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What Is ERC-721? History, Use Cases, and Examples

What Is ERC-721? History, Use Cases, and Examples

What Is ERC-721? History, Use Cases, and Examples

Welcome to our “DEFINITIONS” category, where we break down complex concepts into easy-to-understand terms. Today, we’ll be exploring ERC-721, an important standard in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. If you’ve ever wondered what ERC-721 is and how it works, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways:

  • ERC-721 is a standard for creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the Ethereum blockchain.
  • Unlike ERC-20 tokens, which are identical and interchangeable, ERC-721 tokens are unique and indivisible.

A Brief History of ERC-721

ERC-721, which stands for “Ethereum Request for Comments 721,” was proposed by William Entriken, Dieter Shirley, Jacob Evans, and Nastassia Sachs in 2017. It gained significant attention and became an official Ethereum standard in February 2018.

One of the earliest and most well-known applications of ERC-721 is CryptoKitties, a virtual game where players can breed, collect, and trade unique digital cats. The popularity of this game led to congestion on the Ethereum network, highlighting the potential of ERC-721 tokens and NFTs.

Use Cases for ERC-721

ERC-721 tokens have opened up a world of possibilities in various industries. Here are some of the use cases for ERC-721:

  1. Digital Collectibles: ERC-721 tokens allow the creation and ownership of unique digital collectibles, such as artwork, trading cards, and virtual pets. These tokens provide proof of authenticity, scarcity, and ownership, revolutionizing the collectibles market.
  2. Gaming: Game developers can utilize ERC-721 tokens to create in-game assets, characters, and virtual land that players can buy, sell, and trade on blockchain-powered marketplaces. This brings transparency, security, and true ownership to the gaming industry.
  3. Real-World Assets: ERC-721 tokens can represent ownership of real-world assets like real estate, cars, or even rare physical items. This enables fractional ownership, peer-to-peer transfers, and transparent ownership history, making asset management more efficient and accessible.

Examples of ERC-721 Tokens

Let’s take a look at a few examples of ERC-721 tokens:

  • CryptoKitties: As mentioned earlier, CryptoKitties is one of the earliest and most popular examples of ERC-721 tokens. Players can collect, breed, and trade unique digital cats.
  • Decentraland: Decentraland is a virtual world built on the Ethereum blockchain using ERC-721 tokens. Users can buy, sell, and trade virtual land, buildings, and other assets within the platform.
  • Art Blocks: Art Blocks is an online platform where artists can mint and sell programmatically generated artwork as ERC-721 tokens. Each piece is unique and can be owned by individual collectors.

ERC-721 tokens have sparked a creative revolution, empowering artists, gamers, and collectors to explore new possibilities and redefine the concept of ownership. With the advancements in blockchain technology, we can expect to see even more innovative use cases and applications in the future.


In conclusion, ERC-721 is a standard for creating unique and indivisible tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. It has revolutionized various industries, from digital collectibles to gaming and real-world asset ownership. With ERC-721, the concept of ownership has become transparent, secure, and easily transferable. As the adoption of blockchain technology continues to grow, we can anticipate further development and exploration of ERC-721 tokens and their use cases.