Read This First:
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 a 1 or 3, and Bitcoin Cash addresses begin with bitcoincash: and either a p or q. It is not possible to send testnet Bitcoins to a livenet bitcoin address, nor send livenet Bitcoin to a testnet address.
Testnet = Monopoly money
Livenet = Real money
What is the Bitcoin testnet?
The testnet is an alternative Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash blockchain to be used for testing. Testnet coins are separate and distinct from actual Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash, and testnet coins do not have any value in the real world. This allows application developers or Bitcoin testers to experiment without having to use real 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 the testnet.
Although similar, the testnet and the Bitcoin network are not compatible. This means that you can't use bitcoins on the testnet, and you can't use testnet coins on the livenet Bitcoin network.
How do I avoid testnet scams?
Buying Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash from another person is a common way to enter into the Bitcoin world. We encourage our customers to be extremely careful and do this kind of transaction with people they can absolutely trust. However, knowing the person you are going to buy bitcoins from is not always going to be the case.
If you would like to purchase either Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash, 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 and get it transferred to your own wallet: https://bitpay.com/wallet.
To avoid scams with testnet wallets, follow these recommendations:
- If you are purchasing Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash, please make sure the wallet you are going to receive the funds in is not a testnet wallet.
- If you are purchasing Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash, beware of “too good to be true” pricing or someone offering Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash 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 without your awareness and then send you testnet coins, which have no real value.
- If they tell you to create a testnet wallet to send you the funds, they are trying to scam you.
What should I do if I have already been scammed?
We recommend you report the fraud to your local authorities and provide them with any information you have about the individual that sent you the testnet coins along with the related bitcoin transaction details.
How do I know if my wallet is a testnet wallet?
To know if the wallet you are going to receive funds in is a testnet wallet, follow one of the following steps:
- Open up your Bitpay/Copay wallet
- Open up your Bitpay/Copay wallet, then tap on the wallet
If your wallet has a "beaker" icon (see below images), that wallet is a testnet wallet, and 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 bitcoin with value.
Additionally, all testnet addresses begin with an m or n. Bitcoin addresses all begin with a 1 or 3, and Bitcoin Cash addresses begin with bitcoincash: and either a p or q. It is not possible to send testnet Bitcoins to a livenet bitcoin address, nor send livenet Bitcoin 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.