Bitcoin users can send payments instantly anywhere in the world. Weekends and business hours don’t matter on the Bitcoin blockchain.
To send someone digital money, you first need to have a Bitcoin wallet. UK-based users have various options available, including a web wallet or a hardware wallet.
In addition to a reliable and safe wallet, you need a Bitcoin wallet address provided by the recipient. But what happens if you accidentally send Bitcoin to the wrong address?
This is a common concern, even among more experienced users. Mistakes are a part of life, so it’s essential to understand what your options are if this happens to you.
What Is a Bitcoin Address Exactly?
To get a clear idea of how Bitcoin transactions work, we have to explain the concept of a Bitcoin wallet address. Simply put, it’s a destination or a location on the blockchain.
A Bitcoin address doesn’t store assets but merely points them in the right direction or the right Bitcoin wallet. When you’re sending Bitcoin to another person, you can’t simply list something like “John Smith’s Bitcoin Wallet.”
Instead, you use a 26-35 string of alphanumerical characters that represent a unique wallet identifier. It would be tough to memorise a Bitcoin address, so they’re typically copied or represented in a QR code format.
Bitcoin Transactions Are Irreversible
Sending funds to the wrong Bitcoin wallet is a significant issue. By the nature of cryptocurrency protocols, transactions are irreversible.
This fact is a big part of why as many as 20% of the Bitcoins ever produced have been lost forever. They were sent to a digital wallet that has been inactive for a long time, possibly because the owner has lost access to it.
Misplaced private keys, which are essentially Bitcoin wallet passwords, are the leading cause. If you enter a wrong Bitcoin address and the coins go to an inactive wallet, you’re entirely out of options.
But What if the Wallet Is Active?
The only way you could ever get your Bitcoins back is to contact the wallet owner directly and ask them to refund you. That can only potentially work if you already know the owner of that wallet address, as there is no way to find out their identity.
If your mistake was to copy a wrong Bitcoin address from a list of recipients, that could work. You’d need to reach out to the person or company directly and explain the situation. It’s possible you’d succeed, but the entire process might take a few days.
Invalid vs. Incorrect Bitcoin Address
What happens if you’re entering a Bitcoin wallet address manually and make a typo? In most cases, your wallet will register it as an invalid address.
It’s crucial to differentiate an invalid Bitcoin address from an incorrect address. An incorrect address represents a situation where you send Bitcoin to the wrong wallet.
An invalid address is one that doesn’t exist on the Bitcoin blockchain. The chances of a Bitcoin wallet address to be both incorrect and invalid are 4.5 billion to 1. It can happen, but it’s extremely rare.
Sending Bitcoin to a Wrong Blockchain
Another potential mistake would be if you try to send Bitcoin to an Ethereum wallet address. The probability for this type of transaction going through is minuscule. Every blockchain has a unique wallet address format.
Your wallet would automatically recognise the discrepancy and tell you that the address is invalid. In rare instances, such as when sending Bitcoin to a Litecoin wallet, a payment might be validated.
The wallet addresses of these two cryptocurrencies often start with the number “3.” In this situation, your wallet might treat it as a valid payment. But as the address is incorrect, the funds would be gone.
Always Getting the Right Address
It might not seem fair, but the fact that you can’t cancel or reverse a Bitcoin transaction was intentional. The goal is to prevent double payments and manipulations on the blockchain.
A Bitcoin user is responsible for entering the correct address of a Bitcoin wallet. UK-based crypto enthusiasts should always double-check and avoid manually typing the wallet address.
To prevent problems, perhaps requesting a QR code from the recipient might be a safer option. However, if you’re dealing with several codes at a time, it may be all too easy to make a mistake.
But if you know who owns the wallet in question, you might be able to get the money back. If not – you’re out of luck.