Introducing Ref Finance

Illia Polosukhin initially created Ref Finance, the co-founder of NEAR, who added the first commit to it on March 9th, 2021.

Since then, the project has evolved and been taken on by Proximity labs. After receiving a grant from the NEAR foundation, they built it up to be a blue chip of DeFi in the NEAR ecosystem. The goal of Ref Finance is to provide a one-stop shop for all one’s DeFi needs.

Ref Finance combines three significant innovations, including integrating multiple pools into one smart contract, adding developer incentives into the fee structure, and a sophisticated AMM.

What all of that means for a user?

Let’s break it down.


You’ll encounter this acronym quite frequently when reading about how Decentralized Exchanges work. It’s short for automated market maker and describes a smart contract that exercises the function of a market maker in traditional markets. That means facilitating buying and selling of assets in a decentralized manner. Instead of relying on a centralized entity to provide the liquidity required to market make, AMMs tap into so-called liquidity pools. The community provides liquidity to them and earns a share of the fees for their service. I’ve covered AMMs before, so for more context, you can check out this post.

The AMM on Ref Finance is inspired by Uniswap v2 for the general swap function and relies on a similar swap function as Curve for its stablecoin swaps. The swap functions are:

Swap function: x * y = k

StableSwap function: χDn−1 * ∑ xi + ∏ xi = χDn + ( D / n )n

Another exciting feature of Ref Finance’s swap products is the smart routing function. It finds the best price for every trade and takes advantage of all liquidity to determine the best allocation across pools of the same assets. Ref Finance offers a multi-chain router for those trading across chains that aggregates data across all DEXes on Aurora and NEAR, providing deeper liquidity, lower trading slippage, and enhanced visibility.

So who uses Ref Finance?

We can broadly classify four categories of users, similar to other DeFi protocols.


Regardless of their convictions, they are part of every decentralized exchange and DeFi protocol. With Ref Finance, they benefit from speedy transaction finality and cheap fees, which make trading strategies feasible that might not be profitable on other protocols due to high gas fees (high-frequency trading for example). On Ref, they can swap NEP-141 tokens and, through Rainbow Bridge and Aurora, also interact with ERC-20 tokens.

Liquidity Providers

They are the individuals and projects providing liquidity to the pools. In practice, that means making your funds accessible to the smart contract. Some liquidity providers are passive and don’t monitor their positions beyond occasional checking in. Others actively monitor their positions and move funds to the most profitable pools.

Token Projects

Sometimes projects will bootstrap their liquidity pools by adding some of their liquidity and making tokens accessible permissionless for DeFi users.


Similar to liquidity providers, some might have more long-term, passive involvement, and all they want is a reasonably stable revenue stream. Others pursue short-term strategies trying to maximize the stake they can earn. Yet others might only be interested in staking to vote on governance decisions.


Developers can facilitate swaps through their own dapps using Ref Finance and access analytics, liquidity, and yield aggregation.


While initially bootstrapped by a centralized entity, Ref Finance also has a DAO, which might eventually take over control. The Ref DAO uses the SputnikDAO smart contracts to manage its affairs and consists of a council and the community. The council members are the only ones who can currently create proposals and vote. The community can vote on proposals. Any proposals up for voting require a majority to be passed and implemented.


Ref Finance incentivizes liquidity provisions and makes decisions through its native token: REF. It’s a NEP-141 token with a fixed supply of 100,000,000. During an IDO on Skyward Finance, the team auctioned 2,500,000 to the community.

The tokens are distributed as seen in the graph below:

On a positive note, a vast majority of tokens will probably end up in the hands of the community through distribution as liquidity incentives and direct community allocation. In addition to the IDO on skyward finance, the team behind Ref raised $4.8 million from various investors, including Jump Crypto, KuCoin ventures, and others.

Overall, Ref Finance provides DeFi enthusiasts with all the tools and platforms they need to earn, trade, and swap without reliance on centralized services. If you’re ready to try it out, head to Ref Finance, connect your wallet and go 👏



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Naomi Oba

Naomi Oba

Writer in Crypto — passionate about financial education, blockchain, books, and food.