MetaMask is a crypto wallet that mainly comes in the form of a browser extension. For many users, decentralised applications (dApps) are complicated just enough to leave an intimidating first impression. Luckily, MetaMask’s strong suit is that it keeps Ethereum’s dApp ecosystem at your elbow by storing ERC-20 tokens and thus allowing you to reach the services that are built on top of those tokens. 

By default, MetaMask was made to store Ethereum based tokens, but it is a very flexible tool that lets you add other tokens from other blockchains too. In this article, we are going to look at how you can add tokens on MetaMask that aren’t officially supported.

3D gold tokens on gold surface

What Is MetaMask Wallet?

MetaMask is decentralised finance (DeFi) wallet for your crypto tokens that is available as a browser extension and a mobile app. MetaMask is compatible with ERC-20 tokens by default. However, if you want to add other tokens, you may need to add them manually. For example, you can connect the MetaMask wallet to the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) to unlock BSC tokens and decentralised applications that run on BSC.

MetaMask constitutes a bridge to decentralised applications (dApps). This means you can use the MetaMask wallet to access dApps on the Ethereum network and the  BSC network, though the latter requires a bit of work on your part. Sounds confusing? Let’s go over these terms together.

What Is a DeFi Wallet?

Decentralised finance is used for the overarching concept of eliminating financial intermediaries by utilising blockchain technology. There are a variety of products in the DeFi environment, such as lending platforms, staking, yield farming, or decentralised exchanges (DEXs). These are all automated protocols that let users interact with the blockchain and among each other without the need for a third party supervising the process.

The first thing you need to get started in the DeFi environment is a DeFi wallet, such as MetaMask, Gnosis, MyCrypto, and MyEtherWallet.

What Are dApps?

dApps are decentralised open-source applications that work on smart contracts. They function as decentralised gateways to the blockchain environment through the user’s interface. DApps are fully automated, meaning that no one regulates or controls the network. They also keep all the data publicly accessible.

You might have heard that decentralised finance is always better when it comes to security. This is also the case with dApps because no central party ensures trust in the network. The only thing you need to trust is math and code that is embedded in the smart contracts. This way, they can operate without being supervised.

There are many dApps with different purposes. For example, Uniswap is a decentralised exchange (DEX) where you can trade and invest in cryptocurrencies. dApps also can be utilized for various services such as gaming, collecting art, financial activities, and many others.

What Are Tokens?

In general terms, tokens and coins are alike. Surprisingly, there are many crypto investors who don’t know if they are buying a crypto coin or token at times. The two terms are even often used interchangeably. The difference between a token and a coin is that tokens don’t have their own blockchain. Instead, they operate on the blockchain of cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum or EOS.

When talking about cryptocurrencies, we usually have the good old Bitcoin (BTC) or popular coins like Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC) or Stellar (XLM) in mind. These digital currencies have their own blockchains.

Blockchain technology is capable of much more complicated data processing tasks, and blockchain-based peer-to-peer networks can be utilised for various tasks such as smart contracts, fundraisings, even lotteries or games through tokens. Hence, the fact that tokens are built using smart contracts – programmable and self-executing code – opens up a vast horizon of opportunities, more than just constituting a currency.

What Are ERC-20 Tokens?

Ethereum programmers created ERC-20 to broaden the Ethereum (ETH) community. It is a standard for scripting within the Ethereum blockchain. By following the ERC-20 standard, you can create your custom ERC-20 token that operates on the Ethereum network.

How to Add Tokens to MetaMask?

First, you need to set up MetaMask. Go to MetaMask.io and select the version for your device. MetaMask is supported on Android and iOS devices. For desktop, you can use it as an extension on web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

Normally, MetaMask displays your ERC-20 standard tokens on your Assets list. But because creating a token in the Ethereum network is quite easy, there are many custom tokens out there that MetaMask doesn’t keep track of or keep a proprietary token list of. Ethereum (ETH) is added to the MetaMask wallet by default at the beginning, but in order to deposit and withdraw tokens other than Ethereum on MetaMask, you might need to add them to your asset tab manually.

There are two ways to add unlisted tokens to MetaMask.

Advanced Automatic Token Detection

The first one is to enable an advanced feature that automatically detects tokens in your wallet address and adds them to MetaMask. Please note that this feature is only available on the Ethereum mainnet.

While doing so, keep in mind that there is always a risk associated with unfamiliar tokens. Sometimes scammers may try to lure investors to third-party sites with false promises. You should never interact with or connect your wallet to any website that hasn’t proven its security. This also goes for tokens that come through an airdrop.

Once you add a token to your MetaMask, you want to transfer them into your wallet. If your transaction fails and the block explorer displays an error directing you to a website, this is most likely a phishing site. So, never click on external links to problem solve while adding tokens to your MetaMask wallet.

With this in mind, you can proceed towards enabling advanced automatic token detection by following these steps:

  • Open your MetaMask account and click on the identicon in the top right corner.
  • Select “Settings” and click “Experimental – Token detection & more”.
  • Toggle the switch ON under “Use Token Detection”.
  • Go back to your Assets tab and refresh.

Manually Adding Tokens

If you don’t like using an automatic service, or if the token you want to add is not a common one that made it into community lists yet, you can add your tokens manually by following these steps: 

  • Go to your Assets tab to make sure your token is not listed under your assets.
  • Go to your MetaMask account page and scroll down until you see the Add Token button. 
  • Search for your token in the search bar, find the one you want to add and click Next.
  • Click Add Token, and voila! Your tokens should show up in your wallet.

How to Add a Custom Token

If the token you want to add doesn’t appear in the search bar, you need to add it manually. You can add a custom token to your MetaMask wallet by following these steps:

  • Go to the Add Token page and click on Custom Token tab to enter the token address.
  • The Token Symbol and Decimals of Precision fields right under the token contact address are usually filled automatically. In case they’re not, you can check the contact address and other info of the coins by using block explorers, such as Etherscan and Ethplorer, for Ethereum based tokens. For other blockchains, you need to use a corresponding block explorer.
  • Click Next and click Add Token.

Note: Please keep in mind that if someone has told you they sent you tokens, they should be able to provide the transaction hash or the token contract address. Without one of these unique transaction IDs, you can’t track token transactions.

Alternatively, you can add custom tokens on MetaMask using Etherscan following these steps:

  • Click the three dots icon on the right of “Profile Summary”.
  • Click Add Token to Web3 Wallet.
  • Click Add Token on the MetaMask pop-up.

A Few Words Before You Go…

The cryptocurrency ecosystem provides a wide range of services. Decentralised finance is one of the most groundbreaking technologies of our times and because of the open-source and contributory nature of the crypto ecosystem, there are countless apps and services you can enjoy. MetaMask is one such service, which aside from being a very secure wallet to keep your digital currency in, also works as a bridge to the DeFi environment. You can use this wallet to store your Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens and connect to various dApps.