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I've heard in various talks, Ethereum can generate any token (besides ether), representing anything from bitcoin (through btc-relay), litecoin, dogecoin, digital assets, shares, ownership representation or other crypto coins. How is this done? How can Ethereum distribute other digital tokens as a reword for mining and supporting the network? Is this possible now or only when Serenity is implemented?

  • An important note is that tokens are not really associated with an owner directly. They are simply a number in a smart contract's storage representing the current balance of a given address. Even now, one could choose to pay for gas using any token, but you would need to form an agreement with miners, who would need to slightly modify their clients – Tjaden Hess Oct 4 '16 at 3:15
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But how can this be done in Ethereum? Is there a tutorial on how to get my own digital token setup?

2019 Answer

The most robust, trusted token contracts are those created by Zeppelin. While the ERC-20 (or ERC-721 for non-fungible tokens) is standard, there are some things you can adjust, add, remove that can open your contract up to security flaws or make it not compatible with standard wallets.

2016 Answer Because History

On Ethereum, they are known as tokens. The most thorough tutorial on setting up your own token that I have found on tokens is this one, on the official website. If that link ever goes down, you can also view it on the public GitHub repo here.

If you just want the code, here is a sample token contract gist.

You can watch any number of existing tokens via Mist / Ethereum Wallet, given that you know their address. Go to the contracts tab, click "Watch Token", enter the address, and the details will be automatically loaded. You can see this here with the Unicorn token:

Unicorn Tokens

You can also use the Token Factory Dapp, created by ConsenSys: https://media.consensys.net/how-to-create-your-own-tokens-standard-token-factory-for-humans-deployed-e92649a1bb5e

Or here: http://tokenfactory.surge.sh/#/

Install MetaMask to use it in your browser.


And is there a a place I can browse these digital assets that others have setup?

2019 Answer

  • Etherscan, the best blockchain explorer or all the blockchain explorers, has tokens galore. It will automatically show you ERC-20 or ERC-721 tokens you have sent or received from your account (or any account).

  • Ethplorer is another good way to browse tokens and see what tokens are being moved the most.

  • You can see which tokens did best during the 2017 ICO bull run via ICOStats. Click the tiny "ERC-20 Only" at the top to see only Ethereum-based tokens.

  • You can also use the search bar on Etherscan and start typing a name to see some random tokens.

  • You can also see tokens and their information in this open-source library / list of tokens here: https://github.com/ethereum-lists/tokens/tree/master/tokens/eth

2016 Answer Because History

In March 2016, a guy went ahead and tried to discover a bunch of tokens and did fairly well. He found 272 tokens on the blockchain, most of which seemed to be created using the above gist or tutorial.

You could obviously run this script to discover more tokens that have been added more recently. If you do, perhaps do a pull request to update the .txt output. :)

More recently, a site https://ethplorer.io/ was set up that is intended to be a token explorer. There is not currently any easy way to browse, but it does do well as a lookup-device.

  • I've audited many token contracts (and have written several) and may say for sure that Zeppelin's contracts are not among the best. – Mikhail Vladimirov Apr 18 at 8:43
  • @MikhailVladimirov I must be misinformed. Someone just drew my attention to how out of date my previous answer was. Would you like to edit my answer and provide alternative token contracts / recommendations? – tayvano Apr 18 at 8:50
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Tokens in Ethereum can be created and managed via smart contracts. Anyone can come up with an idea of token, write a contract and 'launch' it. However, if you do not want to program but still want token, you can do it in the Ethereum GUI application, as described in this blog post:

https://blog.ethereum.org/2015/12/03/how-to-build-your-own-cryptocurrency/

You might also like to watch this presentation about tokens on the Ethereum DEVCON1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE5oGw8oKsY

  • Really like your answers! It's usally a good yeah to also summarize your links so ppl can learn more from your response. – high110 Jan 23 '16 at 23:19
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I've heard in various talks, Ethereum can generate any token (besides ether), representing anything from bitcoin (through btc-relay), litecoin, dogecoin, digital assets, shares, ownership representation or other crypto coins. How is this done?

It is true that many different lightweight crypto currencies (known as tokens) may live on a single Ethereum blockchain. Each such token may have its own rules of emissions, circulation, and use. Some of these tokens may represent assets circulating outside Ethereum, such as Bitcoin, Apple shares, or USD. Usually, tokens represent real assets in the same way as USDT represents USD on Bitcoin blockchain, i.e. there is somebody who promise to exchange tokens to real assents and back.

How can Ethereum distribute other digital tokens as a reword for mining and supporting the network? Is this possible now or only when Serenity is implemented?

As for now, miners usually receive reward in ether only. Serenity will put a layer of abstraction that supposed to change this, so miner will be able to charge transaction fees in tokens, but block reward will still be in ether.

Though, even now it is possible to design token smart contract that allows paying fees for token transfers in tokens. One example of such contract is the contract implementing EURS tokens.

Disclaimer: I'm the author of EURS smart contract.

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