How to Import a Private Key into a Mobile Wallet

Did you receive a ‘receipt’ (a.k.a. paper wallet), after a bitcoin ATM/kiosk purchase or as a gift? If you’re new to cryptocurrency, you may not be sure what to do with this bitcoin-branded slip of paper. While paper wallets are a very secure way to store your cryptocurrency, you will at some point want to access those coins. Thankfully, while the process may not be particularly intuitive, it is simple to execute.

So You’ve Got A Paper Wallet… But What Is It?

The most common way to obtain a paper wallet is by purchasing bitcoin, litecoin, or another cryptocurrency at a bitcoin kiosk. Of course, no bitcoin is actually ‘stored’ in this wallet, but it contains all of the information you’ll need to view, send, and receive digital currency to and from the associated digital wallet on the blockchain.

A paper wallet will display two key pieces of information: a private key and a public address. The private key is a 64-character alphanumeric (letters A-F and numbers 1-9) code that defines the ‘location’ of your wallet on the blockchain. As this is the key you use to send bitcoin from the wallet, it is extremely important that you keep it secure and secret. Anyone that knows your private key can use it is used when adding bitcoin to the wallet.

The public key is a shorter code that allows others to send bitcoin to your wallet. As receiving bitcoin is never a bad thing, you can feel free to share this address with others.

Most paper wallets also include scannable QR codes that represent your public address and private key, making it much easier to transfer coin to and from your wallet.

How To Send Bitcoin From A Paper Wallet To A Mobile Digital Wallet?

Paper wallets are well-suited for long-term bitcoin cold storage but are not secure or convenient enough for regular use. For everyday use and account monitoring, you’ll want to transfer bitcoin to a digital mobile wallet. By now, you should have a pretty good idea how a paper wallet works. But, it takes two to tango. Now, let’s look at how the process works within the app.

There are a lot of mobile digital wallets to choose from, so specific steps can vary. Generally, the function will be called “import,” “redeem,” or something similar. Once you find the function, you’ll either enter your paper wallet’s private key or scan the associated QR code. The app may also ask you to select the amount to transfer. Ideally, paper wallets are single-use, so we advise transferring the full amount ‘stored’ on the paper wallet.

Because each app is different, we’ll take for example the steps within BRD and Mycelium, two very popular mobile wallet apps, that demonstrate two very different methods.

For many apps, the process begins on the home screen. Mycelium is one such app, but the function is rather unusually titled “cold storage.” Follow these steps to import the contents of your paper wallet into Mycelium:

  1. Tap 'Cold storage'

  2. Use the keyboard to enter the private key or select 'QR code' to scan it in

  3. Select an address within your wallet as the destination address

  4. Specify the amount to transfer (we recommend you transfer the full amount)

BRD is an example of an app that hides its import function in the settings menu. To import the contents of a paper wallet into your BRD wallet, follow the steps from the app’s website:

  1. Tap on Settings.

  2. Under Currency Settings, tap on Bitcoin.

  3. Select Redeem Private Key.

  4. Tap on Scan Private Key and scan the QR code on your paper wallet.

    1. Note: Any funds stored on the paper wallet/private key will be sent into your BRD wallet and will not remain on the paper wallet/private key.

That’s it! Your bitcoin will now be connected to your mobile wallet. And, if you chose to transfer the full amount associated with the paper wallet, you can discard it once the transaction has been verified by the blockchain.

Have any questions? Reach out to let us know how we can help