Canto — an EVM-compatible Layer 1 blockchain built in Cosmos SDK with free DeFi


Project Analysis: With TVL suddenly increasing by US$80 million in 8 days, CANTO, a new public chain, is quickly coming into the spotlight. This report analyzes the value of CANTO from the team, tokenomics, design, and technical perspectives.

Source: Defillama
Source: Defillama

I. What is Canto?

The first iteration of Canto is a permissionless general-purpose blockchain running the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). It was built to deliver on the promise of DeFi — that through a post-traditional financial movement, new systems will be made accessible, transparent, decentralized, and free.

At launch, Canto provides Tendermint consensus secured by Canto validator nodes and an EVM execution layer via Cosmos SDK in addition to core financial primitives designed to support the Free Public Infrastructure (FPI). These primitives include:  Canto DEX, Canto Lending Market, and $NOTE.

Source: Canto Official Website
Source: Canto Official Website

Canto DEX — a zero-fee DEX for liquidity providers

For Canto’s DEX, the protocol cannot be upgraded and is kept in no governance. It will run on Canto perpetuity without ever being able to launch a token or implement additional fees over time, preventing the possibility of a predatory evolution toward rent-seeking behaviors.

Like other DEXes, Canto DEX uses an AMM (automated market maker) to price assets. The AMM derives liquidity for trading pairs from user-supplied pools of assets called liquidity pools. Users providing liquidity receive LP tokens that can be supplied in the Canto Lending Market. These tokens can be collateralized and borrowed against.

Canto Lending Market (CLM)

CLM is a pooled lending Compound v2 fork. For the Canto Lending Market, governance is controlled by Canto stakers. Canto stakers have broad interests in the growth of the ecosystem and fostering the best environment for both developers and DeFi users. As such, they have no incentive to extract rent at the application layer.

Canto Lending Market will allow LP tokens from Canto’s native decentralized exchange to be used as collateral. This collateral will be deposited in a lending market as supply but users will not be allowed to borrow LP tokens.

Source: Canto Lending Website
Source: Canto Lending Website


$NOTE is the unit of account on Canto. $NOTE is an over-collateralized currency with a value perpetually rebalanced toward $1 through an algorithmic interest rate policy. It is over-collateralized, capital efficient, fully decentralized, and automated.

$NOTE cannot be created — it must be borrowed from the Accountant, a smart contract that implements the algorithmic interest rate policy, via the Canto Lending Market (CLM).

$NOTE is a fully immutable ERC-20 token backed by collateral lent to the CLM. It can only be borrowed by users who post select collateral assets such as USDC, USDT, CANTO, ETH, ATOM, or Canto LP tokens. As a result, for every NOTE in circulation, there is more than US$1 worth of collateral held by the CLM.

Canto Lending Market achieves superior capital efficiency by allowing stablecoin collateral backing NOTE to be lent out to other participants. For example, a DeFi participant can lend USDC to Canto Lending Market and then borrow NOTE. If the borrow rate for $NOTE is less than the supply rate for USDC, that DeFi participant will be getting paid to hold NOTE on Canto.

All interest charged by the Accountant is earmarked for funding public goods. It is held in the Community Treasury and ultimately governed by the Canto DAO.

Source: Canto docs
Source: Canto docs

II. How does $NOTE maintain price stability?

Since $NOTE cannot be created, only borrowed, the Accountant contract utilizes interest rates to manage the circulating supply of $NOTE, and by proxy, its price. The interest rate on $NOTE automatically adjusts up or down every 6 hours based on a TWAP of the market price of $NOTE.

Aiming to provide a public utility, the algorithm responsible for adjusting this interest rate is designed to change the interest rate in order to promote a less volatile value as opposed to maximizing revenue.

If $NOTE is trading under US$1, the interest rate is raised to strengthen the incentive for buying $NOTE on secondary markets and lending it to the CLM. If $NOTE is trading over a dollar, the interest rate is lowered to make borrowing $NOTE from the CLM and selling it on secondary markets more attractive.

For launch, each interest epoch will be 6 hours and the rate will adjust by 0.25 (one-quarter) of the difference between the price of $NOTE and US$1.

The Formula:

newInterestRate = max(0,(1 — price of $NOTE)*Adjuster Coefficient+ priorInterestRate)


Current Interest Rate: 4%. $NOTE average price over the last 6 hours: 1.04.

New Interest Rate: 3% = max (0, (1–1.04)* 0.25 + 4%)

If $NOTE is trading above US$1, the interest rate is lowered to weaken the $NOTE price. If $NOTE is trading below US$1, the interest rate is raised to strengthen the $NOTE price.

III. Canto’s Team

Canto is designed to support free public infrastructure, while eliminating centralized incentives: no official foundation, no presale, no vesting, and no venture backers. The core contributor to the project is s⋐ott @scott_lew_is. Plex (@Plex_Official) is a key contributor to the project, a community of developers with experience in high-frequency trading, mechanism design and software development, dedicated to exploring and developing DeFi.

Scott's Twitter
Scott's Twitter
Plex's Twitter
Plex's Twitter


At genesis, 1 billion tokens were minted. The tokens will be distributed in the following manner:

  • Contributors: 13.0%

  • Settlers of Canto: 2%

  • Future Grants: 5%

  • Medium-Term Liquidity Mining: 35%

  • Long-Term Liquidity Mining: 45%

Tokens not yet distributed (Grants and Future Liquidity Mining) will be kept in the community pool.

Liquidity Mining Incentives

In order to compensate LPs for providing capital to Canto’s zero LP fee DEX and to help distribute CANTO in a fair manner, a liquidity mining program will release tokens linearly per block to LP token holders. We ensure that there will be suitable liquidity at launch by partitioning the genesis block into two sets of liquidity mining incentives. The first block of tokens will provide incentives for LPs for the first six months after Canto launches and the second block will provide incentives for a longer-term, multi-year period. Incentives will be sufficiently large enough to ensure that liquidity is freely available for the vast majority of trading activity while accounting for high expected volatility in the initial phases of Canto’s launch.

Liquidity Mining Emissions

Medium-Term Liquidity Mining is expected to consist of six month-long epochs. The first epoch will start at launch and will distribute 5.83% of the token supply. The Canto DAO has on-chain control over all liquidity mining schedules. As the first epoch concludes, the DAO may choose to pass a proposal to begin a second epoch.

Long-Term Liquidity Mining is expected to continue liquidity mining after the Medium-Term Liquidity Mining allocation is emitted. The Long-Term Liquidity Mining reserves may be emitted over the course of 10 years, or any other schedule the DAO chooses.

Staking Incentives

Canto aims to bootstrap network security through a policy of minimum viable issuance of new tokens to stakers. They achieve this objective initially by issuing a flat amount of tokens linearly per block to stakers in a manner similar to LM incentives. Canto’s high inflation allows market participants to effectively price the excess returns on liquidity mining relative to the expected impermanent loss. As Canto’s financial primitives become more liquid over time, this premium is expected to converge rapidly to its fair value as new information enters the market.

Security Emissions

Network security emissions will start around an inflation rate of 200 million Canto per year for the first 30-day period, minting ~16m new CANTO tokens. The LM reward per block mined will be ~37 CANTO. Every subsequent period will face exponentially decaying security emissions.

Ⅴ. Risks and opportunities

The project is in its early stage and we advise caution due to a large number of meme coins in the market, many of which are prone to collapse. The best way to find new projects is by joining the CANTO discord and checking out the “canto native projects” channel. For the entire Canto Layer1 blockchain, NOTE is an important cornerstone. However, Canto is not a real stablecoin per se, and the price fluctuation will be relatively large. We suggest farming users not to invest too much money in Canto, in order to manage risk.

As a new Layer1 blockchain, Canto has shown no technological innovation. Canto, has, however, made a change in the traditional profit-making model, canceled fee collection, and provided free Defi services. In the long run, Canto will eventually settle down like other normal EVM chains. But the price of CANTO in the short term may be impacted by the high APR from farming.

Written by: Lucio Lyu

Twitter: @imLucio_eth

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