About Uniswap (UNI)
Uniswap (UNI) is the native token of the Uniswap decentralized exchange, an automated liquidity provider that’s designed to make it easy to exchange Ethereum (ERC-20) tokens. With no orderbook or central facilitator, the Uniswap protocol is designed to be fully decentralized, using a trading model known as an automated liquidity protocol. That method gives users incentives to provide liquidity, which guarantees a liquidity pool, ensuring trades can be executed instantly at a known price.
Uniswap is the largest decentralized exchange (or DEX) operating on the Ethereum blockchain. It allows users anywhere in the world to trade crypto without an intermediary. UNI, the governance token that allows users to vote on key protocol changes, is one of the largest cryptocurrencies by market cap.
Uniswap was one of the first decentralized finance (or DeFi) applications to gain significant traction on Ethereum — launching in November 2018. Since then, numerous other decentralized exchanges have launched (including SushiSwap, Balancer and Curve), but Uniswap has historically remained the most popular.
How Does Uniswap Work?
Uniswap pioneered the Automated Market Maker model, in which users supply Ethereum tokens to Uniswap “liquidity pools” and algorithms set market prices based on supply and demand (as opposed to order books, which match bids and asks from users on a centralized exchange).
By supplying tokens to Uniswap liquidity pools, users can earn rewards while enabling peer-to-peer trading. Users supply tokens to liquidity pools, trade tokens, or even create and list their own tokens (using Ethereum’s ERC-20 token protocol). There are currently hundreds of tokens available on Uniswap, and many popular trading pairs are stablecoins like USDC.
What Makes Uniswap Different?
After years of successful operation, and on its path to complete decentralization, Uniswap introduced the UNI token to enable community ownership over the protocol, allowing stakeholders to vote on key protocol changes and development initiatives. When Uniswap released the token in September 2020, it used a unique form of distribution in which it “airdropped” 400 UNI tokens to each Ethereum address that had ever used the protocol. Over 250,000 Ethereum addresses received the airdrop, which was worth nearly $1,400 at the time. Airdrops have since become a popular way for DeFi apps to reward longtime users – Uniswap has said it plans to distribute a total of 1 billion UNI over four years.
The Potential Advantages of Uniswap
- Self-governing: Funds are never transferred to any third party or generally subject to counterparty risk (i.e. trusting your assets with a custodian) because both parties are trading directly from their own wallets.
- Global and permissionless: There is no concept of borders, or restrictions on who can trade. Anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can participate.
- Ease-of-use and pseudonymity: No account signup or personal details are required.
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