Mainnet is the term used to describe when a  is fully developed and deployed, meaning that cryptocurrency transactions are being broadcasted, verified, and recorded on a distributed ledger. [1][2]


A mainnet is a blockchain that actually carries out the functionality of transferring digital currency from senders to recipients. This is different from a testnet, which basically is just a test of such transaction functionality. The easiest way to think about it is that testnets are the prototypes that demonstrate the potential capabilities of a project.[3]  Mainnet describes the point at which a blockchain protocol has achieved full development and deployment after rounds of testing on the testnet. This means that there is a broadcast, verification, and recording of the cryptocurrency on a blockchain.  Mainnets are the actual “end product”, which is available for the public to use. However, just like testnets or code frameworks, mainnets can be changed whenever project teams or cryptocurrency open-source communities decide there is a need for updates and/or revisions. In simple words, mainnet is a separate blockchain running its own network with its own technology and protocol.

Mainnet Launch

A mainnet launch is a defining time for a blockchain project to open to public and begin mass adaptation. When a blockchain project team is ready to distribute their official end product, they will carry out a “mainnet launch”, putting the product into actual production and operations. Even after a mainnet is launched, many developers continue to run a parallel testnet to try out new functionality before deploying it on the live blockchain to avoid disruption for users. These upgrades are typically known as soft forks and hard forks depending on their functionality. [5][7]

Importance of Mainnets

The conventional mainnet will serve a wide variety of vital functions in order to work properly. Among them are two notable factors: proof of development and credibility.

Proof of Development

Mainnets are pieces of verifiable proof. They prove that projects are developing a fully functional and working blockchain where transactions can occur. By having a mainnet, it’s a tell-tale sign that the project is live and is also in technical progress.

Additionally, a live mainnet will put the blockchain’s functionalities and capabilities to the test. This is because the public will be able to participate in the network. Moreover, any malfunction that occurs could potentially compromise the inner workings of the blockchain. Therefore, launching the mainnet will take an excessive amount of resources and development to ensure the successful operation of every component. Furthermore, a mainnet serves as active proof that the project is carrying out its vision correctly.


A project possessing a mainnet will undoubtedly have more credibility than a project without one. A mainnet is a functioning protocol, therefore all transactions are live. In addition, participants are able to transact with one another with the native coins belonging to the blockchain. Parties in the community that show interest often choose to become a participating node and will download the protocol software.

Assuming that the blockchain is not only open-source but is also free for anyone to engage in, the underlying codes of the blockchain will be visible to the public. Moreover, it is possible for participants to highlight any notable concerns or issues. The main point to take from this is that the existence of a mainnet enables the creation of a live ecosystem. One consisting of participants and facilitates the occurrence of both real interaction and transactions with full transparency.

Conversely, without a mainnet, the project is purely conceptual or theoretical. It has no trace of a working product that participants can test out. This is especially important to keep in mind when it comes to evaluating an ICO project that’s raising money. It is comparatively much more difficult to judge projects without a mainnet or even a testnet.

"Mainnet Swap"

A mainnet swap consists of switching from one blockchain network to another. In most cases, the swap takes place when a cryptocurrency project migrates from a third party platform, for example Ethereum, to its own native blockchain network. The project's cryptocurrency tokens are gradually replaced by newly issued coins and all blockchain activity is moved to the new chain, also known as token migration.

Each mainnet swap has its own particularities in terms of execution. Some projects assign migration periods, with a predefined deadline for users to exchange their old tokens for the new ones. If they fail to do so, they may end up losing access to their funds because the old tokens are usually destroyed or frozen. After the mainnet swap is completed, the remaining tokens are usually destroyed so that only the new coins can be used. [6]

Use cases

  • Most blockchains make their underlying code public after the mainnet launch. It helps to gain trust since most users trust open source blockchains more.

  • An independent blockchain is likely to have better security properties and other features.

  • If mainnet is successful, it helps to grow and attracts the general public to join the network.

  • The mainnet deployment helps to create a bigger ecosystem by creating use cases for more (dApps) to join the blockchain. [8]

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