The Pond0X decentralized exchange (DEX) has reached more than $100 million in total trading volume, according to a Sept. 28 social media post from its official channel. Investors previously lost over $2 million in the launch of the exchange’s native token, PNDX, when it turned out to have a function that allowed anyone to transfer it without the owner’s permission. But supporters claim these losses were not the fault of the developer.
— Pond Coin (@Pond0x) September 28, 2023
As evidence for the Pond0X’s trading volume, the official channel cited a Dune dashboard created by user Mogie, which shows over $111 million in all-time trading volume as of Sept. 29.
The PNDX token launched on July 28. At the time, critics accused the project of being a rug pull or exit scam. At issue was the unorthodox way that the project’s founder, Jeremy Cahen (also known as “Pauly”), launched the coin. In the launch post on X (formerly Twitter), Cahen posted the URL to an app that allowed people to deposit a fixed amount of Ether (ETH) to receive a fixed amount of PNDX. He also posted the contract address for the token.
In response, some investors started buying the coin on Uniswap, using its contract address to identify it, while others deposited ETH into the app to receive PNDX. The price on Uniswap quickly rose above that of the ETH needed to mint PNDX, so minters started selling their coins into the market at a profit. Critics claimed that this process transferred over $2 million of wealth from those who bought the coin on Uniswap to those who minted it using the app. The ETH deposited through the app went into a contract that contained no means of reclaiming the funds, leading critics to allege that the whole project was intended to drain funds from investors and send them to Cahen.
In addition, coding experts began claiming that the token lacked a normal transfer function. Instead of only allowing the token owner to transfer it, PNDX allowed anyone to transfer tokens. This meant that each PNDX owner could lose their tokens at any moment, since any programmer could “steal” their PNDX using developer tools. On July 29, Solidity enthusiast and blogger Sm-stack claimed they ran a test in Foundry that proved this point.
However, more than two months after the project’s launch, it continues to garner hundreds of supporters on Twitter, with replies to official posts routinely saying such things as “FEELS GOOD MAN” and “Best DEX, don’t see a reason for people to use other tbh.”
Best DEX, don’t see a reason for people to use other tbh
— Lemur (@OGLemur) September 28, 2023
On July 29, crypto trader and blogger Antony Williams claimed to have read the app’s smart contract code and determined how it works. According to him, Pond0x is “fundamentally an LP Farm” and not a complete scam. The app issues each user an ID that determines the user’s share of a pool of Pepe (PEPE) tokens. Users can increase the Pepe rewards they are entitled to by calling the “BribeforLevelUp” function. To call this function, the user must deposit 0.26 ETH. This ETH is used to purchase Pepe tokens, which then get deposited into the pool to pay out rewards. The exchange also issues a “Score” to each user. Higher scores represent more potential rewards from trading fees collected, all other factors being held constant.
Williams did not say these rewards could be claimed immediately but asserted that the developer “likely” intends to pay them out at some point in the future. He also claims that the PNDX token “is essentially valueless,” which may have been created in this way “to avoid legal complications.”
The project launched its decentralized exchange on Sept. 1. According to the Dune dashboard cited above, the DEX has now reached over $100 million in trading volume, showing that at least some traders are undeterred by Pond0X criticism.