What is ERC-20 token standard?

The most popular token standard on Ethereum and other EVM compatible chains.

By Vadim

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There are many token standards out there. But the most popular and arguably the most useful standard is the ERC-20. The standard was proposed in November 2015 by Fabian Vogelsteller. ERC-20 represents a smart contracts API for tokens. This token is a smart contract itself.

ERC-20 token is similar in some respects to Bitcoin and any other cryptocurrency. ERC-20 tokens are blockchain-based assets, that have their value. They can be sent and received. The most important difference is that instead of running on their own blockchains, ERC-20 tokens can be issued on the network which supports smart contracts, for example, Ethereum.

An ERC20 token contract manages the ledger of fungible tokens. These tokens are alike, and each of them is exactly equal to any other token. These tokens can be thought of as money or shares of a particular class. No tokens have special rights or unique behavior associated with them. This makes ERC20 tokens very useful be a medium of value exchange, voting rights, staking, loyalty points, etc.

When it comes down to API protocols, it is mainly about the functionality which is available via these API calls. So with no exception, the ERC-20 standard provides very specific functions which can be called by a user or by another smart contract. The main functions are:

  • transfer tokens from one account to another
  • get the current token balance of an account
  • get the total supply of the token available on the network
  • approve whether an amount of token from an account can be spent by a third-party account

A full list of the available functional methods can be found directly in the ERC-20 specification .

Compatible wallets

It is very important to know, that not all wallets support ERC-20 tokens. Make sure you are using the ERC-20 wallet . If you use the wrong wallet, you risk losing forever all your tokens.

Notable ERC-20 projects

As it was mentioned before, this token standard is the most popular. It also means there are already great projects which are empowered but the standard.

ERC-20 for developers

OpenZeppelin solidity libraries provide many ERC20-related contracts. On the API reference , you’ll find detailed information on their properties and usage.

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