The protocol uses a model known as Total Return Swap, which is a bilateral contract where one counterparty pays the total return of a specific underlying asset, including interest payments or dividends and any capital appreciation or depreciation. Conversely, the opposing counterparty pays a regular fixed cash flow. The underlying asset is commonly called a reference asset, and the swap is settled and terminated at a specific date in the future.
The UMA token is primarily used for protocol governance and grants the token holder the right to vote on governance decisions such as upgrades to the Data Verification Mechanism (DVM), creating new synthetic assets and settling disputes on liquidated collateral.
Each time a vote is held, the total token supply is inflated by 0.05% and is distributed only to those who voted with the majority. Voting for the losing side or failing to vote will indirectly lead to dilution of one's token holdings.