The easiest way to tell the difference between testnet (no value, only used for testing) and the live network (cash value) is to look at the address.
All testnet addresses begin with an m or n. Bitcoin addresses all begin with 1 or 3, and Bitcoin Cash addresses begin with bitcoincash: and either p or q. It is not possible to send testnet Bitcoin to a livenet bitcoin address, nor send livenet Bitcoin to a testnet address.
Testnet = Play money (no monetary value)
Livenet = Real, valuable money
What is the Bitcoin testnet?
The testnet is an alternative blockchain to be used for testing. Testnet coins are distinct from actual Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash, and testnet coins do not have any monetary value. This allows application developers or Bitcoin testers to experiment without having to use valuable Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash.
In a few words, testnet is an exact copy of the Bitcoin (or Bitcoin Cash) network intended for testing purposes. The Bitcoin blockchain is called livenet and is completely separate from testnet. Although similar, the testnet and livenet are not compatible. This means that you can't use bitcoin on testnet, and you can't use testnet coins on the livenet network.
How do I avoid testnet scams?
Buying Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash from another person is a common way to enter into the cryptocurrency world. We encourage our customers to be extremely careful and do this kind of transaction with people they absolutely trust. However, knowing the person you are buying crypto from is not always practical.
If you would like to purchase crypto, we recommend finding a cryptocurrency exchange you trust. One of the top exchanges is coinbase.com. The BitPay App can integrate with Coinbase to help you buy Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash and get it transferred to your wallet: https://bitpay.com/wallet.
To avoid scams with testnet wallets, follow these recommendations:
- If you are purchasing crypto, please make sure the wallet you are going to receive the funds in is not a testnet wallet.
- If you are purchasing crypto, beware of “too good to be true” pricing or someone offering cryptocurrency at a much lower price than the current market rate.
- Do not let the other person create a wallet for you. They might want to create a testnet wallet and then send you testnet coins, which have no monetary value. They could also create a multisig wallet and send the funds to another wallet you do not control.
If someone tells you to create a testnet wallet to send you money, they are trying to scam you.
What should I do if I have already been scammed?
We recommend that you report any fraud to your local authorities. Be sure to provide any information you have about the individual that stole from you, along with any related transaction details.
How do I know if my wallet is a testnet wallet?
If your wallet has a grayed out bitcoin icon or a flask icon and TESTNET (shown below), that wallet is a testnet wallet.
If you have a testnet wallet, you will only be able to operate with other testnet wallets. As mentioned before, testnet wallets do not involve real currency, and there is no way to turn testnet currency into cryptocurrency with monetary value.
Additionally, all testnet addresses begin with m or n. Bitcoin addresses all begin with 1 or 3, and Bitcoin Cash addresses begin with bitcoincash: and either p or q. It is not possible to send testnet coins to a livenet bitcoin address, nor send livenet coins to a testnet address.
Otherwise, if your wallet has a "wallet" icon, it is a livenet wallet, meaning you can perform any kind of bitcoin transactions allowed to livenet wallets such as sending and receiving funds, making payments, etc.
Where can I get testnet coins?
Faucets are a popular way to get testnet coins. They are web-based services set up by individuals or organizations with testnet coins to spare. A web search for "bitcoin testnet faucet" should point you to the latest available faucets.