> Blog > What Does Locked Liquidity Mean?

Published September 21, 2022

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Decentralized finance has brought about a revolution in the way we think about financial systems and the need to rethink how we create, store, and trade value. One of the key concepts in this new paradigm is creating a more equitable and fair financial system that is not controlled by central authorities and can be accessed by anyone.  

But creating financial services out of computer code is no easy task, and one of the key challenges in this young industry is managing liquidity. Liquidity refers to how easily an asset can be bought, sold, or exchanged for a different asset at a given price. An asset with high liquidity is easy to trade, while an asset with low liquidity is more difficult to trade. 

In traditional finance, liquidity is managed by central authorities, like banks, who can use their power to influence the price of assets. But in decentralized finance, liquidity is managed by the protocols themselves through pieces of computer code called smart contracts.  

So how do decentralized finance protocols ensure that there is enough liquidity to trade assets and why do users voluntarily ‘lock up’ their own assets? 

In this article, we’ll take a look at what locked liquidity means, how it works, and why it’s important to the future of decentralized finance. 

Understanding Liquidity 

As we mentioned, liquidity refers to how easily an asset can be bought or sold without affecting the price. An asset with high liquidity is easy to trade, while an asset with low liquidity is more difficult to trade.  

Take the stock market, for example. Stocks that are listed on a major exchange, like the NYSE or Nasdaq, are considered to be highly liquid because they can be bought and sold easily on multiple platforms. On the other hand, stocks that are not listed on a major exchange are considered to be less liquid, because they are more difficult to trade. 

This concept can be applied to any asset or commodity that is traded on a market, and the same is true for cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, for example, is considered to be a highly liquid asset, because it can be bought and sold on many different exchanges. On the other hand, newer, less popular currencies may be more difficult to trade, and therefore are considered to have lower liquidity.  

In traditional finance, liquidity is managed by authorities like central banks, which use their enormous power to influence markets by buying or selling assets. This is known as market making.  

The world’s largest market maker is the US Federal Reserve, which buys and sells US Treasury Bonds to affect overall liquidity levels in the US economy. When you hear stories of “Quantitative Easing,” “Quantitative Tightening,” or “the Fed’s balance sheet,” this is what they’re referring to – the Fed’s ability to buy or sell US Treasury bonds in order to influence liquidity levels in US markets.  

In decentralized finance, there are no central authorities like the Fed. Instead, liquidity is crowdsourced and managed through immutable pieces of computer code called smart contracts. This means that anyone can see how much liquidity is available, and no single entity can manipulate the market.  

How Locking Liquidity Works

A table demonstrating how liquidity pools work

Decentralized finance protocols use what are known as ‘liquidity pools’ to manage liquidity. A liquidity pool is a collection of assets that are held in a smart contract and can be traded on a decentralized exchange.  

For example, let’s say that you want to trade two assets – Asset A and Asset B. To do this, you need to find someone who has Asset A and wants Asset B. But what if there is no one who wants to trade with you at that moment? This is where liquidity pools come in.  

With a liquidity pool, you can trade with someone who has already put their assets into the pool. In other words, you’re trading with the smart contract itself rather than an individual buyer or seller.  

This has several advantages. First, it means that you’re always able to trade your assets, even if there is no one else who wants to trade with you at that moment. Additionally, because the platform maintains an immutable record of all trades that take place within the pool, it’s much more difficult to manipulate the market or commit fraud.  

Locking Assets in a Liquidity Pool 

In order to incentivize people to part with their assets and lock them in a liquidity pool, protocols offer rewards similar to an interest payment from a traditional bank. Users who lock their assets in a liquidity pool receive a percentage of the trading fees that are generated from the pool and are paid out in the form of the protocol’s native token.  

This system is similar to how staking works in proof-of-stake (PoS) cryptocurrencies. Just as users who stake their coins earn rewards for helping to secure the network, users who lock their assets in a liquidity pool earn rewards for helping to provide liquidity.  

Why Locking Liquidity is Important 

Showing three benefits of locking liquidity

Locking liquidity is important because it allows decentralized finance protocols to function without the need for and influence of centralized authorities. This is a key tenet of creating a more equitable, accessible financial system, and helps to create a more stable and secure market that anyone can participate in.  

Locking liquidity also has a number of other benefits. For example, it can help to reduce the risk of price manipulation, because it is more difficult for one user to control a large pool of assets. It can also help to create a more efficient market by ensuring that trades are executed quickly and efficiently, even if there is no one else who wants to trade a particular asset at a particular moment, thanks to a liquidity pool’s readily-available pool of assets waiting to be traded.  

As we move towards a more equitable and decentralized financial system, the contributions of everyday investors will become increasingly important. By locking their assets and providing liquidity to decentralized platforms, users can help to create a more stable and secure financial system for all. 

Summing Up Locked Liquidity 

Locked liquidity is an important concept in the decentralized finance space. By democratizing the process of providing liquidity, DeFi protocols can provide permissionless, censorship-resistant access to financial services to anyone with an internet connection.  

As the DeFi space continues to mature, liquidity pools and the concept of locking up assets will continue to gain mainstream traction. If you’re interested in learning more about liquidity mining, decentralized finance, and how you can get involved, be sure to check out the FTT DAO blog

To stay up to date with the latest news and analysis from across the blockchain and DeFi space, be sure to follow FTT DAO on Twitter

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