Uniswap review and tutorial: Beginners guide 2021


Uniswap is an automated liquidity protocol and is one of the most popular decentralised exchanges (DEX) out there because of the surge in popularity of decentralised finance (DeFi). Users can become liquidity providers for a pool on Uniswap by depositing an equivalent value of each underlying token in return for other tokens in the pool. In this article, we look at why Uniswap is so popular and provide a tutorial suitable for both beginners, and some advanced tips and hacks for more advanced users.

Key features of Uniswap

Uniswap has 2 major elements or features known as Swap and Pool:

Swap: Uniswap’s Swap feature allows users to swap between Ethereum (ETH) and different ERC-20 tokens.

Pool: Uniswap’s Pool Allows users to earn through providing liquidity. This is done by depositing tokens into a smart contract and you would receive pool tokens in return.

Self-custodial: Uniswap allows you to retain full custody of your funds. So there is no risk associated with centralised exchanges where you could stand to lose your funds if the exchange is hacked or goes bankrupt.

No Know Your Customer (KYC) process: Because Uniswap allows you to retain custody of your funds they do not require you to go through a lengthy KYC process and disclose your full name, passport details etc. It also means getting started on the Exchange will be much quicker and will drastically reduce the chances of your personal information falling into the wrong hands if the Exchange is hacked.

Low trading fees: Uniswap only charges a flat fee of 0.30% per trade. This is much cheaper than most decentralised exchanges.

Access to new coins: Usually with centralised exchanges, different cryptocurrency or DeFi projects will need to go through a vetting process with the exchange before their coin or token is listed for trading. However, since Uniswap is decentralised and owing to their popularity, a lot of projects are instead choosing to launch on Uniswap directly. So with Uniswap, users can get their hands on these new tokens first. And with crazy fluctuations in token prices, especially when they first launch, many traders consider it crucial to be the first ones there.

Is Uniswap safe or a scam? Disadvantages and risks

Transaction failure: When swapping coins on Uniswap, transactions can be at risk of failing. This is mostly for 3 reasons. Firstly, you paid too little gas fees and the transaction took longer than the hard deadline coded into the transaction. Secondly, you had specified a maximum price that you would be prepared to pay per token but the price exceeds the maximum before the transaction is completed. Lastly, there is insufficient liquidity in the pool. In these cases, your transactions are “reverted” i.e. reset as if the transaction never occurred, so you would not lose your funds. So it cannot really be said that Uniswap is a scam.

Fake coins: Anyone can list their tokens on Uniswap, so there are people out there who list fake coins on Uniswap in the hopes of being able to scam people into sending their funds for these coins. So Uniswap users need to be extra careful in this respect- see our section below on identifying and avoiding fake coins on Uniswap which teaches you how to double-check you are sending funds to the correct transaction.

Uniswap beginners guide

Uniswap allows users to connect directly to their Exchange, the following wallets are supported: MetaMask, WalletConnect, Coinbase Wallet, Fortmatic and Portis.

Connecting MetaMask to Uniswap

If you don’t have a MetaMask wallet yet, learn to set one up with our MetaMask tutorial.

On Uniswap, click “Launch App” and then “Connect to a wallet”. Choose the MetaMask wallet (or whichever other wallets you want to connect with) and click “Connect wallet”. A popup window would appear showing your account, choose the wallet then click “Next” and “Connect”. Then you are all set!

How to use Uniswap’s Swap feature

Uniswap allows you to swap between ERC-20 tokens. On the Swap tab, choose the amount of ERC-20 tokens you want to swap. Choose the token you want to swap to by clicking the down arrow under “To”. A list will appear and you can choose the token you want to swap to, or if your token is not on the list you can paste the address of the token. Uniswap will display an estimate of how many tokens you would receive after the swap. To confirm, click “Swap”.

Choose the token to be swapped at Uniswap
Choose the token to be swapped at Uniswap

You will then be taken to a page to confirm your swap (see left image below). There are several figures you need to look out for here:

  • the amount you are swapping from, and the amount you will receive;
  • minimum sent: which is the guaranteed minimum amount you would receive if the price drops whilst the transaction is processing;
  • price impact: the difference between the market price and the price estimate provided by Uniswap due to trade size; and
  • liquidity provider fee: amount of fees you will be paying to Uniswap. This is generally 0.03% of the transaction.

Once you’ve confirmed your swap, a pop-up window would appear (see right image below) to confirm the gas prices to be paid for this swap since it is an Ethereum transaction. Input the gas prices you wish to pay and click “confirm”.

Confirm token swap
Confirm token swap

Once the transaction is completed, Uniswap will let you know and provide you with a link to Etherscan to show your transaction details. Here you can check how many tokens you actually got out of the swap, and the amount of transaction fees that were paid.

Uniswap advanced tips and tricks

Failed transactions: why does it happen and how to avoid them?

Transactions on Uniswap can fail if the prices of the input currency drops such that it does not fulfil your preset criteria. When a transaction fails, all your sent Ethereum would be reverted back to you. So you do not lose your original funds. However the Ethereum gas fee does get deducted and it is not refunded.

To avoid failed transactions, you can look out for other people who are also trying to do the same transaction as you. To do this click “…” on Uniswap go to “Analytics” and search for your intended trading pair to see how many other people are also trying to do the same swap. If the price of the token you want to swap for is increasing in value, you may want to increase the amount of gas fees. This will speed up your transaction and beat your other competitors to lock in the swap price.

How to get faster / speed up Uniswap transactions

Get faster or speed up your transactions by essentially outbidding other competitors who are trying to process the same transaction. This is by paying more gas fees than others. To see how much gas fees to pay go to Ethereum Gas Station and see the recommended gas prices for fast, standard and safe transactions. As a tip for getting fast transactions, we suggest paying around 10% more than the recommended price for fast transactions. You can input the amount of gas prices you wish to pay in the MetaMask pop-up window before you confirm your transaction (see above section on how to use Uniswap’s Swap feature).

ETH gas station
ETH gas station

Fake coins on Uniswap: How to identify and avoid them

Because any coin can be added to Uniswap, there are lots of scam or fake coins on the Exchange. Cryptocurrency transactions are irreversible, so if you accidentally send your funds to buy these scam coins or tokens you will not be refunded. The logo and ticker of these fake coins can look exactly like the real ones, so you need to be careful.

You can verify if the coin or token is real by checking it on Coingecko. To do this, look up the coin or token you want to exchange to on Coingecko, at the bottom of the page find and click on the trading pair for Uniswap (see image on left). You will then automatically be taken back to Uniswap and the token will have been imported (see image on right).

Import token on Uniswap
Import token on Uniswap

Another way to verify that the token is genuine is to check it on Etherscan (see below). Again on Coingecko, find the token and click on the etherscan.io explorer. On the Etherscan window, you will be able to see the contract number for the token. Match this contract number with the number in the address bar in your web browser for Uniswap.

Check the token number on Etherscan against the number in your Uniswap browser
Check the token number on Etherscan against the number in your Uniswap browser

Warning: Do NOT search for the token or its address on Etherscan. Always link to Etherscan via Coingecko or the project’s official website. This is because Etherscan itself lets you search for all tokens and transactions on the blockchain, including the fake ones.

How to adjust slippage tolerance

Slippage in trading occurs when the price at which the order is eventually executed does not match the price at the time you confirmed the transaction. When trading on Uniswap, this is referred to as “slippage tolerance” and is expressed as a percentage.

For coins or tokens whose price is on the way up, there may be a lot of competition to process the transaction and get those tokens. In that case, you can increase the chances of your transaction being processed faster by increasing your slippage tolerance. This will also avoid failed transactions.

To adjust your slippage tolerance, click on the gear icon located at the top right-hand corner on the Uniswap browser. There you can adjust your slippage tolerance. This will, in turn, decrease the minimum amount that is guaranteed to be sent to you. That is, it will increase the chances of your transaction going through but at the cost of potentially receiving fewer cryptocurrencies.

Slippage tolerance compared
Slippage tolerance compared

Mobile trading: How to use Uniswap on your phone

Prices of cryptocurrencies are always fluctuating, so serious traders want to be able to trade their cryptocurrencies on the go. Uniswap allows you to connect your mobile wallet. Simply go onto Uniswap on your browser and follow the same steps as you would on your PC. This allows the same wallet to appear on your PC and your mobile phone. The following mobile wallets are supported: MetaMask, Trustwallet, Coinbase wallet, Rainbow, Argent, imToken, Pillar, Safe, Math, and Fortmatic.

From our user experience, it’s not the most convenient feature since you need to multitask between several windows. BUT it does fulfil the objective of being able to trade cryptocurrencies on the go.

Uniswap Liquidity Pool guide

Uniswap has liquidity pool which is essentially pools of various tokens that sit in smart contracts. Users can exchange the tokens in the pools using Ethereum as a conduit. And a main feature of Uniswap is that anyone can create new exchange pairs in a liquidity pool for any token, unlike centralised exchanges where the exchange dictates what trading pairs are available.

First off, note that for liquidity pools you need to deposit both an equal value of Ethereum and the token that you want to participate with. So say I want to participate in the ETH/USDT pool, I would need to deposit an equivalent amount of ETH and USDT into the pool at the same time. The funds you supply to these pools will be traded by other people and so there will be fluctuations in the ratios of ETH and USDT that you have.

This is because if someone wants to sell ETH for USDT, they will tap into your liquidity pool and the USDT that you supplied to the pool would be used to buy up the ETH- this whole concept is known as Automated Market Making (AMM). As a result of this, there would be a higher ratio of USDT compared to ETH in your pool. Conversely, if someone wants to sell their USDT for ETH, they would take ETH out and shrink your ETH liquidity. Thus the liquidity pool is like scale, whereby if your ETH goes down by 10 dollars, then your USDT should correspondingly up to by 10 dollars.

So why would liquidity providers do this? It is because they receive a Liquidity Provider Fee from those who are conducting swaps in their liquidity pool. As mentioned earlier in this article, Uniswap charges a flat fee of 0.3% for each transaction. This 0.3% is actually then split in proportion amongst all the liquidity providers of that pool based on their contributions.

Adding liquidity to pools allows you to earn provider fees when other people do swaps
Adding liquidity to pools allows you to earn provider fees when other people do swaps

And Uniswap is not the only liquidity pool provider out there, so many people try to find and contribute to the most profitable pools in order to earn more liquidity provider fees. Pools.fyi is one such website that a lot of people use to try and find the best liquidity pools.


What’s the difference between Uniswap version 1 and 2?

Uniswap has launched an improved version of their Exchange, simply referred to as version 2. The main difference between these versions is that version 2 offers ERC-20 to ERC-20 token pools, native price oracles and flash swaps.

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