Avoiding coin loss

Roger Taylor
3 min readJun 17, 2019

This article is referenced from ElectrumSV, starting with version 1.2.2, in order to help users understand some of the common ways that others lose coins. Bitcoin is complicated, if you don’t take care, you only have yourself to blame if you lose yours.

I deal with a lot of the problems people encounter, and have to try and work out what went wrong with their help. All the existing cases have been unskilled or careless users doing it wrong. That’s not to say that we don’t have bugs, just that no reports have come in that resulted in showing that they were the cause of the users losing their coins.

Table of contents

This is not a summary, if you just read these titles, you probably learn nothing from this article.

  • Send a small amount first.
  • Verify that all your coins are split.

Send a small amount first

Never send a large amount you are not willing to lose, if you haven’t sent a small amount first.

Some people refer to this as a “pilot” payment.

Potential problems

Nothing is simple, so what are some of the things you have to keep in mind?


A recent bug report on ElectrumSV was where someone sent their BSV to an exchange six hours before, and the exchange hadn’t received it. The exchange eventually did receive it, but what this demonstrates is that you might have to wait to know for sure.

Coin splitting

Just because you don’t see your BCH move, after you send some BSV, does not mean that it won’t move later. You need to verify your coins are split before you send the BSV.

Verify that all your coins are split

You need to know that your coins are split, thinking you know is not good enough. Don’t assume it, verify it for yourself.

Potential problems

Nothing is simple, so what are some of the things you have to keep in mind?

Receiving unsplit coins

Our Bitcoin Cash friends over at Electron Cash asked us to add a warning to our coin splitting UI mentioning this. It’s a real problem for their users, and ours.

Just because you split your coins once does not make your wallet a magical place where all coins are forever split. This is because when you receive coins in your wallet they are not combined into the coins that are already there, they are separate and remain separate unless you combine them. This may be because you get lucky enough to send them with some of the split coins which makes them split by association. Or it may be because you split all your coins again explicitly, which as part of the process combines all the coins in the wallet with some existing BSV coin making it into BSV. But unless either of these things happen, you can very well accidentally send them and lose the BCH.

It’s an easy mistake to make, the balance includes all your available coins, and people can obliviously assume that their coins are one single thing together, a combined lump if you will, but this is not how Bitcoin works.

It’s impossible to tell what is split or not

ElectrumSV has no way to know if the BSV coins are present in the same addresses on the BCH blockchain, and are unsplit. And if we can’t do it, it’s unlikely users can easily tell.

Yes, we could code up some hack to try and work it out, but we couldn’t guarantee it would be correct. And we could follow the BCH blockchain as well and kind of also become a BCH wallet, but there are only 24 hours in the day and we don’t have the manpower to do that (or to be honest, the interest).

Potential solutions


If you know the coins you have in your wallet, and which are split and which are not, then you won’t have a problem. This doesn’t have to be that hard, you just have to know if your wallet has received any new coins after you last split the ones in your wallet.


When you don’t know for sure your coins are split, or you know you received new coins that may be unsplit since the last time you split them, just split them all again.