Introducing OlympusDAO, An Algorithmic Currency Protocol

7 min readFeb 2, 2021

In this post, I will try to explain how Olympus works in low complexity terms. I hope it provides you with a good understanding of the problem we’re tackling and how we aim to solve it.

So, what is the problem? That we still do not have an independently valued digital currency. I think it’s pretty well understood at this point that Bitcoin is not a currency; it is money (an asset). The same goes for ETH, and any other “cryptocurrency” out there today. The perfect currency holds the same purchasing power today as in 50 years. It provides a stable and consistent foundation upon which contracts can be formed, financial planning can be done, prices can be marketed; basically, upon which an economy can run. This is impossible in absolute terms, but I don’t think anything out there even comes close to this today.

How are we addressing this problem? With dollar coins (imo incorrectly dubbed “stablecoins”). At the time of writing, there are $38 billion in USD tokens circulating. They have become the primary trading pairs in crypto markets and the most popular assets in DeFi. There’s a strange irony to the fact that the most utilized cryptocurrency is really just a digitized dollar. While functional stablecoins may achieve a stable USD value, that does not mean they’re stable in purchasing power. Their real value changes just like dollars in a bank account, and that value is heavily reliant on the policies of the Federal Reserve and US government, and on the US economy.

Recently, there’s been a wave of algorithmic stablecoins seeking to emulate a dollar peg without collateral (or less than 1:1 backing). I believe we can go a step further. Each iteration in the line of algos has demonstrated different ways of achieving stability, and many of them work! What if we could achieve stability while still maintaining a floating market-driven price? That is Olympus.

How it works:

Each OHM token is backed by 1 DAI in the treasury. However, tokens can’t be minted or burned by anyone except the protocol. The protocol only does so in response to price. When OHM trades below 1 DAI, the protocol buys back and burns OHM; when OHM trades above 1 DAI, the protocol mints and sells new OHM. Because the treasury must hold 1 DAI and only 1 DAI for each OHM, every time it buys or sells it makes a profit. It either gets more than 1 DAI for the sale, or spent less than 1 DAI on the purchase.

The fact that the protocol holds DAI for each token allows us to say with certainty that OHM will not trade below its intrinsic value in the long term. This allows investments to be made with defined risk (1 DAI is your guaranteed long-term price floor), because the protocol can and will buy indefinitely below 1 DAI until no one is left to sell, even if it means supply is reduced to 0. In fact, an event like that would be immensely profitable to those who didn’t sell; they’d end up with a chunk of every token burned.

It is important to understand that OHM does not rebase. Rather, new supply is created via direct sales into the market and burned via direct purchases from the market. This way, OHM remains backed by real assets in the treasury.

Holding DAI to back tokens also creates a yield generation opportunity. We could keep it all locked away in a vault, but that would be a waste. The protocol never needs more than a few percent of reserves on even the largest down days, meaning we are free to utilize the rest. We will plug those assets into yield aggregators and add the proceeds onto profits from buying and selling OHM.

The initial profit distribution will be: 90% to stakers and 10% to the DAO (these allocations will be changed if necessary, as decided by the DAO). All rewards are paid in OHM backed by DAI. This system maintains a stable intrinsic value and reduces the incentive role of appreciation in favor of accumulation, like with real currency: you try to get more dollars, you don’t hope your dollars become worth more (though we do have both).

So, how do I play this? The best way is to buy as close to or below 1 DAI as you can. The distance from 1 is the risk you take on (it’s actually negative below 1!). Regardless of where you buy, you can then stake your OHM or provide it to the Sushi pool as liquidity and bond the LP token. In both cases, you earn a more OHM over time.

When can I play this? We are actively in development, targeting a launch in March. We will announce details of our fair launch event closer to then.

A model of the system (excluding treasury yield) at the initial policy state and various prices.

Some additional notes:

This article is intentionally vague on implementation details to avoid front-running. We will share more of the “how” closer to launch. This is merely meant to give you an idea of “what” Olympus is.

There are several stabilization components that we will announce later on. These will allow us to achieve a stable floating price at scale; however, stability is not the goal in this stage as our initial profitability and growth are mainly driven by volatility.

The treasury does not have to be DAI forever. We are starting with it because USD is familiar and common, and we want to minimize complexity in this initial stage. Plus, DAI enjoys some of the highest yields in DeFi. However, down the road I hope to see Bitcoin become part of the treasury. I believe the best currency should be backed by the best money.

A portion of all of the protocols revenues go to the DAO, capitalizing it with real assets. Unlike many projects, we will not have to sell our native token into the market to realize DAO funds, because we always have the option of using their backing.

OHM will be most successful if it is positioned as a USD-alternative primitive for DeFi. We will work hard to get OHM integrated into money markets, DEX pairs, and yield farming protocols. We will also encourage its use as an alternative to holding USD. Eventually, you’ll be able to quote prices in OHM with a reasonable expectation that they’ll remain the same in the future. At that point, we hope to see people flee to OHM as a safe haven during risk-off periods rather than USD. We will do as much as we can to realize this, but ultimately it is a mindset and belief system (like any money or currency) that will rely on the support of you, the community.

We are excited to embark on this journey, and we hope that you join us :)


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