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Risks and Returns of Uniswap V3 Liquidity Providers

Lioba Heimbach, Eric Schertenleib and Roger Wattenhofer

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Abstract: Trade execution on Decentralized Exchanges (DEXes) is automatic and does not require individual buy and sell orders to be matched. Instead, liquidity aggregated in pools from individual liquidity providers enables trading between cryptocurrencies. The largest DEX measured by trading volume, Uniswap V3, promises a DEX design optimized for capital efficiency. However, Uniswap V3 requires far more decisions from liquidity providers than previous DEX designs. In this work, we develop a theoretical model to illustrate the choices faced by Uniswap V3 liquidity providers and their implications. Our model suggests that providing liquidity on Uniswap V3 is highly complex and requires many considerations from a user. Our supporting data analysis of the risks and returns of real Uniswap V3 liquidity providers underlines that liquidity providing in Uniswap V3 is incredibly complicated, and performances can vary wildly. While there are simple and profitable strategies for liquidity providers in liquidity pools characterized by negligible price volatilities, these strategies only yield modest returns. Instead, significant returns can only be obtained by accepting increased financial risks and at the cost of active management. Thus, providing liquidity has become a game reserved for sophisticated players with the introduction of Uniswap V3, where retail traders do not stand a chance.

Date: 2022-05, Revised 2022-09
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