How to issue your own token (ERC-20)

We have pre-built a template for this tutorial in the NEAR Studio IDE which you can open by visiting studio and selecting the "Token Smart Contract in AssemblyScript" template.

In this tutorial we'll build that contract from scratch.

To get started, go to and start a new project (fiddle) by selecting Token Smart Contract in AssemblyScript. You can try running this application right away to see the code interacting with the blockchain!

ERC-20 standard

The ERC-20 standard is one of Ethereum's most popular standards. It defines how custom tokens should be built. This is the same standard which was used to issue most of the ICOs in 2017 and 2018.

Specifically, any new token must follow next interface:

  • totalSupply(): uint256 - View function that returns the total token supply.

  • balanceOf(owner: address): uint256 - View function that returns the account balance of another account with address owner.

  • transfer(to: address, value: uint256) - Send value amount of tokens to address to.

  • transferFrom(from: address, to: address, value: uint256) - Send value amount of tokens from address from to address to.

  • approve(spender: address, value: uint256) - Allow spender to withdraw from your account, multiple times, up to the value amount. If this function is called again it overwrites the current allowance with value

  • allowance(owner: address, spender: address): uint256 - View function, returns the amount which spender is still allowed to withdraw from owner.

Note, NEAR currently doesn't have native uint256/uint128 so for this tutorial we going to use u64. The support is coming in a few weeks.

Building basic token

Let's start by defining number of tokens (non-dividable units) our token will have. This is a decision point for the developer, and here we will assume we going to have 100,000,000.

This way we can implement totalSupply function:

let TOTAL_SUPPLY: u64 = 1000000;
export function totalSupply(): u64 {

We also need some way to initialize our contract to award all these tokens to initial owner. This also goes into how to change storage in the smart contract:

function balanceKey(address: string): string {
return "balance:" + address;
export funciton init(): void {
let initialOwner = "my_super_user.near"
if (storage.getItem("init") == null) {
storage.setU64(balanceKey(initialOwner), TOTAL_SUPPLY)
storage.setItem("init", "done");

In example above we have storage object that is accessible by this contract to store data. It's just a key / value storage.

For storing balances, we prefix owner's address with balance: to allow to store different types of information for the owner. The logic here is to check if init was called before and if not to initialize.

Now that it's initialized, we can check the balance of users:

export function balanceOf(owner: string): u64 {
return storage.getU64(balanceKey(owner));

Let's build harder part, transferring money from current user to somebody else:

export function transfer(to: string, value: u64): boolean {
let balance = balanceOf(contractContext.sender);
if (value > balance) {
return false;
storage.setU64(balanceKey(contractContext.sender), balance - value);
storage.setU64(to, storage.getU64(to) + value);
return true;

Note, this is not a view function and it can fail, so we need to return boolean to indicate if it was successful. We first check the balance of contractContext.sender, which is the user that executed given transaction. If there is not enough money on the balance, we return false. Otherwise, subtract value from the balance of sender and increment balance of to.