Note the ethereum address 0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000. It’s the black hole equivalent in the Ethereum community that swallows every token sent to it without remorse and never refunds anything back. It’s the genesis address of the Ethereum network and it currently holds ERC20 tokens and ethers worth over $520 million.
Yes, it is one of richest Ethereum addresses in existence today.
As the genesis address, it is revered by the Ethereum community. After all, being the first-ever Ethereum block to have been mined, it represents the birth of the cryptocurrency. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it is also one of the most frowned upon addresses simply because a significant chunk of the funds it is holding on to today was sent by mistake.
The senders who sent it inadvertently never got it back, and the odds are high they won’t ever be able to retrieve those mistakenly sent tokens.
So what’s the story here? Why the genesis address attract so many incoming transactions, deliberate or otherwise? Let’s begin with the obviously less painful between the two:
On-purpose Payments to the Ethereum Genesis Address
First thing first, nobody knows what percentage of the tokens currently held by 0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000 were sent on purpose. In the end, it doesn’t really matter as far as we know, it is likely that the bulk of it might have been sent there deliberately.
There are two primary reasons why someone would send it any tokens. The first of these two possible reasons is called token burns. Burns represents a scenario when a system chooses to destroy their tokens to flush them out of circulation. This can be done for various reasons including, but not limited to building deflation into a system or stabilizing prices.
One of the easiest ways to burn tokens is to send them to the genesis address. Apart from the relative ease, the action also represents a symbolic value whereas the “burnt” tokens go back to the original (read: maiden) Ethereum block.
In some cases, people inclined toward the spiritual side of things also burn small amounts from their ether stash as a form of tribute.
What Triggers Accidental Payments to the Ethereum Genesis Address
Easy as it is to remember, 0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000 is also an easy one to enter by mistake. What made it even worse for many is that a number of wallets used to have the genesis address as the default address until the user helped themselves with the appropriate configuration.
There are many instances when people accidentally sent a fortune to the genesis address. For example, there’s this Reddit user who once asked the community if there was a way to retrieve the golems he mistakenly sent to the Ethereum “black hole” by not entering an address before being cozy with the “Send” button.
But is There a Way for Accidental Senders to Ever Retrieve Their Tokens?
Technically yes. That’s because the founders of the project can still access the private key for that address. If they do it, which we don’t see happening at least in the foreseeable future, it has to be preceded with setting up a smart contract that automatically refunds everything ever sent to the genesis address. Although we repeat, the odds of that happening anytime soon (or ever, if you’re a skeptic like me), are very limited, if not entirely nil.