Cryptocurrency Can you duplicate Bitcoins and Cryptocurrency? Posted July 29, 2017February 16, 2018 Jay Vista No. You cannot just duplicate your Bitcoins or any other cryptocurrency- even when you back them up. Let’s say I copy my coin wallet to another computer and start using it there. What happens? Firstly, the blockchain only contains information to verify that you are the owner of a cryptocurrency. So if you were to decrypt data on a blockchain, it would say that you are the owner of X number of coins. Therefore the only thing that you, or anyone, may do is transfer this ownership to somebody else. To transfer this ownership, you need to verify that you are indeed the current owner. And the only way to do so, is to hold a private key (that you should own). Duplicating Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency- the easy way! So, this should hopefully answer the above question: there is no such thing as duplicating cryptocurrency. Your wallet too, only contains the ‘keys’ to transact with the coins (i.e. transfer ownership). So the only thing you end up duplicating is the key. On that note, as long as you are the only one that has the private key, you are the only one that has the right (and ability) to transfer ownership to someone else. But what if…? You could try hacking your wallet or the blockchain. Hypothetically speaking, say you did duplicate Bitcoin- created fraudulent coins- and had 10 times the coins you originally had. In that case, as soon as you try to spend the newly created coins, the transaction will be broadcast to the network. It would instantly reject as the newly found coins actually don’t exist in the public distributed ledger system. Bitcoin works because every single (full) Bitcoin client has a copy of the transaction history and verifies signatures. When a miner finds a mathematical solution to create the next block, they are rewarded a select number of Bitcoin in the process as an incentive for their work. From that point on, all Bitcoin is transferred by a cryptographic signature. It’s strictly a pass-it-on system. Your wallet really only contains keys to pass it on to the next person. Your wallet software and wallet file only store what are called private keys. These private keys can be used with a one-way math formula to generate public keys. These public keys are used to receive ownership (they create a public address to which someone can assign ownership to), while the private keys are used to transfer ownership to someone else. For these reasons, online wallets are deemed less safe compared to an offline wallet. Online wallets are managed and hosted by third parties. So technically they have full access to those private keys- keys that otherwise you should be holding safely. Copying a wallet is like creating a duplicate door key. Bitcoins ownership is verified through private keys and copying the key just means there are more keys around- not the number of Bitcoins. So when you “want to backup your Bitcoin”, essentially all you’re backing up are the private and public keys that allow you to transact with the Bitcoin that you are the owner of i.e. transfer ownership. This leads to the obvious statement- keep you wallet or private keys absolutely secure. Like a credit card number. Even if you have your credit card physically, someone only needs the credit card details to transact with. There are several ways to backup your wallet and private keys, but that’s for another article.