Tokens lost to the ether may soon be retrieved, says Coinbase.
A new tool developed by Coinbase will allow users to recover ERC-20 tokens previously thought forever stranded, having been sent to incompatible public addresses associated with the exchange.
ERC-20 tokens are the standard Ethereum token format and first grew to prominence during the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) boom of 2017. Many of these coins, however, aren’t supported by Coinbase.
That means that incompatible ERC-20 tokens sent to Coinbase addresses wind up in limbo, with the exchange’s administrators unable to rescue them.
The coming “asset recovery tool,” which will roll out over the next few weeks, will facilitate recovery for over 4,000 of these unsupported tokens. The cumulative amount of tokens lost in this way is unclear, but a Coinbase spokesperson told Decrypt that the amount of lost tokens is "a small fraction of the total transfers made."
Until now, the lack of a recovery policy has been a source of grief for a number of users. One user, Shaman Yakubu, tweeted last year that he lost 400 of Polygon's MATIC tokens to Coinbase this way. Another user speculated that “millions of investor money has been lost and coins burned for no reason other than mislabeled tokens.”
Users who hope to recover their stranded ERC-20 tokens will have to provide details of the transaction that resulted in the loss, and the ensuing retrieval will command a small fee for sums larger than $100.
It is not clear yet whether different incompatible tokens—that is, beyond ERC-20s—will also be supported. The platform will be unavailable in Japan and on Coinbase Prime.