Binance, the world’s largest centralized crypto exchange by volume, recently became the second-most powerful voting member of the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) governing Uniswap, the world’s most prominent decentralized crypto exchange.
Uniswap founder Hayden Adams alleged on Twitter that Binance managed to wrangle so much control by amassing UNI tokens – governance votes, in other words – that “technically” belong to Binance users.
The move is also being viewed as the latest example of how centralized entities are vying for control over decentralized infrastructure.
Uniswap – which launched on Ethereum in 2019 but has since expanded to other ecosystems – is what’s known as a decentralized exchange in that it allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies without a middleman.
A group of core developers maintains the Uniswap codebase, but key protocol decisions are governed by the Uniswap DAO, which grants users voting rights according to how many UNI tokens they hold. Users may also “delegate” their tokens to other entities, thereby enabling those entities to vote on their behalf.
Binance currently retains 5.9% of the voting power on Uniswap, second only to venture capital giant a16z, which controls 6.7%.
As the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance maintains vast liquidity reserves of the tokens it supports on its platform, including Uniswap’s UNI. The exchange also controls custody of the funds that clients store on its platform – a matter of convenience that can negate certain security advantages and governance rights that go to users that opt to hold tokens in their own crypto wallets.
Binance’s elevation within the Uniswap DAO is a “very unique situation,” says Adams, “as the UNI technically belongs to its users.”
The Ethereum address associated with Binance has not yet voted on any governance proposals, whereas a16z, by comparison, has voted 14 times.
Adams continued: “Normally more gov participation = good, however it’s unclear how Binance intends to engage.”
CoinDesk has reached out to Binance for comment.
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