Home » Algorithmic Stablecoins: The Future of Stable Cryptocurrencies
Algorithmic stablecoins have been gaining significant attention in the world of decentralized finance (DeFi) due to their unique approach to maintaining stable value. Unlike traditional stablecoins, which are pegged to fiat currencies or other assets, it rely on smart contracts and sophisticated algorithms to adjust their supply and demand dynamics. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of stable coins, their advantages, risks, and some popular examples that are making waves in the cryptocurrency market.
The underlying mechanism of algorithmic stablecoins revolves around the use of smart contracts and algorithms to regulate the supply and demand of the stablecoin in response to market forces. Generally, these stablecoins use a two-token model, consisting of the stablecoin itself and a secondary token that absorbs the price volatility of the stablecoin. When the price of the stablecoin deviates from its peg, the algorithm adjusts the supply of the stablecoin to restore the peg.
Oracle contracts play a crucial role in the functioning of stable coins. These contracts enable communication between the smart contract and external channels outside the blockchain. Oracle contracts obtain the price of the stablecoin from various exchanges and provide this data to the smart contract.
Rebase contracts are another essential component of algorithmic stablecoin systems. These contracts take the stablecoin price from various exchanges as input and determine whether the supply of the stablecoin should be increased or decreased to maintain the peg.
Depending on the rebase contract’s decision, the algorithm will either burn or mint tokens from users’ wallets. If the value of the stablecoin rises above the peg, the algorithm will burn tokens to reduce the supply and restore the peg. Conversely, if the value of the stablecoin falls below the peg, the algorithm will mint new tokens to increase the supply and restore the peg.
There are several types of algorithmic stablecoins, each with their unique features and mechanisms. Here is an overview of some common types of algorithmic stablecoins:
Rebasing Algorithmic Stablecoins
Rebasing focus on regulating the value of the stablecoin by adjusting its supply. In this model, the algorithm reduces the coin supply when its price drops and issues additional coins when its price rises.
Over-collateralized Algorithmic Stablecoins
Over-collateralized rely on a large reserve of cryptocurrencies to issue a smaller number of stablecoins. This type of stablecoin serves as an effective buffer for price fluctuations.
Seigniorage use a different mechanism than the rebasing model. These stablecoins feature two distinct tokens: a supply-elastic currency and the network’s investment shares. The owners of the investment shares receive inflationary rewards and bear the burden of debt when the currency’s value falls.
Several of them have emerged in the market, each with its unique features and potential risks. Here are some popular examples:
1. TerraUSD (UST)
TerraUSD (UST) is a popular algorithmic stablecoin built on the Terra (LUNA) blockchain. It focuses on providing a more decentralized and scalable alternative to traditional fiat-pegged stablecoins like USDT and USDC. UST maintains its peg to the US dollar through an algorithmic relationship with Terra’s native cryptocurrency, LUNA. Users can burn LUNA to mint UST when the price of UST rises above $1, increasing the supply and restoring the peg.
Frax is one of the first algorithmic stablecoin protocols in the market. It is an open-source and permissionless cryptocurrency, entirely on-chain on the Ethereum blockchain. Frax aims to become a highly decentralized, algorithmic, and scalable stablecoin serving the DeFi market.
Ampleforth is an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency that utilizes a flexible supply mechanism to maintain price stability. AMPL, the stablecoin of Ampleforth, is non-dilutive and elastic, allowing it to adjust its supply in response to market conditions.
4. Empty Set Dollar (ESD)
Empty Set Dollar (ESD) is a decentralized, oracle-oriented stablecoin that combines novel protocol mechanisms, composability, and decentralization. ESD is designed to address the concerns of rebasing algorithmic stablecoins and offers users a stablecoin without requiring them to commit funds to a centralized provider.
5. Magic Internet Money (MIM)
Magic Internet Money is an algorithmic stablecoin available on popular crypto exchanges like Curve Finance, Uniswap, and PancakeSwap. Users can deposit their interest-bearing assets into Magic Internet Money and use them as collateral to borrow the stablecoin.
Risks Associated with Algorithmic Stablecoins
While algorithmic stablecoins offer several advantages over traditional stablecoins, they are not without risks. Here are some potential risks associated with algorithmic stablecoins:
They are still subject to market-driven volatility, which can cause the stablecoin to lose its peg temporarily. In extreme market conditions, the algorithm may not be able to adjust the supply of the stablecoin quickly enough to maintain the peg.
Smart Contract Vulnerabilities
As algorithmic stablecoins rely on smart contracts, they are susceptible to vulnerabilities and bugs in the contract code. If exploited, these vulnerabilities could lead to significant losses for users.
Algorithmic stablecoins may face increased regulatory scrutiny due to their decentralized and non-collateralized nature. Regulators may impose stricter requirements on these stablecoins, potentially impacting their adoption and use in the market.
In the case of Ethereum-based algorithmic stablecoins, network congestion can cause delays in the execution of transactions. This can lead to difficulties in maintaining the stablecoin’s peg during periods of high demand.
Algorithmic stablecoins represent a new frontier in the world of stable cryptocurrencies, offering a unique and decentralized approach to maintaining a stable value. While they offer several advantages over traditional stablecoins, they also come with their own set of risks and challenges. As the DeFi landscape continues to evolve, algorithmic stablecoins could play an increasingly important role in the market. However, users must exercise caution and conduct thorough research before investing in these innovative financial instruments.