Governance Token

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What is a Governance Token?

A governance token is a cryptocurrency that grants holders the right to participate in the governance of a protocol. These tokens are built on blockchain platforms like Ethereum, enabling holders to participate in the decision-making processes of a project through voting. 

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There are a number of different governance models. However, in most cases, the voting power of each token holder is proportionate to the number of tokens they hold. Therefore, the more governance tokens a user holds, the more they can influence the future of the project. 

The primary reason behind handing over the control of a project to the community is to move toward decentralization, which is one of the core tenets of the crypto market. This puts the community in charge of key decisions, such as how treasury funds should be spent and what new protocol features should be implemented.

How Do Governance Tokens Work?

Decentralized finance (DeFi) projects typically launch their governance tokens on a smart contract blockchain. Each project outlines its token issuance policy in a whitepaper, which may include rewarding community members with governance tokens for their contributions to the project’s liquidity pools

Voting with such tokens usually takes place on a platform-specific portal, where token holders can connect their wallets and participate in active and pending proposals. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) play a crucial role in this process, allowing users to both submit proposals and tally votes. 

A DAO is an entity with no central leadership. It includes all the stakeholders in a project, such as developersvalidators, and investors.

DAOs also rely on smart contracts to tally votes and execute orders to avoid human manipulation.

How to Vote with Governance Tokens

While the specifics may vary across platforms, the voting process generally involves three main steps: 

In the first step, users who want to participate in the voting purchase need to purchase and hold some governance tokens. They then need to head over to the intended DAO platform and connect their digital crypto wallet. To begin voting, governance tokens must be locked within a smart contract or delegated. 

Delegating voting power to a delegate means assigning a trusted individual within the community to vote on your behalf. This can be a good option for those who don’t have the time or resources to actively participate in the DAO’s governance but still want to make a difference. 

It is worth noting that not all token holders may participate in a specific vote. Therefore, most proposals have a minimum threshold of votes that must be cast before they can be settled, ensuring that the community is able to collectively reach a consensus before proceeding with a plan. 

Advantages of Governance Tokens

Advantages Description
Decentralization Governance tokens facilitate decentralization by allowing users to have a say in project governance, a crucial aspect of the DeFi ecosystem.
Incentivized Participation These tokens incentivize users to actively participate in a project, promoting engagement and fostering a virtuous cycle of value creation.
Better Resource Allocation By aligning development with the community’s desires, governance models lead to more efficient development and resource allocation.
Other Benefits In some cases, governance tokens may have additional utility beyond governance rights. They can be used for staking, earning rewards, participating in DeFi protocols, or accessing certain features within the ecosystem.

Disadvantages of Governance Tokens

Disadvantages Description
Complexity Governance tokens might be a bit complex, which can deter users from actively participating if they struggle to understand the intricacies of the token’s functionalities.
Concentration of power If a few holders manage to scoop up a large portion of a project’s governance tokens, they can use their voting power to make decisions that do not benefit the project as a whole.
Lack of accountability Another potential concern regarding governance tokens is the lack of accountability, as no individual can be held responsible for poor decisions made through the voting process.
Slow decision-making process Governance processes can be time-consuming, requiring proposals, discussions, and voting periods. While this allows for deliberation and consensus-building, it can also slow down the decision-making process.

Do Governance Tokens Have Value?

In short, governance tokens hold significant value. They primarily derive their value from their ability to empower token holders to shape a project’s future and improve organizational efficiency

Furthermore, just like many popular cryptocurrencies, governance tokens can be traded, exchanged, staked, or used to earn passive income. Holding a governance token can resemble owning a share in a revenue stream, granting additional benefits within the protocol.

The value of governance tokens can also be appreciated over time. As the project achieves success, the tokens become more valuable. Additionally, projects can increase the value of their governance tokens by implementing token buybacks, reducing token supply, and driving up their worth.

The Bottom Line 

Governance tokens have become integral to the DeFi landscape, allowing users to actively participate in project decision-making. They offer advantages like decentralization and incentives, but they also come with challenges, such as complexity and the risk of misuse.

Nonetheless, governance tokens hold value and can offer additional benefits like a passive stream of revenue to holders. These tokens are expected to play a significant role in shaping the future of decentralized finance, particularly in democratizing governance across DeFi. 

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Ruholamin Haqshanas
Cryptocurrency journalist
Ruholamin Haqshanas
Cryptocurrency journalist

Ruholamin is a crypto and financial journalist with over three years of experience. Apart from Techopedia, he has been featured in major news outlets, including Cryptonews, Investing.com, 24/7 Wall St, The Tokenist, Business2Community, and has also worked with some prominent crypto and DeFi projects.  He holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechatronics. Ruholamin enjoys reading about tech developments, writing, and nature-watching