RUNE is the native coin of THORChain. Within the network, its main function is to act as a base pair for users to swap RUNE for any other supported asset.
A brief history
The ThorChain project was founded in 2018 by a mostly anonymous team. Built on Cosmos, ThorChain aims to make all cryptocurrencies liquid by enabling the trading of non-native crypto assets in a completely decentralized way. Thorchain uses an adaption of Bancor’s continuous lending pools, to facilitate its trades. In these trades, assets are deposited in liquidity pools shared with one other asset, which is RUNE. It should also be noted that Thorchain runs a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, which means it’s secured and maintained by node operators who stake and earn RUNE. There are around one hundred validator spots initially available to nodes and these spots are periodically recycled in a “churning,” ensuring the network is kept competitive. This churning also provides an additional layer of security as nodes cannot capture/gain control of the network.
RUNE in practice
RUNE is the settlement asset for all liquidity pools, facilitating swaps between two pools with a 1:1 ratio of RUNE: ASSET being required for each pool. Furthermore, to ensure security, node operators have to bond twice as much RUNE as the amount they added to a pool. The RUNE bonds are then held as collateral to ensure that the node operators behave in the best interest of the network. In this way, nodes acting maliciously lose their bonded RUNE while nodes that act correctly earn a portion of the protocol's income. RUNE is also used in protocol governance as RUNE token holders can choose which asset or chain they want to give priority to. Lastly, block rewards and swap fees are paid to liquidity providers and node operators in RUNE on a set emission schedule, and RUNE can also be used to pay for gas fees.