March not only marked the first anniversary of Ref Finance , but also, the seventh month to have passed since the release of the second version of its core smart contract .
During these past seven months, Ref’s TVL has grown from 0 to $100M+, and Ref’s cumulative trading volume has reached $1.6B+. March was also the month when we saw the NEAR token’s price lead the L1 recovery by growing by ~50% . In addition to this price increase, the total number of NEAR addresses hit 5.2M, a ~140% increase in the first quarter .
The infrastructure we are building on is gaining momentum. We are ready to support a new stream of DeFi transactions and our vision is coming to life; make Ref Finance the one-stop DeFi shop on NEAR.
The first quarter of 2022 has been intense and vibrant. Let us dive into what have been achieved and what is next.
Do you remember our six pillars for the 2022 roadmap? Here is a fresh wrapup:
- The Future is Decentralised: Promote further decentralisation
- The Double B: Deliver Better prices and Better liquidity utilisation
- Money, Money, Money: Provide LPs with the tooling to maximise profits while mitigating risks (i.e. auto-compounding)
- Better Experience: Improve user experience
- Knowledge is power: Encourage transparency and data-driven decisions
- Bridge Them All: Reduce the gap with other chain communities
Security should be used as a foundation to support and strengthen the pillars.
What we have committed to vs. delivered
The last version of the Auto Router (Smart Routing) was deployed on the 18th of March. Not only was it a major achievement , but also a unique value proposition delivered to the hands of our users. Most of the 300 active pools  can now be used as a bridge/hop, creating a win-win situation for market participants:
- Traders: better prices
- Liquidity Providers: fairer model (vs. winner-takes-all approach) as a trade can be processed across multiple pools at once, spreading the LPs’ revenue accordingly
Single-sided staking went live on the 17th of January. The amount staked has been increasing steadily since its release, and is now above the 2M mark.
Ref Finance integrated the Sender Wallet. Since March 11th, users have been able to interact with the NEAR blockchain via a browser extension, giving them a metamask-like experience.
There is a one-month delay relating to the release of a liquidity aggregation feature between Aurora, the EVM-compatible blockchain built on top of NEAR, and NEAR. There are two main reasons for this delay, the first being the complexity of such a feature, and the second, being network performance issues, requiring the team to prioritise the maintenance and high-availability of Ref’s servers, to the detriment of the Build/Evol workstream.
The team is now working with a dedicated company, and associated DevOps, to ensure the continued performance and high-availability of the app.
Other key updates
In terms of Security, the Ref Staking and Exchange contracts  were locked on the 12th and 28th of February, respectively. Moreover, the first Audit was completed — the details of which, along with the audit report itself, are publicly available in our documentation.
Following feedback from the community, and in line with our mission to be inclusive, we released the Support Ledger feature on the 23rd of March. Ledger users were facing problems when trading on Ref because the Ledger cannot handle large transactions due to its memory limitation. When activated, the Support Ledger option will limit transactions to their simplest form (to the detriment of more complex transactions, e.g. Auto Router), so transactions of a reasonable size can be signed.
In our goal to ‘bridge them all’, Allbridge was integrated successfully on the 10th of February, opening new liquidity flows and business opportunities (see next section).
We had two major backlog reviews, which took place on the 18th of January and 11th of March. This led to key improvements to the product, which were deployed, along with the Auto Router, on the 18th of March. These improvements include, but are not limited to:
- Showing the USD value Worth of user’s shares in Your Liquidity
- Redirect users to the pool details page after creating a new pool
- Stableswap liquidity added to Your Liquidity view
- TVL and number precision when hovering
- Price impact pop up window for StableSwap
Ref Analytics was upgraded on the 14th of March. Users can now check the APR for every pool in the Top Pools section. Overall performance was improved and new API endpoints were added in this release!
Moreover, our official documentation was completely updated and revamped in March!
Finally, the Vietnamese translation was rolled out on the 28th of February. Special kudos to our Sir Harry to enable Ref to be one step closer to the Vietnamese community!
The team is growing
Following our successful fundraising in January , the team is very glad to have Amy and Gordon, who joined us on the 14th of March and 1st of April, respectively. Amy is an experienced QA Engineer and will assist Willa, the Lead QA Engineer. Gordon is a Senior Backend Dev and will work closely with Marco, the Lead Backend Dev.
The team is now composed of eleven fulltime members!
- Marco: Lead Backend Dev
- Joe: Lead Frontend Dev
- Gordon: Senior Backend Dev
- Max: Fullstack Dev
- Nature: Backend Dev
- Willa: Lead QA Engineer
- Amy: QA Engineer
- Mency: Designer & UX
- Didier: Product Lead
- Harry: Project Assistant Manager
- Fauve: Marketing Lead
Our famous ve$RUST has closed probably one of the hottest DeFi deals in Q1 2022. The partnership with the Celo foundation has opened roughly a $10M liquidity experiment on the following pairs: CELO-NEAR, CELO-REF, and cUSD-USDC, providing more liquidity options to both communities .
To leverage the Allbridge integration, Ref has also opened the first SOL-NEAR pair in the NEAR ecosystem (including Aurora), along with the ABR-USDC pool, courtesy of the Allbridge team .
The Secret Skellies Society, one of the most successful NFT projects on NEAR, has successfully launched their tokens, which we whitelisted on the 16th of March . They have also joined the Brrr land and have opened the first farm without REF token rewards , paving the way for similar proposals in the future!
Note also that we had a wave of new whitelisted tokens in January, starting on the 21st with META , the token of the famous NEAR liquid staking solution, followed by other NEAR-native projects in the same month;
Looking ahead: Q2 and H2 2022
Three new evolutions have been added to our second quarter roadmap.
The team is working to upgrade the current farming contract . The upgrade is planned for the end of May. The new farming contract will include a feature similar to a Certificate of Deposit (CD) Account.
A certificate of deposit (CD) is a product offered by banks and credit unions that provides an interest rate premium in exchange for the customer agreeing to leave a lump-sum deposit untouched for a predetermined period of time. 
In a nutshell, farmers will be able to lock their LP tokens for a specific time period, in return for a boost to the farming rewards. The longer the locking period, the larger the boost, and vice versa.
In April, the StableSwap will welcome a new pool, empowering DeFi users with more crypto-to-stable and stable-to-stable paths. The total stablecoin supply has increased by 11% year to date, and the share of USDT in the total supply dropped from 66% to 45% in one year . There is no doubt that we need to adapt our ‘stable mix’ offering!
Ref made ‘Recurring Swap’ one of the challenges in the NEAR Hackathon run by Encode . A recurring swap automates buying or selling crypto. Ref’s users will have the option to choose which token they want to buy or sell, how much and how often they want that to happen. Croncat will be the backbone of such an innovative feature!
Auto-compounding and/or DeFi yield aggregators are building on top of Ref Finance. The team is working closely with Pembrock, Fluxus and Xpanse, winner of our Auto-compounding challenge  for the NEAR MetaBUILD Hackathon. We are confident that one of the mentioned solutions will reach mainnet in the second quarter. Our role is to support those creators, by providing help and guidance with integrating our smart contracts.
In our goal to facilitate the life of our LPs, we will keep improving the ‘Your Liquidity’ view (cf. Liquidity Management Dashboard) within the app. LPs want more than the execution piece, they want the tools that help them to take data-driven decisions.
With 118 proposals in the first quarter of 2022 alone , almost four times the number of proposals in all of 2021, the Ref DAO is one of the most active DAOs in the NEAR ecosystem. xREF holders will very soon be able to participate in the governance of the protocol. The team is currently assessing the Curve vs. Polkadot voting model.
For the second half of 2022, we have added the Ref Software Development Kit (Ref SDK) to the list. As we scale, the team wants the right tools to help creators build on top of Ref! A protocol with high TVL and Volume is good, but having an ecosystem around it, is even better.
Annualised liquidity utilisation, or capital efficiency, is the ratio Volume to TVL. Ref’s is approx. 27, compared to 23 for the top twenty-one DEXes and 21 for the top three DEXes . In other words, Ref’s LPs earn on average an estimated 6% APR (not incl. liquidity incentives), which is 17% more than the top twenty-one DEXes’ LPs, and 28% more than the top three DEXes’ LPs.
My goal is not to compare us to the top DEXes, which would be foolish and pretentious (at this stage), but rather to look at the balance between the amount of capital supporting the ecosystem (TVL) and actual, real demand or usage (Volume).
So far, the balance seems acceptable and healthy. As we scale, the REF token circulating supply is increasing (see both graphs below), creating an opportunity to accelerate its own utility within the ecosystem.
Along with its strong focus on the product, the team is also working on a more innovative tokenomics, which aims to strengthen our positioning in the market. Keep your eyes open 👀!
I would like to give a big thanks to Ben (who contributed significantly to the review of the 2022 roadmap too!), and all the community and DAO members who have helped!
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