If you do crypto, you’ll have heard about token standards. Ever wondered what the deal is with ERC-1155 or ERC-721? Worry no more. In this article, we’re going to take a look at two particular token standards and how they compare against each other. Read on to see how ERC-1155 fares against ERC-865!
What Is An ERC Token Standard?
Before we get into the comparison, we first have to know what we’re dealing with. ERC-1155 and ERC-865 are both Ethereum token standards. What does that mean?
A token standard is a set of rules that Ethereum-based tokens must comply with so that they can access the blockchain. Following these standards means that the token can function as required, being created, issued, and deployed on the blockchain, and can communicate with different smart contracts.
Token standards are typically presented as ERCs, or “Ethereum Requsts for Comments”. ERC stands for “Ethereum Request for Comment”. That’s what they call the documents that lay out the standards and conventions of working on the Ethereum blockchain. You can compare with the RFC, or “Reqeust For Comments”, as used by the Internet Engineering Task Force to publicize methods, behaviors, research, or innovations related to the Internet. ERCs cover tokens, wallets, smart contracts, and so on.
The two ERCs you’re most likely to encounter are ERC-20 and ERC-721. ERC-20 is the most common standard that covers fungible tokens, while ERC-721 is the usual standard for NFTs. If you’ve handled any Ethereum, you have likely handled something covered by either of these two ERCs. If you do a lot of crypto, it’s possible you may have handled a token covered by a different ERC.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of some ERCs you are likely to encounter:
- ERC-20: The most widespread token standard for cryptocurrencies.
- ERC-721: The most widespread token standard that governs non-fungible tokens and other digital assets.
- ERC-1155: A token standard developed for gaming that can govern both fungible and non-fungible tokens.
- ERC-223: A token standard developed to fix a fatal fault in ERC-20 that resulted in millions of dollars of tokens lost.
- ERC-827: A token standard developed to fix a fatal fault in ERC-20 that resulted in millions of dollars of tokens lost.
- ERC-865: A token standard intended to help newcomers to crypto by abstracting away gas fees as part of the transaction.
- ERC-875: A token standard allowing for batch transfers of NFTs.
- ERC-998: A token standard developed to collect and manage fungible and non-fungible tokens.
- ERC-1337: A token standard developed to enable subscription models for blockchain businesses.
Now that we know what we’re dealing with, let’s go into the two stars of this article.
The ERC-1155 Token Standard
The value of a standard is that instead of building an infrastructure from the ground up, you can simply use the standard and be that much further ahead. The thing is that there are some cases where the existing standards don’t fit, requiring a new standard to be created to better fit the need. ERC-1155 is one example of this.
The Importance Of Gaming
In this day and age, video games are an essential part of any online environment. Other non-game apps are even taking features and trappings for themselves. Many apps these days offer a ‘gamified’ experience. And that of course means that developers have to consider games when making crypto ecosystems.
You can put a game on the blockchain so that both the developers and users gain the benefits. But that also carries with it some downsides, which we’ll go into.
A game on the blockchain can store its resources and items as tokens. Health, money, minerals, and similar other resources can be fungible tokens, while items, weapons, outfits, and others can be NFTs. These can be transferred and transacted as needed.
Under current token standards, it is difficult to transact with different kinds of tokens. Each kind of token and each individual NFT will require a different smart contract to handle its business. This is fine for [other] operations, but not for a game. If a game has to have twenty different smart contracts to do the normal course of business, there will be too many operations going on, which drives gas prices up and computing efficiency down.
Think of it this way. You’re at a store buying a shirt, a skirt, and shoes. When you go to check out, the cashier can only ring up one item at a time, scanning and taking payment and giving you a receipt, individually for each item. So you walk away with three different bags, three different receipts, and three charges on your credit card.
It’d be so much better if all three could be checked out at the same time, since it’d save on time, energy, receipt paper, and credit card fees. This exact solution is why ERC-1155 was created.
A New Standard
ERC-1155 was introduced in 2019 by the Enjin team. One of Enjin’s main focuses is blockchain gaming, and thus figuring out how to make it work took up a significant amount of their time and attention. They encountered the above-stated problems with ERC-20 and ERC-721, and then set about creating a solution that could also be used by future blockchain games.
ERC-1155 is the result of their labour. It incorporates a range of features that make it ideal in handling token transactions within and relating to blockchain games.
This is ERC-1155’s standout feature, the one that makes everything else possible. Unlike other token standards, ERC-1155 is designed from the ground up to be capable of governing multiple token types. Whether it’s fungible, non-fungible, or semi-fungible, ERC-1155 can handle them all. Just as importantly, ERC-1155 can handle any number of token types without any limits.
This allows a single smart contract to handle all the tokens that a game may need to transfer, instead of having to set up multiple smart contracts for every token type and NFT that arises in-game. This cuts down on gas fees and keeps computing efficiency high.
ERC-1155 also supports semi-fungible tokens, which have attributes of both fungible and non-fungible tokens. They’re kind of like tickets to a concert or similar event. Before it happens, a ticket is a fungible asset. You can get in using any kind of ticket. There might be different admission types, but you get into the event anyway. Afterwards, the ticket has no further value except as a souvenir of the event. Semi-fungible tokens function similarly.
With NFTs, each and every token is unique and distinct from all other NFTs. SFTs maintain the distinction, but not the quantity. Possible applications are community membership passes or in-game items.
The above two features are ERC-1155’s headline features, but they are certainly not the only ones available to it. Here are some more.
- Batch Transfers: You can move different types of tokens in a single transaction instead of doing separate transactions for each token type.
- Batch Balance: You can check the balance of all contained digital assets in a single call.
- Batch Approval: If you have a transaction containing multiple types of tokens, you can approve the entire transaction instead of having to do it for every separate token type.
- NFT Support: A transaction containing a token whose supply is 1 is assumed to be an NFT and is treated as such.
- Safe Transfer Rules: Any transaction that trips an error or is improperly filled out gets automatically reverted.
Given all these features, which projects are best-placed to use ERC-1155?
First up is what Enjin designed it for: Blockchain video games. After all, ERC-1155 was specifically created to answer problems that arose from putting games on the blockchain. Any game on the blockchain that wants to take full advantage of being there can use ERC-1155 to its full potential. It has a wide range of features that game developers can use to make a better play experience for their users.
However, ERC-1155 has more applications beyond just gaming. Just about any project that may need to transact with multiple token types can use ERC-1155. Decentralized applications (dApps) are a good example. Many dApps use both fungible and non-fungible tokens, but the most common standards for either type, ERC-20 and ERC-721, are incompatible with each other. ERC-1155 can handle both without having to make a complicated linking system to handle these two different standards. Thus, programming the project becomes a lot less complex, and it’s much easier to use.
Crypto marketplaces can also get a lot out of ERC-1155. The multi-token standard and batch transfer capabilities will increase efficiency and lower gas fees, making a market more attractive to buyers. Further, since there’s no limit to how many tokens an ERC-1155 smart contract can control, a user can create new items without having to work up a new contract. Users can also take advantage of SFTs, giving them more to offer their buyers.
ERC-1155 has not yet been widely adopted. However, given how it answers the limitations of other token standards, it is likely to see greater adoption in the coming years. Enjin has already demonstrated ERC-1155’s capabilities on its games and marketplaces. Enjin has been doing enough that their Enjin Coin is one of the fastest-growing crypto tokens in recent years, so it is extremely likely that we’ll see more of ERC-1155 soon.
The ERC-865 Token Standard
To explain ERC-865, we first have to talk about gas fees.
Gas fees are the charges required to conduct a transaction or execute a contract on the Ethereum blockchain. Just as banks have transaction costs and gas stations charge you for fuel to keep your car running, Ethereum needs gas costs to keep the computers powered and making operations on the blockchain.
One problem with gas fees is that they’re charged in ETH. At first glance, this might not seem to be a problem. Who doesn’t have Ethereum coins? How can you not have ETH in your wallet?
But that’s because most crypto users are already familiar with the environment. If crypto is to gain widespread acceptance, the general public will have to get used to the idea. And if we want the general public on our side, we’ll have to make it as easy for them as possible. Which means demystifying some of the things we take for granted about crypto.
This was the goal behind Props: making crypto easy, approachable, and demystified. One of their missions was to bring a crypto token to consumer businesses in the US, which by definition means bringing them to a mainstream audience. They also thought that gas costs would be a confusing experience for first-time crypto users. They considered that having to explain to new users that they needed ETH just to transact with their Props tokens would be discouraging to the new users.
This was why the team behind Props also developed ERC-865. This makes for a smoother user experience, which makes for wider adoption. Props has since been discontinued, but the standard is still there, available for developers to use.
What Does ERC-865 Do?
Now it’s time to look at how exactly ERC-865 does its business.
First, we should be clear. ERC-865 doesn’t aim to eliminate gas fees, since that would be impossible and undercut the Ethereum economy. After all, someone has to pay to keep the lights on. Instead, what it proposes is to make the gas fee invisible. It just disappears into the background of the transaction. The user doesn’t have to think about it. It just gets paid.
ERC-865 performs its disappearing act by introducing a third party, called the ‘delegate’. The delegate has both tokens and ETH. Their role is to pay the ETH gas fee to the miners and to collect the matching amount in tokens from the user. This way, the miner still gets their dues, and the user no longer has to worry about having ETH with which to pay gas fees. The delegate links the two and facilitates the transactions.
How ERC-865 Works
It’s not actually that complicated, and much of it happens behind the scenes. Here’s how it goes.
- The delegate examines the token price and the gas price at the time of transaction, and then quotes to the user a total transaction fee.
- The user agrees to the fee, signs the transaction, and sends the amount in tokens to the delegate.
- The delegate verifies that the transaction parameters are correct and that they’ll get their fee.
- The delegate submits this transaction to the blockchain and pays the gas fee in ETH.
- The token contract checks the validity of the signature.
- After verification, the token contract sends the correct amount of tokens to the recipient and the token fee to the delegate.
All the effort therefore rests on the delegate. The user need not worry about what’s going on, or even need to hold any Ethereum. All they need is enough tokens to pay the total cost. As far as the user is concerned, all they need to do is pay the amount quoted to them. The delegate takes care of everything else outside of the user’s view. Simple, quick, easy.
The delegate may choose to levy a fee for their services, adding it to the transaction costs paid by the user. Alternatively, they may simply process the payment ‘at cost’, with no additional fees. This is entirely up to developer discretion, as ERC-865 allows for both options.
With these features in mind, it’s easy to see which projects can best use ERC-865. Namely, these are public-facing crypto token projects that aim to serve the general public.
This last qualification is important. ERC-865’s convenience is a great aid for the general public, who may not have more crypto holdings than the token they’re using. Tokens aimed at the more ‘typical’ crypto user can more easily assume that such a user is familiar with gas fees and has the ETH to pay for them. Of course, there’s nothing stopping these types of tokens from also supporting ERC-865 and providing a delegate to process payments.
In general, any project that seeks to bring crypto to the public and make it easier to use may find ERC-865 useful. So far, ERC-865 has not yet been widely adopted, and Props has closed down following SEC regulation. However, ERC-865 is available for use by anyone who may wish to take advantage, so their hard work has not been lost.
Now that we know what each standard does, we can better see how they compare against each other. However, we can’t really say which one is ‘better’, as we’ll explain here.
The first major difference between the two is that they’re trying to do two different things. Yes, they’re both token standards and ERCs, but that’s like saying a hammer and a screwdriver are both tools. Both have entirely different aims. ERC-1155 aims to be a clean and elegant solution to the problem of transferring multiple token types in a single transaction. ERC-865 aims to make one type of crypto transaction easier for new users and the general public. They’re not trying to do the same thing.
This also means that their usage cases are very different. To be sure, an ERC-1155 transaction may contain ERC-865 tokens, but their functionalities are unlikely to interact with each other. It is entirely possible for a project to use both, since they’re not trying to do the same thing. The right project could use both token standards for different functionalities – for instance, enabling batch token transfers via ERC-1155, while using ERC-865 to abstract away the gas fees incurred by such.
Further, they also differ in how much they’re trying to do. ERC-1155 aims to provide a full standard that any blockchain game can use. ERC-865 is, by comparison, a minor change to how transactions work. ERC-1155, as you can see, is a lot more expansive than ERC-865.
They also differ in how visible they’re supposed to be. You can see ERC-1155 working, letting games be efficiently put on the blockchain and enabling batch transfers. On the other hand, a good ERC-865 transaction should be completely seamless and invisible. You just pay and that’s the end of it.
Both do have one major similarity: they’re trying to make things easier. ERC-1155 makes transactions of multiple token types easier, while ERC-865 aims for a smoother user experience. They go about it differently, but it’s still the same goal.
Given how different the two token standards are, a direct comparison is apples and oranges. ‘Better’ isn’t a term that can work here. The only ‘better’ that can apply is which token standard is better fit for your project’s purposes. Will you be moving a lot of tokens of various types? Then it’s best to go with ERC-1155. Do you have a token that you want as many people as possible to use? Then ERC-865 will serve you well.
They may have the same aim of making things easier, but ERC-1155 and ERC-865 go about that goal in entirely different ways. ERC-1155 makes handling different token types easier, while ERC-865 answers a potential difficulty in how blockchain transactions work. Two different standards thus fulfill two different functions.
The range of ERC token standards may seem confusing, but they’re easy enough to learn with only a little effort. We can help you understand which ERCs do what, so check out Tokenfy to see how we can assist!