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ERC-721

ERC-721 stands for Ethereum Request for Comment 721 and represents a free, open standard that describes how to build non-fungible or unique tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. While most tokens are fungible (every token is the same as every other token), ERC-721 tokens are all unique.

Key Features:

  1. Non-Fungibility: Each ERC-721 token is distinct and can’t be exchanged on a 1:1 basis with any other ERC-721 token. This is in contrast to fungible tokens like ERC-20, where each token is identical to every other token.
  2. Metadata: ERC-721 allows for optional metadata for each token, meaning each token can have specific attributes or details associated with it.
  3. Transferability: Like other tokens, ERC-721 tokens can be transferred between accounts.

Standard Functions:

  • balanceOf(address _owner): Returns the count of all tokens held by _owner.
  • ownerOf(uint256 _tokenId): Returns the owner of the _tokenId.
  • safeTransferFrom(address _from, address _to, uint256 _tokenId, bytes data): Safely transfers the ownership of a given token ID to another address.
  • transferFrom(address _from, address _to, uint256 _tokenId): Transfers the ownership of a given token ID to another address.
  • approve(address _approved, uint256 _tokenId): Approves another address to transfer the given token ID.
  • getApproved(uint256 _tokenId): Returns the approved address for a token ID, or zero if no address set.

Benefits:

  • Uniqueness: Each token has distinct information or attributes, making them ideal for representing unique assets like collectibles, real estate, or artwork.
  • Interoperability: ERC-721 tokens can be used across different applications and platforms, such as games, marketplaces, and wallets.
  • Ownership: ERC-721 tokens prove ownership of a unique item or piece of content, often used for digital collectibles.

Challenges:

  • Complexity: Managing individual unique tokens can be more complex than managing fungible tokens.
  • Liquidity: Due to their unique nature, some ERC-721 tokens might not be as liquid as fungible tokens.

Examples:

  • CryptoKitties: One of the first and most well-known implementations of ERC-721, where each token represented a unique virtual cat that could be bred, collected, and sold.
  • Decentraland: A virtual world where each parcel of land is represented as a unique ERC-721 token.
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