Elements Alpha

To make it easy for the community to test the latest Elements, they are deployed on a public sidechain (pegged to Bitcoin’s testnet), Elements Alpha. All code is open source, like Bitcoin itself, and others are encouraged to contribute to the project as we work to improve and add additional Elements. Elements Alpha is intended to be a technology demo and testing environment, but the same tools and practices used to interact with it will integrate with production networks.


Just trying to run an Alpha node to build your prototype? Jump straight to the instructions.

Compiling Alpha from Source


Elements Alpha functions as a sidechain to Bitcoin’s testnet, though the peg mechanism currently works through a centralized protocol adapter, as described in the Sidechains whitepaper. It relies on an auditable federation of signers to manage the testnet coins transferred into the sidechain via the “Deterministic Pegs” Element, and to produce blocks via the “Signed Blocks” Element. This makes it possible to immediately explore the new chain’s possibilities, using different security trade-offs. We plan to, in a later release, upgrade the protocol adapter to support fully decentralized merge-mining of the sidechain, and ultimately to phase in the full 2-way peg mechanism.

Moving coins between Testnet and Alpha

See alpha-README.md for instructions on how to transfer testnet coins to the alpha network and back. Note that there is a lengthy confirmation and contest period that you must wait for a peg transfer to complete.

For your convenience, these faucets allow you to quickly obtain coins on either the testnet or alpha network without the lengthy wait for the confirmation and contest safety periods.


  • Is this an altcoin? No. The key thing to understand about sidechains is value is transferred to/from the main chain. No new coins are created and the total money supply remains constant.