May 19, 2021

MakerDAO: A Comprehensive Overview

Okereke Innocent

What is MakerDAO? 

Most people in the blockchain space know MakerDAO as the protocol behind the stablecoin DAI. DAI is a cryptocurrency that always maintains a 1:1 peg to the United States dollar. You can think of 1 DAI as equivalent to $1. Meanwhile, the interesting thing here is that Ether backs each DAI and not a third party. The volatility of Ether poses some notable challenges in terms of maintaining the peg. 

This MakerDAO project joins a DAO with another crypto-collateralized stablecoin called DAI. The aim is to build a complete, decentralized finance ecosystem that permits loans and savings on the Ethereum blockchain network. The responsibility of creating and developing the Maker Protocol also saddles this project. The Maker Protocol aims to permit and control the emission of DAI anchored to the dollar. All these things happen on a series of smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. 

What has made MakerDAO the largest DeFi project in the crypto and blockchain space? How did it come about? What does the future hold for this project? This article will answer all these and many more questions.

The History of MakerDAO

Rune Christensen started the creation of the MakerDAO project in 2015. In his first work on Reddit, Christensen explained his idea of creating a DAO on Ethereum and using it to generate a stablecoin that will be pegged to the dollar. 

Christensen’s idea went further, and led to the formation of the Maker Foundation. The role of the foundation is to direct all developmental and management efforts of the MakerDAO project. In August 2015, the project launched its Maker (MKR) token. The token established the foundation of the government of the Maker Protocol. 

In December 2017, the first stablecoin came into existence, governed by DAO in the crypto space. 

The Vision Behind MakerDAO

According to the whitepaper, the Maker project aims to create an independent system controlled by smart contracts that manage collateralized debt positions (CDPs) using Ether. Thus, issuing a stable currency hinged on the price of the dollar. This offers new financing options in the relatively nascent blockchain ecosystem.  

Creating a decentralized operating and governance infrastructure that enables people to develop a stablecoin with global reach is the main objective of MakerDAO. Also, the project seeks to create a mechanism that gives users access to decentralized finance (DeFi) through the use of cryptocurrency. This mechanism encourages people to convert their Ether to DAI. 

What Is The Maker Protocol, And How Does It Our Work?

The Maker protocol is a built-in smart contract and runs on the Ethereum blockchain network. This protocol allows the operation of a platform specifically for the generation and control of DAI stablecoin. The protocol also handles Maker Vault, Oracles, and voting within the entire system. With the Maker protocol, you can control the fundamental parameters of the whole system. This includes stability fees, interest rates, collateral assets, and many other things. 

The protocol permits a democratized process where most MKR token holders must sanction every proposed change. This process ensures that the system doesn’t fall into a few hands and prevents manipulation in any way.

The DAI Stablecoin  

The DAI stablecoin is the second element that enables the MakerDAO to function efficiently and effectively. You can only generate the DAI stablecoin under certain conditions and with the use of the Maker protocol. The conditions in question are the ones decided by the community governing the protocol. By implication, DAI is an impartial and decentralized stablecoin. 

Unlike most other stablecoins, DAI does not depend on banks, and it also doesn’t have collateral in fiat. It makes use of cryptocurrency as collateral. You can store your DAI in wallets that support the standard ERC-20 tokens. As DAI is built in this standard. If you want to generate DAI, you need to lock Ether or any currency accepted by the protocol within the Maker Vaults. The Maker Vaults will utilize such cryptocurrencies to create a collateralized debt position (CDP), thus generating the corresponding DAI. You can also save it as savings using a Maker protocol known as DAI Interest Rate (DIR). 

The DAI stabelcoin can function as the following:

  • Reserve of value
  • An exchange medium
  • A unit of account, and 
  • Deferred payment reference

Collateralization of DAI Stablecoin

Before you can generate, support, and maintain the value of a stable DAI, you must first collateralize its value. To do so, you will use different tokens that can be deposited into the Maker Vaults. The Maker protocol ensures every DAI stablecoin has real value support that permits the supporting and issuance of each DAI within the ecosystem. 

All collaterals accepted on MakerDAO are all tokens that are supported by the Ethereum blockchain network. Initially, collaterals started as something much more straightforward. Ether was once accepted as the only collateral, but it changed in 2019 upon releasing the multi-collateral DAI protocol (MCD). Other tokens began to be accepted. Today, the accepted tokens include all Basic Attention Tokens (BAT), USDC, wBTC, TUSD, KNC, ZRX, MANA, and Ether. 

The collateralization value for every token varies, and the governance of the Maker protocol decides them. 

Also read Ampleforth: A Comprehensive Guide.

The Maker Vaults

In the course of this article, you must have come across Maker Vaults multiple times. They are the storehouses that hold all cryptocurrencies that act as collateral for DAIs. Using the Maker Vaults, you can:

  • Send cryptos as collateral and get DAI in return or
  • Send DAI and receive a collateral cryptocurrency. 

It is important to note that the interaction with the Maker Vault is done without an intermediary. The user interacts with it directly. There are rules of operation guiding the operation of the Maker Vaults. If you send tokens as collateral to a Maker Vault to generate DAI, the collateral will always be available under certain conditions. If the token price fluctuates beyond the “Settlement Ratio,” the system liquates the position. 

It means that the Maker Vault will sell your crypto to maintain the positive and stable relationship of the DAI. What matters most is to avoid losses to the protocol and to the people who support it. The liquidation is executed by the Maker protocol as stipulated in the interaction of users and the Maker Vaults. 

MakerDAO Governance Protocol 

The Maker Governance Framework (MGF) is in charge of handling the governance of MakerDAO. It is based on thoroughly analyzed and reproducible scientific models created by experts with a proven track record. The framework falls into the following components:

Governance Proposals

They are symbolic votes that are used to scrutinize community sentiment towards particular models or data sources. 

Executive Proposals

They help to rectify the Risk Parameters identified by the models and data accepted by the Government Proposals. Executive votes bring about status change within the DAI Credit System, and it happens every quarter.

In the governance of MakerDAO, the role of the Maker Foundation is vital and very fundamental. The foundation directs the development and management efforts of the project. Aside from that, the Maker Foundation is also dedicated to expanding the project and also seeking financial and institutional support for the protocol. 

The governance model of the Maker protocol ensures that neither the MKR holders nor the Maker Foundation has absolute powers to dictate what happens in the system. 


The future looks great for the MakerDAO ecosystem and its users. Today, developers continue to use DAI and the Maker Protocol to create innovative decentralized finance applications. It thus increases the accessibility to users all over the world. Although people can argue that we are still at the early stage of things, the achievements so far are massive. 

Also, read CURVE FINANCE: Let’s Take A Curve Into Defi Of Stablecoins.


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