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The Impact of Governance Proposals on Token Valuation
The Impact of Governance Proposals on Token Valuation
The Impact of Governance Proposals on Token Valuation

The Impact of Governance Proposals on Token Valuation

Kenechukwu Eze

Kenechukwu Eze

Apr 4, 2024

TLDR

  • Well-designed governance proposals can have a significant impact on token valuation, as demonstrated by the Uniswap proposal's effect on UNI's price and market cap.

  • Uniswap’s protocol fee proposal aims to enhance its governance by incentivizing active delegation through protocol fee rewards for UNI holders. It outlines technical changes and logistics, including the deployment of new smart contracts, to enable fee collection and distribution to stakers. 

  • Tying protocol fees to staking and incentivizing governance participation can drive token demand, align token holders with protocol objectives, and contribute to long-term growth and sustainability.

  • Fee-sharing models position tokens as "dividend-paying," enhancing their value proposition for investors and ensuring continued commitment to the protocol's success.

  • Leading DeFi protocols are increasingly adopting fee-sharing and governance incentivization mechanisms, setting a new standard for tokenomics design in the web3 ecosystem.

  • Other DeFi protocols can learn from and adapt these models to improve their own token valuations and long-term sustainability.

Introduction

Blockchain protocols are incentive machines, that align user interests with the protocol's goals by distributing tokens. A more valuable token means a stronger incentive for users to keep pushing the protocol forward. Therefore, a core objective of every protocol should be to boost its token's value to keep users engaged and committed to the protocol's success. How they boost the token value is a never-ending process. One often overlooked process is governance. 

A recent Uniswap proposal aims to encourage governance participation, but could it also drive up the price UNI, its native token? In this article, we'll explore how well-designed governance proposals can improve a token's value by analyzing the impact of a recent Uniswap governance proposal on the UNI token.

Activate Uniswap Protocol Governance

On February 23rd, 2024, Uniswap Foundation’s Governance Lead submitted a proposal titled “Activate Uniswap Protocol Governance”. The proposal seeks to distribute a percentage of Uniswap’s protocol fees to UNI token holders as a reward for staking and delegating their UNI tokens. 

UNI serves as a governance token, granting holders voting power to influence governance proposals. UNI holders can either vote directly or delegate their voting power to representatives who vote on their behalf.

The proposal aims to encourage active participation in Uniswap governance, which is crucial for the protocol's success and long-term sustainability. For instance, governance is responsible for the management of the Uniswap Treasury. Without active governance in place, it is fairly easy to see how things can go wrong.

By tying rewards to staking and delegation, token holders would be incentivized to actively participate in governance which in turn should lead to a growth flywheel for Uniswap.

The proposal follows a longstanding pattern of fee switch proposals within the Uniswap DAO that have sought to propose ways in which the protocol fees accruing to the Uniswap Treasury should be utilized. Every single one of these fee switch proposals has failed or been stopped thus far. Should this proposal by the UF successfully pass, it will be a historically significant milestone in the history of Uniswap.

Defining Token Valuation

Before diving into the UNI token's price reaction to the proposal, let's define token valuation real quick. Token valuation is the total financial value or worth of a token at a given time. It is determined by the market price of a unit of the token and the circulating supply (i.e., the number of tokens that have been mined or issued).

Market Cap = Price × Circulating Supply

Together, price and market capitalization provide a straightforward and effective way to assess a token's value.

Impact on UNI Valuation (By the Numbers)

The ‘Activate Uniswap Govenrance’ proposal demonstrates how a governance proposal can impact the value of a token. When the proposal was posted, it triggered a significant rally in UNI's price and market cap.

The proposal was well-received by the public, as evidenced by strong market activity that drove up the price of UNI by 55.6% within an hour of the announcement.


Chart showing the price of UNI ($7.17) at the time when the proposal was posted/announced (14:00 UTC) and the price ($11.16) an hour later (15:00 UTC) Source: CoinMarketCap

The rally in UNI's price also impacted Uniswap's market cap, which grew by a significant $2.39 billion within an hour of the announcement.


Chart showing the market cap of Uniswap ($4.29bn) at the time when the proposal was posted/announced (14:00 UTC) and the market cap ($6.68bn) an hour later (15:00 UTC)  Source: CoinMarketCap

Beyond the immediate price impacts, the proposal further highlights how tying protocol fees to staking can potentially drive demand for UNI tokens and contribute to Uniswap’s long-term growth and sustainability.

Letting token holders share in a protocol's profits adds a new dimension to token investing. In traditional investing, companies can pay dividends to shareholders. This explains the high demand for dividend-paying stocks.

Similarly, by tying protocol fees to staking, UNI will position itself as a “dividend-paying token”, significantly boosting its demand and value proposition for investors.

A fee-sharing model also ensures that token holders stay aligned within the Uniswap ecosystem and committed to Uniswap’s growth and adoption. For token holders, this commitment helps maintain fee-generation levels that can sustainably support "dividend" payouts to stakers. For Uniswap, the commitment of token holders ensures the protocol's continued success and long-term sustainability.

Lessons for Other DeFi Protocols

As one of the largest DeFi protocols, the Uniswap proposal has the potential to set a new standard for governance and tokenomics within the ecosystem.

The proposal challenges conventional approaches to tokenomics and presents an alternative method for maximizing token valuation and aligning token holders with protocol objectives. While conventional approaches often rely on mint/burn mechanisms, token buybacks, and token utilities to drive token value, the Uniswap proposal highlights the potential of fee distribution mechanisms as a means of maximizing token valuation and aligning token holders with protocol objectives. It also reinforces the importance of governance as a channel for effective tokenomics design.

While being able to distribute fees to stakers is a valuable way to leverage governance to create value for the protocol, it is important to acknowledge that the current lack of clarity around the legal framework for digital assets creates a significant roadblock for protocols to tap into leveraging governance to create value for tokenholders.

Other protocols, such as Angle Protocol, PancakeSwap, Sushiswap, and Frax Finance, have implemented or are considering implementing proposals that create value for the Protocol through DAO Governance. These examples further demonstrate the effectiveness of leveraging governance to empower the DAO through DAO-owned products and fee-sharing mechanisms in driving token value and protocol growth.

  • Angle Protocol: Two hours after Angle Protocol announced a proposal to launch a USD Stablecoin, the native token had a 130% increase in its token price. This is a clear example of how governance decisions can directly affect token valuation.

Chart showing the price action at the time when the proposal was posted/announced (16:00 UTC) and the price two hours later (18:00 UTC) Source: coingecko


  • PancakeSwap: Since July 2023, PancakeSwap has implemented revenue sharing for CAKE staking. As a reward for staking CAKE, a share of PancakeSwap’s revenue is distributed to stakers. In addition, stakers receive veCAKE (PancakeSwap’s governance token) when they stake CAKE, allowing them to take part in the governance of the protocol. Much like the Uniswap proposal, this implementation ties protocol fees to staking and governance. This alludes to the effectiveness of fee-sharing mechanisms as a means of driving token value and protocol growth. Little wonder that PancakeSwap remains the largest decentralized exchange by trading volume, second only to Uniswap. 

  • Sushiswap: Similar to PancakeSwap, Sushiswap rewards SUSHI stakers with a share of protocol fees in exchange for xSUSHI (though temporarily suspended since January 2023).

  • Frax Finance: Inspired by the Uniswap proposal, Frax Finance is in the process of passing a proposal to restart its fee sharing program for stakers which it suspended in 2022.

Leading protocols are increasingly tying fees to staking and incentivizing governance to drive token demand, align holders with protocol goals, ensure growth, and boost token value. Other DeFi protocols can learn from and adapt these models to improve their own token valuations.

Final Thoughts

The recent Uniswap proposal to distribute a share of protocol fees to UNI token holders as a reward for staking and delegating their tokens is a clear illustration of how governance can impact token valuation.

Governance has a crucial impact on a token's value and its protocol's success. It is a must-have for value-seeking protocols, which can learn from Uniswap's example and adopt similar models to drive their token valuations and long-term sustainability.

We encourage readers to actively participate in the governance of the tokens they hold or delegate to us at StableLab. By doing so, you can shape your chosen protocols’ future, propose initiatives that can drive up their token’s value, and protect their interests as token holders. 

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