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Working with assets on substrate

It is common practice to store units of value on the blockchain as fungible assets. Fungible assets facilitate the implementation of a sound economic game model for a blockchain and provide a medium for exchanging value among different participants within a blockchain economy.

This guide takes an error-based approach to walk you through essential components when handling fungible assets in a substrate pallet. We will also highlight important substrate APIs and FRAME pallets to consider when working with fungible assets.

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Reproducing errors

Environment and project setup

To follow along with this tutorial, ensure that you have the Rust toolchain installed.

git clone
  • Navigate into the project’s directory.
cd working-with-assets-on-substrate

Checkout to faulty implementation.

git checkout 858eb27
  • Run the command below to build the pallet.
cargo build --release

Running the build produces an error like the one below:

error[E0220]: associated type `Currency` not found for `T`
--> src/
203 | T::Currency::reserve(&signer, deposit.into())
| ^^^^^^^^ there is a similarly named associated type `Currency` in the trait `VestingSchedule`

This compiler error tells us that Currency type is not implemented for the pallet config trait T. The error further suggests that there is a type with a similar name Currency in the trait VestingSchedule that we could use in the pallet.

For context, the error originates from pay_royalty extrinsic that 'accepts' a royalty payer asset and reserves such asset for the archiver. The archiver can withdraw this asset into their account.

Solving the error

Similar to the common fiat lingo, Currency is an abstraction over fungible asset systems. It defines essential methods used in handling fungible assets including transfer, withdraw and burn.

Currency trait is implemented like so:

/// Abstraction over a fungible assets system.
pub trait Currency<AccountId> {
/// The balance of an account.
type Balance: Balance + MaybeSerializeDeserialize + Debug + MaxEncodedLen + FixedPointOperand;

/// The opaque token type for an imbalance. This is returned by unbalanced operations
/// and must be dealt with. It may be dropped but cannot be cloned.
type PositiveImbalance: Imbalance<Self::Balance, Opposite = Self::NegativeImbalance>;

/// The opaque token type for an imbalance. This is returned by unbalanced operations
/// and must be dealt with. It may be dropped but cannot be cloned.
type NegativeImbalance: Imbalance<Self::Balance, Opposite = Self::PositiveImbalance>;


/// The combined balance of `who`.
fn total_balance(who: &AccountId) -> Self::Balance;

fn burn(amount: Self::Balance) -> Self::PositiveImbalance;

fn slash(who: &AccountId, value: Self::Balance) -> (Self::NegativeImbalance, Self::Balance);

fn deposit_into_existing(
who: &AccountId,
value: Self::Balance,
) -> Result<Self::PositiveImbalance, DispatchError>;

fn withdraw(
who: &AccountId,
value: Self::Balance,
reasons: WithdrawReasons,
liveness: ExistenceRequirement,
) -> Result<Self::NegativeImbalance, DispatchError>;


Currency along with ReservableCurrency (and other traits) are essential for a comprehensive management of fungible assets as demonstrated in pallet-balance.

Fixing this error above requires that we use Currency and ReservableCurrency in our pallet Config like so:

pub mod pallet {
use frame_support::traits::{Currency, ReservableCurrency};


pub trait Config: frame_system::Config {
/// Because this pallet emits events, it depends on the runtime's definition of an event.
type RuntimeEvent: From<Event<Self>> + IsType<<Self as frame_system::Config>::RuntimeEvent>;
/// Trait for handling fungible tokens
type Currency: Currency<Self::AccountId> + ReservableCurrency<Self::AccountId>;
/// Pallet ID.
type PalletId: Get<PalletId>;


  • Re-run the build
cargo build

It is important to note that FRAME pallet-balance further abstracts common functionalities when handling fungible assets including transferring balance between accounts, setting locks on balance, and reserving assets, as well as slashing an account balance, making it easier for substrate pallet developers to implement custom state transition functions involving fungible assets.

Common pitfall

A common challenge you may face when implementing state transition functions involving fungible assets is using a root account. A root account in this context is an account that has full access to assets owned by a pallet.

An approach to implementing a root account is by converting your PalletId to an AccountId. This account id can be associated with asset balances and can make transfers with admin privileges.

You can implement a root account like so:

    // generate pallet account id
pub fn pallet_account_id() -> T::AccountId {
T::AccountId = T::PalletId::get().into_account_truncating()

Note that conversion from PalletId consumes computational resources and should be accounted for during your runtime benchmarking.

If you need to use the pallet account id multiple times, you may want to consider storing the pallet account id after a single computation as a single StorageValue like so:

    // Pallet derived account id
pub(super) type PalletAccountId<T: Config> = StorageValue<_, T::AccountId, OptionQuery>;

// generate pallet account id
pub fn pallet_account_id() -> T::AccountId {
let pallet_account_id: T::AccountId = T::PalletId::get().into_account_truncating();

You can initialize the pallet account id ideally in GenesisConfig.


In this guide, we took an error-based approach to explore essential components commonly used in handling fungible assets. We also developed an understanding of:

  • Currency trait, which contains basic functionalities including asset transfers
  • FRAME pallet-balances, that abstract a comprehensive set of fungible asset functionalities

Additionally, we looked at how to use PalletId as a seed to generate a root account id for a pallet.

To learn more about testing in substrate, check out these resources:

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