What is Token Curated Registry (TCR)?

What is Token Curated Registry (TCR)?
What is Token Curated Registry (TCR)?

The Token Curated Registry (TCR) is a recent concept that first appeared in 2017 amid the explosion of the cryptocurrency market. He advocates decentralization and the redistribution of value between the stakeholders of the same system. Its purpose is substantially similar to that of the Brave crypto-browser, except that it is to apply the redistribution on lists and not on a browser. Thus, it is a question here of understanding the purpose and the functioning of this system which today tends to be part of the “curation markets”.

Introduction to TCR

This first part is devoted to the overall presentation of Token Curated Registries. Here, the goal is to describe the purposes of the TCR before going into the details of its operation.

What Do Lists Represent in Our Daily Lives?

The TCR is a register of so-called decentralized lists. Before even understanding what it is, let’s see how we search for lists on a daily basis. Subconsciously, every day we trust rankings listing items. Indeed, Man regularly makes his choices according to lists. For example, a student must choose the next establishment where he will study. He will take note of the classification in order to know which school to choose. This ranking thus serves as a comparison tool in order to choose the most prestigious for its ambitions.

This is also the case when you listen to music, and in particular on streaming services (Spotify, Deezer, etc.). Let’s say you want to listen to Jazz; the application will then generate lists of music from this musical genre. There would still be many examples to cite, but let’s get back to our topic before we get too lost. It was simply a question here of enlightening us on the scope of the “lists” in our daily lives.

Why are We Talking About “Decentralized” Lists?

So what is TCR? It corresponds to a register of lists whose governance is decentralized. These lists are built and maintained by token holders, where engagement is driven by economic incentives. To make a brief analogy, TCR token holders are what Bitcoin (BTC) miners are.

Clearly, the major desire of the TCR is disintermediation. Rather than entrusting the production of lists to private companies or a single player, the TCR wants to be open to everyone. Behind this system, we find the current philosophy specific to decentralization.

Moreover, it is considered that the production of lists by a handful of actors is a loss of value for the individual. And this is because it responds mainly to a private interest or because it can give rise to fraud. However, such behaviour can only have a negative impact on those who consult the lists. In particular, due to the gap, they present in relation to reality.

This is why the decentralization offered by the TCRs intends to be able to restore a form of balance in favour of the consumer. The fundamental challenge is to find the balance of incentives necessary to achieve the transparency and objectivity of these lists.

Contextualization of the TCR

It is worth pointing out that in English literature, the TCR is not defined as a token. However, its acronym suggests the opposite. Indeed, although it works with tokens, it is referred to more as a decentralized list.

This new disruption appeared during the period of cryptocurrency market euphoria in 2017. As we know, the effervescence of the bubble saw an indefinite number of projects and thoughts emerge. The TCR is one of these new ideas.

Like many suggestions at that time, it rests on the principle of decentralization and redistribution of value.  Thus the TCR is in the continuity of the libertarian breath, which has seen the emergence of multiple projects of decentralized finance (DeFi). Among them, we instinctively think of MakerDAO or Compound. The latter aim to review traditional finance by proposing an alternative solution. Namely, offering decentralized financial services while promoting financial inclusion.

However, unlike decentralized finance, the TCR will experience more measured success. There will be fewer projects working around the concept, but like everyone, there will be a spearhead. This is “Adchain“, which we will have the opportunity to talk about a little later in this article.

TCR Stakeholders

The TCR is, therefore, a register of decentralized lists. These lists are managed by individuals called “token holders” who decide who can integrate them or not. As their name implies, they hold tokens that allow them to provide governance. They also have the ability to remove a list when they deem it necessary to preserve the relevance of the list. The purpose of these choices is to arrive at the most objective and realistic list possible. Since their objective is that it be consulted, and only reality matters to consumers.

The TCR, therefore, involves a first stakeholder that we have just described, namely the token holders. They play the role of list manager; they are responsible for maintaining and feeding it. The second, as you probably guessed, is the candidate. It is the entity or individual who applies to become a member of the list. Finally, we can also mention the consumer, who is the person who will consult the ranking.

How the TCR Works

From now on, we will describe the general procedure that is part of a TCR. To do this, we will focus on the most common lists. That is to say, those with classification, despite the existence of various other types. For example, in this hypothesis, we can imagine the list of the best restaurants in Ile de France.

Note that all the parameters that we will quote are variable. They depend above all on the decisions made by the developers of the project during its design. By parameter, we mean the amount to be “staker” during an application, the distribution of tokens after a vote…

Authentication Phase

First, to be relevant, any list must state a certain number of criteria to be respected. Even if these are apparently very basic, they remain essential. Some might want to integrate a list without testifying to the required conditions. Then, the registry would have actors potentially harmful to its quality. To ensure that this is respected, it is essential to carry out an authentication phase, which corresponds to neither more nor less than providing a form of “proof of work” to integrate the list.

With regard to the previous example, this may be to be located in Ile de France and to communicate its RCS. This is the registration number in the trade, and companies register to testify to the existence of the activity. Of course, what is requested is subject to listing parameters. Then, once the criteria have been set (usually determined when the TCR is created), the “listing” procedure takes place.

Listing Procedure

The listing is the step that results in the acceptance or refusal of the integration of an applicant to a list. Anyone can apply for the register, provided they comply with the terms and conditions and thus join the group of restaurants recognized as the best in Ile de France. However, each application must be accompanied by a certain amount of tokens. These can be protocol tokens or ethers (ETH), depending on the choices made by the developers. When candidates apply, they will then make a deposit of the funds, which will be placed in escrow.

  • Any candidate must deposit a sum of tokens to claim to join the list. This amount is placed in escrow for the duration of the profile review. This period depends on the protocol parameters. Here, we will formulate the hypothesis that the token holders have 3 days to decide.
  • During the review period, they will be able to question whether it is an addition to the list.
  • In the event that no one opposes it within 3 days, then he joins the list. The tokens of the candidate who is now a member are left in escrow. He will be able to recover his deposit if he decides to withdraw from the list or if the managers decide to exclude him from it.
  • On the other hand, if one of the managers considers that his membership is negative for the list, he can provoke a vote. For this, he will have to put part of his capital into play by making a token deposit. More precisely the same amount as the deposit made by the candidate. Let’s say that a Parisian restaurant puts 0.5 ETH on deposit, then the holder disputing the membership (also called a challenger) will have to deposit the same. It is said that he stakes his capital because he takes the risk of losing it, and you will quickly understand why. This leads us to describe two situations. The first corresponds to a victory of the challenger, which gives rise to a refusal of the applicant’s membership—the second being the loss of the vote by the challenger in favour of the integration of the restaurant in the list.

Illustration of Economic Incentive System Through Voting

  • During each voting procedure, all token holders are invited to vote. At the end of the procedure, if the challenger wins, he recovers his bet, i.e. 0.5 ETH. And that’s not all, he also receives a percentage of the candidate’s deposit. This percentage is determined by the TCR parameters. For our example, we will say that it recovers 40%. The remaining part is awarded to token holders who are part of the majority. Either those who will have voted against the addition of the restaurant.
  • In the reverse situation where the challenger loses the vote and the candidate joins the list, those who voted to join receive part of the challenger’s deposit (say 60% again). And the remaining 40% is distributed to the new member.

To What Extent Can the TCR Be a Source of Value for its Stakeholders?

This part is an opportunity to deepen the interest that each of the parties has in the management of this decentralized system, where we will highlight the incentive mechanisms designed to encourage their participation. And where the commitment, as usual, must be made for the benefit of the general interest.

Token Holders

The operation of the TCR encourages them to design and manage high-quality lists. In doing so, the attractiveness and notoriety generated by the list should allow them to increase the value of their tokens. Indeed, seeing the list become successful, new individuals will wish to participate or integrate it. However, to contribute to it or join it, we have seen that it is necessary to acquire tokens. This increase in demand will drive the value of the tokens upwards. And that’s not all, consumers may also wish to engage in this process. They could consider themselves “competent” to become managers of the list they consult. Then they, too, will have to buy tokens. Of course, these behaviours can only take place if the list is qualitative.

Moreover, as we have observed, the increase in the price of the token is not the only motivation for the holders. In this case, they will also have the ambition to increase the share of tokens they hold. As we saw earlier, the amount of tokens can increase. All the more so if, in theory, the choices are made in favour of the general interest. For example, when we consider it relevant to accept a restaurant that is unfairly contested, if we win the vote, we earn tokens accordingly.

Then, as challengers, they are also made to reject the actors degrading the quality of the list. The challenger being the holder contesting a membership by putting tokens in play. On the one hand, because they can receive tokens in return. And significantly because their presence in the list would harm the value of their tokens.

The Candidates

They want to be listed in order to benefit from the showcase that the list offers them. A frequently consulted ranking is a guarantee of positive externalities for those who are members of it. And conversely, not being there could represent an opportunity cost. However, they are aware that an investment is necessary to be part of it. This is the deposit amount imposed on each candidate. We observe very clearly that here, it is a barrier to entry to filter and guarantee players of a minimum quality. In this case, because committing tokens involves mobilizing part of its capital. Sum associated with a risk of loss in the event that the candidate is refused.

There is a level of quality required specific to each list. This means that to be part of it, one must demonstrate a prestige equivalent to that of the list. Otherwise, we take the risk of being a loser if we only have a low reputation.


It’s pretty obvious that they want to see a list they can trust. For them, the list only has value if the information available is relevant. They are the ones who create value within each of the lists by using them.

Advantages of TCR

The goal behind crafting a list is to come up with the most honest version possible since only versions that reflect reality will be of value.

Take the example of business school rankings. Every year, thousands of students consult this list. It is an element that greatly influences their choice. In the event that a medium such as Le Figaro presents an incorrect classification, then what would happen? At first, students who have made their choices according to this ranking could turn against the reliability of the latter. Second, the list might have too large an inconsistencies with other media. But these discrepancies would then be visible to everyone when the lists were published. This, therefore, leads to doubting the objectivity of the media platform.

Here, we observe that a list is qualitative if it reflects reality. This influences the producers of lists to act in the general interest rather than for their private interest.

Similarly, the TCR is very useful for redistributing value between consumer, producer and candidate. If this philosophy sounds familiar, you must know the Brave crypto-browser. Its reasoning is analogous to decentralized ledgers since it works to create an Internet with more fairness.

Finally, the design of decentralized ledgers could become very interesting in the future thanks to its economic model. The creation of incentives implies a real interest for the parties who decide to engage. Although many other variables influence the attractiveness of a listing (awareness, relevance, token value, viewability), economic leverage effects are essential to the success of the TCR.

Limits and Problems Still Insoluble

However, despite the promise that token curated registries offer, they also have their limitations. Let’s address them briefly.

First, we could witness the appearance of cartels. Groups of holders who would associate during the vote in order to recover more tokens. This behaviour would obviously result in greatly altering the value of the list.

Then there could be malicious behaviour of all kinds. In particular, the appearance of individuals constantly operating challenges. This ultimately aims to collect more tokens. Here, one could question the integrity of certain voters and of the challenger in question. The challenger could be at the origin of corruption on the part of the voters. He would buy their vote at a price slightly lower than what he will collect from the final reward.

As for democracy, this can be questioned. Of course, all decisions are made by a majority vote. On the other hand, the weight of the vote depends on the tokens held, which will cause imbalances between actors. This can also increase the risk of centralization or the cartel mentioned above.

Finally, the last flaw, among others, is the risk related to the reliability of the information. Not all list managers are omniscient. They do not have the ability to have information on all candidates. This is why they will go through third parties in order to decide during a vote. But sometimes, the sources of information can lack objectivity, which can cause negative consequences to the list. Finally, there is no need to mention the condition of adoption, but it is obviously the first condition for the success of TCRs.


From what we have learned, this technology is as exciting as it could be controversial. Only if we really want to judge the relevance of TCRs a use case will be necessary. An open-source project called Adchain had been the source of the first work on the subject. But it would seem that the fall that followed the bubble in 2017 delayed its launch. In addition, the TCR is now approached through the “curation market”. It has become a secondary tool to a new form of market.

I hope you will have enjoyed reading me, having learned more about the innovations of “our world”. And while the TCR model may be flawed, the underlying philosophy looks promising. Let’s hope that the future will be built around this ideology.