Sending bitcoin is as simple as sending an email. In fact, Coinbase and Uphold allow you to send bitcoin to email addresses. I’m going to stick with these examples for the purposes of this tutorial, but as you become more advanced you will want to begin sending bitcoin between Bitcoin Public Addresses. You will find these shown as both long strings of what appear to be random characters and also as QR codes or square barcodes. I will show you examples of each so that you can send money whichever way the person to whom you’re sending wishes to receive it.
First let’s look at how you send bitcoin using Coinbase. From the main screen go to Send/Request. You should then have a tab at the top for each, but you’ll be on the Send tab automatically. Put in the email address of the person to whom you’re trying to send bitcoin. Put in the amount of funds you wish to send, either in bitcoin or US Dollars by switching the dropdown menu on the right. Select the account from which you wish to send the funds. You can write a note in the box if you wish. Finally, click Send Funds.
On the next screen you’ll have a chance to verify the data. Once you’re sure this data is correct put in your 2-factor authentication code. You’re using that, right? Again, once you’re sure all this data is correct hit Confirm. Congratulations, you’ve just sent bitcoin to someone else for the first time!
If the user is already signed up for Coinbase with that email address they will receive the funds automatically. If they aren’t signed up for Coinbase with that email address they will receive an email inviting them to sign up to withdraw their funds.
Sending bitcoin with Uphold, is very similar. From the main screen click on a card from which you want to send. Put in the amount you want to send, in Bitcoin or any of the other currencies Uphold supports by switching the dropdown menu on the right. You can write a message in the message box if you wish. Put in your 2-factor authentication code and click Confirm. Again, the user to whom you sent bitcoin will receive the bitcoin in their Uphold account or they will get an email like the one from Coinbase above.
You may wonder what happens if you send bitcoin to the wrong email, or if someone receives your email but they are signed up to one of these services with a different email, or what if they use Bitcoin but don’t use either of these services. These are good questions. If you send bitcoin to the wrong email address and the funds go uncollected Coinbase will return those funds after 30 days. I was unable to locate a similar policy with Circle or Uphold, but I would assume it is there somewhere. If someone simply doesn’t want to sign up for an account at either of these services then you need to learn how to send bitcoin in a manner which they are willing to receive.
As I said at the start of this tutorial, you can also send bitcoin using QR codes. If you don’t know what a QR code is, I’ve provided an example and short explanation here.
This is a QR code, which stands for Quick Response code. It is a two-dimensional barcode. Depending on the size of the QR code, it can store various amounts of data and has error correction built in. The one I’ve listed here, for example, is a Version 3 (29×29) QR code. If you were to scan it with a barcode reader it would give you a Bitcoin Address. If you were to scan it with the Coinbase app or Circle app they would ask you how much you want to send to this address. Yes, that Bitcoin Address works and is associated with one of my accounts. If you send bitcoin to that address I will receive it. The address contained in the QR code above is this one:
This is what a Bitcoin Address really looks like. It is what’s known as a Public Address. When bitcoin gets sent from one place to another, what is really happening is amounts of satoshi are being moved from addresses like this one to other addresses and being recorded in the Bitcoin public ledger. I will refer to you the Education section for a more in depth look at how this works. For now, think of it as bank accounts moving money to other bank accounts. If you were to copy the address above you could paste it into Coinbase or Circle in the same place in which you would put an email address. Instead of sending a notification through email, the bitcoin you send would go directly into that Public Address no matter which Bitcoin wallet I pulled that Public Address.
But beware. Once you start using QR codes and Public Addresses to send bitcoin there’s no room for error. There’s no way to verify who owns which Public Address from the sending end. If you actually send it to the wrong address you can’t get it back. If you send the wrong amount you can’t get it back. Once you confirm the transaction it’s irreversible. Once you hit send that money it’s gone.
There is lots more to Public Addresses and QR codes. There are even ways to request bitcoin from people using QR codes and you can even use QR codes that already have a bitcoin amount or US Dollar amount requested built into them. We’ll get to that in the next Tutorial.