So far, we’ve mostly discussed AMMs, which have been the most popular use of liquidity pools. However, as we’ve said, pooling liquidity is a profoundly simple concept, so it can be used in a number of different ways.
One of these is yield farming or liquidity mining. Liquidity pools are the basis of automated yield-generating platforms like yearn, where users add their funds to pools that are then used to generate yield.
Distributing new tokens in the hands of the right people is a very difficult problem for crypto projects. Liquidity mining has been one of the more successful approaches. Basically, the tokens are distributed algorithmically to users who put their tokens into a liquidity pool. Then, the newly minted tokens are distributed proportionally to each user’s share of the pool.
Bear in mind; these can even be tokens from other liquidity pools called pool tokens. For example, if you’re providing liquidity to Uniswap or lending funds to Compound, you’ll get tokens that represent your share in the pool. You may be able to deposit those tokens into another pool and earn a return. These chains can become quite complicated, as protocols integrate other protocols’ pool tokens into their products, and so on.
We could also think about governance as a use case. In some cases, there’s a very high threshold of token votes needed to be able to put forward a formal governance proposal. If the funds are pooled together instead, participants can rally behind a common cause they deem important for the protocol.
Another emerging DeFi sector is insurance against smart contract risk. Many of its implementations are also powered by liquidity pools.
Another, even more cutting-edge use of liquidity pools is for tranching. It’s a concept borrowed from traditional finance that involves dividing up financial products based on their risks and returns. As you’d expect, these products allow LPs to select customized risk and return profiles.
Minting synthetic assets on the blockchain also relies on liquidity pools. Add some collateral to a liquidity pool, connect it to a trusted oracle, and you’ve got yourself a synthetic token that’s pegged to whatever asset you’d like. Alright, in reality, it’s a more complicated problem than that, but the basic idea is this simple.
What else can we think of? There are probably many more uses for liquidity pools that are yet to be uncovered, and it’s all up to the ingenuity of DeFi developers.