What’s the Difference Between Token vs Coin?

In a world of technological disruption and upheaval, it’s pretty normal for jargon to come thick and fast. Sometimes we name things in a way that makes sense from a particular perspective but is confusing when it comes to the common understanding of terms. When it comes to crypto token vs coin discussions that confusion is especially obvious. These are words we use outside of the cryptocurrency context. They feel familiar, but as you might expect they have a very special meaning here.

Even the fact that we refer to something like Bitcoin as crypto “currency” isn’t entirely accurate. Cryptocurrency is closer to a commodity such as gold in its nature and has (by design) almost nothing to do with modern “fiat” currencies. The big problem is that the token vs coin conversation suffers from people frequently using the terms as if they are interchangeable. This isn’t just a matter of pedantry. Unscrupulous individuals or groups love to use mainstream confusion about hot new technologies to come up with scams. Since there are plenty of people who are high on enthusiasm, but low on fact-checking.

A Blockchain Recap

malware mining blockchain

To understand the difference when it comes to token vs coin, you need to know a few things about the “blockchain“. This is the fundamental technology that makes a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin work. It’s a ledger consisting of a chain of “blocks” that contain verified transactions. Once verified and added to the chain, the records are immutable. No one can change them without rendering the chain invalid. This allows for a system of transaction verification that isn’t under the control of any one institution. The chain also contains the entire possible supply of the cryptocurrency. In other words, the “coins” of something like Bitcoin exist on its blockchain. Which is a key fact when understanding the token vs coin divide.

What Makes a Coin a Coin?


With the basic concept of the blockchain out of the way, we can get to the defining…

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