What is a mainnet?

3 min readSep 3


Blockchain technologies have become an essential part of the modern world of finance. You need to learn a few fundamental terms to understand how they work. One such term is mainnet. In this article, we’ll learn what a mainnet is, how it differs from a testnet, and why it plays a crucial role in the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

What is a mainnet?

The Mainnet is the main version of a blockchain protocol or cryptocurrency network. It is a working blockchain where participants can make transactions and work with cryptocurrencies. The mainnet is the place where all transactions are logged, verified, and permanently recorded on the blockchain. It can be called the «living space» where everything related to a particular cryptocurrency or blockchain system takes place.

This underlying network contains its token. For example, when someone talks about the Ethereum network, it means this person is talking about the mainnet of the ETH cryptocurrency.

It’s crucial to understand that not all cryptocurrencies have their mainnet. Many tokens work on existing networks.

Let’s take a few examples:

  • Optimism: L2 solution designed to improve the speed and scalability of Ethereum. It uses a technology called Optimistic Rollup and runs on top of the Ethereum mainnet to improve the speed and efficiency of transactions.
  • Arbitrum: Another L2 solution that also runs on top of Ethereum mainnet. Like Optimism, it uses Optimistic Rollup technology. Arbitrum also doesn’t have an independent mainnet.

What is Testnet?

A testnet, short for “test network,” is a separate blockchain or network created for testing purposes within the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem. Testnets are essentially simulated environments that mimic the operation of a real or “mainnet” blockchain but don’t involve real cryptocurrency or real financial value.

Testnets are primarily used by developers and blockchain projects to test new features, applications, smart contracts, and software upgrades. This allows developers to identify and fix bugs and vulnerabilities without risking real assets.

Let us consider the main differences between the main and test networks based on their key aspects:

1. Currency and Transactions

  • Mainnet: All transactions in the mainnet have financial value and are permanently recorded on the blockchain.
  • Testnet: The testnet uses virtual cryptocurrency, which has no real value. Transactions on the testnet are used for testing purposes only.

2. Risks and Security

  • Mainnet: There is a real financial risk in the core network. If something goes wrong, users can lose their funds.
  • Testnet: It provides a secure environment for testing. There are no real consequences for losing funds on testnet. Developers can experiment with their technology without any concerns.

3. Participants

  • Mainnet: Mainnet is open to all participants and represents the existing blockchain. Miners, users, and crypto exchanges work with the mainnet.
  • Testnet: The testnet is typically only available to developers and testnet participants.

Why do you need a mainnet and a testnet?

Both types of networks play a crucial role in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies:

  • Mainnet provides a real-world environment for financial transactions and cryptocurrency exchanges. It provides decentralization and security to the network and enables users to reach their financial goals.
  • Testnet allows developers to test their ideas, develop applications, and fix bugs without the risk of losing money. It is an essential space to innovate and improve blockchain projects.


Mainnet and testnet are two crucial parts of the cryptocurrency and blockchain world. The mainnet is a space for financial transactions, while the testnet forms a secure environment for developing and testing cryptocurrency projects.

Both types of networks have their unique challenges and importance. They contribute to the development and sustainability of blockchain technology.

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