DeFi 102: How DeFi Tokens Reward Holders

By Michael @ CryptoEQ | CryptoEQ | 4 Mar 2024

You are reading an excerpt from our free but shortened abridged report! While still packed with incredible research and data, for just $20/month you can upgrade to our FULL library of 60+ reports (including this one) and complete industry-leading analysis on the top crypto assets. 


Becoming a Premium member means enjoying all the perks of a Basic membership PLUS:

  • Full-length CORE Reports: More technical, in-depth research, actionable insights, and potential market alpha for serious crypto users
  • Early access to future CORE ratings: Being early is sometimes just as important as being right!
  • Premium Member CORE+ Reports: Coverage on the top issues pertaining to crypto users like bridge security, layer two solutions, DeFi plays, and more
  • CORE report Audio playback: Don’t want to read? No problem! Listen on the go.



In DeFi, stakeholders are increasingly incentivized through a diverse array of mechanisms designed to reward engagement and investment in various platforms. These incentives, crucial for bolstering the ecosystem's growth and stability, include discounts on protocol fees, revenue sharing, exclusive access to protocol features, and the distribution of governance tokens, among others. This comprehensive analysis aims to elucidate the multifaceted incentive structures that underpin the DeFi ecosystem, offering insights into how these mechanisms foster a more inclusive and participatory financial landscape.

Protocol Fee Discounts

A significant incentive for users within the DeFi space is the provision of discounts on protocol fees. These discounts are typically contingent upon the user's holdings of specific tokens or their participation in certain actions, such as staking. For example, platforms like Aave offer reduced rates and fee discounts to users who stake their native tokens, thereby encouraging long-term holding and deeper engagement with the platform. Similarly, PancakeSwap and other liquidity providers offer fee reductions for transactions made using their native tokens, enhancing the attractiveness of their platforms for traders and liquidity providers alike.

Revenue Sharing

Another cornerstone of DeFi incentive structures is revenue sharing, where platforms distribute a portion of their accrued fees back to users who stake or lock tokens. This not only aligns the interests of users with the platform's success but also rewards them for contributing to the network's growth. Many protocols, including Curve, adopt this approach, typically allocating around 50% of fees to stakeholders. This distribution is often governed by democratic voting processes, highlighting the importance of governance rights in the DeFi ecosystem.


As MakerDAO generates revenue, MKR holders are rewarded.  Source

Inflationary Emissions and Gauge Voting

In addition to direct financial incentives, DeFi protocols leverage inflationary emissions and gauge voting to incentivize participation. Inflationary emissions involve distributing governance tokens to users based on their level of engagement with the platform, such as providing liquidity or participating in yield farming. This mechanism not only rewards users but also encourages a more distributed governance model.

Gauge voting, introduced by vote escrow systems, allows stakeholders to influence the distribution of these emissions, providing them with a say in the platform's direction and growth strategies. This has been adopted by numerous protocols, further embedding the principles of decentralized governance within the DeFi sector.

Additional Benefits and Unique Incentives

Beyond these core incentives, DeFi protocols often offer unique benefits to attract and retain users. These can range from enhanced yields for liquidity providers to exclusive features for token holders. Some platforms, like DeFi Kingdoms and Osmosis, introduce innovative rewards such as in-game power-ups and superfluid staking, respectively, which blend traditional financial incentives with novel blockchain functionalities.


The DeFi ecosystem's incentive structures are complex and multifaceted, reflecting the diverse needs and preferences of its stakeholders. By offering a combination of financial rewards, governance participation, and unique benefits, DeFi platforms not only attract a wide range of users but also foster a more resilient and dynamic financial ecosystem. As DeFi continues to evolve, understanding these incentive mechanisms will be crucial for investors, users, and developers alike, ensuring that the benefits of decentralized finance can be fully realized.

How do you rate this article?


Michael @ CryptoEQ
Michael @ CryptoEQ

I am a Co-Founder and Lead Analyst at CryptoEQ. Gain the market insights you need to grow your cryptocurrency portfolio. Our team's supportive and interactive approach helps you refine your crypto investing and trading strategies.


Gain the market insights you need to grow your cryptocurrency portfolio. Our team's supportive and interactive approach helps you refine your crypto investing and trading strategies.

Send a $0.01 microtip in crypto to the author, and earn yourself as you read!

20% to author / 80% to me.
We pay the tips from our rewards pool.