AMMs: Flash Analysis

Introduction

Markets perform a beautiful function: to provide the place where supply and demand meet. A place where market participants interact with each other.

Each market has its own set of rules that define how supply and demand meet (auction-style, direct exchange-style, etc.), along with its methodology and technology (Central Limit Order Book, Request For Quotation, Constant Product Formula, etc.).

In the crypto space, Automated Market Makers (AMMs), which use a constant function, already account for more than 90% of the trustless and permissionless (so-called “decentralised”) monthly trading volume.

Crypto Spot Market: simplified view of addressable markets (monthly trading volume) — [1] and [2]

With almost $1t in trading volume a year, AMMs are a growing and an inevitable piece of the crypto ecosystem.

But what are each of their positions in the market? How can we compare them? What can we learn from them?

Screening over 20 well-known players, we present our humble findings.

1. First in, first horizontal

It’s messy. Not because the space is crowded, but rather because the infrastructure on which AMMs are deployed is evolving.

The AMM Milky Way

While many AMMs address a specific network, approximately a quarter are multi-chain or chain-agnostic. That means that they have the ability to support different smart contract networks, therefore addressing a wider audience. More than 65% of the AMMs doing ‘horizontal integration’ [3] are first entrants / legacy players, such as Uniswap, Balancer, and Curve.

2. Steal Like an Artist

Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes. ― Austin Kleon [4]

Out of 22 AMMs analysed, only about 20% were given a 4 or 5 score in Innovation by our research team, 5 being the best score. Scoring methodology corresponds to the following:

  • 1 = Little to no innovation, generally a copy paste of legacy protocol(s)
  • 2 = One innovative point. For instance, at the protocol level or at the governance level
  • 3 = A few innovative points (ie margin trading, limit order, etc.)
  • 4 = Stands out and addresses new / unsolved problems
  • 5 = First-in-class innovative protocol, the Dyson of the industry, known to be the first of its kind

From Raydium’s integrated liquidity to Serum’s orderbook, to Uniswap’s concentrated liquidity feature, or to PancakeSwap’s gamification approach, a few players give strong clues about what might be the next killing feature within the ecosystem.

3. The 50% Safu

“Safu” [5] means safe. Although being audited does not guarantee or protect an exchange from being hacked, it is often a measure taken to mitigate that risk along with its potential impact.

Approximately 50% of the AMMs studied in our scope have been audited by an independent auditor. This figure drops to almost a third for AMMs that have been audited by multiple third parties.

The very high demand for smart contract audits, combined with the tech skills shortage, has led audit companies (ie Consensys Diligence, Sigma Prime, Certik, etc.) to take advantage of the situation and charge as high as $5,000 a day for an auditor!

4. The Governance Exception

Only one AMM in our list, Ellipsis, has no community governance model and no plan to create one. 77% of the AMMs we analyzed are community governed protocols. Although Raydium, CherrySwap, Trader Joe, and DinoSwap do no have a community governance model yet, they all plan to have one or are at least considering it.

Yet, only a third satisfy the following criteria on the topic:

  • Documentation on governance exists
  • Third party governance tool or feature are embedded in the solution
  • Smart contract or DAO addresses are easily accessible

5. Inform Da People!

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), one of the biggest marketplaces in the world, has 460 times more daily volume than that of the entire crypto market [6]. Looking at the website of the CME [7], the second tab is ‘Manage Risk‘.

Again, first entrants / legacy players (Curve, Uniswap, Balancer, SushiSwap) and a few new AMMs (KlaySwap, SpiritSwap, SpookySwap) got the top scores in our ‘User protection’ section, by which we identify a platform that informs and offers guidance and information relating to the risks of its product(s).

In other words, almost a third satisfy the following criteria on the topic:

  • Dedicated risk section or documentation exists and is readily accessible
  • Tokens go through a whitelisting process
  • Guidance and educational content relating to the different risks of using the product(s) exist

6. Fun or Pro?

There is quite a difference between Curve’s and DinoSwap’s User Interface.

Curve Homepage
DinoSwap Homepage

The experience is not the same and both target a different kind of audience. An audience that can be divided in two groups: Retail vs Pro.

  • Retail: a retail user is an individual who is acting for purposes which are outside his/her trade, business or profession
  • Pro: a professional or sophisticated user is one that has the knowledge and experience to trade, invest

Analysing the User Interface (UI) and Experience (UX), we can form three distinctive groups of AMMs.

  1. Pro: pro-oriented or strong focus on pro users
  2. Retail: retail-oriented or strong focus on retail users
  3. Neutral
AMMs’ UI: Pro vs Retail heat map

The degree to which a certain platform targets a specific audience can be discussed and adjusted. Yet, in a space where regulation is lagging behind, more than 80% of the AMMs are either neutral or retail-oriented in their UI design.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, what often matters the most is how good swap prices are. That’s the reason why the Ref team is working on the Parallel Swap integration [8] and the Smart Routing feature. Both will significantly improve Ref’s pricing and swap experience.

Along with the development of new features such as fiat on-ramp and stable swap [9], our ambition is to position Ref Finance among the best AMMs listed above with regard to Innovation, Governance, User Protection, and Security.

Regarding the UI and UX, we are very grateful for the community’s feedback. As the gateway to the NEAR ecosystem, Ref Finance will focus on an inclusive and neutral approach, making sure we can reach a broad audience.

Finally, as Sanket N — a beloved Ref community member — has recently written in our Telegram channel,

Rome wasn’t built in a day. — [10]

By Didier, Product Manager

Acknowledgments

I would like to give a big thanks to the Community Board members who have helped and supported this flash analysis and research. Special THANKS to Hung Bui, Life Lessons 101, Nguyen Minh Hieu, and Rim “BB” Berjack.

References

[1] https://dune.xyz/hagaetc/dex-metrics

[2] https://www.theblockcrypto.com/data/crypto-markets/spot/btc-spot-to-futures-volume

[3] https://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/horizontalintegration.asp

[4] Steal Like an Artist — Austin Kleon, 2012 (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steal-Like-Artist-Things-Creative-ebook/dp/B0074QGGK6)

[5] https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Safu

[6] https://coinmarketcap.com/

[7] https://www.cmegroup.com/#

[8] https://github.com/giddyphysicist/ParallelSwapForRefFinance

[9] https://github.com/ref-finance/ref-contracts/pull/48

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome_wasn%27t_built_in_a_day

About Ref Finance

Built on top of a leading edge protocol in NEAR, REF Finance acts as the gateway into the entire ecosystem through its AMM, which provides liquidity and swapping features for all decentralized application launching on NEAR. To do this, REF implements the renowned Rainbow Bridge which seamlessly bridges Ethereum based assets over to NEAR, thus bringing access for an array of DeFi users to lower fees and faster transaction speeds.

Make sure you are following us on Twitter for the latest news and announcements, and do make sure you join our Discord or Telegram for deeper levels of engagement with our Team and Community.

Disclaimer

Ref Finance does not endorse or promote any of the projects, platforms or cryptocurrencies mentioned in this blogpost. Any descriptions of functionality and services provided are for information only. Ref Finance is not responsible for any loss of funds or other damages caused as a result of using the projects, platforms or cryptocurrencies described above.

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Ref Finance

Ref Finance

Ref Finance is the starting point to the NEAR Ecosystem with a leading AMM & a synchronous #DeFi Shard.