2 Answers 2


The paragraph you copied from the Bitcoin wiki is imprecise.

Transactions result in transaction outputs that usually are associated with specific addresses. I.e. there is a balance of bitcoins associated with an address, that only can be spent by an order signed with the address' corresponding private key. The bitcoins itself are not identifiable, rather the path that they arrived through may be traceable.

As an example, let's assume there are two transactions:

Transaction 1: A --- 1 BTC ---> B
Transaction 2: B --- 1 BTC ---> C

A, B, and C are addresses in this case.

What the text from the wiki is trying to confer is that if somebody knew who owned address A, they might be able to force this person to tell them who owns the address B. This second Bitcoin user might then be forced to reveal the owner of address C.

However, the bitcoins itself do not have any identifiable footprint in the system, they merely exist in form of a transaction output's balance that may only be created through mining or the destruction of a previous balance.

  • Wait, which person? If A is exchange bank they may know the customer in person. But, B and C know only bitcoin wallets of each other. They do not know who are the persons. B donates to C. Ok, he knows the company he donates to. But, my question was noting more than about the about bitcoin identity, not person identity.
    – Val
    Aug 8, 2014 at 23:52
  • 3
    There is no way to identify wallets on the Bitcoin network. Wallet is merely an abstract term for the entirety of addresses owned by one user. And you are correct, it is possible that the owner of B does not know who owns the address C. Yet, certainly there must have been a motivation for the owner of B to send money to C.
    – Murch
    Aug 9, 2014 at 20:44
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    Wallet is the worst word. It's not a Bitcoin wallet, it's more like a Bitcoin keychain Aug 13, 2014 at 3:29

You can see addresses and transactions. But you can't get the owner of this address unless he or someone else is publishing the identity.

For example, this happend when the coins of silk road where seized: 1F1tAaz5x1HUXrCNLbtMDqcw6o5GNn4xqX. Everyone can check where those coins went to from there on. Blockchain.info allows people to add a note to an address, to let others easily find those addresses.

Normaly people would not post their identity. So if you look into the blockchain and see someone send 1 BTC to someone else, you will never know which persons traded those coins. Therefore it's anonymous.

  • Addresses of what? Of the bitcoins? Do you see that I ask about addresses of bitcoins: can you identify concrete coin or not?
    – Val
    Aug 8, 2014 at 18:58
  • There is no coin-address. You can split one bitcoin in 100 mio fractional coins and merge them back together as you wish. If I would have received 1 BTC and send 0.5 to you, you can take 0.1 BTC and send 0.6 to someone else. Or you only send 0.4 to some else and save the last 0.1. This is a bit more complex than I just put it down, for more information there is a good wiki post: en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Transactions#Explanation Aug 8, 2014 at 19:02
  • That is what I want to be the answer. Just explain what en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Anonymity had in mind saying bitcoin address?
    – Val
    Aug 8, 2014 at 19:24
  • It means the public address from which you send the coins(input) or where you send them to (output). Aug 8, 2014 at 19:29

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