Token vs Coin: What's the Difference?

News Publisher  Mar 18, 2024 16:32  UTC 08:32

4 Min Read

Token vs Coin: What's the Difference?


Crypto coins and tokens are two commonly used but distinct types of digital assets. Both can be accepted as payments via a crypto payment gateway. It's essential to learn their differences to understand the principles of the cryptocurrency world. This guide aims to clarify the distinctions between coin vs token, their creation processes, and their roles within the crypto ecosystem.


What is a Crypto Coin?


Crypto coins are digital assets that use their own blockchain networks. This means they are separate from other cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies. Most crypto coins are used as money to buy and sell things, and they can also be stored as investments, like gold or stocks.


How are Crypto Coins Created?


The production of cryptocurrencies follows the instructions coded into the algorithms of their underlying blockchains. For example, Bitcoin is created using the Proof of Work (PoW) method. In contrast, Ethereum, another well-known cryptocurrency, has switched from PoW to a Proof of Stake (PoS) system for issuing new coins.


Examples of Popular Crypto Coins



The pioneer of cryptocurrencies, BTC remains the most renowned and widely accepted digital currency, known for its decentralized nature and robust security features.



ETH serves as both a medium of exchange and fuel for executing smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps).


   Binance Coin

BNB is utilized within the Binance ecosystem for discounted trading fees, participation in token sales, and access to various services.



DOGE, inspired by the popular Doge meme, gained traction for its community-driven and light-hearted approach.


What is a Crypto Token?


Crypto tokens are assets hosted on existing blockchain networks and typically represent secondary assets within their respective ecosystems. They rely on blockchains supporting smart contract functionality, enabling the creation of programmable assets with specific use cases.


Types of Crypto Tokens


There are four main types of tokens:


   Utility Token

Provide access to specific functionalities or services within a platform.

   Governance Token

Grant holders voting rights over protocol changes and community governance.

   Security Token

Digitally represent securities such as bonds or real estate. Equity token is another example.

   Non-Fungible Token (NFT)

Certify ownership of digital collectibles, art, music, and other unique assets on the blockchain.


How are Crypto Tokens Created?


Tokens are typically pre-mined, allowing developers to create various economic models. Using smart contracts, developers establish the total supply upon creation, while the circulating supply dynamics are determined by the chosen model.


Examples of Popular Crypto Tokens



USDT is the largest stablecoin, tethered to the value of the US dollar.



UNI serves as the governance token for the Uniswap protocol, which is a decentralized exchange facilitating token swaps.



ARB functions as the governance token for Arbitrum, a layer-two blockchain solution for Ethereum.


The Key Differences Between Tokens and Coins


While tokens are easier to create, they generally have lower trading volumes. In contrast, coins tend to have larger trading volumes and greater liquidity.


Use Cases and Purpose


For example, Bitcoin initially emerged as an alternative to traditional fiat currencies, aiming to serve various purposes similar to paper money and coins. This includes storing value, facilitating exchanges, making payments for goods and services, and enabling P2P transfers.


Crypto tokens are typically tailored for utilization within specific blockchain projects or dApps. They are not mined but created and distributed by project developers and can serve a lot of purposes within their respective ecosystems.


Underlying Technology


Coins have their own dedicated blockchain, while tokens are built on top of existing blockchain networks. Tokens also often use multiple blockchains.


The availability of hardware and software resources affects the methods used to acquire various types of digital assets. While cryptocurrency coins can be created through mining or staking by anyone with the necessary equipment, tokens are typically controlled by their developers or creators, who have the ability to generate the entire supply at once.


Supply and Distribution


Coins, such as Bitcoin, are created through mining, where people have to solve complex math problems to secure the network. New coins are released gradually based on a set schedule, keeping the supply under control. Tokens, on the other hand, are created by project creators and distributed through initial coin offerings (ICOs) or token sales.


Stablecoins: Coins or Tokens?


Stablecoins are a significant component of the cryptocurrency market. They are pegged to fiat currencies like the US dollar to maintain stability. Despite their name suggesting they are coins, stablecoins are technically tokens. For instance, Tether, initially an ERC-20 token, illustrates this distinction.


The Role of Tokens and Coins in Decentralized Finance (DeFi)


Coins and tokens play integral roles in DeFi, serving as the building blocks of innovative financial protocols and platforms. Let’s explore how these digital assets contribute to the decentralized ecosystem.


Tokens in DeFi


DeFi thrives on the ability of smart contracts to make different tokens work together. This allows for easy transactions and new services in finance. Tokens power many different kinds of DeFi platforms, not just exchanges.


Coins in DeFi


Digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are essential building blocks for DeFi. They provide liquidity and value to the ecosystem. DeFi platforms use these currencies for securing loans in lending agreements, creating liquidity pools in decentralized exchanges, and so on.


Investing in Tokens vs Coins: What to Consider


From risk tolerance to investment goals, understanding the nuances between investing in tokens versus coins can significantly impact portfolio performance.


Liquidity and Market Capitalization


Generally, coins tend to have higher liquidity than tokens, as they often have larger trading volumes and more established markets. Higher liquidity can provide investors with greater flexibility and faster execution of trades. Coins with higher market capitalization typically have greater stability and are perceived as less risky investments.


Utility and Real-World Use Cases


Tokens are frequently utilized to raise funds for blockchain initiatives. Coins commonly serve as the foundational currency within a blockchain network, facilitating transactions for goods and services. However, certain tokens may also offer governance voting rights or access to unique platform features.


Regulatory Landscape


While some countries have embraced digital assets and enacted clear regulations to govern their use, others have adopted a more cautious approach or implemented outright bans. Regulatory uncertainty remains a significant challenge for investors and industry participants, influencing factors such as market accessibility, compliance requirements, and investor protection measures.


Future of Tokens and Coins in Web3 and Beyond


With the evolution of blockchain, tokens and coins will become even more important in shaping the future of Web3. Tokens will power DeFi, allowing assets to be digitized and traded. Coins will remain essential as methods of payment and for controlling blockchain platforms. Advancements like non-fungible tokens and interoperability between different blockchains will fuel the growth of the digital economy through coins and crypto tokens.




Is Ethereum a coin or token?

ETH is the native coin of the Ethereum blockchain, functioning similarly to Bitcoin as a medium of exchange and store of value. However, Ethereum's design allows for smart contract functionality and dApp development.


Can a token become a coin?

Yes, a token can evolve into a coin by migrating to its own purpose-built blockchain network.


Why use a token instead of a coin?

Tokens offer more flexibility for specific use cases and functionalities within a blockchain ecosystem. They are often utilized for trading and accessing unique features or services, while coins primarily serve as investment or transactional assets.

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