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to me ERC-20 tokens are a sub-class of Ether, yet they are referred to as "non-native tokens". Why would they be called non-native? What would be native in the Ethereum sense then?

Cardano-based tokens, on the other hand, to be released on Monday on the Cardano blockchain's Mary Hard Fork, are referred to as "native tokens". Why do Cardano tokens get to be called native tokens, whereas ERC-20 tokens are called non-native?

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    Almost certainly semantics, probably limited to a specific publication/source, and made worse by conflating "coin" and "token". (e.g. Some people will call ETH the native token of Ethereum, while others would call it the coin or currency. The former group would then distinguish ETH from ERC-20 and other contract-based tokens using the "non-native" label.) Do you have an example of where you've seen ERC-20 tokens referred to as non-native? – Richard Horrocks Feb 26 at 22:07
  • this video says that with ethereum, a smart-contract is required to make or interact with a "non-native token" which costs fees. Cardano cuts out the need for a smart contract making "native tokens" costless youtube.com/watch?v=PVqsCXh-V5Y – user610620 Mar 2 at 1:11
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    (Sorry, missed that you'd replied to this.) Okay, I think this term must be a Cardano-specific one (at least for now). I don't think anyone in the Ethereum community would make the distinction between native and non-native, at least not until Cardano's ideas become more widespread :-) – Richard Horrocks Mar 8 at 20:10
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A native or intrinsic token is known to the underlying platform, which stores and maintains its balances. From the yellow paper:

Ethereum has an intrinsic currency, Ether. [...] Accounts have an intrinsic balance and transaction count maintained as part of the Ethereum state.

A non-native token is deployed as a smart contract and balances are stored in a data-structure in the storage space of that contract.

ETH is the only native token, all ERC-20 and other tokens are just smart contracts with databases of balances inside. They can be seen as implemented in "userland".

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