How to read Bitcoin Transactions using any blockchain explorer

understanding-bitcoin-blockchain-output-data

The Bitcoin blockchain is a public database that you can query by entering any Bitcoin wallet address to see all its incoming and outgoing transactions, if any.

This illustrated tutorial will use an actual Bitcoin wallet address to search using the popular Blockchain.com free explorer. We will explain all the output data from the blockchain in detail.

Bitcoin wallet address used in this article:

1HXZNGJxKLW6JcC6gXwkdPBAgK5JZLxBbD

You can also query this wallet address to view all the transactions in your web browser and see them for yourself.

Overview

Go to Blockchain.com and enter our example wallet address into the search bar. You will see this output as shown in the image below.

Complete information output from blockchain.com when performing a search using a wallet address.

Let’s break the data down into two (2) sections, the top and the bottom sections.

Top Section – Address

blockchain-top-section-information-search-wallet-address
Zooming in on the top section for Address.

As stated by the explorer, we can quickly tell that;

  • the wallet address has been transacted a total of two (2) times.
  • The wallet had received a total of 0.00332783 BTC and
  • The wallet had sent a total of 0.00332783 BTC
  • The wallet currently has a final wallet balance of 0.00000000 BTC.

Remember, Bitcoin is divisible by eight (8) decimal places; therefore, the proper display of BTC should have eight (8) decimal places.

Bottom Section – Transactions

Zooming in on the bottom section under Transactions.

In this example, we use a simple wallet address that only has two (2) transactions, one receiving (aka deposit) and one sending (aka withdrawal) transaction. This is suitable for illustration and explanation purposes. However, you may often encounter a far more complex wallet address with hundreds or more transactions.

To understand and read the entire transaction flow of a particular wallet address, you must find the first transaction. Therefore, always start reading from the bottom of the page. If it has several pages, go to the last page and find the first transaction.

The first transaction will always be a deposit transaction for every cryptocurrency wallet. In other words, the wallet receives a transaction. In many blockchain explorers, this is often shown in green colour.

Date and Time

The blockchain date and time format are in the universal UTC-0 timezone. Therefore if you stay in Los Angeles, USA, you need to account for UTC-8 instead. If you are residing in Australia, you should account for UTC+11.

Transaction ID

In this example, you see this string of characters 386316bb078271d35994be70e283033333eb54d3f7180b57fd8f53875b409302. This is the transaction ID.

Every bitcoin transaction, be it a receiving or sending, will have a transaction ID or TXID. This will uniquely identify this particular transaction of yours. You can send this TXID to anyone who wishes to confirm the transaction has been initiated.

Fees

Fees can be automatically suggested by the wallet and accepted, or the wallet owner can manually enter them. Fees are required for every sent transaction. However, you do not need to pay any fees when you receive funds. Instead, fees are paid to the miners who helped maintain and verify the blockchain.

From

You see this wallet address 1FrRFj3YQx8h62KiHdft9bahSTJTD7GbaD. This wallet address deposits the first transaction of 0.00332783 BTC to our example wallet address.

Total Transact Amount

You see this value of 0.00386000 BTC. This is the total BTC amount the sender sent to our example wallet address. However, the sender needs to pay the transaction fees of 0.00053217 BTC. Therefore, the actual amount received is only 0.00332783 BTC.

     0.00386000 BTC (total transact amount) 
  -  0.00053217 BTC (fees) 
  ===============================
     0.00332783 BTC (actual amount our example wallet received)

Confirmations

You see 4 or 5 confirmations here in this example. To be considered secure and safe, miners must verify the transaction between 3 to 6 confirmations. Only when this is achieved will the transaction be confirmed and added to the blockchain.

Conclusion

The Bitcoin blockchain is designed to be transparent as a public ledger. It keeps a historical record of all the transactions from the beginning and reveals many data on each transaction.

It can show the UTC date and time of each transaction, the type of transaction (deposit or withdrawal), the fees incurred, the actual amount received (after deducting fees), the wallet address of the sender and receiver, the unique transaction ID (TXID) belonging to each unique transaction and calculate the current balance of the wallet.

Besides using blockchain.com, you can use many other free blockchain explorers. The data retrievable from the Bitcoin blockchain remains the same in terms of transparency; however, each different blockchain explorer will have its own interface and display features. You can try a few to see which one you prefer.

Most free blockchain explorers do not come with visualisations, which may be necessary when dealing with hundreds and thousands of wallet addresses. For that, you may want to consider using commercial blockchain forensics and analytics tools.

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