Welcome to the thrilling world of cryptocurrency! If you’re into cryptocurrencies, you’ve most likely heard of Ethereum, the second-largest blockchain network after Bitcoin. Ethereum is a platform that allows developers to use its programming language Solidity to create decentralized applications (dApps) and smart contracts.
One of Ethereum’s most important features is its support for custom tokens, which are assets that represent value or utility and can be used in a variety of ways within dApps and smart contracts. ERC-20 is the most widely used token standard on the Ethereum blockchain, and it has completely transformed how we think about digital assets. Let’s learn everything there is to know about ERC-20 tokens.
What is ERC-20?
ERC-20 is an Ethereum blockchain token standard that defines the fundamental functionality of a token. ERC-20 is, at its core, a set of six functions that a token smart contract must implement in order to be compliant with the standard.
Among these functions are:
- total supply: The total supply of the token is returned by this function.
- balance: This function returns the balance of tokens held by a specific address.
- transfer: Tokens can be transferred from one address to another using this function.
- transferFrom: This function enables a third party to transfer tokens from one address to another on the token holder’s behalf.
- approve: This function enables a token holder to authorize a third party to spend their tokens.
- allowance: This function returns the number of tokens that a third party may spend on the token holder’s behalf.
By implementing these functions, ERC-20 tokens will be more easily integrated into dApps and smart contracts, making them more versatile and useful. A dApp, for example, could use an ERC-20 token as a reward for completing specific tasks or as payment for goods and services.
How does ERC-20 work?
Now that we’ve covered what ERC-20 is and its basic functions, let’s look at how ERC-20 tokens work and how they’re technically implemented, especially now that Ethereum has moved to Proof-of-Stake (PoS). On the Ethereum blockchain, a developer creates an ERC-20 token as a smart contract.
A smart contract is a self-executing contract in which the terms of the buyer-seller agreement are directly written into lines of code. Smart contracts, which are a key feature of the Ethereum blockchain, allow trusted transactions and agreements to be carried out automatically with no intermediaries.
When a developer creates an ERC-20 token, they are essentially creating a smart contract that adheres to the ERC-20 standard. They will deploy this smart contract on the Ethereum network, and users will be able to interact with it through their Ethereum wallet. One of the most important characteristics of ERC-20 tokens is their fungibility. Because all ERC-20 tokens adhere to the same standard, users can easily exchange and trade them.
A developer must first write the code for the token’s smart contract in order to create an ERC-20 token. This code includes the six functions mandated by the ERC-20 standard, as well as any additional features or functionality desired by the developer.
After writing the code, the developer deploys the smart contract on an Ethereum testnet, such as Sepolia. This procedure necessitates the payment of a fee in Ether, the Ethereum blockchain’s native cryptocurrency. The developer pays a petrol fee to the Ethereum network nodes that process the transaction.
Why are ERC-20 tokens important?
Now that we’ve looked at how ERC-20 tokens work and how they’re implemented technically, let’s look at why they’re important and how they affect the broader blockchain industry.
ERC-20 tokens are significant because they allow for the development and expansion of decentralized applications (dApps) and decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms. dApps and DeFi platforms use blockchain technology to create new types of financial services that are decentralized, transparent, and available to anyone with an internet connection.
ERC-20 tokens are an important component of these platforms because they allow developers to create custom assets for use in dApps and smart contracts. An ERC-20 token, for example, could be used as a reward for completing specific tasks within a dApp or as a form of payment for goods and services within a DeFi platform.
ERC-20 tokens also open up new avenues for fundraising, such as token generation events, in which a project can raise funds by selling tokens to investors. This has resulted in an explosion of new projects and startups, some of which have become extremely successful.
Another important feature of ERC-20 tokens is their fungibility, which means they are identical in terms of specifications and properties and can be exchanged for one another without losing value or functionality. One DAI token, for example, is interchangeable with any other DAI token, regardless of who owns it or how it was obtained.
The ERC-20 standard, which defines a set of rules and functions for creating and issuing tokens on the Ethereum blockchain, enables this fungibility. These rules ensure that all tokens created in accordance with the standard have the same properties and functionality, allowing them to be exchanged one for one.
Challenges and Limitations of ERC-20 Tokens
While ERC-20 tokens have opened up a plethora of exciting new possibilities for innovation and decentralized finance, there are still some challenges and limitations to consider. Scalability is one of the most difficult challenges for ERC-20 tokens.
The number of transactions and smart contracts executed on the Ethereum network has increased in tandem with the network’s popularity. Congestion and higher fees may result, in making it difficult for some users to interact with ERC-20 tokens in a cost-effective manner.
Another challenge of ERC-20 tokens is security. Smart contracts are vulnerable to a wide range of security risks, such as coding errors or vulnerabilities. These risks can be exacerbated in the case of ERC-20 tokens, where millions of dollars worth of value may be at stake. To help mitigate these risks, the Ethereum community has developed a number of best practices and standards for smart contract development. Additionally, tools such as formal verification and auditing can be used to identify and address potential security vulnerabilities before they become a problem.