The food-related craze for yield farming is showing no sign of abating. So far this year, the crypto space has been treated to Yam, Shrimp, Spaghetti, Cream, and of course, the most-talked-about dish of recent weeks — Sushi. Next up on the menu is BurgerSwap, the latest decentralized exchange that aims to improve upon Uniswap with a different incentive model and community governance.
It’s essentially a clone of SushiSwap, with some variations and one significant difference. BurgerSwap is the first of its kind to be developed on the EVM-compatible Binance Smart Chain. Binance launched its BSC on Aug. 31.
Only 10 days later, BurgerSwap published its first post on Medium announcing the launch, including confirmation that all tokens on BurgerSwap would have Binance Coin (BNB) pairs, which would provide a fresh use case for yield farmers holding BNB. Shortly after the BurgerSwap launch announcement, BNB’s price shot up over 33% to reach new yearly highs.
The BurgerSwap token is currently ranking high along with Binance’s BUSD stablecoin in terms of transaction volumes on the BSC. Thus, of course, this seems like great news for Binance, particularly given that the company is currently making a sizable push into decentralized finance. But as recent events surrounding SushiSwap and its pseudonymous founder, Chef Nomi, have confirmed, those cooking in the DeFi kitchen have to be able to take the heat.
As things stand, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao seems to be simultaneously plugging the project while holding it at arm’s length. It could be a sensible strategy because if BurgerSwap ends up following a similar path to SushiSwap, it could mean that the BNB token, or even the Binance brand itself, may end up getting burned.
A similar recipe to SushiSwap?
Even after all the ups and down in DeFi involving projects like Yam Protocol and Yearn.finance, the SushiSwap saga has proved to be particularly gripping. Created as a fork of Uniswap, the SushiSwap founders also adapted the code introducing the SUSHI token for all the yield farmers.
Even before SushiSwap launched its platform, the project was using Uniswap’s liquidity pools to allow users to mine SUSHI, causing the price to spike. Then, as the price of Ether (ETH) suddenly dropped in early September, Chef Nomi made a seemingly fatal decision to sell tokens from the developer fund. Cutting a long story short, Chef Nomi first left the project and then returned the funds while issuing an apology.
Amid all this fishy furor, and even though Binance wasn’t directly involved in the SushiSwap saga, CZ found himself in the position of having to defend the fact that Binance had listed SUSHI tokens despite the risks involved.
An anonymous burger king
It seems fair that CZ can distance Binance from any risk responsibility when only a token listing is in question. However, BurgerSwap appears to have many closer ties to the Binance ecosystem, even despite the cloud of anonymity surrounding the project.
BurgerSwap’s Medium account is authored by someone going by the pseudonym “Burger King.” Two days after the initial launch announcement on Sept. 10, the account published a blog post titled “Who is the Burger King?” The post states very little, including that BurgerSwap is not an anonymous project, and “we just have been busy buidling.”
It goes on to explain that BurgerSwap is an implementation of an Ethereum Improvement Proposal, called ERC-2917, name-dropping proposal co-authors Tony Carson, Mehmet Sabir Kiraz and Süleyman Kardaş. However, the Burger King stops short of stating that any of them are directly involved. The post even goes as far as referring to the ERC-2917 researchers as “they” while referring to the BurgerSwap team as “we.”
Nevertheless, CZ appears to have made the assumption that the post confirms that Carson, Kiraz and Kardaş are behind the project. Albeit, he uses somewhat obfuscatory language in a tweet: “Full disclosure, now I know. I am told they are Turkish blockchain researchers.”
But despite CZ’s assertion, the exact identity of the BurgerSwap founders remains still in doubt. As if to further compound the confusion, the post goes on to elaborate that the BurgerSwap protocol was not a fork or a copy and that the team developed the code from the ground up. And despite the ongoing references to a team, only one developer under the pseudonym “Jason” has made any commits to the code on GitHub. Cointelegraph spoke to the Burger King but perhaps predictably, they didn’t give away many details about the team, stating:
“We have a wide team spread across the US, UK, China and Turkey. We are hiring at a fast pace due to the rapid and unexpected growth since our recent launch and our team does now consist of 15+ people.”
The Medium post does state that Ryan Fang, a co-founder of Ankr and a co-initiator of Bounce.Finance, is an advisor to BurgerSwap. Both of these projects have connections to the Binance ecosystem. Ankr was the first Binance Chain Evolution Proposal 2 project to be selected for community listing on the Binance exchange, while Bounce is based on the Binance Smart Chain. Ankr is also currently collaborating with Binance on a DeFi-focused hackathon.
A later Medium post from the Burger King states that the BurgerSwap team “feels encouraged” to apply for part of Binance’s $100-million DeFi and CeFi Accelerator Fund. Burger King also affirmed this to Cointelegraph:
“We have not raised any money to build BurgerSwap. It was an initiative of a group of people around the DEMAX whitepaper. But this week we have applied for the Binance Smart Chain Accelerator Fund grant.”
Like many DeFi projects, the BurgerSwap code is currently unaudited. However, Burger King did confirm to Cointelegraph that the project is currently in discussion with Quantstamp regarding a code audit.
Risk vs. reward for Binance
It seems obvious to question whether or not Binance is behind the project despite CZ’s attempts to stay at an arms-length distance. Binance has not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.
However, a more significant and pertinent question is about future plans. It would be entirely understandable that Binance doesn’t want to be directly associated with any project that has following the same trail blazed by SushiSwap, at least not while events are so fresh in our collective memory. Nevertheless, if the current success of BurgerSwap spells great news for Binance, the BSC and the BNB token, then a crash could just as easily end up having the direct opposite effect.
Furthermore, if BurgerSwap makes any of the same mistakes as SushiSwap, the damage would be worse for Binance. The company is a globally recognized brand in the crypto space, seen as an incubator to dozens, if not hundreds of projects. As a decentralized development platform, Ethereum is in a far more neutral position. Binance also bears some responsibility for the price of BNB, whereas Ethereum developers have no obvious obligations to ETH holders in this regard.
Binance also has to deal with regulators in many jurisdictions. To develop close ties with potentially risky, unaudited and unregulated DeFi projects may jeopardize its ability to operate as an exchange since DeFi is already at risk of attracting the attention of regulators. Last but not least, Binance has a duty of care for its users. It may be one of the biggest fish in the pond right now, but it has plenty of competitors.
Meanwhile, Ethereum is currently bearing the bulk of the weight of the DeFi ecosystem. The Binance Smart Chain undeniably provides an EVM-compatible alternative with lower fees and less congestion. Even if BurgerSwap isn’t the flagship project of BSC in the future, it could help gain enough initial traction and recognition for developers to recognize the potential for an alternative to Ethereum. Either way, the continuing appetite for yield farming is providing plenty of impetus for DeFi chefs to keep innovating.