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What is Liquidity Mining?

What is Liquidity Mining?

Adrian Graham
Fact Checked
Oct 9, 2022

In this guide, we overview the history of liquidity mining and how it enables investors to earn a yield on their crypto holdings.  We also provide a step-by-step guide on how to start liquidity mining with your crypto.

As a quick summary, liquidity mining is a process by which investors can earn a yield on their cryptocurrency holdings. It allows users to put their idle crypto funds to work by providing liquidity for users to trade on a decentralized exchange, and earn a return in the form of newly minted tokens or other rewards.

Table of Contents

Sushiswap - Best Liquidity Mining DEX

Platform Highlights

  • Secure and Trusted DEX with over $500m in value locked.
  • Highest Liquidity Mining rewards for a decentralized exchanges.
  • Best and easiest user interface for beginners in DeFi.

The Emergence of Liquidity Mining

Before the advent of DeFi, earlier crypto adopters were stuck with few options for maximizing their crypto gains. It was either you bought a coin and HODL (hold on for dear life), or you studied charts and place trades. Since not everyone knew technical analysis, most investors had to settle for HODLing their crypto assets until they got a return on investment.

When DeFi emerged, crypto enthusiasts became aware of other profitable strategies to earn from crypto. DeFi brought in various alternatives to earning passive income from crypto by staking your assets and providing liquidity to decentralized exchanges.

One significant investment strategy DeFi offered was Liquidity Mining. This allowed investors to lend their crypto holdings to decentralized protocols in exchange for incentives. This was a concept that was initially utilized by IDEX in October 2017, but was redefined when DeFi came into play in 2020. Shortly after this, we saw an exponential increase of over 2,800% in total value locked in DeFi protocols on Ethereum and other networks.

Liquidity Mining TVL Growth
DeFi TVL Growth after Liquidity Mining (2020).

What is Liquidity Mining in DeFi?

Liquidity mining is a subset of decentralized finance (DeFi) that requires investors to provide capital to a liquidity pool. In most cases, this liquidity pool serves the purpose of a decentralized exchange. Investors who provide liquidity are rewarded with the DEX’s governance/native token. Liquidity mining has actively contributed to the exponential growth in the volume of decentralized exchanges.


How does Liquidity Mining work?

When looking into liquidity mining, one significant factor is the presence of decentralized exchanges and liquidity pools. Decentralized exchanges operate under the Automated Market Maker (AMM) structure which facilitates trading. When a trader swaps on a DEX, a certain percentage of the value being swapped is paid as fees.

Liquidity Mining Explained

The AMM collects the fees and distributes them amongst the liquidity pool’s investors. The more traders utilise that pool, the more money liquidity miners make.

The second factor to take note of is the “liquidity pool”. A liquidity pool is a smart contract where tokens are locked for trading or providing liquidity. For liquidity miners, a liquidity pool is a smart contract which stores the capital they are offering to the DEX. Though the scope of liquidity mining goes beyond decentralized exchanges, the use case of liquidity pool applies to all.

How to Provide Liquidity?

The easiest way to provide liquidity is by using a large and secure exchange like UniSwap or Sushiswap. With this method, you can find a pool or pair that you want to deposit tokens into to provide liquidity and earn rewards. In the guide below, we show an example of providing liquidity with Sushiswap on their SYN/ETH pool which is paying a 28.51% reward.

  1. Visit the Sushiswap Earn page.
  2. Select the Liquidity Pool you want to deposit into (SYN/ETH in this example).
  3. Select the 'Deposit' button.
  4. Enter the amount of liquidity you want to provide and stake your tokens.
  5. Your rewards will be paid out in real-time and can be claimed at any time.
Sushiswap Liquidity Mining
SushiSwap Earn for Liquidity Mining - User Interface.

Benefits of Liquidity Mining

  1. Low entry barrier: There may be other DeFi mechanisms that offer better yield options than liquidity mining, but when it comes to entry-level difficulty, liquidity mining is the easiest. Liquidity mining makes it easier for anyone to get access to financial tools that yield passive income.
  2. Passive earning: Getting started with liquidity mining only requires the locking up of some crypto assets in a protocol. As the protocol interacts with users, it generates revenue which is distributed to investors as rewards. It is also important to note that your share of the reward is based on how much liquidity you have provided.
  3. Distribution of Native and Governance Tokens: Liquidity miners unlike others are privileged of getting a share of the protocol’s native and governance tokens at zero cost. The governance token gives holders voting power over the protocol. For this benefit, people tend to hold governance tokens for the long term.
  4. Helps in Marketing: When it comes to gaining public recognition, developers tend to adopt liquidity mining as a marketing strategy for their protocols. When a protocol offers more incentive to whoever may offer liquidity, it tends to accrue more investors.
  5. Helps in Building A Community: Liquidity mining helps in building an ecosystem of trustworthy and loyal community members. This community would include investors who locked their crypto assets in a protocol, individuals who hold the protocol’s tokens and users who utilize the protocol. Though liquidity is not the only factor in community growth, it is a key player in nurturing communities.
Earning 28.51% APR with the SYN/ETH pool on Sushi.

Risks of Mining

  1. Impermanent Loss: Cryptocurrencies are volatile assets that experience price fluctuation from time to time. When there is a change in the market price of a token you invested in a liquidity pool, it is considered an impermanent loss. Take for instance you invest 1 ETH at a market price of $100 and the next day it drops to $70, you have suffered an impermanent loss. This can only become a “permanent” loss when you withdraw your asset from the pool. Before investing in liquidity mining, you must understand the fundamentals of impermanent loss.
  2. Security Risks: Not all protocols are safe for liquidity mining, some are prone to hacks which would lead to a loss of funds. While it may be difficult to vet if a protocol is safe or not, it is important to always put the concept of security in mind when investing.
  3. Rug Pulls: Rug pulls are projects that are aggressively hyped by the developers and then abandoned when investors provide enough liquidity (enough to suit the scammer’s taste). Developers may decide to entice investors with high rewards that may end up as a Ponzi scheme.

It is advisable that investors due their due diligence in researching the safety, validity and authenticity of a project.

Liquidity Mining vs Bitcoin Mining

The concept of liquidity mining should not be mistaken for that of Bitcoin or PoW coins mining. Usually, crypto noobs tend to use the word “mining” which does not give specifications as to what kind of mining they are referring to.

The Bottom Line

Making money with crypto doesn’t have to be difficult anymore, this is why DeFi came to be. Liquidity mining offers an easy route to earn passive income from your existing assets.

Before embarking on any liquidity mining investment, you must carry out quality research. With the right approach, you would be able to invest your assets in the right liquidity pool and gain high yields consistently.

Adrian Graham

Co-Founder & former banker turned Full-Time DeFi analyst and researcher. Left traditional finance to pursue my interest in digital assets and decentralized finance.

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