What is a Bitcoin faucet?

January 17, 2024
Updated: May 28, 2024
3 min read

A Bitcoin faucet is a concept that emerged in Bitcoin's early years. The English word faucet means tap. It was a website that gave away free Bitcoin to visitors, referring to a tap from which water flows. All visitors had to do was fill in a captcha, and as a reward, they received up to 5 BTC. This sounds incredible today, but in Bitcoin's early years, it was a way to get people excited, as the technology was too complex for most people.

When Bitcoin Was Still Very Complicated

Until early 2011, users had to run the full Bitcoin client to receive Bitcoin. This client was a software package that allowed them to set up a Bitcoin node, mine, and create their own Bitcoin address. There were no exchanges where people could buy or store Bitcoin with traditional currency. As a result, there were relatively few people who owned Bitcoin at this time: it was still too difficult for the masses.

Supporting Adoption

Gavin Andresen, an influential Bitcoin developer, decided to set up a website in 2010 where he gave away 20,000 Bitcoin. Such a website was called a faucet because small amounts of Bitcoin "dripped out." Nowadays, we can no longer call twenty thousand Bitcoin small amounts. But at the time, it cost Gavin only about fifty dollars. The goal was to create a community of users. More users were crucial for Bitcoin's success because the network effect is essential in the world of cryptocurrencies.

Visitors only had to fill in the captcha to receive Bitcoin. A captcha is still widely used today, for example, on websites to prevent spam or bots. Users may be asked to click on images with traffic signs or type a series of letters and numbers.

The concept of distributing cryptocurrency via a faucet was later applied to other cryptocurrencies, such as Litecoin and Ethereum. Most of these faucet websites automatically created a wallet for users to receive small amounts of cryptocurrency. The tasks visitors had to perform sometimes went beyond just filling in a captcha, but they were always meant to be simple and fun.

Do Bitcoin Faucets Still Exist?

Although the original Bitcoin faucets have disappeared, Bitcoin and cryptocurrency faucets still exist today. It is important to note that they do not make users rich; users often have to click countless times to earn only a few cents worth of cryptocurrency. These websites often contain many ads that must be viewed, and sometimes they also include gambling elements.

Users often have to create an account and provide personal information, and sometimes they are required to download files to receive their rewards, which carries many risks. On the other hand, faucet owners must also fight against bots trying to deplete their cryptocurrency supply. Therefore, there is often a time limit, and a computer can only use the faucet once in a while.

Useful for Developers

To learn to program on Bitcoin, a so-called Bitcoin testnet has been set up with "test Bitcoins." This network is identical to Bitcoin itself, but it has no value. Testing on the live Bitcoin network can be very expensive, especially if mistakes are made. Faucets are still available for the Bitcoin testnet to support developers. On many forums like Bitcointalk, there are also users who give away testnet Bitcoin to developers.

The information provided in our articles is intended solely for general informational purposes and does not constitute (financial) advice.

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