Hayden Adams, the creator of the decentralised exchange (DEX) Uniswap, made a significant announcement today regarding a change in protocol.
Uniswap will soon implement a 0.15% swap fee on their web application and wallet interfaces, marking the first time such a fee has been introduced.
This adjustment will exclusively impact a specific set of tokens, as outlined in a blog post by Uniswap Labs.
These tokens include ETH, USDC, WETH, USDT, DAI, WBTC, agEUR, GUSD, LUSD, EUROC, and XSGD.
It is crucial to note that this fee will only be applicable when utilising Uniswap Labs’ interfaces on the mainnet and supported layer 2 solutions, and specifically for swaps that involve both input and output tokens subject to the fee.
Swaps involving stablecoins exclusively will not be subjected to this initial charge.
Bridgett Frey, a spokesperson for Uniswap Labs, explained that they conducted a comprehensive assessment of how users interact with their product, leading to the selection of the initial list of affected tokens.
She further emphasised that this list is expected to evolve over time.
The implementation of this new fee is scheduled to commence tomorrow.
Hayden highlighted that this adjustment is aimed at supporting Uniswap Labs‘ ongoing research, development, and expansion within the crypto and DeFi landscape.
Leaders within the Web3 community have expressed their support for this move, with Gnosis co-founder Martin Köppelmann describing it as “good news”:
“If we want to have resilient systems that work at scale there needs to be entities that have a sustainable income.”
Some argue that it is a crucial step toward building a sustainable business model, while others emphasise that the protocol remains permissionless, with users not compelled to pay the fee.
But not everyone is happy.
One vocal dissenting voice is Gabriel Shapiro, the general counsel for Delphi Labs.
He expressed his concerns about what he terms “non-exit liquidity,” a concept he asserts has been introduced as venture capital increasingly enters the crypto space.
His contention is that investors, including those involved in the $1.66 billion Series B funding round that Uniswap Labs completed last year, have consistently resisted allowing any value to accrue to Uniswap.
Instead, they have leveraged the token to access liquidity.
The mechanism for achieving this is the deliberate avoidance of activating the fee switch.
The fee switch would enable the Uniswap community to redirect a portion of the protocol’s fee revenues to governance.
Notably, an earlier vote for its implementation was rejected in early June.
Gabriel remains hopeful that the fee switch could still be activated but he acknowledges that users have limited tolerance for fees, noting that every fee in the system reduces the likelihood of a sustainable in-protocol fee, directly affecting UNI token holders.
Additionally, concerns have been raised about governance and decision-making processes, with some alleging that a select group, referred to as the “unicorn sparkle crew,” holds aggregated control of supply, voting power, and decision-making, potentially influencing the fee switch vote.
These views were echoed by Web3 VC investor Nic Carter, a partner at Castle Island Ventures, asserting that the situation exemplifies a misalignment between equity value and token value.
In his perspective, token holders and shareholders are at odds, primarily due to the disproportionate amount of equity held by Uniswap investors in comparison to UNI token holders.
Ari Paul, founder and CIO of BlockTower Capital, offered a nuanced perspective on the matter.
While he acknowledged the reasonableness of charging fees, he expressed concerns about a potential mismatch of incentives, suggesting that UNI token holders may be at risk of bearing the brunt of the situation.