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Yes, Liquidity Pools Can Beat Alternative Assets.

A Dive Into An Overlooked Asset Class.

When presented with the idea that investing in crypto liquidity pools may not only be more profitable but also less risky than investing in a famed asset class like Private Credit, the initial reaction of most investors is to understandably think, “That sounds too good to be true.” If we were still living in an era before the invention of decentralized exchanges, they’d be right. 

However, technology brings with it greater opportunities and new systems that often benefit the broader population at the expense of the establishment. This happened when the invention of email gave us the ability to send instant messages for free, allowing businesses an efficient and instant way to connect with clients. It happened again with the invention of streaming, which allowed anyone to become—and profit from—their own content creation. The same is true financially when we talk about investing in the liquidity pools that are the backbone of the crypto trading ecosystem.

In this article, we’ll break down crypto liquidity pools so that you can understand what they are, how they work, and why investing in them can often outperform asset classes that have become the go-to for alternative investing over the past 20 years.

What Are Liquidity Pools?

Liquidity pools are a cornerstone of decentralized finance (DeFi). They consist of funds deposited by multiple investors (liquidity providers) into a smart contract, a self-executing contract with the terms of the agreement directly written into code. These smart contracts hold and manage the pooled funds, ensuring that trades can be executed automatically and securely without the need for intermediaries. This mechanism enables decentralized exchanges (DEXs) to facilitate trades efficiently.

In a traditional order book system, buyers and sellers place orders that are matched by a central authority based on price and availability. This system can be slow, illiquid, and susceptible to market manipulation. Liquidity pools eliminate these issues by allowing direct swaps between different cryptocurrencies within the pool. Instead of relying on matching orders, trades are executed against the pool’s reserves, providing continuous liquidity and enabling faster, more reliable transactions.

For example, if an investor wants to trade USDC for DAI, they can do so directly from the liquidity pool where both assets are held. The smart contract automatically calculates the trade based on the current ratio of assets in the pool, ensuring a fair and transparent process. This decentralized model not only improves the efficiency of trading but also democratizes access to financial services, allowing anyone with internet access to participate as either a trader or a liquidity provider.

More importantly—from an investor standpoint—because the system is decentralized, liquidity pools are facilitated by individual investors rather than large financial institutions. This is beneficial because it means more of the fees generated for the liquidity providers are returned directly to those providers (aka you, the investor) without a central authority like a broker or bank taking a cut. It is this fact that enables the returns of the liquidity pools to be so strong. As a provider, you are directly earning from providing liquidity to traders—a scale of profitability made possible for the first time by decentralization.

How Are Returns Generated?

The returns from liquidity pools are directly tied to the trading volumes. Higher trading volumes result in more transaction fees to traders, which translate to higher returns for liquidity providers. For instance, stable coin pools often experience high trading volumes due to their use in various DeFi applications, leading to consistent and attractive returns. When trading activity within a pool increases, the frequency of transactions generates more fees. Since liquidity providers earn a share of these fees proportional to their contribution to the pool, more trading activity means higher overall returns. Moreover, because stable coins are widely used in DeFi for lending, borrowing, and other financial activities, the demand for trading these assets remains robust, further boosting the volume and, consequently, the returns for liquidity providers.

At the Medici Stable Income Fund, we put this into practice by investing in stable coin liquidity pools. These pools provide stability and reduce exposure to market volatility, generating consistent returns through trading fees.

The Flow:

  1. Liquidity Providers Deposit Assets: Investors contribute their assets to the pool, providing the necessary liquidity for trades. For example, the Medici Stable Income Fund deposits USDC and DAI into a selected pool.

  2. Traders Use the Pool: Traders interact with the pool to swap assets directly. For instance, a trader might exchange USDC for DAI within the pool, paying a small transaction fee.

  3. Fees Are Distributed: The trading fees collected from these transactions are proportionally distributed among the liquidity providers based on their share of the pool.

This cycle of deposits, trades, and fee distribution ensures continuous liquidity and generates returns for investors. 

Liquidity Pools vs. Traditional Alternative Investments.

While the crypto crowd might consider liquidity pool (LP) investing as mainstream, it is more fitting to compare it with other alternative investments like private equity, credit, and real estate. LP investing, however, offers some key advantages over these traditional options. Unlike most alternative investments, liquidity pools provide complete liquidity, allowing investors to recoup their capital at any time. This flexibility is a significant advantage when compared with more traditional alternative assets that often have capital lockup periods that stretch years, and waiting periods even after a capital withdrawal has been initiated.

Additionally, engaging in liquidity pool investing is often quicker and easier than traditional alternative investments due to its blockchain nature. It eliminates the need for lengthy legal contracts, complicated withdrawal and subscription rules, and personal manager or director introductions to “join the club.” This streamlined process means investors can participate without the usual bureaucratic hurdles, and find a variety of investment opportunities across a large ecosystem,  making it more accessible,  user-friendly, and competitive.

Finally, when we compare liquidity pools to similar alternative investments, such as private credit (PC), the benefits become even clearer. Both PC and LPs involve lending money, but liquidity pools often offer stronger returns, consistently beating Private Credit by a few percent of annual yield. Moreover, if invested in the right assets, such as principle-preserving stable coin assets, liquidity pools can also provide superior downside protection. Stable coins are designed to maintain a stable value, reducing the risk of significant loss. This dual advantage of higher returns and better risk management makes liquidity pools a compelling alternative to traditional investments.

Potential Risks of Liquidity Pool Investing.

While liquidity pool investing offers attractive returns, it is not without risks. One primary risk is “impermanent loss,” which occurs when the price of the deposited assets changes compared to when they were first deposited. This can lead to a lower value than simply holding the assets, akin to “downside risk” in traditional investment parlance. However, investors can mitigate this risk by choosing to invest in liquidity pools with assets that have a track record of price stability, such as stable coins. These assets are less likely to experience significant price fluctuations, providing a safer investment environment.

Another significant risk is smart contract vulnerabilities. These self-executing contracts govern liquidity pools, with their terms directly written into code. If there are bugs in the code or if hackers exploit these contracts, liquidity providers can lose their funds. Unlike traditional financial systems, which offer regulatory protections and legal avenues for recourse, decentralized finance platforms often lack such safety nets. This means that if something goes wrong, there is typically no way to recover lost funds in the decentralized finance world.

Understanding these risks is crucial for investors. By being aware of the potential pitfalls and taking steps to mitigate them—such as investing in stable coin liquidity pools and conducting thorough due diligence on smart contracts—investors can enjoy the benefits of liquidity pool investing while minimizing their exposure to risk.

The Breakdown.

Although a relatively new form of investment, crypto liquidity pools present a sound alternative to traditional alternative investments like private equity, credit, and real estate, offering complete liquidity, ease of engagement, and potential for superior returns. While understanding and mitigating risks like impermanent loss and smart contract vulnerabilities is essential, the benefits—in many cases—outweigh these challenges.

Decentralization plays a crucial role in the superior returns seen in liquidity pool investing. By leveraging blockchain technology, liquidity pools remove the need for intermediaries, allowing investors to directly earn from the fees generated by traders. This model not only democratizes access to financial services but also maximizes profitability by cutting out traditional financial middlemen. Stable coin liquidity pools, in particular, offer a balanced opportunity for consistent returns while minimizing market volatility.

The financial world is rapidly evolving, and those who adapt to new technologies and investment strategies are likely to gain the most. The era of decentralized finance brings unprecedented opportunities for investors willing to explore its potential. Overlooking this shift could mean missing out on significant returns and the chance to be part of a transformative movement in finance. For investors intrigued by liquidity pool investing but unsure where to start, Medici’s Stable Income Fund offers a thoughtful entry point. Our focus on stable coin liquidity pools balances return generation with capital preservation, ensuring that investors benefit from the advantages of decentralized finance without navigating its complexities alone.

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