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  • Tiena Sekharan

What are ERC20 Tokens?

DApps or Decentralised Apps that run on Ethereum use tokens which can function as currency or share in a company or right to buy products of the company or loyalty points.

In the past, every DApp developer who coded a new token, she had to do it from scratch leading to several practical problems:

  • DApp development would take more time as she'd simply be re-inventing the wheel.

  • There were more opportunities for mistakes and bugs which a hacker could exploit.

  • The tokens following different standards wouldn’t be easily interchangeable

  • An Exchange and Wallet would have to create customized code to list every new token.

Clearly, there was a need for a standard that all developers could follow when creating tokens for their DApps.

Presenting - ERC20. 

ERC stands for Ethereum Request for Comments. 20 is simply the proposal identifier. It has played a key role in developing the ICO industry and making cryptocurrencies more mainstream

ERC20 is still not perfect but solves the 4 practical issues mentioned above. In the time it has been around, it has been constantly peer-reviewed and is less prone to bugs than a new code might be. The standard defines rules that apply to all ERC-20 tokens and allows them to interact seamlessly with each other. Exchanges can now add new tokens quite quickly and any wallet that accepts Ether tends to accept all ERC-20 tokens.

Let’s talk technicals.

ERC-20 is the technical standard used for smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain for token implementation. It is a common list of rules that Ethereum tokens must adhere to.

ERC-20 defines 3 optional and 6 mandatory functions for smart contracts:

  • the 3 optional functions are 

    • Token Name- Eg: Crypto Block

    • Symbol - Eg: CRB

    • Decimal Places - Decide how divisible the token is by specifying how many decimal spaces it should support (maximum allowed is 18)

The mandatory functions are:

  • [totalSupply]- Defines the Total Supply of your tokens. Once the limit is reached, no new tokens will be created.

  • [balanceOf]- Returns how many tokens a given address has.

  • [transfer]- Used to take tokens from total token supply and gives it to a user.

  • [transferFrom]- allows transfer of tokens between any 2 users.

  • [approve]- checks transaction against total supply of tokens. This ensures that there are no counterfeit tokens.

  • [allowance]- check if a particular user has enough balance to send tokens to someone else. This ensures that a user can't pretend to have more tokens than she does.

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