What is a mainnet in cryptocurrency, explained

Mainnet basics

A mainnet, short for “main network,” is the primary blockchain network where actual transactions occur, and the native cryptocurrency is used.

It is not the same as testnets or experimental environments; instead, it is the product of development activities. The mainnet is distinguished by the use of its own cryptocurrency, a digital asset essential to the network’s operation. This native currency is vital to the ecosystem’s governance procedures, staking schemes and transaction fees.

Blockchain platforms usually go through testnet phases before launching on a mainnet. Developers can experiment with these test environments without using actual cryptocurrency. A platform moves to the mainnet, where real assets are traded after it is deemed ready. The mainnet uses a particular consensus process to validate and confirm transactions, such as proof-of-work (PoW) or proof-of-stake (PoS).

Validators and miners are essential on the mainnet, depending on the consensus mechanism. Proof-of-work networks use sophisticated mathematical puzzles that miners must solve to confirm transactions, add new blocks to the blockchain and get paid in cryptocurrency. On the other hand, proof-of-stake networks rely on validators who are chosen to create blocks based on the amount of cryptocurrency they hold and are willing to “stake” as collateral.

Depending on the blockchain network, decentralization varies in degree but is a fundamental component of many mainnets. An increased degree of decentralization entails more nodes taking part in the validation procedure. Because of the mainnet’s secure and unchangeable nature, confirmed transactions are immune to manipulation or alteration.

Mainnets frequently support decentralized apps (DApps) and smart contracts, which expand the network’s capabilities. Mainnets may undergo regular upgrades to improve functionality or handle security issues, which can sometimes result in forks. Forks can be soft forks, which are backward-compatible changes or hard forks, which are not backward-compatible. 

Cryptocurrency wallets allow users to communicate with the mainnet and send and receive transactions more efficiently. Because they offer consumers accessibility and liquidity, exchanges are essential to the mainnet’s ability to trade native coins.

How does a mainnet work?

A blockchain platform’s mainnet comprises several essential parts that work together to allow the network to run and process transactions and preserve the distributed ledger’s integrity. 

The essential elements of a mainnet are as follows:

Blockchain protocol

A particular blockchain protocol powers the mainnet, establishing the guidelines and processes for validating and appending transactions to the blockchain. Examples of blockchain protocols are Ethereum (which uses the Ethereum protocol) and Bitcoin (which uses the Bitcoin protocol).

Native cryptocurrency

Every mainnet contains a native cryptocurrency that is utilized for different network functions. This covers paying transaction fees, rewarding validators (miners or stakeholders) and taking part in governance processes. Examples are Ether (ETH) for the Ethereum mainnet and Bitcoin (BTC) for the Bitcoin mainnet.

Consensus mechanism

The method or technique used by the network to reach a consensus over the blockchain’s current state is known as the consensus mechanism. PoW, PoS, delegated proof-of-stake and other similar procedures are common consensus techniques. This system guards against double-spending and ensures the validity of transactions.

Miners or validators

As mentioned, miners tackle complex mathematical puzzles in PoW networks, whereas validators in PoS networks are selected according to the quantity of cryptocurrency they possess and are prepared to stake.

Decentralized nodes

Individual computers or servers that keep a copy of the whole blockchain to participate in the network are known as nodes. These nodes converse with one another to reach an agreement on the blockchain’s current state. A larger number of decentralized nodes enhances the network’s decentralization and security.

Smart contracts

Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the conditions of the agreement explicitly encoded. A large number of mainnets support smart contracts. Without the need for intermediaries, smart contracts automate and enforce the performance of contractual obligations.

Decentralized applications

DApps are blockchain-based programs that use smart contracts to offer decentralized features and services. They frequently engage with the native coin and add to the mainnet’s overall functionality.


Wallets are essential for securing and accessing cryptocurrency holdings. Users interact with the mainnet through cryptocurrency wallets, which store their private keys and enable them to send, receive and manage their digital assets. 


Cryptocurrency exchanges facilitate the trading of native cryptocurrencies on the mainnet. The ability for users to purchase, sell and exchange digital assets gives the market liquidity.

Governance mechanisms

On certain mainnets, participants can propose and cast votes on significant issues, such as protocol modifications. These methods facilitate decentralized governance and strengthen the blockchain network’s democratic and community-driven characteristics.

Importance of mainnet for users and developers

The mainnet empowers users with real transactions and secure asset handling while providing developers a playground to deploy innovations like DApps and smart contracts.

In the blockchain ecosystem, the mainnet is crucial for developers and users. Users see the mainnet as the active, real-world setting where actual transactions occur and where they can use the local coin for various uses. Users can feel confident in the integrity of their digital assets since it guarantees the security and immutability of transactions. 

Cryptocurrency wallets allow users to transmit, receive and manage their holdings while interacting with the mainnet. Mainnet cryptocurrency exchanges provide users with a trading and liquidity access platform, increasing the usefulness of their assets.

The mainnet provides developers with the ideal environment for testing and deploying DApps and smart contracts. It denotes the shift from developing and testing in closed settings, like tests, to implementing their innovations in the real world. The mainnet is used by developers to demonstrate the utility and capabilities of their blockchain systems. 

Furthermore, the decentralized structure and consensus processes of the mainnet offer a solid basis for developing safe, open and impenetrable applications. The mainnet serves as the hub for user interaction and innovation, which promotes the development and expansion of the larger blockchain ecosystem.

Testnet vs. mainnet

The testnet is a simulated environment for experimenting with cryptocurrencies, while the mainnet is the live, operational blockchain network.

In the blockchain development process, testnets and mainnets have different functions. To provide a risk-free environment for debugging and code optimization, testnets are simulated environments that allow developers to test and experiment with new features or apps without utilizing real cryptocurrency. 

The mainnet, on the other hand, is the active and live blockchain network where genuine cryptocurrency transactions occur. It is an authentic experience that comes with all the risks and rewards of using the production version of the blockchain.

Mainnet deployment challenges for developers

Mainnet deployment challenges for blockchain developers encompass security, scalability, interoperability, compliance and governance, necessitating meticulous code auditing, network architecture design and regulatory adherence to ensure a seamless, user-centric blockchain experience.

One of the biggest obstacles facing blockchain developers is mainnet deployment. There are challenges with developing in a controlled, risk-free environment on testnets and transferring to the mainnet, which has real-world ramifications. 

Another obstacle is ensuring smart contracts and DApps are robust and secure enough to safeguard users and their assets. Since any mistake could lead to monetary losses or exploitation, developers must carefully audit and test their code to find vulnerabilities.

Another crucial factor to consider while deploying a mainnet is scalability. 

The network’s capacity must manage an increase in transaction volume as user adoption rises without sacrificing efficiency and speed. Striking a balance between scalability and decentralization is a complex endeavor, requiring careful consideration of network architecture and consensus processes.

Another difficulty is related to interoperability. To promote a coherent blockchain ecosystem, developers must ensure smooth communication with other decentralized platforms, protocols and external systems. On the mainnet, managing regulatory compliance also takes on greater significance as developers must abide by changing legislative frameworks that may differ globally.

Furthermore, strategic planning and community engagement are necessary to manage network upgrades or hard forks without interfering with currently running services. To provide a smooth and user-friendly blockchain experience, developers must solve security, scalability, interoperability, compliance and governance issues in mainnet deployment.

This article was originally published by a cointelegraph.com . Read the Original article here. .