Token Swap vs Token Migration: Distinct Meanings and Implications in the Cryptocurrency Industry

Token Swap vs Token Migration

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The cryptocurrency industry is driven by a constant pursuit of innovation and streamlining the management, storage, and utilization of digital assets. Through these efforts, the complexities that were once inherent in the crypto space have been effectively eliminated, leading to significant enhancements in user experience. 

While the terms “token swap” and “token migration” are often used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings and implications within the cryptocurrency industry. Token swaps involve the instant exchange of one cryptocurrency for another, providing investors with flexibility and agility in taking advantage of attractive opportunities in the dynamic market. On the other hand, token migration refers to the process of transferring tokens from one blockchain to another, typically undertaken by projects seeking to establish their own native chains or leverage different blockchain capabilities.

Token swaps are important as they enable investors to react swiftly to market conditions, capitalize on potential gains, and align their holdings with their investment strategies. By utilizing seamless crypto-to-crypto exchange services, investors can avoid the inefficiencies and costs associated with converting tokens to fiat currencies and then back to other cryptocurrencies. Token swaps offer simplicity, speed, affordability, and security, enhancing the overall user experience and facilitating easy access to a wide range of crypto assets.

Meanwhile, token migration serves as a means for projects to transition to their own dedicated blockchains or explore alternative platforms that better suit their objectives. This process often involves transferring tokens from existing blockchains, such as Ethereum, to the project’s new blockchain, ensuring compatibility and aligning with the project’s vision and roadmap. Token migration allows projects to maintain control over their token ecosystem, improve scalability, and potentially introduce new functionalities specific to their unique blockchain infrastructure.

What Is Token Migration? 

Token migration, also known as token swaps, refers to the process of transferring a token from one blockchain to another during a transition period. It’s important to note that token migrations aren’t always related to the launch of a new blockchain; they can also occur when projects switch from one protocol to another.

For instance, let’s consider the migration of Mithril (MiTH) from Ethereum to Binance Chain. Many new projects either lack their own blockchain or are still in the development stage, prompting them to migrate their investors’ tokens from third-party platforms to their own chains.

In 2018, numerous early crypto projects and companies utilized Ethereum’s ERC20 token. 

However, as these projects developed their own blockchains, they migrated their tokens to their native networks. This approach offers an advantage to investors since they are not required to lock up their funds. Instead, they can trade these placeholder tokens on exchanges while the new projects continue to develop their technology.

There are also cases where token transfers from one third-party blockchain to another occur due to technical or economic factors.

Blockchain initiatives often begin with whitepapers that promise groundbreaking technologies in the future. However, the journey from conceptualization to the final product usually involves many twists and turns, and some projects undergo significant changes, such as migrating to a different blockchain.

In certain situations, investors may be required to migrate their holdings to a new cryptocurrency or token, necessitating a shift from one blockchain to another. Token migration typically involves transferring the balances of investors from their Ethereum wallets to a new compatible wallet provided by the project. Thus, the tokens physically move from one blockchain to another after the transition is completed.

During the ICO boom in 2018, projects raised funds on the Ethereum network by issuing ERC-20 tokens. Some of these projects promised that the tokens purchased by investors would be utilized in future technologies, including the blockchains they intended to build. Once these projects launched their own blockchains, they transferred their investors’ tokens from Ethereum to their respective chains. This transition is similar to renting a car versus purchasing the same vehicle for long-term use.

The specific method for moving tokens varies depending on the project. If you hold tokens, you may be required to initiate the migration process yourself. However, this doesn’t mean you need to be well-versed in programming intricacies. Most projects provide user-friendly methods that link to your wallet address and allow for quick token transfers.

If your tokens are held on a major and reputable cryptocurrency exchange, they will likely handle the token transfer on your behalf.

As the drive for blockchain integration and adaptability continues, the practice of token migration, especially across various chains, is expected to thrive and gain popularity within the evolving blockchain ecosystem.

What Are Token Swaps? 


Within the crypto sphere, the term “token swap” encompasses two distinct definitions. The first definition refers to the process of instantly exchanging one cryptocurrency for another without the need for a prior conversion to fiat currency. Prominent platforms such as Changelly, Shapeshift, and Airswap operate based on this definition.

The second definition of token swap pertains to projects or platforms migrating from one blockchain to another, accompanied by the need to swap coins. In this scenario, a project decides to shift its operations to a different blockchain with unique token standards. To facilitate this transition, the development team must provide a means for investors and users to exchange the project’s native token for a compatible token on the new blockchain. This process is known as token swapping or token migration.

How Do Token Swaps Work? 

It involves utilizing seamless crypto-to-crypto exchange services instead of the often inefficient and time-consuming approach of converting a digital asset to fiat currency and then using fiat to purchase the desired coin. This solution is particularly useful when dealing with cryptocurrencies with low market capitalization.

For instance, let’s say you want to exchange your COMP coin for ZIL. You may find that exchanges offering the COMP/ZIL trading pair are scarce. Consequently, you might have to trade your COMP tokens for fiat currencies or established coins like BTC, ETH, or USDT first. From there, you can exchange these popular coins or fiat directly for ZIL. This process is lengthy and cost-inefficient as you incur transaction fees multiple times. Additionally, price volatility can impact the profitability of the trade, making it difficult to achieve your desired price entry.

To address these drawbacks, exchanges, wallets, and other platforms introduced instant swap functionalities. With these services, users can directly exchange one crypto asset for another. Simply enter the desired amount, select the trading pair, and the token swap service will process and convert your coins instantly. With this method, you only need to pay transaction fees once.

Platforms offering token swapping provide a convenient and secure crypto-to-crypto gateway, allowing you to perform exchanges from either custodial or non-custodial wallets. Depending on the robustness of your wallet, you may not need to transfer your coins to a separate swapping service or exchange to access instant crypto-to-crypto exchange features. Wallet providers often integrate crypto swapping services, enabling users to securely convert their coins within their personal wallets.

These crypto swapping services offer simplicity, speed, affordability, and security. Some even allow users to buy cryptocurrencies using credit or debit cards.

Examples of solutions providing dedicated crypto swapping services include Changelly, Shapeshift, ChangeNow, and Simpleswap. Exchanges and wallets have also started developing their in-house swapping services. Additionally, the DeFi trend in 2020 gave rise to DeFi token swap solutions, with a similar trend currently emerging in the NFT market. The options for token swaps are virtually limitless.

Due to the proliferation of swapping services, it is crucial to conduct thorough research before choosing one. Factors to consider include the availability of a wide range of crypto pairs, the platform’s security measures, and the speed of coin swaps. High speed helps mitigate slippage, which occurs when the amount of cryptocurrency A received in exchange for cryptocurrency B significantly decreases before the transaction is finalized.

It’s worth mentioning that some services eliminate slippage by offering fixed swap rates that remain constant throughout the transaction. However, such offers may require a higher transaction fee.

Differentiating Between Token Migration and Token Swap

The cryptocurrency industry has experienced significant evolution since the emergence of Bitcoin in 2009. From the ICO boom of 2017 to the rise of decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), the industry has witnessed numerous innovations.

In this context, one important service that has played a pivotal role in shaping the ecosystem is token swap. While often used interchangeably, it’s important to note that token swap and token migration are technically distinct concepts.

Why Are Token Swaps Important? 

In the current cryptocurrency landscape, there are over 23,000 listed cryptocurrencies, with many having active ecosystems and user bases. Speculation and the anticipation of future returns are among the primary reasons people participate in the crypto market.

For instance, imagine you have strong certainty that the price of a hypothetical token called “XYZ” will surge to $100,000 by tomorrow. In such a scenario, you would likely liquidate your positions in other cryptocurrencies to acquire more “XYZ” tokens. Similarly, if news breaks out that a project you hold “ABC” tokens in is a scam and its founders have disappeared, you would probably rush to sell those tokens.

While these examples may be extreme, there are various reasons why investors choose to swap their tokens. They may have strong belief in a project’s future and want exposure to a specific token, or they may need to quickly respond to negative news about a token in their portfolio.

Given the dynamic and volatile nature of the cryptocurrency market, token swaps enable investors to seize attractive opportunities. By swapping tokens, investors can swiftly trade their current holdings for other assets.

Why Do Projects Conduct Token Migrations? 

It is not uncommon for blockchain projects to migrate from one blockchain to another. This was particularly prevalent between 2018 and 2020.

During the ICO boom of late 2017 and early 2018, numerous cryptocurrency projects launched on the Ethereum network, adopting the ERC-20 token standard. ICOs are fundraising mechanisms utilized by crypto startups, where a new cryptocurrency is created and sold to investors in exchange for existing cryptocurrencies or fiat currency.

In many cases, these startups promised investors that the issued tokens would have future use cases within their own native blockchains. Consequently, once their blockchains were ready, the tokens were “migrated” from a blockchain like Ethereum to the projects’ own chains. This can be likened to temporarily living in a rented apartment until one can afford to buy a house.

Examples of Token Migrations Prominent projects like TRON, BNB, and CRO have conducted mainnet swaps and token migrations, transitioning from the Ethereum chain to their own native blockchains. More recently, the internet-of-things protocol Helium successfully migrated its IOT token to the Solana blockchain, aiming to enhance operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness on the Helium network.

How to Perform a Token Swap 

Token swaps can be executed through various methods, depending on the type. Regular swaps can be conducted using centralized exchanges like Binance and Coinbase, decentralized exchanges like Uniswap and PancakeSwap, or directly within wallet apps such as MetaMask and Phantom.

Cross-chain token swaps require blockchain bridges, and examples of popular bridges include Celer cBridge, AnySwap, Cross-Chain Bridge, Multichain, Portal Token Bridge (formerly Wormhole), Synapse, Hop Protocol, Stargate Finance, and more.

How to Perform a Token Migration

It’s important to note that token migrations cannot be initiated individually. The decision to migrate tokens is made by the project’s developers, who determine the migration process. There are several ways this can unfold. If you self-custody the tokens, you may be responsible for handling the token migration process. 

However, you don’t necessarily need technical expertise as user experience in the crypto space has significantly improved. Most projects provide tools to assist holders with the migration process. Alternatively, some projects may take a snapshot of token holders’ wallets and automatically airdrop replacement tokens on the new blockchain without requiring active participation from token holders.

If your tokens are held on a centralized exchange, it is highly likely that the exchange will handle the token migration process on your behalf.


Both token swaps and token migrations contribute to the ongoing evolution of the cryptocurrency industry, providing investors and projects with valuable tools to navigate the ever-changing landscape. Whether it’s maximizing investment opportunities through efficient token swaps or enabling projects to achieve their desired blockchain environments through token migration, these processes play crucial roles in shaping the future of digital assets and decentralized technologies.


What is the difference between token swap and token migration? 

Token swap refers to the instant exchange of one cryptocurrency for another, while token migration involves transferring tokens from one blockchain to another. Swap focuses on trading assets, while migration deals with moving tokens to a new blockchain.

Why are token swaps important?

Token swaps are important as they provide flexibility and agility for investors to react quickly to market conditions, capitalize on opportunities, and align their holdings with investment strategies. They offer simplicity, speed, affordability, and security, enhancing the overall user experience in the crypto market..

Why do projects conduct token migration?

Projects often conduct token migration when they want to establish their own dedicated blockchain or switch to a different blockchain that better suits their objectives. Token migration allows projects to maintain control over their token ecosystem, improve scalability, and introduce new functionalities specific to their new blockchain infrastructure.

How can I perform a token swap? 

Token swaps can be performed through various methods, such as using centralized exchanges like Binance and Coinbase, decentralized exchanges like Uniswap and PancakeSwap, or directly within wallet apps like MetaMask and Phantom. The specific method will depend on the type of token and the platforms available for trading.

What are the considerations when undergoing a token migration? 

When undergoing a token migration, it's important to follow the instructions provided by the project's developers. If you self-custody the tokens, you may need to initiate the migration process yourself using the tools provided. If your tokens are held on a centralized exchange, the exchange will likely handle the migration on your behalf. It's also advisable to research the project, understand the migration process, and ensure the security and speed of the migration to avoid any potential risks or delays.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Micah Abiodun

Micah is a crypto enthusiast with a strong understanding of the crypto industry and its potential for shaping the future. A result-driven Chemical Engineer (with a specialization in the field of process engineering and piping design), Micah visualizes and articulates the intricate details of blockchain ecosystems. In his free time, he explores various interests, including sports and music.

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