NFT enthusiasts were stunned by the recent news of a CryptoPunk NFT purchase using worthless testnet tokens. A mystery buyer converted his (or her) ETH test coins on the Goerli testnet, the GETH, into real ETH on the Ethereum mainnet, netting six-digit profits. The fund subsequently won a bid on the Cryptopunk market, forging a legendary story among crypto enthusiasts.

By converting 527K GETH, CryptoPunk #9682 was bought for 72.72 ETH ($111,606).

But how did it happen?

Testnets are blockchain networks that simulate the performance of mainnets. As they operate on separate ledgers from the mainnet, the coins on a testnet have no connection to transactions and value on the mainnet and theoretically have no monetary value. Goerli is one of the two testnets of the Ethereum mainnet. Unlike Sepolia, another Ethereum testnet that uses Proof-of-Stake (PoS) just like the mainnet, Goerli runs on the proof-of-authority (PoA) consensus. Due to long-standing historical issues, such as testnet token supply and difficulty syncing, the Goerli testnet will likely be phased out.

To speed up GETH distribution to developers, the crypto project LayerZero developed a testnet bridge that enables trading between Goerli and mainnet. This move had the side effect of turning GETH into the subject of rampant speculation and causing GETH’s price to spike. The reasons as to the sudden price rally remain uncertain; it could be the product of antsy developers, or perhaps over-zealous investors took the bait. The testnet token peaked at $0.4057 and is now trading at about $0.2673, a 34% fall from its recent all-time high (ATH). The mystery CryptoPunk #9682 buyer took advantage of this and made history. So, the real question is…

How did he manage to get so many testnet tokens?

Let’s dive deep into the history of the buyer’s wallet address. The ERC20 address of the buyer is 0x46a341c63da91f49788972e2fea63181771669ce; let’s call him 69CE. According to the block explorer of the Goerli testnet, a transaction of 1 million GETH was sent to 69CE on March 9, 2022. Sadly, this is not a fairy tale of some hard effort of accumulating GETH via faucet daily. It is instead a story of the germination of a seed that was incidentally planted a year ago, and everything went according to the plan.

Transaction record of 69CE. Source: Etherscan.

The 1 million GETH that were worth almost nothing back then suddenly became valuable due to the potential closure announcement of the Goerli faucet. They were finally moved after remaining idle for 365 days, exactly one year. A total of 750,877 GETH was bridged to the Ethereum mainnet on March 8, 2023, of which 527,281 was used to purchase the Cryptopunk.

Who sent the 1 million tokens? Is he the secret buyer?

The address that sent the 1 million GETH is 0xe0a2Bd4258D2768837BAa26A28fE71Dc079f84c7 and is known as q9f or Afri, a legendary yet mysterious code developer. Unlike Vitalik Buterin and Gavin Wood, the founders of Ethereum and Polkadot, respectively, little to nothing is known about Afri.

Rumors say this is Afri’s Twitter account.

As of writing, there is still a lot of GETH moving in and out of the q6f address. No one really knows how many other wallets that q9f might have held that he had dispersed years ago. Some speculate that the secret Cryptopunk buyer, 69CE, is the same person who sent the 1 million GETH – q9f himself.

You might be able to repeat history!

If you are not new to blockchain, you might know something called a “faucet”. A faucet in the crypto space refers to an app or website that gives out small crypto tokens (often testnet tokens) for users to have a sufficient native token to act as gas fees and to interact with the testnet. There are numerous ways for an ordinary user to claim testnet tokens daily, and Bitget Wallet (Previously BitKeep) is here to share them with you.

1. Goerli Faucet (0.1 GETH)

2. Goerli PoW Faucet (1.5 GETH)

3. QuickNode (0.25 GETH)

Claiming from the faucet can be a test of patience these days. The Goerli PoW Faucet currently offers the most GETH, but it requires mining through your web browser, and you are likely unable to do other tasks as it eats up your computer’s RAM. Depending on the speed of your machine, it can take 2 to 3 hours to mine the full 1.5 GETH. Although you need to be away from your keyboard and leave your browser running, it is the most practical way to claim testnet tokens for now.

Assuming you manage to claim 1.85 GETH per account per day, you’ll need 527,281 GETH to repeat the feat of today’s protagonist. That’s the equivalent of 285,017 days (or 780 years) of faucet claiming. If you have 100 machines working at 185 GETH per day, you can speed up the projection by a hundred times, but it will still take 7.8 years. In other words, an ordinary user like you and I probably won’t make it, but scripters might be able to do so. However, it’s worth noting that GETH has to be worth at least $0.2 to make this wonder possible.

Slowly but surely.

Needless to say, the purchase of a CryptoPunk NFT using worthless testnet tokens has sparked much interest in testnets. It has shown that testnets are not just for developers and testers to experiment with but also for the wider crypto community to explore new possibilities and potential use cases. While it requires patience and effort to claim testnet tokens, it offers a valuable opportunity, and arguably free, way to explore the potential of blockchain technology and the possibilities of testnets.

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