So I accidentally sent crypto to the wrong address or the wrong network. What do I do now? How to recover the missing tokens? Or are they gone forever?
Did you know that you can buy any goods or even book your trip for crypto right now?
Earlier cryptolife.report explained how to buy crypto easily or do staking in a few simple steps.
But there is another thing you should be aware of as a crypto beginner.
Transactions between crypto wallets are generally safe, but there is a catch.
Different tokens use different payment networks. And you have to pay attention to what crypto you are sending and where exactly the coins should go.
Without this knowledge, you can lose your money beyond retrieve. Sending crypto to a wrong address is often irreversible.
So how to transfer money between wallets safely?
How come cryptocurrencies use different payment networks?
Cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain. But blockchain is a basic technology. And there are numerous networks that are using similar blockchain technology, but are not compatible with each other.
The most popular networks right now are Ethereum (ERC20), Solana (SOL), Tron (TRC20), Bitcoin (BTC), Omni (OMNI), AVAX C-Chain (AVAXC), Polygon (Matic), and others.
There are also networks of the biggest crypto exchanges such as Binance’s BNB Smart Chain (BEP20) or BNB Beacon Chain (BEP2).
The larger half of the most traded tokens can be sent through ERC20, TRC20, or BEP20/BEP2 chains.
But if you want tokens to be sent from one wallet to another it is essentially important to send them via the same network.
What is the difference between networks?
Based on these and that chains, payment nеtworks have their own features as transaction speed and fees. The normal transaction speed is up to 5 minutes and the average fee is nearly $1.
But, for instance, fees for sending some tokens through the ERC20 network can rise up to $10 or even $20-$30. (Here you can read why Ethereum’s chain fee is so high).
Moreover, different chains’ addresses have different first symbols.
For example, BEP2 tokens’ addresses starts with сbnb134ns6lfw7zs5hg5n82vdthaad7hq5m4gtkgf13.
ERC20 tokens’ addresses starts with с0x0e806cea8e5beba6df17258ef7f15b44c5a2ce82.
TRC20 tokens’ addresses starts with сTWsVAb7EWAhKdtnTD7XoEdkvs7AoyvkgN7.
And so on.
How to send crypto safely?
Some people sincerely dislike crypto exchanges due to obvious reasons. For example, you don’t have private keys to your wallet and actually don’t own the tokens you think you own. Or there are fees, sometimes quite unreasonable, for every transaction including withdrawal fiat money to your bank card.
But we are not going to dive into this discussion right now.
This article is about troubles you might have if you send crypto to a wrong address. And in this regard crypto exchanges do look not bad.
Truthfully, popular crypto exchanges provide the safest ways of sending tokens from one wallet to another for novices.
On platforms like Binance or Coinbase, you will see the compatibility of different tokens’ networks. You also will be offered to choose the needed network automatically right after you add your receiver wallet’s address.
If you are sending assets within the same platform it’s possible to choose the Direct transfer on wallet option. In this case, you just have to input your receiver’s account details, and the tokens’ network will be chosen automatically.
But the fact is a lot of users don’t want to hold their assets on crypto exchanges’ hot wallets. Instead, they are using specialized software cryptocurrency wallets or hardware (cold) wallets.
By doing this you should be aware of all the risks of sending tokens on different networks or to the wrong addresses.
I accidentally sent crypto to the wrong address, now what?
That’s big trouble, actually.
If you sent your assets to a valid wrong address – there is almost no chance to get the money back. But this situation is unlikely to happen because it’s hard to get on a valid wallet after inputting an address with the wrong symbols.
You can consider yourself lucky if you’d succeed to do so.
So it’s always safer to use QR barcodes or Copy and Paste the address. Try not to input the address by hand.
If you send tokens to a non-valid address then the transaction just won’t go through.
Try to send a small number of coins before doing the main transaction to avoid this.
How to recover crypto sent to an incompatible network?
It depends on the networks between which you made the mistake.
For instance, the Binance exchange offers recovery for users who sent BEP-20 tokens from non-compatible networks.
“In case you sent BEP-20 tokens to an unsupported wallet by mistake, you can recover the assets by adding a smart chain network to that wallet or deposit the BEP-20 tokens to a different wallet that is compatible with Binance Smart Chain,” says Binance’s FAQ.
For this, you have to connect your ‘wrong’ wallet to Binance Smart Chain and then recover the BEP-20 tokens in your wallet to a BSC-compatible wallet.
Custodial and non-custodial wallets
There is also an issue with recovering tokens on custodial and non-custodial wallets.
The difference between these types of wallets is that in the custodial one the private keys are held by a third party.
And owners of the non-custodial wallets are responsible for the assets themselves, having full control of the tokens and private keys.
As you may guess, most crypto exchanges and trading platforms offer their users custodial wallets. The most popular are Free Wallet, Binance, BitMex, Bitgo, Blockchain.com, Coinbase, Kraken, Bitfinex, Poloniex, Bittrex, Coinex, Bitstamp, etc.
Among the non-custodial wallets are Ledger, Abra, MyEtherWallet, Electrum, MyCrypto, Wirex, Button Wallet, Exodus, ZenGo, Paytomat, Bitcoin.com, Blockchain, BTC.com, Electron Cash, Copay, Jaxx, Coinomi, Atomic Wallet, Guarda, Wasabi Wallet, Edge.
If you sent crypto to the wrong network within the custodial wallet you should contact the platform’s technical support to receive the private keys. Then you have to import the keys to another wallet that supports both blockchains – the one you sent tokens from and the one with receiving wallet.
If you did the same with a non-custodial wallet – make sure that the tokens were sent to the address you provided.
You can do this with one of these services: etherscan.io (Ethereum-network explorer); etcblockexplorer.com (Ethereum Classic-network explorer); bscscan.com (Binance Smart Chain-network explorer); polygonscan.com (Polygon-network explorer).
After you have made sure that the tokens got to the address on another network, you can start restoring access to the address on this network.
You have to find the instruction for adding another network’s support in terms and conditions of your non-custodial wallet.
If your wallet doesn’t support the network you sent tokens on – you can say bye-bye to your assets.
As you can see, recovering crypto sent to a wrong address might be complicated, if possible at all.
It means, you should always pay a lot of attention to what and where are you sending.
Sources: Binance, Appinventiv, FixedFloat