Every ERC Explained (Part 1): All the Tokens
Simplifying and showcasing ERCs across all EVM chains - starting with tokens.
Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) are design documents to standardize some feature for the Ethereum community. Some standards like EIP1559 and Proof of Stake change the EVM network itself and are "Core" EIPs. There are also application standards such as the ERC20 token that serve as smart contract implementation references - these are categorized as "ERC".
Now this might sound all technical and scary - but I promise that they are actually simple to digest and will bolster your understanding of Ethereum by 1000x!
While I’m sure you’ve seen ERC numbers in the thousands like ERC4337 or ERC6551, there are only 31 of them that are finalized and trackable. I’ve broken them down in the table below:
I have categorized them into the four types:
Tokens: The basic units of account, and is used to represent some value.
Token Extensions: Functionality added on top of different token standards.
Accounts: Simplify or enhance wallets by using smart contracts.
Contract Management: The operational properties of contracts in terms of deploying, permissioning, proxies, etc.
In the table above, you’ll also find directions on how to query for different standards. Some of them Dune already has preset tables for like “erc20_ethereum.evt_Transfer”, others you will need to query from raw tables.
Trends and Examples (Tokens)
Technically, the first ever token is the network token (so ETH for mainnet), and that token does not have a smart contract. The ERC20 standard replicated most of the functionality of a network token into a smart contract standard anyone can deploy (a token with some total supply, some number of decimals of fungibility/divisibility, and can be transferred to any address). We can see that there have historically been about 5k ERC20 tokens deployed a week, with that increasing drastically to 20k a week over the last year. Unsurprisingly, WETH, USDT, and USDC take the top trending spots. Other high volume tokens like XEN and SHIB show up as well, and also the new Arkham token at 0x6e2a43.
The other most significant token is the ERC721 Non-Fungible Token (NFT). We can see the explosion in popularity starting in late 2021, and a significant drop in deployments over the last half year. ENS takes the cake here by a long shot, but if you scroll through you’ll find all the popular PFP collections too.
The lesser known other NFT standard is the ERC1155 Multi Token. This one essentially allows you to make fungible copies of any token id. It found popularity later in the NFT cycle (late 2022) due to open editions.
The ERC777 token is a little more niche, and was mainly developed to add controls over transfers (with a set of Operators and also a registry of approved holders). This standard was taken much further by Consensys in ERC1400 (non-official).
Even more niche is ERC3525, the semi-fungible token. This one allows you to attach an ERC20-esque “value” to any token id. I think the idea of it is really interesting, though the current narrative has pushed this NFT <> value tie to happen in ERC6551 instead (which I’ll cover in depth in the future).
ERC4626 Token Vaults is one to definitely keep your eye on. This is an ERC20 which is minted/burned purely through deposits/withdrawals. Technically, WETH is a token vault though it came before the standard was developed. It’s currently being used by Yearn, Frax, various bridges, and more.
And the final/newest token standard is ERC5192 Minimal Soulbound Token (built off of ERC721). Vitalik first wrote about the idea of a non-transferrable token in early 2022 - and it saw a lot of hype on Twitter but not much adoption yet. The most notable collection here is DeGods, which bridged over from Solana. I believe it has to do with their bridging mechanism in this case - if you bridge it then the token becomes soulbound on the source chain and transferrable on the target chain.
And that’s all on Tokens…
I recommend going and reading the EIP paper for each token so you start getting a sense of how these standards work and build upon each other. I find it extremely fascinating to watch deploy patterns for new standards, as it helps inform me how much of a new standard is hype versus actual momentum.
I’ll be doing more guides on the other standard types (token extensions, accounts, and contract management), so make sure to subscribe to stay in the loop.
If you enjoyed this guide, I’d love if you could also refer a friend!