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Bitcoin 101

The Ultimate Guide to Bitcoin Faucets

Bitcoin faucets - dispensing small amounts of BTC for free - are one of the most interesting consequences of bitcoin's success as a store of value. But what is a bitcoin faucet, how do they work and why do they exist?

This ultimate guide to bitcoin faucets breaks down as follows:

  • What is a bitcoin faucet? The basic function and logic
  • The long history of bitcoin faucets
  • Understanding the utility of bitcoin faucets
  • Weighing up the pros and cons of bitcoin faucets
  • How to choose a bitcoin faucet
  • Bitcoin faucet red flags
  • The role of faucet bots and rotators
  • Considerations when seeking to maximise your faucet earnings

What is a bitcoin faucet? Their basic function and logic

Bitcoin faucets are programs integrated into websites and apps that dispense rewards in the form of satoshis – the lowest denomination of bitcoin (one satoshi = one hundred millionth of 1 BTC, read this article to learn what a sat is).

Just as a leaky faucet might persistently dribble water, a bitcoin faucet dribbles satoshis, or ‘sats’. Faucets have historically been built by people wishing to spread the word about the cryptocurrency, and latterly by individuals intent on turning a profit themselves.

A bitcoin faucet is essentially a reward system, and was pioneered by software developer Gavin Andresen in 2010, one year after the cryptocurrency was created by Satoshi Nakamoto. In order to earn satoshis from a bitcoin faucet, users generally complete very minor digital tasks - such as solving captchas or watch advertisements.

The fact that these tasks are so trivial gives the impression that bitcoin faucets dispense money for nothing. That idea has helped them proliferate and become some of the most popular bitcoin related sites online. The reality of faucets, as this article will explain, is that they do give out crypto, but the impression that users get it for free is based on a simple piece of marketing trickery. The tasks that users complete are so small in isolation that don't feel like work, but in aggregate, this audience are a commodity that can be sold or monetised by the faucet site.

A Short History of Bitcoin Faucets

Gavin Andresen is one of the most notable figures in Bitcoin’s history. In 2010, the cryptocurrency’s shadowy founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, announced that Andresen would lead the development of the network after his departure. Latterly, Princeton University graduate Andresen founded the nonprofit Bitcoin Foundation. He continues to be heavily involved in the cryptocurrency ecosystem to this day.

Andresen was responsible for the first ever bitcoin faucet (https://freebitcoins.appspot.com/, now defunct), paying site visitors 5 BTC every time they completed a simple captcha. Because the network was in its infancy, the reward had very little cash value and started as an experiment. Announcing the faucet on the bitcointalk.org forum in June 2010, Andresen said, “I decided to do something that sounds really dumb: I created a web site that gives away bitcoins.

“Why? Because I want the Bitcoin project to succeed, and I think it is more likely to be a success if people can get a handful of coins to try it out.”

Andresen provisioned 1,100 BTC of his own for the experiment, which was quickly praised by Nakamoto who remarked, “Excellent choice of a first project, nice work. I had planned to do this exact thing if someone else didn’t do it, so when it gets too hard for mortals to generate 50 BTC, new users could get some coins to play with right away.”

When Andresen’s 1,100 BTC war chest had emptied, the faucet was replenished, with early bitcoin miners and whales generously donating to the cause.

Why a Faucet Was Needed

Although obtaining bitcoin is now easy, this was not the case in 2010: with no exchanges or fiat on-ramps in existence, interested parties had to either mine bitcoin themselves or negotiate with a seller on the Bitcointalk forum.

Andresen’s inaugural faucet therefore represented an important and necessary milestone, allowing anyone to claim free BTC and become invested in the project while encouraging others to follow suit.

By its December 2017 peak, bitcoin’s price was such that 5 BTC dispensed from Andresen’s faucet were worth just shy of $100,000.

Those who bought into the concept of Bitcoin were then free to hodl their funds in anticipation of the currency achieving real value in the future. By its December 2017 peak, bitcoin’s price was such that 5 BTC dispensed from Andresen’s faucet were worth just shy of $100,000.

In practice, the vast majority of faucet beneficiaries are likely to have spent their bitcoins in the early 2010s using sites such as SatoshiDice and Silk Road. Few could have anticipated just how successful bitcoin would become.

Although bitcoin is now widely distributed and accessible, bitcoin faucets remain valuable to this day, with new versions regularly entering the market and rewards fluctuating according to the value of bitcoin at any given moment in time.

Captcha has been replaced by advertisements, and advertisers (rather than beneficent software developers) are now the main income source for faucets, which work on traffic arbitrage: i.e. buying traffic cheaply and selling it for a higher price. Many people who utilise bitcoin faucets let their earnings accumulate over time before withdrawing a lump sum to their crypto wallet.

Understanding Bitcoin Faucets

Faucets can be built fairly quickly using a Wordpress plugin, with faucet owners depositing bitcoins into a crypto wallet and then connecting the wallet to the website. Satoshis are paid out of this wallet at various predetermined time intervals, and in some cases a minimum withdrawal threshold must be met.

Faucets are used to generate revenue from advertising commission on a pay-per-view model, attract traffic (known as incentivised traffic) and promote products and services. However, because there are faucets for just about every cryptocurrency currently in circulation, the landscape is incredibly competitive. Some of the most popular bitcoin faucets at the time of writing include Cointiply, BTC Aliens, Bonus Bitcoin and Moon Bitcoin. We’ll take a closer look at their operations later.

To access a bitcoin faucet, users typically have to sign up to a faucet website with an email and password; some legacy faucets also request that users enter their BTC address into the initial registration form, while others create a wallet for you within the service itself.

After you’ve registered and activated your account, all you need to do is solve a captcha then get going with the video-watching, ad-clicking, puzzle-solving, dice-rolling, quiz-taking or whatever the case may be.

The user experience is such that it should be obvious after you sign in what you need to do: there will be a banner saying “Earn”, “Win now”, “Collect rewards” or similar.

With Fire Faucet, for example, you simply click “Collect rewards.” Bitcoin faucets are foolproof by design, created so that even novices can start earning satoshis immediately.

Many websites let users refer friends, compelling them to do so by offering a lifetime commission on future faucet claims made by invited users. Other sites run lotteries wherein a larger prize is paid to a winner every day or week, and some offer daily login bonuses or interest payments, incentivising users to return to the website every 24 hours.

Though many faucet sites may look like they were built 15 years ago, the impression is intentional. They know their audience, and expectation, and their user experience uses the carrot of crypto to cleverly directing users to perform valuable actions.

Faucet Pros and Cons

There are pros and cons to using bitcoin faucets. The pros are mostly obvious: you can earn bitcoin by completing simple tasks rather than risking your own (fiat) money, and no specialist knowledge or skill is required, meaning complete beginners can experience sending and receiving their first coins.

The more faucets you use, the more satoshis you’ll be able to stack, with the option to invest, hodl, spend (you can make micropayments including microbets at online casinos, for example) or exchange into fiat or another cryptocurrency.

There are countless faucets that let you claim rewards whenever you please, and some represent an enjoyable way of earning bitcoin, whether in the form of brain teasers, interactive digital games, surveys or quizzes.

Thanks to the proliferation of bitcoin faucet apps on iOS and Android, you can also earn crypto while enduring a boring train journey or waiting in line at the post office, effectively monetising dead time.

Moreover, faucet users do not have to go through the invasive rigmarole of KYC, which has become the norm when using modern cryptocurrency exchanges. There are many valid reasons why an individual might wish to keep their identity private, and so bitcoin faucets are an attractive proposition from this perspective.

As for the cons, it should be noted that faucet rewards are very modest, meaning it can take months before users earn a decent sum.

The low profit margins also motivate users to sign up to as many faucets as they can possibly find in order to make the miniscule payouts add up, with the potential of overloading those platforms’ servers.

In the pursuit of crypto riches, bitcoin faucet usage can become a brain-numbing full-time job, and some platforms even claim your earnings if your account lies dormant for an extended period.

Many faucets also have minimum cashing-out thresholds as well as withdrawal fees, and a lot of the promotional videos and short-links can be incredibly spammy, rendering the whole process rather tedious.

What’s more, some faucets are actually gambling portals which attract users with the promise of distributing satoshis: in reality, the chance of reaching the withdrawal limit without contributing your own sats is pretty low.

Of course, bitcoin’s value is not fixed, and so a modest payout today might be a handsome sum in a few years’ time. After all, 5 BTC was considered miniscule in 2010 yet could have been used to purchase an apartment seven years later.

Bitcoin faucet rewards vary wildly across platforms, from 100 satoshis (0.00000100 BTC) to 5,000 (0.00005000 BTC), while referral programs can offer commission ranging from 10% to 50%. Ultimately, the question of whether bitcoin faucets are worthwhile depends on how much you value your time, and whether you believe (as many do) that the price of bitcoin is going to steadily rise.

How to Select a Bitcoin Faucet

With all this in mind, you need to weigh up whether bitcoin faucets are worth dedicating some of your time to. If you decide that you want to proceed, the question you need to ask yourself is which bitcoin faucets are you going to use? After all, there is no shortage of options and some are far better than others in terms of UX, payouts, supported coins, etc.

A cursory online search will turn up hundreds of articles purporting to recommend “the best-paying bitcoin portals,” and if you disappear down this particular wormhole, be sure to look at thorough round-up articles that were published or updated in recent months, since the bitcoin faucet landscape is forever changing.

It would also be prudent to prioritise blogs published on recognisable and reputable websites. Otherwise, it’s possible they could be promotional articles intended to publicise faucets with which the author is affiliated, or worse still attempts to phish personal details or infect your phone/pc with viruses.

As well as articles, you can find information about bitcoin faucets on dedicated portals such as bestfaucetsites.com, a site which also lists the trust status and minimum withdrawal fee for each option. Those seeking further confirmation can ask for recommendations on Reddit, Twitter, Quora or dedicated crypto message boards.

Different Types of Bitcoin Faucet

As mentioned earlier, there are various types of bitcoin faucet and the coin capture mechanism differs across platforms: some sites ask users to complete surveys, watch advertisements, click on links, play games, solve captchas or complete brainteasers.

Naturally, the enjoyment to be derived from these tasks will depend on the person completing them. If you’re intent on signing up to a bunch of bitcoin faucets, consider your sanity in advance and select those whose tasks you do not mind performing.

What’s more, it’s vital to choose a faucet that supports the cryptocurrency you wish to accrue, whether that’s BTC, ETH, BCH, XRP, LTC or some other coin. Needless to say, you should consider other questions such as:

  • how often you have to play in order to win rewards
  • the withdrawal fee, loyalty bonuses
  • limits on withdrawing
  • reliability (is the site often down for maintenance?)

A good faucet is likely to have a high number of users and offer above-average payouts, low withdrawal fees, a withdraw-anytime policy, generous referral commission and multiple methods of obtaining bitcoin.

Alarm bells should ring if you are compelled to spend your own bitcoin while using the faucet in order to meet the minimum withdrawal threshold. Moreover, it is important to do your due diligence to ensure the platform is not known for bugs and errors.

Long-established faucets are normally in business because they have continued to provide genuine value. Speaking of which, you might want to consider whether the faucet offers support in the form of live chat agents or an email form, in case you run into any trouble.

Bitcoin Faucet Red Flags

As well as weighing up the simple pros and cons of faucet function, you should be wary of data security when selecting a bitcoin faucet. Platforms that require you to disclose personal data you're not comfortable with sharing should be avoided.

If you’re asked to submit an email address and are contemplating signing up for multiple faucets, it might be a good idea to use a dedicated email address purely for this purpose. Expect that inbox to quickly fill up with all kinds of spam. Remember, this isn't money for nothing.

Faucets that have suddenly appeared on the market and do not have a track record should be properly vetted. Some platforms are nothing more than online freelance sites that compel users to invest a disproportionate amount of time and effort, at the end of which they receive meagre payment (even by faucet standards).

Others can secretly use your web browser to mine an altcoin in the background, exploiting your CPU and paying a mere fraction of what you could otherwise have earned yourself. Needless to say, you should never use the same password for different bitcoin faucets in case one becomes compromised and your wallet is hacked.

Specialist Bitcoin Faucet Tools

Over the years, tools have been created to help users earn more crypto from bitcoin faucets. Auto-faucets are used to automate the work users need to perform to win rewards, helping them reach the minimum cashout threshold quicker and increase their profit.

Such bots use algorithms capable of repeating user actions to convince faucets that the work is being done; faucet rotators, meanwhile, allow users to quickly surf through various faucets without having to manually open a new tab every time. They are designed to generate referral links and earn users a commission without them having to do the legwork of getting a friend or family-member on the platform.

Although appealing on the surface, many advertisers have gotten wise to bots and do not make payments to faucet-owners who fail to put bot-detection measures in place. In many cases, those found to have used bots can have their accounts invalidated and their satoshis confiscated. Their IP will also be added to a blacklist.

Moreover, if you’re not coding your own bots, it may cost you to use one of them; the process of sourcing a dependable, reputable faucet bot is as time-consuming as locating worthwhile bitcoin faucets. The rise in the price of bitcoin, has seen a parallel rise in faucets, driving an arms race between the faucet providers and the users looking for ever more ingenious ways to generate an income without the heavy-lifting.

What You Should Know About Bitcoin Faucets

Safety is paramount when operating in the cryptosphere, and it’s no different when using bitcoin faucets. In the past, people have had their accounts drained by hackers or their funds stolen in exit scams, as faucets shut up shop and make off with users’ hard-won coins. It’s therefore important to only use reputable bitcoin faucets, while taking care to employ unique passwords.

As mentioned, using a dedicated email account for your faucet endeavours might be a sensible move, as it will immunise your personal email account (and with it, your identity) from the threat of attack.

Bitcoin faucets are fundamentally designed to limit abuse from spammers, bots and hackers, which is often why there is a limit imposed on the number of withdrawals made from the same IP address over a certain timeframe. Oftentimes, maths equations replace captcha, the idea being that these are trickier for bots to circumvent. The usage of blacklists is also widespread to prevent known scammers from using the platform.

Other than signing up to as many legitimate, high-paying bitcoin faucets as you possibly can, and perhaps taking a chance on using an auto-faucet bot or rotator, it’s natural to wonder how you might maximise your bitcoin earnings. Actually, there are a few things you can do.

One is to use faucets when the price of bitcoin falls, since platforms tend to pay more when the price is low and the prospect of a future price rise makes your satoshis more valuable.

If you use faucets which do not automatically pay out, you must also maintain a sensible withdrawal schedule to avoid the risk of losing funds according to sneaky terms and conditions or the closure of a faucet.

Getting as many referral bonuses as possible will also maximise your earnings, as will taking advantage of loyalty bonuses that are typically paid when you return to certain faucets on a recurring basis.

Given that every platform is different, it may be worthwhile creating a spreadsheet detailing all of the faucets with which you are registered, along with details on when to participate and withdraw funds.

Let’s take a closer look at some major bitcoin faucets currently available.

Cointiply remains one of the most popular bitcoin faucets in existence, boasting over 670,000 users at the time of writing. As well as having an established track record, the faucet provides 20+ ways to earn bitcoin including surveys, videos and microtasks. It also offers daily loyalty bonuses, 5% interest on your balance when you reach 35,000 sats, a lucrative multiplier game, fast payments, 25% referral commission and a dedicated support team. There are even earning guides to help users make the most of their time.

BTC Aliens is another well-reviewed bitcoin faucet, available via desktop and mobile app. Since 2014 the nifty alien-shooting game has paid out over $7 million worth of crypto, and its user base numbers in the millions. As well as BTC, Bitcoin Aliens pays users in bitcoin cash and litecoin, with payouts ranging from a minimum of 135 to 9,000 satoshis every five minutes. That said, there is a minimum payout of 20,000 and payments are dispensed every Tuesday.

Moon Bitcoin has gained a substantial following due in part to its flexible payout protocol: whereas most faucets only permit users to claim once per day or once per week, Moon Bitcoin lets users claim as often or as little as they like. The only caveat is that there is a minimum of five minutes between claims made on each account/IP address. Loyalty bonuses are also provided, as daily visits result in your pot increasing by 1%. As for the necessary tasks, it’s a case of watching ads and completing surveys.

Bonus Bitcoin is one of the oldest bitcoin faucets in operation, which tells you its shrewd operators are still in profit and its user base continue to see value in it. The site lets you claim an average of 24 satoshis every 15 minutes and while you’re hardly likely to feather your nest with such paltry payouts, the faucet does have a coin multiplier game to help you exponentially increase your earnings.

Indeed, it’s theoretically possible (albeit highly unlikely) to receive as much as 5,000 satoshis per claim. The Bonus Bitcoin referral program is also a good one, as it promises a 50% lifetime referral commission. In the past, Bonus Bitcoin set a withdrawal limit of 10,000 satoshis, but as of July 2017, all payments are made instantly and directly into your linked CoinPot microwallet. To earn, just click the red “Claim Now” button in the centre of the page every quarter of an hour.

Since Gavin Andresen came up with the bitcoin faucet concept, countless platforms have taken the baton, giving users the opportunity to earn bitcoin without esoteric knowledge or mining equipment. In doing so, bitcoin faucets have succeeded in lowering the barriers to entry and compelling citizens to hold and transact value using cryptocurrency.

If after reading this guide you’re tempted to try your hand at bitcoin faucets, just remember the following:

• You should use multiple faucets if you wish to maximise your earnings.

• Thoroughly researching faucets before you register is absolutely crucial. Use a combination of sources (message boards, review sites, Twitter, Facebook, etc) and only use reliable platforms with a proven track record.

• Choose faucets which best accommodate your lifestyle (are you able to reliably click on a link every 15 minutes?) and content preferences. Using faucets can be as addictive as online gambling, so if you find that this becomes a problem, seek support.

• Remember to read the terms and conditions of the faucets you use, so you are not blindsided by stipulations, e.g. expiration clauses.

• Faucet usage can be more profitable when the price of bitcoin is low.

• Make good use of referral bonuses by compelling friends to use the faucet.

• Many faucets do not offer customer service. If this is a dealbreaker, choose another faucet.

• Always use unique passwords. You might also consider using a separate email address to register for bitcoin faucets.

Although faucets have undoubtedly played an important role in bitcoin’s history, the ecosystem’s growing maturity – characterised by the emergence of crypto exchanges, crypto-paying employers and the availability of fiat on-ramps – makes it easier than ever before to acquire bitcoin. Nonetheless, so long as users are willing to devote time to answering surveys and watching advertisements, bitcoin faucets will continue to flourish.

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