Liquidity Pool or LP Tokens Explained
Users who provide liquidity to liquidity pools receive liquidity pool tokens, also known as liquidity provider tokens. These tokens serve as a receipt to claim the original stake and earned interest. Besides, they can be used to compound interest in yield farming, acquire crypto loans, or transfer ownership of the staked liquidity. However, it is crucial to note that giving up custody of LP tokens means losing ownership of the associated liquidity.
Even though liquidity pools are well-known to Decentralized finance (DeFi) users, LP tokens are often neglected. Nevertheless, these crypto assets have additional use cases beyond accessing your provided liquidity. Thus, despite the risks associated with using LP tokens in other applications, there are practical methods for gaining more value from these exclusive assets.
What Do Liquidity Pools Mean?
The liquidity of an asset refers to its ability to be traded without significantly impacting its price. While cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) are highly liquid, smaller projects may not be. DeFi platforms address this issue with liquidity pool models.
Liquidity pools contain two assets that users can exchange without the need for market makers or order books. Instead, the price is determined by the ratio of the assets in the pool. Liquidity providers deposit token pairs into the pool to enable trading and earn a small fee from users who swap using their tokens.
In DeFi, liquidity pools are essential to trade assets with low liquidity. However, having a liquidity pool does not guarantee high liquidity. Even so, users can always trade using the pool without relying on finding a buyer or seller for their assets. Therefore, liquidity pool tokens refer specifically to tokens used for providing liquidity to DeFi platforms.
How Do Liquidity Pool Tokens Work?
When depositing tokens into a liquidity pool, you'll receive LP tokens that serve as proof of your share in the pool and are required to retrieve your deposit plus any interest earned. Losing these tokens means losing your stake, so it's important to keep them safe in your wallet. You might need to add the LP token's smart contract address to view it in your wallet. While most LP tokens can be transferred between wallets, not all liquidity pool providers allow it, and some transfers may result in a permanent loss of liquidity.
Where Can I Get Liquidity Pool Tokens?
To participate in liquidity pools and receive LP tokens, you'll need to utilize a DeFi DApp such as Uniswap. The LP token system is prevalent in many blockchain projects, including DeFi platforms, automated market makers (AMMs), and decentralized exchanges (DEXs). However, if you use liquidity pool services in a centralized finance (CeFi) setting on an exchange, you will not receive LP tokens, as they are held in custody by the exchange's custodial service provider. Typically, your LP token will have the name of the two tokens you've supplied liquidity for, such as UNI-ETH LP for a UniSwap liquidity pool consisting of UNI and ETH.
What Can I Do With Liquidity Pool (LP) Tokens?
LP tokens can be used in various ways beyond serving as a receipt in DeFi. You can transfer ownership of the associated liquidity by sending the LP tokens to another wallet address, enabling the recipient to remove the tokens from the pool. Although manually calculating the exact amount of tokens in the pool can be difficult, DeFi calculators can help.
LP tokens can also serve as collateral in a loan since they provide ownership of the underlying asset. Some platforms allow users to offer their LP tokens as collateral, with the loan being overcollateralized. If a user fails to maintain a certain collateral ratio, the lender may use their LP tokens to claim the underlying assets and liquidate them.
Another common use of LP tokens is to deposit them in yield compounders or yield farms, which regularly harvest rewards, purchase more tokens, and stake them back in the liquidity pool to compound interest. Yield farms can compound more efficiently than manual processes, as transaction fees can be shared and compounding can be done multiple times per day, depending on the strategy.
What Are the Risks of LP Tokens?
LP tokens, like any other token, carry certain risks, which include:
- Loss or theft: If you misplace your LP token, you will forfeit your share of the liquidity pool, along with any interest accrued.
- Smart contract malfunctions: In the event of a smart contract malfunction, your LP tokens will be unable to return liquidity. The smart contracts of yield farms or loan providers that you stake your LP tokens with could also fail.
- Difficulty in determining their value: Determining the exact value of your LP tokens is challenging, and it's almost impossible to know what they represent. If token prices diverge, you may also experience impermanent loss. Additionally, you must factor in interest. These uncertainties can make it difficult to decide when to leave your liquidity position.
- Opportunity risk: By providing liquidity with your tokens, you are sacrificing potential returns. In some situations, you may be better off investing your tokens elsewhere or using them in a different opportunity.
When you provide liquidity to a DeFi protocol, it's worth considering whether you want to use your LP tokens too. Depositing into a liquidity pool can be the first step in a DeFi strategy. Therefore, apart from HODLing, it's important to assess your investment plans and risk tolerance to decide if further investment is appropriate.