To own a cryptocurrency, you must have a 'wallet'. A wallet is software that will allow you to send, receive, control and secure your cryptocurrency. The principle of decentralised currency allows its user to become their own bank, so it is necessary that they should have access to their own wallet too. There are different types of wallets designed for different types of devices.
A wallet is a combination of a public address and a private key.
- The public address can be thought of as equivalent to your banking details: it allows you to receive and store funds. It is not sensitive information.
- The private key, on the other hand, is what allows you to assert your ownership of the funds in the linked public address and to carry out (sign) outgoing transactions. This information is extremely sensitive and confidential.
Always remember to make a backup of your wallet. This is extremely important! A backup is a procedure that allows you to generate a list of 12, 18 or 24 words representing the only way to recover access to your funds in case of loss, theft, malfunction or destruction of your phone/computer.
For more information on the different types of wallet, see the question 'What are the different types of wallet?'.