What is LINK? The complete guide to Chainlink's token

Chainlink is a blockchain abstraction layer that allows smart contracts to securely communicate with real-world data and services located outside of blockchain networks. It achieves this through a decentralized oracle network. Crucial to the network is LINK, Chainlink's token.

LINK functions as the primary means of value transfer on Chainlink and provides a vital incentive mechanism within the network. The token sat among the top 15 cryptocurrencies by market cap at the end of 2023. As Web3 adoption continues to grow, the secure interoperability brought by Chainlink's products and enabled by its LINK token could rise in demand.

Curious to learn more? In this article, we'll explain the origins, utility, and potential for the LINK token, including its role in the broader Chainlink ecosystem.


  • Chainlink's LINK token is an integral part of the Chainlink decentralized oracle network.

  • LINK is used as a means of payment for services within the Chainlink network, including data requests, off-chain computation, and other oracle services.

  • The token operates on the Ethereum blockchain and follows the ERC-677 standard — an extension of ERC-20.

  • LINK's value is tied to the utility and demand within the Chainlink ecosystem, influenced by the adoption of Chainlink's oracle services across various blockchain applications.

The Chainlink ecosystem in brief

Chainlink was established to help non-blockchain enterprises securely connect with blockchain platforms and access the data stored across them. This is achieved through the company's decentralized oracle network, which provides universal connectivity and off-chain computation for smart contracts.

According to its white paper (which sets out the vision for Chainlink 2.0) the company believes that an oracle will need to be a "general-purpose, bidirectional, compute-enabled interface between and among on-chain and off-chain systems."

Meanwhile, in the blockchain ecosystem, oracles are powerful tools in boosting performance, functionality, and interoperability of smart contracts, elevating trust and transparency. Hybrid smart contracts are central to this and, therefore, the future direction of Chainlink's evolving ecosystem.

LINK's role in the Chainlink ecosystem

The LINK token is an important catalyst for the Chainlink ecosystem. As the oracle network gets to work connecting smart contracts to real-world data, LINK is the currency used to pay for the data and related services. Here, the LINK token incentivizes data providers (oracles) to offer high-quality, accurate data.

When a smart contract requires data, such as stock prices, weather information, or insurance claim figures, it requests this information through the Chainlink network. Oracles provide this data and are rewarded in LINK tokens for their efforts. In return, these oracles stake LINK as a form of collateral, securing their commitment to continue providing trustworthy data. This staking mechanism helps to enhance the security and reliability of the data provided, as oracles have a financial stake in the accuracy and timeliness of their services.

Overall, this mechanism helps to create a self-sustaining ecosystem where the demand for data drives the value and utility of the LINK token.

Integrating LINK across the blockchain ecosystem

Chainlink's versatility and compatibility with various blockchains has led to its widespread adoption across numerous blockchain projects and decentralized apps (DApps). The LINK token, as the currency of this ecosystem, benefits from this adoption.

As more projects use Chainlink for their oracle needs, the demand for LINK tokens increases, potentially impacting its market value and relevance in the blockchain space. This integration with diverse blockchain platforms underlines the importance of understanding LINK not just as a digital currency, but as a key component of a broader technological framework.

About LINK's technology

LINK is built on the Ethereum blockchain and follows the ERC-677 standard. This standard is an extension of the widely-known ERC-20 token standard, with the added capability of transferring data along with token transactions. This functionality is particularly useful in the context of Chainlink, as it allows for more complex interactions between smart contracts and the data provided by oracles.

The technical sophistication of LINK under the ERC-677 standard allows for seamless integration with a wide range of smart contracts and DApps.

LINK's economic model and distribution

LINK supply

The total supply of LINK tokens is capped at 1 billion. As of November 2023, the number of LINK tokens in circulation was 556.85 million. The distribution of LINK tokens was initially conducted through a public sale, followed by allocations for the development team, advisors, and for incentivizing the ecosystem.

LINK distribution

In June 2023, Chainlink announced a revised distribution schedule that aimed to be more predictable and sustainable for the community. According to Chainlink, in the 12-month period from Q2 2023 through to the end of Q1 2024, 7% of the total LINK supply is expected to be released into the circulating supply. Following this, subsequent 12-month periods were expected to bring a similar release amount, although this could change in response to external factors.

LINK distribution reschedule

Market dynamics

A variety of factors, including overall market trends, influence the market dynamics of LINK, the growth of the Chainlink network, and the adoption rate of its oracle services. As a cryptocurrency, LINK is subject to market volatility, similar to other digital assets. However, its intrinsic value is closely tied to the utility it provides within the Chainlink ecosystem.

The fixed supply of LINK tokens helps to create scarcity, a factor often considered by traders and users when assessing its long-term value. Additionally, the economic activities within the Chainlink network, such as payments for oracle services and staking, continually affect the demand and circulation of LINK tokens.

LINK's role in the changing Chainlink governance

There's been much debate in the Chainlink community about the possibility of a move away from the current centralized governance model — where control rests with Chainlink's parent company, SmartContract Chainlink Ltd. — towards a decentralized alternative. Should this change happen, LINK is poised to play an important part.

In a decentralized governance structure, LINK token holders could potentially have a say in the decision-making processes on upgrades, changes in the network, or even the selection and performance evaluation of oracles. This potential for governance participation adds another layer of utility to the LINK token.

What are the future prospects for LINK?

LINK's future is closely tied to the evolution and adoption of blockchain technology, especially in sectors where fast access to reliable, real-world data is crucial. As blockchain applications continue to find adoption in industries like finance, insurance, and supply chain management, the demand for decentralized oracle services is likely to grow. This growth could positively impact the utility and value of LINK, especially if Chainlink continues to innovate and expand its services.

Meanwhile, the potential shift towards a more decentralized governance model within the Chainlink network could further elevate the role of LINK. This could potentially give token holders more influence in the network's future direction.

Partnerships and wider integration across industries are other potential areas of growth for both Chainlink and the LINK asset. Chainlink has already formed alliances with various blockchain platforms, DeFi projects, and even traditional companies looking to adopt blockchain technology. These partnerships not only expand the use cases for Chainlink's oracles but also increase the visibility and credibility of LINK as a digital asset. Each new partnership or integration can have a ripple effect on the demand for LINK tokens, being the main means of exchange within these relationships.

In recent developments, Chainlink and the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) have partnered up. Some key aspects of the agreement include:

  • Using Chainlink's Cross-Chain Interoperability Protocol (CCIP): ANZ took part in a case study highlighting the usage of CCIP technology from Chainlink. This study illustrated how ANZ-issued stablecoins could be moved between different blockchain networks to buy nature-based assets.

  • Promotion of tokenized assets adoption: A joint report from Chainlink Labs and ANZ suggested that CCIP could significantly accelerate the adoption of tokenized assets by financial institutions. This would offer customers secure access to digital asset services over different blockchains.

  • Collaboration with SWIFT: The cooperation between Chainlink and SWIFT, which involves numerous banks, is going as planned. The partnership is designed to harness SWIFT messages, a standard in financial services, to prompt blockchain transactions with CCIP.

Challenges and limitations

Although the future prospects for Chainlink and the LINK token are promising, it's important for potential users and traders of the asset to also understand the challenges and limitations that may occur.

Competition in the oracle space is growing, with several competitors offering similar services as Chainlink. This could impact the company's market share and, therefore, the price of the LINK token.

Additionally, regulatory uncertainty could bring volatility into the space, causing Chainlink to adjust its offering. Meanwhile, as a market leader, many believe the onus is on Chainlink to continue bringing fresh innovation to market — especially as competition is growing — to maintain the robustness and reliability of its network.

Interested traders and other crypto-focused individuals would be wise to follow Chainlink's developments closely.

The final word

Chainlink is well-established as a leading player in the blockchain space, being a key partner to a host of enterprises requiring secure access to data stored on-chain.

Its role in creating the connection between smart contracts and real-world data is vital for the ongoing development and maturation of blockchain technology. As the industry evolves, the utility, demand, and ultimately the value of LINK will likely be shaped by Chainlink's ability to adapt, grow, and maintain its status as a trusted provider of decentralized oracle services.

For those interested in the intersection of blockchain and real-world data, LINK represents a stake in a project at the forefront of blockchain innovation.

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