wallet generates address for you to receive Bitcoin. Your Bitcoin wallet is capable of managing hundreds of different Bitcoin addresses. So next time if you see your Bitcoin wallet displaying a different address do not panic. You are most probably using HD (Hierarchical Deterministic) wallet and they keep track of all your old and new addresses.
Learn more: Difference between Bitcoin wallet and address
Alright! But what is the primary reason for Bitcoin address to change every time?
Why does your Bitcoin address keep changing?
As we said if you are using Bitcoin address as an account number then you are doing it wrong. You need to understand that Bitcoin transactions are traceable. Meaning they are public and are permanently stored in the blockchain.
If you use the same Bitcoin address to receive funds then it will get easy for anyone to track your payment history. This is why it is advised that whenever you receive a payment you need to use a new address. This way it becomes harder for one to decide that the address being used is yours by verifying it on the block explorer.
Bitcoin wallet has a feature of changing address to ensure that you are being provided with an unique address every time you make a transaction. Not all wallet types, but specifically HD wallets. This is done to protect your privacy and it’s a basic security protocol build into Bitcoin network.
Okay, but what about my previously used Bitcoin address?
What happens to previous address?
HD wallets uses privacy centric method for generating and managing address. All addresses generated in your wallet or online account will remain tied with your wallet forever. Meaning your previously used address remain valid and you can still receive funds to your old address. However for the prior stated privacy reasons it is recommended that you do not re-use the address.
Does the address change happen with all cryptocurrencies?
Not all wallet types and not all cryptocurrencies. Only HD wallets and only cryptocurrencies that are based on Bitcoin such as: Bitcoin cash, Litecoin, Dash, Dogecoin, Ravencoin etc.
Now whenever you are requesting a payment make sure you are not using same old address to improve privacy. Also when sending funds ensure that you are not sending to a wrong address. Hope you won’t panic next time when you see your Bitcoin address changed.
Also learn: What is Bitcoin change address?