What is Winding Down?

"Winding down" or "unwrapping" a token in the context of cryptocurrency refers to the process of retiring a token and distributing its underlying assets to its holders. This can happen when a token was initially created as a wrapper around another asset, such as a security token representing ownership in a real-world asset, and it is no longer needed. Unwrapping a token can also occur when a project is ending its operations and the team decides to distribute the assets held by the token back to its holders.

The process of unwrapping a token usually involves several steps, such as verifying the identity of token holders, distributing the underlying assets to the correct addresses, disabling the functionality of the token in any applications or platforms, and communicating the end of the token to its holders. It is important to note that unwrapping a token can be a complex process, especially if the underlying assets are difficult to value or distribute, or if there are regulatory hurdles that need to be cleared. Proper planning and execution are crucial to ensure a smooth unwrapping process and minimize the impact on users.

Simplified Example

A simple example of winding down or unwrapping a token could be a scenario where a token named "Gift Card" represents a store's gift card. When a customer wants to use the gift card, they would "unwrap" the token by exchanging it for the corresponding value in goods or services at the store.

History of the Term "Winding Down"

The term "winding down" found its early application in the cryptocurrency realm during the early 2010s, referring to the gradual reduction or phasing out of operations within a cryptocurrency project or company. Although the precise originator of the term in this specific context remains unknown, it likely arose to characterize scenarios where a cryptocurrency project was no longer actively developed or supported, yet its operational activities persisted.


Tether (USDT) unwrapping: Tether is a stablecoin that is pegged to the value of the US dollar. In some instances, Tether has unwrapped its tokens to distribute the underlying US dollars to its holders, usually as a result of regulatory requirements or changes in the operating environment.

Security token unwrapping: Security tokens represent ownership in real-world assets such as stocks, real estate, or commodities. In some cases, the underlying assets are unwrapped and distributed to the holders of the security tokens, such as in the case of a merger or acquisition of the underlying assets.

Decentralized finance (DeFi) token unwrapping: DeFi tokens are often used as wrappers for underlying assets in decentralized finance applications. When the application is ending its operations or when the underlying assets are being distributed, the DeFi tokens may be unwrapped and the underlying assets are distributed to their holders. For example, a DeFi token that represents ownership in a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) may be unwrapped and the DAO's assets are distributed to its token holders.

  • Security Token: Digital assets that represent ownership of a financial security, such as stocks, bonds, or real estate.

  • Bag Holder: A term used in the world of cryptocurrency to describe an investor who still holds a significant amount of a particular cryptocurrency, even after its value has decreased significantly