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Bitcoin Developer Reveals Major Economic Manipulation on Bitcoin Testnet

Bitcoin developer Jameson Lopp calls out major issue on Bitcoin testnet, and recommends a reset to fix the coin supply.

digital bugs

Seasoned Bitcoin developer Jameson Lopp has identified a major issue on Bitcoin’s testnet and called on developers to implement an immediate solution.

As the name implies, the Bitcoin testnet serves as a testing ground for developers to review proposed improvements to the Bitcoin network. Improvements that are successful on the testnet may be approved for release on the main network.

Jameson Lopp noted a manipulation of block rewards on the Bitcoin testnet, which has partially defeated the purpose of such a testing ground. Similar to the mainnet, users and developers require testnet bitcoins (TBTC) to pay transaction fees on the test network. However, the coins are supposed to be relatively abundant, free, and of no value, enabling developers to easily test and deploy Bitcoin software.

In stark contrast, though, malicious developers have gamed the testnet protocol, unlocking more TBTC than should be available and resorting to selling these testnet coins.

While the Bitcoin mainnet is currently at around block height 840200 after the recent halving, the Bitcoin testnet has surpassed block height 2,811,000. In simpler terms, the network has released as many block rewards as it would take the Bitcoin mainnet until 2061 to reach.

While the Bitcoin network adds around 144 blocks daily, the number on the testnet is highly volatile, with up to 10,000 blocks mined in a single day on some occasions. Also, while block rewards currently stand at 3.125 BTC, testnet rewards are at 0.006 TBTC.

A Fix for Bitcoin Testnet Issue

Regarding a potential fix for the solution, the experienced Bitcoin developer recommends a reset of Bitcoin’s testnet. Such a reset will allow block mining to start afresh, with everyone having the same opportunity to acquire test coins.

At the same time, it will render useless all previously acquired test coins that malicious developers hoard and also encourage the development of Bitcoin software. Developers can freely build test applications, and users easily get test coins to experiment with these products.

Such a reset will evidently have no direct impact on the Bitcoin mainnet. Nonetheless, Bitcoin’s decentralized nature means the recommended testnet coin rest will require significant backing from the Bitcoin developer community to be adopted.

Wilfred Michael

Wilfred Michael is a highly experienced cryptocurrency journo. He has spent more than five years covering this exciting new technological space, and relishes the opportunity to play a role in driving what he considers to be the future of finance.