The consequences of mistyping are unpleasant and time-consuming, but we somehow bear them as a common occurrence when transferring data. This isn’t the case in the blockchain ecosystem because blockchain transactions are designed to be irreversible, pseudonymous, and trustless. In other words, there is no third-party facilitator to cancel the transaction or trace the mistaken recipient. In fact, around 20% of irretrievably lost Bitcoin is a result of sending it to the wrong address.
For this reason, even most skilled traders are nervous and extremely cautious when manually typing a public wallet address, which is the only identifier they have for the recipient’s destination. Plus, there’s the fact that public addresses come in the form of an encrypted set of randomly joined characters that can’t be logically remembered, making it easier to mistype.
However, it’s not that recovering crypto sent to the wrong address is always impossible. Trading cryptocurrency has become such a diversified area, and the possibility of recovering your virtual holdings depends on the network and the nature of your marketplace.
Thereby, we’ll go through the most commonly mistaken blockchains and other scenarios for failed receipts to help you dig up a potential solution.
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What Has Happened to My Cryptocurrencies?
Sending crypto to the wrong network can happen only if the addresses have the same format, i.e. the blockchains are compatible with each other. If your crypto asset is on the wrong network, it won’t be operable for any purpose it serves. For instance, if you send Ether to BSC, it won’t work with DApps, NFTs, and smart contracts.
The most reported cases come from users who have sent Bitcoin (BTC) to a Bitcoin Cash (BCH) wallet and holders of tokens built on Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Polygon, and Binance Smart Chain.
If you’ve sent crypto from and to an independent hardware wallet, it’ll be almost impossible to narrow down the recipient. The situation is a bit different when dealing with an exchange. Some cryptocurrency exchanges don’t offer a recovery option at all while others do, but under terms that are financially inefficient since — as they claim — the recovery process is excessively long and risky.
Coinbase, for example, hasn’t established a clear policy on this matter, while HitBTC transparently distances itself from involving in issues of this type. On the other hand, Bittrex is willing to help you if you accidentally send crypto (above the amount of $5,000) to another address, but in return, it charges 0.1% BTC for the service. Given the fact that BTC hasn’t gone below $25,000 since the beginning of 2020, this compensation seems ridiculously high.
Can I Recover Bitcoin Sent to a Bitcoin Cash Address?
For starters, let’s clarify that Bitcoin Cash features two address formats: CashAddr address (Cash address) and Legacy address. The first has been recently launched, and it isn’t compatible with the BTC address formats. However, the BCH Legacy format looks exactly like a standard BTC address, and it’s likely to be mistaken.
Thus, if the BCH address to which you’ve inaccurately sent the bitcoins belongs to an in-exchange wallet, then contact the support team and provide all relevant info, including the transaction ID (TxID). As we mentioned above, it’s up to the exchange to decide whether it’ll make efforts to retrieve your “floating” bitcoins and, if so, to set the price for this service.
In case you’re the owner of the Bitcoin Cash wallet, things can be settled smoothly. All you have to do is import the private key (using the seed phrase) of the BCH wallet to your Bitcoin wallet and recover your bitcoins in no time.
How to Recover Bitcoin Sent to an Ethereum Address?
Bitcoin and Ethereum feature different address formats, so if you accidentally use an ETH address to send bitcoins, the transaction won’t be executed. In some rare cases, though, your BTC may get deducted from your account despite the unsuccessful transaction, and you won’t be aware of it until you try to withdraw your funds.
There are two Ethereum-related exceptions that can result in a wrong transaction and this happens when you transact Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) and BabyBitcoin (BBTC) — ERC-20 tokens that are pegged 1:1 to Bitcoin’s value and come with BTC-compatible address formats. In such a case, check out whether the exchange offers a recovery option.
Can I Recover Tokens Sent to a BEP20 Address?
BEP20 tokens are built on top of the Binance Smart Chain (BSC), and their addresses have an identical format with the abundance of Ethereum-based tokens.
In real life, the source of confusion between BEP-20 and ERC-20 transactions comes from the very low fees on the BSC network compared to the notoriously high gas fees on the Ethereum network. So, it frequently happens that users jump into a BEP-20 address when they see an offer listed on Binance at a super-favourable price. As a result, when users try to withdraw a particular ERC-20 token from Binance, they instinctively select BEP-20 as their transfer network due to the attractive fee that appears on the screen. Binance does put considerable attention on preventing users from making this mistake, so you can immediately notice the bold alert on their withdrawal section.
How to Recover Your Tokens After Sending Them to the Wrong Network
Depending on the circumstances, you can try recovering your funds from the wrong address. If you own the private key of your ETH address, you can connect it to a crypto wallet that supports Binance Smart Chain such as Trust Wallet or MetaMask.
Once you have your private keys imported into a proper BSC wallet, it’s a good idea to withdraw some Binance coins (BNB) to that wallet in order to pay for the transaction fees on the Binance Smart Chain. Once you’ve topped up your wallet with a sufficient amount of BNB, you can initiate a transaction and send your ERC-20 tokens back to any other token contract address. If you’re planning to transfer these tokens to your Binance account, you should first find the address for these tokens on Binance.
If you use Metamask, it may occur for your tokens to be invisible on the wallet even though you’ve already linked MetaMask to Binance Smart Chain. The only thing you can do is add tokens manually through the MetaMask custom token option.
However, if you use an in-exchange web wallet or another type of custodial wallet, you won’t be able to convey this “rescue” action as you don’t have full ownership of your private key. Follow our advice from the previous section and try to contact your storage provider.
Can I Recover BEP20 Tokens Sent to MetaMask?
What if you mistakenly sent BEP-20 USDT to your Ethereum wallet? The recovery process of your BEP-20 tokens is possible and pretty upfront if you use MetaMask for storing Ether and ERC-20 tokens.
For starters, access your MetaMask wallet, go to Ethereum Mainnet and find custom RPC, among other options for adding Binance Smart Chain. After entering the following information:
Network Name: Smart Chain
New RPC URL: https://bsc-dataseed.binance.org/
Block Explorer URL: https://bscscan.com
your MetaMask wallet will connect to the Binance Smart Chain, which doesn’t mean that your BEP-20 will be necessarily visible even though they were successfully transferred to your Ethereum wallet address. Similar to the reverse case from the previous section, you’ll have to add the token manually using the Custom Token option on MetaMask.
Afterwards, you can send the token back either to Binance or any other BEP20 address. If you want to use the tokens for trading on another trading platform, you can also transfer them there, but first, double-check whether the crypto trading platform supports BEP-20 or cross-chain deposits. Binance Bridge can be a super useful tool for transferring BEP-20 tokens to the Ethereum blockchain.
What if I Send Crypto Without a Destination Tag/MEMO?
A Destination Tag or MEMO is an additional address feature — either numeric, string, or both — that enables centralised exchanges to identify recipients behind the transfer of cryptocurrencies that employ this tag system, such as Ripple (XRP), Stellar (XLM), and Cosmos (ATOM).
If you happen to send some of this crypto without a tag or including a wrong tag, the exchange will still receive the coins and keep them in their deposit addresses. However, even though the transaction is marked as successful, the exchange won’t be able to distribute them to your account.
Since you can’t restore blockchain transfers, the last resort for this problem will be the exchange support team. You should immediately contact them and provide them with TxID and other relevant details about the transaction.
Note that tag-related issues are solved in a relatively easy manner. For example, on Binance, you can submit a form to activate the application for recovering your unidentified assets.
How to Recover Tether (USDT) Sent to a Bitcoin Address?
Tether utilises the Bitcoin-based Omni Protocol, and hence, it has the very same address format as BTC. Therefore, it does occur to users to send this stablecoin to a Bitcoin address accidentally. However, bear in mind that USDT is available on multiple blockchains, such as Binance Smart Chain, Tron, and Ethereum, so you can make a mistake of this kind only if you have an OMNI address. The bad news is that USDT recovery is very difficult or almost impossible due to the use of different blockchains.
However, if the address is yours and you have full ownership of your private key, you can smoothly import the key to any OmniWallet and “save” your USDT.
A Few Words Before You Go…
As you can see, the blockchain industry is generally intolerant to mistyping mistakes. There can be thousands of reasons behind confusing the real address confusion, but nothing can release you from the responsibility of inserting the recipient’s address correctly. Therefore, you must develop a personal strategy to ensure correct data insertion — it may be QR-code or encrypted cloud storage or simply double-check the address when entering it manually. A single mistake may lead you to a disastrous outcome, and absolutely nobody will be able to provide you with the necessary help because of the strictly irreversible nature of blockchain networks.