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Is ada a coin or a token?

Both coins and tokens represent a unit of cryptocurrency on a blockchain. Yet there is a difference between the two – a ‘coin’ has its own native blockchain whereas a ‘token’ is created on an existing blockchain. 

Ada (‘Ticker: ADA’) is the native cryptocurrency on Cardano and is the only currency used on Cardano to pay fees, make deposits and distribute rewards. In this sense, ada is a coin because it is native to Cardano in the same way that bitcoin is a coin on the Bitcoin blockchain and ether is a coin on Ethereum. 

Coins represent one type of digital assets. Other types of digital assets may still represent a footprint of value but may be designed for different purposes. These include tokens, NFTs, stablecoins, and other digital assets which represent value in the real world, such as a property deed, a government or corporate bond, an education certificate, ownership of a basketball boot, information, or a vote in an election. On Cardano, all of these can be represented as a ‘native token’. This means an NFT or another type of asset can be ‘minted’ (created) directly on the blockchain, without having to use a smart contract. This native capability is not available on other blockchains.