A crypto airdrop is the free distribution of new coins or tokens to spread awareness and reward early adopters.


A crypto airdrop refers to the free distribution of new cryptocurrency assets, primarily tokens, to the public in order to raise awareness and provide access to a project's users or community.

Projects conduct airdrops as a promotional activity, often as part of launching a new cryptocurrency. Recipients typically have to complete simple tasks like submitting contact details, sharing links, or performing other basic actions in order to qualify for the free airdropped assets.

Airdrops provide a way to get new coins or tokens into more hands quickly to drive engagement rather than exclusively relying on initial coin offerings or token sales for distribution. Next we'll look closer at the purposes of airdrops.

Key Purposes and Goals of Crypto Airdrops

Some primary reasons projects conduct cryptocurrency airdrops include:

  • Raising awareness - Airdrops garner attention by distributing assets to many existing crypto users who may engage with the project.
  • Building engagement - By requiring simple promotional actions to participate, projects prompt active engagement from recipients.
  • Rewarding early adopters - Early supporters holding the native token or meeting other criteria may receive additional assets via airdrop.
  • Fairer distribution - Broad airdrops can disseminate assets more widely rather than just to private sale participants.
  • Jumpstarting networks - Adding token holders helps bootstrap activity and liquidity for new projects launching distributions.

Well-executed airdrops incentivize recipients to learn about projects and become part of the community. The free assets don't guarantee success, but can ease launch.

How Do Crypto Airdrops Work?

The typical flow for participating in a cryptocurrency airdrop is as follows:

  • Users learn of upcoming airdrops through forums, Discord channels, email lists and other sources.
  • Participants complete required actions outlined in the airdrop terms to become eligible. This usually involves very simple promotional tasks.
  • After registering and completing the tasks, recipients receive the promised free coin or token airdrop to their crypto wallet address once distribution begins.
  • Some airdrops have limits on how soon recipients can transfer or trade the assets after initially receiving them. Liquidity may be low immediately after distribution as well.
  • Once unlocked, recipients are free to hold or sell the assets received. But dumping them too quickly could adversely affect prices.

The process aims to be very accessible by design to spread awareness. But users should be cautious and vet airdrops for legitimacy before participating.

Risks and Challenges to Assess Before Participating

While they offer opportunities for free assets, some downsides and scams associated with crypto airdrops should be evaluated:

  • Scams/phishing - Like giveaways, some fake airdrops aim to steal keys or info rather than distribute assets. These should be avoided.
  • Dumping assets - Prices can drop if too many recipients immediately dump airdropped coins after distribution before adequate demand and liquidity exist.
  • Data harvesting - Extensive personal data requirements for airdrop eligibility may be harvested rather than just used for eligibility. Know what is required before providing info.
  • Tax headaches - In some jurisdictions, free airdropped assets may be classified as income by tax authorities. Their regulation continues evolving.
  • Temporary loss of liquidity - Many airdrops restrict recipients from immediately trading coins, sometimes for months after distribution. Access can be locked up.

By approaching with caution, users can maximize their upside from legit airdrops while avoiding risky situations. But caution is warranted.

Examples of Major Cryptocurrency Airdrops

Some significant examples of crypto airdrops to illustrate their popularity include:

  • Uniswap - In 2020, the leading decentralized exchange airdropped 400 UNI tokens to anyone who had ever used the platform, worth over $1,000 at the time.
  • Ontology - Early NEO holders were airdropped Ontology's ONT token 1:1 with their NEO holdings in 2018 as ONT launched.
  • Stellar Lumens - In 2016, Stellar distributed over 19 billion XLM tokens in one of the largest airdrops ever to Bitcoin and Ripple holders.
  • ForkDelta - Token distribution via airdrop to early users supported the launch of this Ethereum decentralized exchange in 2018.

Major crypto projects and protocols have largely moved away from relying heavily on airdrops for distribution, but they continue being utilized by emerging networks to seed communities.


Crypto airdrops distribute free coins or tokens as a marketing tactic, often to spread awareness of new projects by rewarding early adopters and activity. Users can participate after completing required actions.

While airdrops present opportunities to gain free cryptos, it's important to vet legitimacy, evaluate risks of temporary illiquidity, and avoid oversharing personal data. Caution is warranted as with any free offering requiring promotional activity in exchange.

Used judiciously as part of a balanced distribution approach, airdrops allow nascent networks to get fresh assets into more hands. But participants should analyze risks before chasing airdrops to avoid scandals. Overall, airdrops remain an attractive way for crypto newcomers to diversify holdings if proceeding with care.