This article explains what Bitcoin faucets are, if they are worth your time and if you can earn money with them.
Bitcoin faucets are sites that sprinkle their visitors with a small amount of bitcoins for free (typically a few satoshis). All you need to do is to give them an address of your Bitcoin wallet and shortly after you receive a small amount of the virtual currency. Or at least this is the theory.
The idea was pioneered by Gavin Andersen, one of the early Bitcoin evangelists, who set up such a site so that you could get started with Bitcoin without having to start mining.
Bitcoin Faucets in 2017
While writing my « Getting Started with Bitcoin » article, my intention was to use a free bitcoin faucet for you to receive a few satoshis once you have installed Bitcoin Core.
So I googled « free bitcoin faucets », and off I went to find a few faucets that I could use in my tutorial.
In my imagination, all I would have to do was to provide one of my Bitcoin wallet addresses, hit a « Claim Free Satoshis » button, and receive those satoshis in my wallet after few minutes.
Alas, what should have been a simple task quickly became a frustrating experience.
On one of those sites I had to create an account, then solve a captcha to confirm the account creation. Once this was done, I was able to provide them my Bitcoin address, then when I hit the « Claim » button I had to again solve a captcha. After solving the captcha, I was taken to another page but it wasn’t clear if the satoshis were being sent or not.
So I decided to wait and see if the satoshis would arrive into my wallet. But they didn’t. So I went back to the site, had to log in again and solve a captcha again. After browsing the site some more I learned that I could only get my satoshis after a certain threshold was met. And also that payouts only occur twice a week. Very frustrating.
Browsing to a few other bitcoin faucet sites revealed a similar picture. So I gave up using one of those sites but became interested in the business model of Bitcoin faucets.
The Bitcoin Faucet Business Model
It seems that in the beginning, Bitcoin faucets were indeed useful sites run by idealistic Bitcoin enthusiasts. But the Internet being the Internet, once Bitcoin reached an all-time high in USD in 2013, Internet marketeers took over and ruined it.
The business model of a Bitcoin faucet now goes like this: The Internet marketeer builds a faucet site and funds it with a few bitcoins. The site is plastered with ads and if a visitor clicks on one of those ads, a small revenue is generated for the site owner. However, if the visitor only requests a few satoshis and never clicks an ad, the site generates an expense.
So the trick is to get as many visitors as possible to click an ad and at the same time to make it very difficult for the visitor to get his satoshis. Hence all the hoops I had to go through in my earlier attempt with a faucet site without being able to get a payout.
To be fair, the Internet being the Internet, I assume that in the early days Bitcoin faucets quickly got abused by hackers and so it makes sense that some protection is required. But not at the level I experienced.
Earning Money with Bitcoin Faucets
Even after having read all of the above, you might wonder if it still might be worth jumping through all the hoops if it is possible to earn some decent amount of bitcoins by regularly visiting Bitcoin faucets.
Well, I haven’t done the math, but even if you manage to regularly get your payouts from a few Bitcoin faucets, the amounts are so small that I think you can only earn a few cents per day.
In my opinion, nowadays Bitcoins faucets are a waste of time. If you want to get started with Bitcoin, I suggest that you get your first bitcoins from a reputable Bitcoin exchange, such as Kraken or Coinbase.
You will need to register with them and do some paperwork to have your identity verified, but in the long run you will be better off instead of wasting your time on Bitcoin faucets.