Beginner’s Guide to Token Standards – Ethereum, NEO & Tron

Beginner’s Guide / 28.12.2019

For any person, entity, project or organization looking to explore the uses of Blockchain and eventually issuing a token on them, they must investigate several methods by which the tokens can be issued. Be it an ICO, a collectible, a utility token or a security, the creators have to be aware of the best protocol out there for attaining maximum utility.

Token Standards are a set of guidelines proposed by Blockchain Protocols that allow the generation of Tokens. A Token Standard must be kept in mind while initiating a token system, based on the utility of the project. Each token standard mentioned below is suitable for a particular use case, ranging from the creation of Smart Contracts to establishing a security for an organization or project.

As more and more token standards emerge, each one will roll out new features and bug fixes for the existing tokens. Choosing which digital token to use in your blockchain project is essential to ensure your platform delivers the most value to end-users. Whether you’re launching a, ICO/IEO/STO or tokenizing medical records, getting the “tokenomics” right is a vital step to launch a successful product.

For the reference of our readers, we have taken up the task of formulating a list of the most proficient token standards put forward by the communities of Ethereum, Tron and NEO. Each standard has been simplified for the greatest perception for our readers.

Let us look into some of the best Token Standards available in the Blockchain Sector:

Ethereum – The ERC Standard

Ethereum is basically a Smart Contract platform. It allows its users to leverage the capabilities of its native Blockchain, to come up with projects of their own. To issue Ethereum based tokens, Ethereum has released several Token Standards or Guidelines that can be used to issue tokens based on the use case. Token Standards on the Ethereum Blockchain are termed as ERC or Ethereum Request for Comments.

Briefly, ERCs are technical documents used by smart contract developers. They contain a set of rules required to implement tokens for the Ethereum ecosystem. These documents are usually created by developers and include information about protocol specifications and contract descriptions.

Before becoming a standard, an ERC must be revised, commented and accepted by the community through an EIP (Ethereum Improvement Proposal). One should note that most proposals are not accepted by the community. Only peer review Proposals are in the end, converted into standards.

There are several dozen standards proposed on the Ethereum Network. Some of them being

  • ECR – 20
  • ERC – 223
  • ERC – 1400
  • WRC – 1404
  • ERC – 777
  • ERC – 721
  • ERC – 1155
  • ERC – 671 and so on.

Below, we’ve listed the most common token standards in use today.

ERC – 20

Among the most common and functional ERC token types is the ERC-20. ERC – 20 is more commonly known as the ICO token. More than 80% of the ICOs launched post 2017 have been on the ERC – 20 standard.

ERC – 20 has known to be widely used because of its simplicity. Simple functions within the standard allow developers to limit the total supply, customize use, implement generation process, etc. These functions form a key consideration in the tokenomics model of any project.  The Standard also allows users to transfer tokens easily.

Some of the major projects developed on ERC – 20 are

  • Augur
  • GNT
  • Storj

ERC – 721

ERC-721 is the seven hundred and twenty-first proposal in the Ethereum proposal process (EIPs) to standardize how applications can be developed and customized. Unlike the ERC-20, ERC-721 tokens are non-fungible and allow greater flexibility. In simple words, each token has a different value in the system. ERC-721 is a free, open standard, that describes how to build non-fungible or unique tokens. While most tokens are fungible (every token is the same as every other token), ERC-721 tokens are all unique. It is trickier in the ERC – 721 standard to get UI/UX right, as it allows for greater customization.

“ERC-721 defines a minimum interface a smart contract must implement to allow unique tokens to be managed, owned, and traded. It does not mandate a standard for token metadata or restrict adding supplemental functions.”

The applications or use-cases of the standard are diverse. Any project that might need uniqueness or diversity among its tokens can opt for the standard. Think of them like rare, one-of-a-kind collectables. One of most famous examples of ERC – 721 based project is the famous CryptoKitties Dapp. It distributes collectible kittens on the blockchain.

ERC – 777

Considered as an alternative for ERC – 20, and just as the ERC – 227 offers bug fixes for the ERC-20 token standard, the ERC – 777 digital token proposes more ways to improve blockchain usability. This digital token adds several more functions to the popular ERC – 20 token standard. One of the most innovative is the option to mint or burn tokens, which may be a necessary feature, depending on a project’s tokenomics model.

ERC – 1404

ERC – 1404 is a standard developed by the company, Tokensoft. ERC-1404 adds one simple function to ERC-20 tokens with a few lines of code. With ERC-1404, the token issuer can restrict the transfer of those tokens, depending on the project’s needs and the regulation of their jurisdiction.

The Tron Ecosystem

Just like Ethereum, the Tron Network also boasts a couple guidelines for the issuance of Tokens and Smart Contracts. Although not as diverse, the Tron network shows a formidable competitor for the Ethereum Network.

In the TRON network, every account is capable of issuing tokens at the expense of 1024 TRX. Users can lock their tokens in separately. To issue tokens, the issuer needs to specify a token name, total capitalization, the exchange rate to TRX, circulation duration, description, website, maximum bandwidth points consumption per account, total bandwidth points consumption, and token freeze. TRC – 10 and TRC – 20 are the only fully functional standards available on the Tron Network.

While there are not many tokens built on Tron that have been acclaimed, it does pose itself as a ready alternative for projects in the future.

TRC – 10

The easiness of issuing a TRC10 token makes TRC10 a great way for teams to gauge interest in their project without spending a lot of money on development.

One does not need any coding experience to implement and use the TRC – 10 standard. It is very user friendly, boasts simplicity, but is limited in its functionality. The transaction fee of the TRC – 10 tokens are almost 1000 times lower than the tokens on the TRC – 20.

TRC10 is already used in high profile projects like BitTorrent Token (BTT), which allows faster downloads on BitTorrent. The BitTorrent network runs on the TRC – 10 standard as it allows greater speed and fast transaction time. This is best suited for BitTorrent, as the project boasts a total of 100 million members on its network.

TRC – 20

While TRC – 10 is a simple token standard on the Tron Network, the TRC – 20 is a smart contract standard. It allows for much greater customization and complexity. TRC20 gives Tron-based tokens more functionality, as TRC20 tokens are used in smart contracts. TRC20 token standard makes it convenient for everyone to make conditional & instant transactions. In fact, deploying a TRC20 token is not very easy. It demands the knowledge of developing smart contracts, which are again more complicated with the currently available tools.

For example, a Tron-based project might automatically issue more of its TRC20 tokens to early purchasers by programming such an early purchase bonus into the token’s smart contract. TRC – 20 also allows the functioning of a Virtual Machine (VM). A VM is a machine that leverages the computation of a distributed database network, such as that of Tron, to do computation.

NEO and its Standard

Dubbed as the Chinese Ethereum, NEO is a development platform which facilitates the deployment of other networks through its own platform. Like Ethereum, the NEO blockchain allows for creation of smart contracts and customizable application.

What makes NEP Tokens fundamentally valuable or special is the fact that they contribute to the NEO ecosystem. The idea is that, the more NEP tokens that are running on the platform, the stronger the NEO ecosystem grows. The stronger that NEO and the NEO community gets, the more potential there is for growth in both price and innovation.

NEP5

NEP stands for “NEO Enhancement Protocol.” The number “5” is simply a revision that everyone has agreed upon. It is also the version through which the enhancements are added to the platform. This revision also added the support for NEO powered cryptocurrency tokens, similar to what Ethereum was doing until now. NEP-5 tokens are to NEO what ERC20 Tokens are to Ethereum: Tokens that are created on their respective networks to conform to their specific standards.

NEP-5 is the standard for tokens to run on the NEO blockchain. For now, all tokens on the NEO network are built to the NEP-5 standard, allowing potential projects to be able to use the NEO blockchain to grow their ecosystem. NEP5 manages the standard of NEO tokens. It is a protocol that governs how NEO token is developed, shared and behaves in the NEO network. If a developer wants to circulate his own token, then he has to meet the NEP-5 standard.

The biggest disadvantage with NEP is that it takes greater resources to deploy a NEP-5 token, while similar standards such as ERC-20 or TRC – 10 do not cost as much.

Ontology is probably the most well-known project built on NEP-5. The Ontology project promises businesses of all sizes the possibility to deploy their own blockchain solutions without having extensive knowledge of how blockchain works. The project will provide complete support for public blockchains and updated smart contracts.

Together with NEO, the project aims to also connect these blockchain platforms with similar and complementary platforms in the future, in order to create an ecosystem which works alongside NEO.

Conclusion

With hundreds of new projects coming up daily, it is obvious that they will be looking at already existing protocols to help with their propagation. Having knowledge about various Standards across various Blockchains will help the project developers formulate plans and issuance schemes, while ultimately enabling them to choose the Standard that is best suitable to their needs.

While most projects today usually favor Ethereum, as there has been higher development when compared to the others, there is much room for Tron, NEO and others to grow. As more traction flows in, the need to develop and diversify guideline will grow. Having a full functional ecosystem that is simple, yet flexible, will take any blockchain to much greater heights.

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Sudarshan M is a long time crypto-enthusiast. Pulled in by bitcoin early on, it did not take long for Sudarshan to divert all of his academic attention from business studies to blockchain by doing his Masters and eventually pursuing his PhD in the subject.