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Clear Litepaper


In this paper, we present Valorem Clear, an option contract clearing and settlement system implemented for the Ethereum Virtual Machine. The design of the Valorem Clear protocol aims to provide superior flexibility and execution costs when compared with existing options protocols, by removing price oracles, reliance on existing DeFi primitives, and premium value assumptions. Valorem Options are settled physically using a novel fair settlement algorithm. The protocol can interact directly with any pair of non-rebasing, non-fee-on-transfer, ERC-20 tokens to enable the transfer and settlement of long and short put and call option positions in a permission-less, self-custody manner.


Options are an essential component in high-functioning financial systems. In traditional finance, options volume exceeds spot volume, but in blockchain finance, spot volumes still exceed options trading volumes. Although options trading volume on assets like BTC and ETH has grown significantly in the past year — both centralized exchanges, such as Deribit, and on-chain protocols — it is clear that significant untapped market opportunities remain.

There are already a number of on-chain options market making protocols. While most of these trade products emulate traditional options structures, the reliance on price oracles and assumptions around premia via models such as Black-Scholes, make them inflexible and subject to toxic orderflow. Recently, protocols synthesizing options via single tick Uniswap V3 LPs have emerged, but they are restricted by the lack of Uniswap V3 deployment across EVM chains, the gas inefficiency of Uniswap V3 LP NFTs, and the pricing limitations of perpetual options (as opposed to ones with fixed exercise and expiry timestamps.

A flexible base layer, which is EVM-portable, enables the proliferation of derivatives products and facilitates the maturity of decentralized finance by allowing new use cases to evolve.

Guiding principles


The Valorem protocol is permissionless. It is open to public use with no ability to restrict who can or cannot use it. Any potential user can perform any operation that the protocol supports.


Options written via the protocol are physically settled and fully collateralized, reducing counterparty risk and ensuring settlement. Physical settlement simplifies the core mechanism, while supporting cash settlement through flash loans and swaps. Full collaterilization leaves the opportunity for higher level margining systems, with risk, to be implemented atop the protocol, whilst remaining un-opinionated at the base layer.


Valorem’s protocol design is minimalist, with a single smart contract for clearing and settling business logic. This enables superb execution costs to write and exercise options, along with an ergonomic developer experience.


The protocol is composable; the design is centered on generality, such that it can easily be integrated into other smart contract systems as a “money lego” to constitute more complex derivatives.


The Valorem Options protocol, at it’s core, is a non-custodial engine for the clearing and physical settlement of options, consisting of a set of smart contracts. The engine utilizes the ERC1155 multi-token standard to gas-efficiently tokenize long and short positions, or options and claims. On-chain actors — either individuals using wallets, or protocols using smart contracts — can create a new option type, defined as the unique tuple with regard to the option contract’s properties. They can then write options of that type. Writing issues one or more fungible option tokens, and a non-fungible claim token, representing a claim to the collateral used for writing, or the exercise asset if that claim is assigned exercise via a fair assignment algorithm. The tokens can be transferred freely from actors to other actors. The option tokens can be exercised during a specified time window, after which the claim tokens can be redeemed.

Creating a new option type

Actors can permissionlessly create a new option type by specifying:

  • The underlying asset for the option; this is the token the option holder receives if the option is exercised.
  • The underlying amount for the option; the amount of the underlying asset to be received upon exercise of one option.
  • The exercise asset for the option; this is the token the option holder pays with to exercise.
  • The exercise amount of the exercise asset required to exercise one option.
  • The earliest exercise timestamp of the option.
  • The expiry timestamp of the option.

Option data model

A Valorem option is represented with the following data structure, packed into 4 storage slots:

struct Option {
    address underlyingAsset;
    uint96 underlyingAmount;
    address exerciseAsset;
    uint96 exerciseAmount;
    uint40 exerciseTimestamp;
    uint40 expiryTimestamp;
    uint160 settlementSeed;
    uint96 nextClaimKey;

The key of an option type is defined as the unique tuple with regard to the option contract’s properties, which comprise a unique hash:

uint160 optionKey = uint160(

This uint160 optionKey is used to determine if that type of option already exists and, if it doesn’t, create it.

Claim data model

A Valorem claim is represented with the following virtual data structure, which is not represented directly in storage:

    struct Claim {
        uint256 amountWritten;
        uint256 amountExercised;
        uint256 optionId;

Token address space

The ERC-1155 standard has a 256-bit address space for sub-tokens. Valorem uses the upper 160 bits for fungible option token types, keyed on uint160 optionKey, and the lower 96 bits for non-fungible claim tokens within each option type, keyed on an auto-incrementing uint96 claimKey starting from one. This results in a 256-bit token address space laid out as follows:

0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000 ┐
0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000 │
0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000 │ 160b option key
0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000 │
0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000 │
0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000 ┘
0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000 ┐
0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000 │ 96b claim key
0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000   0000 0000 ┘

A tokenId with a valid optionKey in the upper 160 bits will be a fungible TokenType.Option token if it’s lower 96 bits is zero, whereas it will be a TokenType.Claim NFT if it’s lower 96 bits contains a valid claimKey.

This token address space supports type(uint160).max option types and type(uint96).max - 1 individual claims for each option type.

Writing options

Once an option type has been created, any actor can write options of that type. Upon writing, the requisite amount of the underlying token is transferred into the engine and the option writer receives a non-fungible claim token representing the short position. This is a claim to the underlying asset and the liability to accept the exercise asset, on full or partial exercise assignment. In addition, the option writer receives fungible option tokens equal to the number of options they wrote, conferring the ability to exercise the option pursuant to the terms set during option type creation. Both the option tokens and the claim NFT can be transferred to other actors on the chain.

Additional options can be written on existing claims — that is, an option writer can add additional underlying assets to a previously written claim by providing the claim NFT identifier when writing.

Exercising options

Holders of an option token can exercise the option pursuant to the following conditions:

  • The current block timestamp is on or after the exercise timestamp of the option type.
  • The current block timestamp is before the expiry timestamp of the option type.
  • The option token owner has enough of the exercise token as required by the terms of the option type.
  • The option token owner has granted sufficient ERC-20 approval to the engine, so it can transfer in the requisite amount of the exercise token.

Fair exercise assignment

The Valorem protocol uses a novel pseudo-random fair exercise assignment algorithm to determine which claims are assigned exercise. To this end, the protocol uses a claim bucketing mechanism to bound the runtime complexity of exercise assignment. In this bucketing mechanism, a new bucket is created on the first write of a new option type. The amounts written for a bucket are stored as $ B_w $, the amount of options written to a bucket, and $ B_e $, the amount of options exercised from a bucket. Subsequent writes of the same option type will be added to the same bucket until it is assigned an exercise and $ B_e > 0 $. At that point, that bucket becomes partially or fully exercised, and the next write creates a new bucket. This defines the bucket lifecycle algorithm.

Exercise assignment is performed using a deterministic algorithm seeded by the uint160 optionKey, without actors who write and exercise being able to influence the outcome. The runtime complexity of this algorithm is $ \mathcal{O}(n) $ where $ n $ is the number of buckets consumed by the algorithm to fulfill the exercise.

However, because the probability of an exercise assignment to the most recently created bucket is $ 1 \over n $, where $ n $ is the number of buckets, and because $ \sum_{n \rightarrow \infty} {1 \over n} = { \infty } $ is the harmonic series, and since $ \sum_{n=1}^k {1 \over n} = H_k $, and $ H_k = \sum_{n=1}^k {1 \over n} \approx \ln n + \gamma $, and Euler’s constant $ \gamma \approx 0.57721 $, the average case growth rate of the number of buckets for an option type is $ \mathcal{O}(\ln n) $. This makes it prohibitively expensive for a malicious writer to perform a denial of service attack on options exercisers, and generally keeps the runtime complexity to exercise an option type bounded by $ \mathcal{O}(\ln n) $, where $ n $ is the number of writes followed by a partial exercise which occur.

What comprises a claim?

Because of the bucketing mechanism and ability to add additional options to an existing claim, Valorem claims are comprised of claim index data structures which are stored for each bucket $ i $ the claim is written into as $ I_{wi} $, the amount of options written by that claim to bucket $ i $. Thus, calculating a claim position involves summations over the claim’s member buckets.

Calculating exercise state for a claim

Given $B_{ei}$, the amount of options exercised from bucket $ i $, and $ B_{wi} $, the amount of options written into bucket $ i $, and $ B_{ui} = B_{wi} - B_{ei} $, the amount of options unexercised in bucket $ i $, we can calculate $ C_e $, the amount of options exercised for a claim, and $ C_u $ the amount of options unexercised for a claim using the following summations:

\[C_e = \sum_{i=1}^n C_{ei} = {B_{ei} I_{wi} \over B_{wi}} + \ldots + {B_{en} I_{wn} \over B_{wn}}\]


\[C_u = \sum_{i=1}^n C_{ui} = {B_{ui} I_{wi} \over B_{wi}} + \ldots + {B_{un} I_{wn} \over B_{wn}}\]

and we can verify that $ C_e + C_u = C_w $, options written for a given claim $ C $,

\[C_w = \sum_{i=1}^n C_{wi} = ({B_{ei} I_{wi} \over B_{wi}} + {B_{ui} I_{wi} \over B_{wi}}) + \ldots + ({B_{en} I_{wn} \over B_{wn}} + {B_{un} I_{wn} \over B_{wn}})\]

which simplifies to,

\[C_w = \sum_{i=1}^n C_{wi} = I_{wi} + \ldots + I_{wn}\]

which is the sum of options written by a claim to each of it’s member buckets.

Calculating the position for a claim

To preserve as much precision as possible, we calculate the amounts of the exercise token position, $ P_e $, and underlying token position, $ P_u $, tokens collateralizing a claim by multiplying the amount of the exercise asset, $ O_e $, and the underlying asset, $ O_u $, before performing any division. Resulting in the following summations:

\[P_e = \sum_{i=1}^n P_{ei} = {B_{ei} O_e I_{wi} \over B_{wi}} + \ldots + {B_{en} O_e I_{wn} \over B_{wn}}\]


\[P_u = \sum_{i=1}^n P_{ui} = {B_{ui} O_u I_{wi} \over B_{wi}} + \ldots + {B_{un} O_u I_{wn} \over B_{wn}}\]

Redeeming claims

Holders of a claim NFT can redeem their claim from the engine when current block timestamp is on or after the expiry timestamp of the option type. If their claim was assigned full or partial exercise during the lifetime of the option type, the claim holder receives the correct ratio of the underlying and exercise tokens. If the claim NFT was not assigned exercise, the claim holder will receive the underlying tokens deposited upon writing back in full.

Use cases

Simple options


$ S_T $ is the price of the underlying asset at expiration; and $ X $ is the exercise asset price; and $ c_0 $ is the call option premium paid; and $ p_0 $ is the put option premium paid.

Call options

The Valorem protocol can be used to create covered call options with the payoff $ max(0,S_T-X) $ for the holder, and the payoff $ -max(0,S_T-X) $ for the writer.

Put options

The Valorem protocol can be used to create covered put options with the payoff $ max(0,X-S_T) $ for the holder, and the payoff $ -max(0,X-S_T) $ for the writer. This can be accomplished by writing a call option with the exercise and underlying asset order swapped. An ETH/DAI call is a DAI/ETH put.

European and American options

European options can be created by setting the exercise timestamp to the expiry timestamp minus one day. American options can be created by setting an exercise timestamp to the current block timestamp upon creation.

Trading and market making

Valorem Clear provides DeFi developers with an options base layer that can be seamlessly integrated into existing and future AMMs and CLOBs. By acting as the clearinghouse and settlement service needed for options execution, Valorem allows market makers to trade options without the need to implement their own options-specific smart contract adjustments, risk management system, or collateral assignment process. This frees up MMs to focus on raising capital/liquidity, improving their pricing algorithm, decreasing their exposure to toxic order flow, and a variety of other tasks that are critical for continued success. Users of the Valorem-integrated markets will be able to buy, sell, and provide liquidity pursuant to their individual needs, which might include goals such as hedging, speculation, income generation, and diversification.

Structured products

Structured products, one of the fastest growing categories of on-chain derivatives, are financial products created by combining two or more financial instruments into a single, tradeable item that is typically secured by the underlying instruments held as collateral by the underwriter. Many structured product underwriters do not focus on trading the underlying products; instead, the underwriters’ goal is to handle the execution, assignment, and transfer of the underlying in an efficient manner to minimize the structured product’s price volatility from settlement operations.

By acting as an efficient clearinghouse, Valorem Clear allows structured product protocols to bypass open market actions such as the sale of underlying options. If an appropriate counter-party has been identified, and the counterparty’s protocol has also integrated the Valorem protocol into its smart contracts, then the entire structured product creation process could be fully automated upon receipt of the purchaser’s intent to purchase. The Valorem protocol’s unique vault mechanism decreases the credit risk of the product by guaranteeing the full availability of the collateral backing the underlying options.

Principle protected note

A structured product’s protocol could accept DAI deposits from a user. The protocol then places the DAI into a future yield tokenization protocol like Alchemix. The principle investment is retained. The future income earning potential of this principle is leveraged to buy covered call options on an ERC20 which the strategy is bullish on. These call options would then be earmarked as underlying assets for the user and a new structured product would be minted. The protocol would never have to waste funds on open market actions and the users would have substantially decreased concern of credit risk of the issuer. All assets would be secured. Should the ERC20 not reach the strike price, the structured products protocol would retain the principal; otherwise, the option would be exercised or sold in the money upon the user’s redemption of the structured product, and the user would capture the upside without risk of initial principle.

Vesting options

Although price-sensitive options writers may focus on the contract’s expiration date, the Valorem protocol also provides writers with the ability to set the earliest exercise date. Users holding these options are blocked from exercising them until the earliest exercise date has passed. While there are many possible use cases for being able to effectively “post date a check” in DeFi, one that may be of particular interest to protocol developers is the ability to create the DeFi version of an Employee Stock Option (ESO) with a cliff vesting schedule set via the option’s earliest exercise date. Protocols could implement Valorem into their vaults and issue these DeFi equivalents of ESOs called Contributor Token Options (CTO) to contributors in key roles. This would align the selected contributors’ financial compensation with the long term success of the protocol thereby decreasing the likelihood of protocol abandonment, increasing users’ faith in the team, and encouraging continued innovation.

Mitigation of cross-protocol financial contagion

Although AMMs are often the first type of DeFi entity to be associated with options, the Valorem protocol was designed as a base layer that can be integrated by virtually any user type. One niche use case for Valorem is to enable lending protocols to manage the risk of accepting deposits of untested collateralized stable tokens.

On deposit of the collateralized stable token into the lending protocol, the lending protocol would require the collateralized stable token protocol to write put options against assets (ideally other, safer stable tokens) in the collateralized stable token protocol’s vault and transfer those put options to the lending protocol’s vault. Should the collateralized stable token’s vault not have enough free collateral to write a put capable of covering the potential deposit, the deposit could be rejected. If the collateralized stable token loses peg, rather than liquidating users who have borrowed against the stable token the lending protocol could instead exercise the put and be assigned the collateralized stable token’s collateral. This would be extremely beneficial for the collateralized stable token protocol because it would prevent the cascading market sell-off triggered by automated liquidation trades.

The lending protocol would have even greater benefits: first, it would retain all TVL that would have otherwise been liquidated and captured by liquidation bots; second, its risk of financial contagion from the collateralized stable coin protocol will have been mitigated due to the availability of alternative collateral, safe in Valorem’s vault; and third, the lending protocol would increase its TVL due to being able to safely accept deposits and facilitate borrowing with new tokens that would have been excluded for risk prior to integrating the Valorem protocol. Please note that in this scenario, both the lending protocol’s vault smart contract and the collateralized token’s vault smart contract would need be designed with callbacks which may create an attack vector if not done correctly.