Are Bitcoin Wallet Balances Publicly Visible?

Bitcoin has a reputation for being private and anonymous, but in reality, it’s one of the most transparent payment systems out there. If someone wanted to, they could piece together how many coins you’ve in your Bitcoin wallet just by going through publicly available data.

Bitcoin wallet balances aren’t publicly visible. However, every Bitcoin transaction is public and permanently stored on the blockchain, displaying which Bitcoin address received/sent how many bitcoins. Anyone can trace these transactions to estimate the balance of a Bitcoin wallet.

In this article, I’ll give a detailed look at how anyone can check anyone’s Bitcoin wallet balance and what you can do to better hide your Bitcoin holdings.

Can Anyone See My Bitcoin Wallet Balance?

No one can see your Bitcoin wallet balance directly, but they can get an idea of your Bitcoin holdings if they know your Bitcoin address. The Bitcoin blockchain will show how many bitcoins went in and out of that address. Anyone can use this to deduce your overall Bitcoin holdings.

Technically speaking, your wallet doesn’t store bitcoins, but rather, they’re stored on the Bitcoin blockchain against various Bitcoin addresses.

Your wallet is a device or software that stores the private keys for the various Bitcoin addresses you own. You use this private key to verify ownership of a particular address, allowing you to spend the bitcoins associated with that address.

If you want to learn about how a Bitcoin wallet works and the difference between a Bitcoin wallet and a Bitcoin address, you can check out this insightful 2-min YouTube video:

When a Bitcoin transaction happens, it gets automatically recorded on the blockchain. Everyone can see how many bitcoins were sent to and from which addresses. 

As such, if you share your Bitcoin address with someone asking for funds, they can check your address on the blockchain to see all past transactions. This will give them an idea of your Bitcoin holdings, but only for that address.

However, once a person knows about the various transactions on a Bitcoin address, they can then use this information to estimate the balance on the associated Bitcoin wallet.

How Bitcoin Wallet Balance Is Deduced

Anyone can precisely know the balance of a particular Bitcoin address and also see all the previous transactions since it’s publicly available on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Using this information, it’s possible, albeit difficult, to figure out if the owner of that Bitcoin address also owns other Bitcoin addresses, which can then help estimate the total bitcoins in that person’s wallet.

How To Check the Balance on Any Bitcoin Address

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to check the balance of any Bitcoin address:

  1. Get the Bitcoin address of the balance you want to check.
  2. Go to a Bitcoin blockchain explorer service, e.g. blockchain.com/explorer.
  3. In the search field, enter the Bitcoin address and press Enter.
  4. If multiple cryptos were transacted through the address, it would ask you to select the crypto you want information for.
  5. The following page will give you a detailed breakdown of all transactions related to that Bitcoin address, including its current balance.

A single Bitcoin wallet can have multiple Bitcoin addresses, but how do you use this information to figure out the balance on the associated Bitcoin wallet?

Finding Bitcoin Addresses Belonging to the Same Wallet

By analyzing each transaction on a Bitcoin address, you can make an educated guess if any of the addresses it transacted with belong to the same person, thereby, the same wallet. For example, if you notice repeated sharing of funds between two addresses, it likely belongs to the same person managing their bitcoins on that wallet.

Once you have a list of potential addresses associated with the same Bitcoin wallet or the same person, you’d follow the above steps again to see all of their transactions as well. This will show you their available balances and also highlight other addresses worth investigating.

After thoroughly checking all the transactions of all related addresses, you can take the sum of the available bitcoins on each suspected address. This should give you a ballpark estimate of how many bitcoins are in the wallet or owned by the same person.

That said, as you can see, the overall procedure is very difficult, tedious, and erroneous because you can never know for sure which addresses belong to the same wallet/person just by checking the transaction history. 

Also, there’s always the chance to skip out on an address and therefore not get a complete picture of the total bitcoin holdings.

However, there are techniques to minimize these uncertainties. 

For example, authorities often cross-check the Bitcoin addresses against the point-of-sale, collect KYC information related to that address on any Bitcoin exchange, and also scrape websites and online forums to figure out the owner of a particular address. Although doing all of this is next to impossible for regular users.

Here’s an educational 2-min YouTube video on how you can be traced from your Bitcoin wallet:

Overall, it’s hard to know the exact balance of a Bitcoin wallet, but if someone is willing to put in the effort, they can potentially arrive at a close figure. 

Ways To Hide Bitcoin Wallet Balance

It’s super easy to see the available balance on a Bitcoin address, but it can be challenging to figure out the exact balance of a Bitcoin wallet.

However, if a person has the right tools and resources, it’s possible to get a close idea, if not a precise figure, of someone’s Bitcoin wallet balance. And even if not the Bitcoin wallet balance, it’s possible to trace Bitcoin transactions to the person making them, which can be a bigger worry.

The risk of compromising your wallet balance can be avoided by following some simple practices when dealing with Bitcoin. 

Here are a few ways to hide your Bitcoin wallet balance:

  1. Always use a new Bitcoin address to receive a payment. Having multiple Bitcoin addresses makes it difficult to trace your total Bitcoin holdings and your activities.
  2. Never transfer bitcoins in-between addresses you own. Keeping your Bitcoin addresses separate makes it more challenging, or even impossible, for people to associate them with the same person or Bitcoin wallet.
  3. Do not publicly share your Bitcoin addresses. If you publicly share your Bitcoin addresses either on a website or forum, people can easily figure out which addresses are yours, which will help them deduce your total Bitcoin balance.
  4. Use a mixing service, a.k.a a tumbler. These will mix traceability between users, making it challenging to figure out Bitcoin addresses related to the same wallet or person. However, do note that mixing services aren’t legal everywhere around the world, so be careful when using them.
  5. Create multiple Bitcoin wallets. That way, even if a person figures out one of your Bitcoin wallet balances, they won’t know your total Bitcoin holdings.

Key Takeaways

Bitcoin wallet balances are not publicly visible. However, the Bitcoin balance of all Bitcoin addresses associated with that wallet is publicly stored on the blockchain, which anyone can look up.

Now, each Bitcoin wallet can have multiple addresses, and there’s no way to know precisely how many addresses are associated with a Bitcoin wallet. As such, people can see how many bitcoins you’ve on an address, but it’s very difficult to have an exact figure on how many bitcoins there are on a Bitcoin wallet.

Sources

YouTube: How Bitcoin Wallets Work (Public & Private Key Explained)

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