Stakers provide assets to the THORChain liquidity pools. They are compensated with swap fees and system rewards. Compensation is affected by a number of factors related to the pool and the state of the network.
THORChain creates an opportunity for holders of non-productive assets like BTC and BNB to earn yield.
Holders stake their assets in liquidity pools and earn yield in return. They earn tokens in Rune and the pool's connected asset. For example, someone who has staked in the BTC/RUNE pool will receive rewards in BTC and RUNE.
Yield is calculated for stakers every block. Yield is paid out to stakers when they remove assets from the pool.
Rewards are calculated according to whether or not the block contains any swap transactions. If the block contains swap transactions then the amount of fees collected per pool sets the amount of rewards. If the block doesn't contain trades then the amount of assets in the pool determines the rewards.
How a block with fees splits the rewards:
Pool Depth (RUNE)
Share of Fees (and rewards)
How a block with no fees splits the rewards:
Pool Depth (RUNE)
Share of Rewards
This ensures that yield is being sent to where demand is being experienced - with fees being the proxy. Since fees are proportional to slip, it means the increase in rewards ensure that pools experiencing a lot of slip are being incentivised and will attract more liquidity.
Ownership % of Pool – Stakers who own more of a pool receive more of that pool's rewards.
Swap Volume – Higher swap volumes lead to higher fees. Higher fees lead to higher rewards for stakers.
Size of Swaps – Swappers who are in a hurry to exchange assets will tend to make larger swaps. Larger swaps lead to greater price slips and therefore higher fees.
Incentive Pendulum – The Incentive Pendulum balances the amount of capital bonded in the network versus pooled. It does this by changing the amount of rewards given to node operators versus stakers. Sometimes rewards will be higher for stakers to encourage them to stake assets; sometimes the opposite. Learn more.
Each block, ownership % of the pool is calculated:
r = staked Rune
R = balance of Rune
a = staked connected asset
A = balance of connected asset
The staker is allocated rewards proportional to their ownership of the pool. If they own 2% of the pool, they are allocated 2% of the pool's rewards.
Depositing assets on THORChain is permissionless and non-custodial.
Stakers can propose new asset pools or add liquidity to existing pools. Anybody can propose a new asset by depositing it. See asset listing/delisting for details. Once a new asset pool is listed, anybody can add liquidity to it. In this sense, THORChain is permissionless.
The ability to use and withdraw assets is completely non-custodial. Only the original depositor has the ability to withdraw them. Nodes are bound by rules of the network and cannot take control of user-deposited assets.
Stakers make special transactions to deposit assets into THORChain vaults. The network tracks how much stakers deposit. It also tracks staker ownership % of the pool. This is used to calculate their yield.
Liquidity can be added to existing pools to increase depth and attract swappers. The deeper the liquidity, the lower the fee. However, deep pools generally have higher swap volume which generates more fee revenue.
Stakers are incentivised to stake symmetrically but should stake asymmetrically if the pool is already imbalanced.
New pools require symmetrical staking of an external asset and RUNE based on the staker's subjective opinion of the current fair market value. This avoids someone from coming in and arbitraging the asset price asymmetry.
Stakers can withdraw their assets at any time. To do so, they send in another special transaction. The network processes their request and the staker receives their ownership % of the pool along with the assets they've earned. A network fee is taken whenever assets are taken out of the network. These are placed into the network reserve.
Stakers earn a yield on the assets they deposit. This yield is made up of fees and rewards.
Fees are paid by swappers and traders. Most swaps cause the ratio of assets in the liquidity pool to diverge from the market rate.
This change to the ratio of assets is called a 'slip'. A proportion of each slip is kept in the pool. This is allocated to stakers and forms part of their staking yield. Learn more about swapping.
Rewards come from THORChain's own reward emissions. Reward emissions follow a predetermined schedule of release.
Rewards also come from a large token reserve. This token reserve is continuously filled up from network fees. Part of the token reserve is paid out to stakers over the long-term. This provides continuous income even during times of low exchange volume.
Learn about how factors affecting yield and how yield is calculated.
Passive stakers should seek out pools with deep liquidity to minimise risk and maximise returns.
Active stakers can maximise returns by seeking out pools with shallow liquidity but high demand. This demand will cause greater slips and higher fees for stakers.
Stakers must have assets to deposit and their assets must be native to a supported chain. There is no minimum amount to stake in existing pools. However new assets must win a competition to be listed – larger value deposits will be listed over smaller value deposits.
The only direct cost to stakers is the network fee, charged for depositing and withdrawing assets. An indirect cost to stakers comes in the form of impermanent loss. Impermanent loss is common to Constant Function Market Makers like THORChain. It leads to potential loss of staker purchasing power as a result of price slippage in pools. However, this is minimised by THORChain's slip-based fee.
Stakers are not subject to any direct penalties for misconduct.