For example coinbase is an exchange and so, their transactions are done off of the blockchain.

They do however expose an API, which I believe should expose their own coinbase "blockchain" transactions, but this does not seem to be the case from my perspective, or maybe I missed something.

Is there a way to submit a "public" key given to me by an exchange, then have all transaction for that key?


3 Answers 3


There are no blockchain transactions within an exchange.

Let me explain: (Y = you, B = someone else, C = someone else, E = exchange, assume that all people have 0 BTC, but C has 1 BTC so far)

You send 1 BTC as a blockchain transaction to the adress of E. => E makes a database entry "Y have 1 BTC".


B buys 1 BTC from C => E makes a database entry "B has 1 BTC" and "C has 0 BTC" (no blockchain transaction).


B sell his 1 BTC to C => E makes a database entry "B has 0 BTC" and "C has 1 BTC" (no blockchain transaction).


You transfer your BTC to your own adress as a blockchain transaction => E makes a blockchain-transaction and an entry "Y have 0 BTC".

They don't need to make blockchain-transaction within their service. They do just edit their database which tells them who has how many BTC. And as you don't have access to their database, you can't see those edits.

  • Sounds a bit centralised, if you ask me ;) Thanks Alpha! Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 16:28
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    Of course it is. It wouldn't be any less centralized if they used a "private blockchain" internally to do the same. They are custodians over your money. Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 17:46

Exchange markets do not use blockchain for internal transactions, this is done by their own proprietary software and their own databases. They only use blockchains for deposit and withdraw purpose.

  • Yeah I understand now, I guess it is a necessary evil. Thanks PJS for the answer Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 16:29

The public key given to you by an exchange is just a way for you to receive funds. For sending funds out, they're most likely going to use another address that has nothing to do with your wallet's address.

Let's say you are sent 1 BTC to your coinbase BTC address. Even if you don't do any more transactions on the exchange and decide to send this 1 BTC to someone else, they will not see the transaction coming from the address that you used for receiving that 1 BTC.

Think of an exchange like a black box, so to say. They're keeping track of all the internal transactions but to the world outside, there's no way to see which wallet has seen what transaction activity.

  • I see, yeah the blackbox analogy made it a lot clearer. Thanks Tanmay! Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 16:29

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