Wrapped tokens are an important innovation in the Web3 world, bridging the gap between different blockchain networks. These tokens contribute to improving liquidity and interoperability between different crypto ecosystems.

Wrapped tokens allow for the uninterrupted transfer of value between blockchains, providing a solution to one of the biggest challenges in blockchain technology: cross-chain interaction. By learning about wrapped tokens, their creation process, and their benefits and challenges, you can better understand their growing importance in decentralized finance (DeFi).

What Are Wrapped Tokens?

Wrapped tokens are digital assets that are tied to the value of other cryptocurrencies. They are essentially tokenized versions of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, created to operate on a different blockchain than the original asset. This allows users to use the unique features of different blockchain networks without having to sell their original holdings. 

The value of a wrapped token is directly tied to the value of the underlying asset, ensuring that users can interact with these tokens as if they were interacting with the original cryptocurrency.

Tokenization Process

The creation of wrapped tokens involves a process known as tokenization. This begins with locking the original asset in a smart contract that acts as a custodian. For example, in the case of wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC), the actual Bitcoin is held in a reserve, such as a multi-signature wallet or trusted institution. Once Bitcoin is securely locked, an equivalent amount of wBTC is minted on the Ethereum blockchain. This wrapped token can then be used within the Ethereum ecosystem while maintaining its value tied to Bitcoin.

Let’s take a look at the tokenization process in detail:

  1. Locking the Asset: A user or an institution deposits Bitcoin into a smart contract. This contract is usually managed by a trusted custodian or a decentralized network of custodians.
  2. Minting the Wrapped Token: After Bitcoin is securely locked, the smart contract mints an equivalent amount of wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC) on the Ethereum blockchain. This process is transparent and verifiable on both the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks.
  3. Using the Wrapped Token: The minted wBTC can now be used within the Ethereum ecosystem. It can be traded on decentralized exchanges, used as collateral in DeFi protocols, or any Ethereum-based application.
  4. Redeeming the Original Asset: If a user wants to convert wBTC back to Bitcoin, they can send the wBTC back to the smart contract, which will burn the tokens and release the equivalent amount of Bitcoin from the reserve.

Use Cases of Wrapped Tokens

Wrapped tokens have a wide range of use cases. Some of the more well-known examples include:

Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC)

Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC) is an ERC-20 token that represents Bitcoin on the Ethereum blockchain. It allows Bitcoin holders to participate in the DeFi ecosystem on Ethereum, which includes lending, borrowing, and trading on decentralized exchanges (DEXs). By holding wBTC, users can benefit from the liquidity and functionality of Ethereum-based platforms while maintaining exposure to Bitcoin.

Wrapped Ethereum (wETH)

Although Ethereum itself can be used directly on its native blockchain, wrapped Ethereum (wETH) standardizes Ethereum to comply with the ERC-20 standard, allowing interactions with other ERC-20 tokens and smart contracts. This is particularly useful for DeFi applications that require a consistent token standard to operate efficiently. wETH is essentially Ethereum that has been "wrapped" to make it compatible with the ERC-20 token standard, making it easier to use in DeFi protocols and applications.

Benefits and Challenges

Liquidity Enhancement

Wrapped tokens significantly increase liquidity across different blockchains. By converting major cryptocurrencies into wrapped tokens, liquidity providers can offer deeper pools for trading pairs on decentralized exchanges. This improved liquidity helps reduce slippage and provides better price stability, making the trading experience more efficient.

Interoperability

Interoperability is a key advantage of wrapped tokens. They enable cross-chain interactions, allowing users to move assets between different blockchain networks. This cross-chain functionality is crucial for the growth of DeFi, as it allows users to leverage the strengths of various platforms without being tied to a single blockchain ecosystem.

Security Considerations

Despite their benefits, wrapped tokens come with certain risks and security considerations. The process of locking the original asset and minting the wrapped token involves custodial risk. If the custodian managing the locked assets is compromised, the wrapped tokens could lose value. In addition, the smart contracts that govern these processes must be secure to prevent potential vulnerabilities. To mitigate these risks, it's important to rely on reputable custodians and thoroughly audited smart contracts. 

Conclusion

Wrapped tokens play an important role in DeFi by improving liquidity, facilitating interoperability, and allowing the transfer of assets across different blockchains. They provide a valuable bridge between isolated blockchain networks, allowing users to use the strengths of multiple platforms without sacrificing the security and value of their original assets. By understanding the mechanics and benefits of wrapped tokens, users can better navigate and utilize the DeFi opportunities. 

! Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, tax, or legal advice or recommendation. Dealing with virtual currencies involves significant risks, including the potential loss of your investment. We strongly recommend you obtain independent professional advice before making any financial decisions. The products and services offered by Cryptology may not be suitable for all users and may not be available in certain countries or jurisdictions. The promotional materials do not guarantee any specific outcomes or profits from virtual trading. Past performance is not indicative of future results. It is important to read and understand the risks, which are explained in our Risk Disclosure Statement

Tom F.

Tom is one of the content managers here at Cryptology. While still fresh in his career he has been able to firmly place himself within the world of crypto and content creation, producing work for a number of publications including esports.net and The Times of Malta newspaper.