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Last updated: Aug 16, 2023
Orca is an AMM DEX running on the Solana blockchain. The exchange was launched in February 2021 and was self-funded with a grant from the Solana Foundation. Now it is the top project on Solana by TVL (total value locked).
Orca’s main features are token swap, liquidity pools, staking, and collectibles. Orca claims that its distinctive features are lightning-fast swaps and low fees.
Users providing liquidity on the exchange earn from trading fees proportional to their share of the pools they enter. However, liquidity providers may face impermanent loss which occurs the more a token diverges in price in any direction, although in some cases this may seriously affect users holdings and needs. When providing liquidity, users earn LP tokens representing their share of a pool which can be redeemed for their underlying assets at any time. These LP tokens can then be further deposited into Orca’s yield farms which allows earning both trading fees and ORCA token emissions. Assets can be withdrawn from the farms at any time.
When accomplishing certain tasks on the platform, its users are rewarded with Collectible tokens which include artistic depictions of creatures from the marine system. These come in the form of SPL tokens and can be traded and transferred.
The Orca Exchange also features an SDK containing APIs through which developers can integrate with the platform. The SDK allows for providing detailed quotes and supports swaps between trading pairs in Orca pools. It can also be used to deposit and withdraw liquidity as well as LP tokens into the Orca yield farms.
To interact with the platform, users need to have a wallet Orca can integrate with. Since it was built on the Solana network, Orca currently supports Sollet.io and Phantom wallets, with the latter being recommended by the Orca team for an optimal user experience, as the exchange is non-custodial, thus tokens are exchanged directly to and from user’s wallets. There is also a need to hold SOL tokens which are used to pay for fees on the Solana blockchain.
Once the user’s wallet is connected to the Orca app, they can see the type and amount of tokens in it through the dApp and can select a pair of tokens input the desired amount to be traded, and execute the exchange once they have approved the transaction.
To provide liquidity on the platform it is needed to navigate to the pools tab on its main screen, choose a pool from the list and enter the amount to be deposited from the required tokens in it. Then, they can see the last 30 days’ average APY and approve the transaction. Once finished, the detailed information regarding the liquidity provided is available in the middle and upper part of the page of the same webpage. To withdraw, it is required to click on the Withdraw button, select the amount of assets and approve the transaction through the wallet holding the LP tokens. Before the transaction, users can preview the total amount of tokens they will receive after the withdrawal.
The platform’s Aquafarm program can be used to deposit LP tokens in so-called double-dip pools which provide more rewards on top of the fees accrued from trading. To participate in the program, users need to navigate to the double-dip tab on the Orca app and choose a pool in which to deposit their assets, and then approve the transaction from their wallet.
The company has so far released seven Collectible token collections, according to its official documentation. The last one was issued on October 12, 2021 and was airdropped to the top 20 liquidity providers during an event called Orca’s Fall Festival. The company states that they don’t always publish criteria for earning collectibles ahead of time, however they may give information on upcoming airdrops on their social media and community pages. Orca collectibles can be traded on DEXes such as Cyclos.
During the Orca Fall Festival from September 28 until October 12 2021, all collectible token holders were allowed to earn ORCA tokens by staking their collectibles during the event.
The Orca fees for swaps include a 0.3% of the trade’s value, out of it 0.25% is distributed to each liquidity provider in the pool depending on their share in it, while the remaining 0.05% gets split 80/20 between the Treasury and the Impact Fund respectively. Besides that, a certain amount of SOL tokens is required to pay for the Solana network’s fee collected for the computation of the transaction.
The ORCA token was launched in August 2021. Token holders can vote for decisions on the protocol through its DAO and will eventually be able to govern the Orca Treasury funds.
The total supply of ORCA is 100 million, with 5.25 million released into circulation upon the project launch. The initial supply was entirely allocated among liquidity providers, traders, and advisors. The rest of the tokens are supposed to be distributed to the team members (20%), advisors (0.9%), and the future investors within three years with a one-year lock-up period.
Earning ORCA is possible by providing liquidity to the “Aquafarm” labeled pools. The amount of tokens earned will be proportional to the LP share of the pool.
The Orca team was founded by software engineers Yutaro Mori and Grace Kwan, who also has a design background. Although initially, Grace Kwan designed the UX for Orca, her role is currently focused entirely on all the non-technical aspects of the company, including strategy and marketing. Yutaro Mori is the engineer lead of the Orca team which comprises five other engineers.
Orca's Constant Product pools are built with the use of Solana token-swap program, which was audited by Kudelski. So far, there is no formal audit report the Orca team has shared.
Recently, the exchange partnered with Aflatoun International – an Amsterdam-based NGO that specializes in financial education around the world. The goal of the collaboration is to develop a crypto and DeFi education curriculum for youth around the globe. To provide funds for the incentive, Orca donates 75% of the mint revenue (around $967k) from the launch of its Orcanauts NFT collection. The company is also working closely with Allbridge to enable FTM and CELO transfers to the Solana blockchain.
Orca plans to add analytics for price and liquidity, as well as support for different languages (currently supports English and Chinese). The current Orca roadmap includes releasing Whirlpools - an implementation of a concentrated liquidity AMM. These will allow liquidity providers to choose a specific price range to provide liquidity instead of being forced to cover the entire price range. Users will be allowed to withdraw liquidity or reposition their liquidity when price moves out of their range. The feature is expected to be released in early Q2 2022.
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