PoolTogether has a ways to go if it’s to crack into the mainstream, but more stakeholders are seeing the makings of a breakout dApp in Ethereum’s first “no-loss” lottery game — at least if a new $1 million USD funding windfall is any indication.
On February 3rd, the PoolTogether team announced it had raised $1 million “to accelerate our mission of empowering financial health.” IDEO CoLab Ventures led the raise, and ConsenSys Labs and DTC Capital also chipped in.
Here are a few of the immediate benefits to PoolTogether players and developers. 🏆
— PoolTogether (@PoolTogether_) February 3, 2020
On the news, PoolTogether creator Leighton Cusack said the funding would lead to “immediate enchancements” around the dApp, which allows users to buy tickets that can be withdrawn 1:1 for Dai at any time, though with the underlying Dai lent out to generate a prize pool that’s awarded weekly to one random ticket holder.
Those enhancements include a bigger Dai prize pools for users, a decisively fee-less model, and further security audits.
New Milestones Just Reached
It was only last month, specifically on January 22nd, that PoolTogether reached its first 1,500 users and its first prize pool worth over $1,000 Dai.
Only a few days later, however, that user count had swelled another 33 percent to 2,000 users and the prize pool another 50 percent to $1,500, indicating that the dApp was picking up steam in short order. The occassion also marked the first time that the lotto’s underlying Dai funds crossed the $1 million threshold.
— Spencer Noon (@spencernoon) January 31, 2020
Interestingly, the uptick in activity comes on the heels of dApp’s code being audited by the reputable OpenZeppelin team. “Overall, we are happy with the security posture of the team and the health of the codebase,” the auditors concluded.
A DeFi Primitive Rising
PoolTogether is unique because it’s the first project in the cryptoeconomy — though undoubtedly not the last — to make use of a Prize Linked Savings model. As the dApp’s creator Leighton Cusack further explained in his February 3rd announcement:
“Prize Linked Savings (PLS) is an underdeveloped financial primitive on the blockchain. PLS products are a popular and effective method of increasing healthy financial behavior — in the UK alone over $100 Billion is currently saved in PLS products¹. Building a PLS protocol on Ethereum improves on traditional options by increasing efficiency, broadening access, and improving trust.”
Indeed, Spencer Noon, who heads up DTC Capital, has previously noted that PLS systems have the potential to be extremely popular with mainstream users. In a Twitter thread from last fall, Noon linked to research from Harvard and Oxford that suggested PLS could be “attractive to all demographics” and could increase “total savings on average by 1% of annual income.”
2/8. If you're short on time, here are the paper's takeaways:
☑️ PLS is attractive to all demographics
☑️ People who use PLS increased total savings on average by 1% of annual income
☑️ There is causal evidence that PLS substitutes for lottery and is also a complement to savings pic.twitter.com/fiqZDgcIr6
— Spencer Noon (@spencernoon) November 6, 2019
That research examined the case of a PLS service provided by the First National Bank of South Africa between 2003 to 2008. Noon went on to note that demand for the offering proved explosive, insofar as “there were more PLS accounts than regular savings accounts” at the institution just a year and a half after the service began.
It’s anecdotes like this that has Noon optimistic on PoolTogether’s future prospects and the dApp’s team eyeing onboarding droves of newcomers.
“We believe prize linked savings will be the entry point for millions of new DeFi users,” Leighton Cusack has said.
If that projection does pan out, PoolTogether will be primed to be one of Ethereum’s first breakout apps. But there will be challenges ahead in the short-term, whatever happens.
As the aforementioned OpenZeppelin team noted in their audit, one such challenge will be navigating the issue of “privileged roles” in the project’s codebase.
Yet the auditors concluded “we are glad … the [PoolTogether team] has considered the implications of their threat model with an intention to upgrade the design where appropriate,” so things are hopeful.