Today, Dharma announced the launch of Dharma Tokens (dTokens) – a native protocol token geared at creating a viable revenue stream for the company.
1/ One question we frequently get at Dharma is “how do you make money?”
Today, we are pleased to introduce the dToken — infrastructure that enables Dharma to make money alongside our users and that sets the stage for exciting features to come.https://t.co/It1IcXznNL
— Dharma (@Dharma_HQ) February 6, 2020
“A Dharma Token (or dToken) is an upgradeable ERC20 token with support for meta-transactions that earns interest with respect to a given stablecoin, and is backed by that stablecoin’s respective Compound cToken.”
dTokens aggregate interest exactly the same as cTokens with the major difference being that 10% of that interest goes back to Dharma. If the interest rate is 5% APY on Compound, Dharma will collect 0.5%, while users will earn 4.5% APY.
Why is this Important?
In an industry that’s largely predicated on open-source technology which does not *currently* take service fees, Dharma is making a big statement by showing that taking service fees should not be frowned upon.
As stated in the original article:
“Dharma only makes money when our users do as well. We do not sell user data. We do not monetize user transactions. Instead, we have chosen a skin-in-the-game business model, wherein Dharma only makes money when our users do as well.”
I’m personally one to think *reasonable* service fees being baked directly into smart contracts is where the industry is ultimately headed, so this announcement is a nice surprise on an otherwise largely feeless DeFi ecosystem.
One of the most immediate thoughts I had when reading this news was – if Dharma is taking 10% of interest, why would anyone use their service?
Consequently, it looks like I’m not alone:
— ₿en Sparango (@bennybitcoins) February 6, 2020
While the answer to this question remains somewhat unclear, we can assume that Dharma will take a Coinbase-like approach towards making passive interest as accessible as possible, likely gearing the product towards a non-technical audience.
It’s interest to note that Dharma ONLY supports stablecoins, so there may be some use-case where Dharma deploys fiat onramps which would make barriers to entry lower than they are with something like Compound today.
Dharma’s CEO, Brendan confirmed this in a follow-up tweet:
We define UX broadly, so things like fiat on- and off-ramps, scalable p2p payments, and privacy enhancements are all improvements that will create an unrivaled DeFi experience. We think many people will be find these benefits more than offset the costs
— Brendan from Dharma (@brendan_dharma) February 6, 2020
If one thing is for certain, Compound isn’t *that* tough to understand (I may be largely biased here) so Dharma will definitely need to solidify it’s value proposition to justify holding dTokens over cTokens when it comes to collecting passive interest.
What to Expect
The dToken smart contracts were deployed on Tuesday, February 4th. Over the next few days, Dharma will upgrade the Dharma Smart Wallet and following a 7 day upgrade timelock period, will convert all cTokens into dTokens.
No action needs to be taken by users, and this grace period allows users to take action and withdraw funds in the event they do not want their cTokens held on Dharma converted to dTokens.
In the meantime, stay up on the conversation via the official Dharma Twitter.
Cooper is focused on building compelling blockchain products. He currently works as the managing director at Fitzner Blockchain Consulting and is a contributor to DAOs like MetaCartel and Moloch. He is an active member of the Ethereum community and has a strong interest in for-profit businesses such as The Block Crypto and Messari.