I'm trying to figure out what happens when you send a value to a contract.

If the destination address (to) is a contract, then the EVM will execute the contract and will attempt to call the function named in the data payload of your transaction. If there is no data in your transaction, the EVM will call a fallback function and, if that function is payable, will execute it to determine what to do next. If there is no code in fallback function, then the effect of the transaction will be to increase the balance of the contract, exactly like a payment to a wallet. If there is no fallback function or non-payable fallback function, then transaction will be reverted.

It's pretty clear what happens when there is a payable function or a fallback payable function; they will be called and the value will be transferred into the contract. But, what does it mean when there is no code in fallback function? Does this mean a function declaration without anything in the body like following?

function() public payable {


Also, how does the effect of the transaction will be to increase the balance of the contract happen behind the scene?

1 Answer 1


The guide is slightly off, as if there is no data in your transaction and you send ether in it, the EVM will first try to call a function receive() payable {...} if you have it. This is a function that handles receiving the ether, but if you want you can omit it and then the EVM will call the fallback function.

The fallback function is what happens when the payload data of the transaction does not fit into any other function in the contract, or if there is no payload in the transaction. The fallback function without code is exactly what you have described: function() public payable {}

"The effect of the transaction will be to increase the balance of the contract" means that the contractAddress.balance will increase by the amount of ether that you have sent. It is automatically done with all the ether that has been sent to the payable functions, thus no code inside the receive or fallback functions is necessary. You only need code there if you want to do extra-stuff.

Hope that covers it.

  • Thank you for your response. So does the order go, first, receive() payable {...}, second, the fall back function, and finally, the value transfer when the previous two doesn't exist? And why do these functions exist when you can transfer the value without them? Is it for assertions and other logic on top of transferring a vale?
    – Kevvv
    Jan 24, 2022 at 7:55
  • No, the fallback function is the last resort. If it does not exist, and none of the previous options in the order did not exist, the contract cannot accept ether. The order is any function that fits the payload data, receive() payable {}, fallback function. The adding of value to the balance of the contract happens only if one of those options is successful. Jan 24, 2022 at 8:04
  • Ah ok. And if I wanted to call receive() payable {}, do I call it like I'm calling a regular function?
    – Kevvv
    Jan 24, 2022 at 8:22
  • You are not supposed to call it. When needed, the EVM will call it if it exists. If you want any other functionality when you receive ether, you should create any other payable function. Jan 24, 2022 at 21:56

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