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What is an Approval Transaction?
What is an Approval Transaction?
Amir Hasan avatar
Written by Amir Hasan
Updated over a week ago

An Approval Transaction in the context of swapping tokens, especially in decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms or decentralized exchanges (DEXs) like Uniswap or SushiSwap, is a necessary step that grants the exchange permission to access (spend) your tokens on your behalf. This security measure is built into ERC-20 tokens (a standard for creating and issuing smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain) and similar token standards on other blockchains.

Here's a breakdown of how it works:

  1. Permission Request: When you swap one token for another on a DEX, the platform's smart contract needs permission to move the tokens from your wallet. This is because smart contracts cannot just take tokens from your wallet without consent due to the permissionless and secure nature of blockchain technology.

  2. Approval Transaction: To grant this permission, you initiate an approval transaction. This transaction is you telling the blockchain, "I permit the DEX's smart contract to access and spend up to 'X' amount of 'Token A' from my wallet."

  3. Gas Fees: Like any other transaction on the blockchain, an approval transaction requires you to pay gas fees. These fees go to the miners or validators who process and confirm transactions on the network.

  4. One-time or Limited Permission: Depending on the DEX or the interface you're using, you might have the option to approve the smart contract to spend your tokens just once or up to a certain amount. Some users prefer to approve a larger or unlimited allowance to avoid paying gas fees for future approval transactions. However, this could pose a security risk if the smart contract were ever compromised.

  5. Swapping Tokens: Only after the approval transaction has been successfully processed and confirmed on the blockchain can the actual swap transaction take place. This is a separate transaction with its gas fees, where the smart contract will utilize the permission granted to exchange the specified amount of tokens.

In summary, an Approval Transaction is a prerequisite step in the token swapping process on DEXs, ensuring that token transfers are explicitly authorized by the token owner, thereby enhancing the security and integrity of transactions within the DeFi ecosystem.

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