Flash Swaps

Flash swaps are an integral feature of Uniswap V2. In fact, under the hood, all swaps are actually flash swaps! This simply means that pair contracts send output tokens to the recipient before enforcing that enough input tokens have been received. This is slightly atypical, as one might expect a pair to ensure it’s received payment before delivery. However, because RSK transactions are atomic, we can roll back the entire swap if it turns out that the contract hasn’t received enough tokens to make itself whole by the end of the transaction.

To see how this all works, let’s start by examining the interface of the swap function:

function swap(uint amount0Out, uint amount1Out, address to, bytes calldata data);

For the sake of example, let’s assume that we’re dealing with a DOC/WRBTC pair, where DOC is token0 and WRBTC is token1. amount0Out and amount1Out specify the amount of DOC and WRBTC that the msg.sender wants the pair to send to the to address (one of these amounts may be 0). At this point you may be wondering how the contract receives tokens. For a typical (non-flash) swap, it’s actually the responsibility of msg.sender to ensure that enough WRBTC or DOC has already been sent to the pair before swap is called (in the context of trading, this is all handled neatly by a router contract). But when executing a flash swap, tokens do not need to be sent to the contract before calling swap. Instead, they must be sent from within a callback function that the pair triggers on the to address.

Triggering a Flash Swap

To differentiate between the “typical” trading case and the flash swap case, pairs use the data parameter. Specifically, if data.length equals 0, the contract assumes that payment has already been received, and simply transfers the tokens to the to address. But, if data.length is greater than 0, the contract transfers the tokens and then calls the following function on the to address:

function uniswapV2Call(address sender, uint amount0, uint amount1, bytes calldata data);

The logic behind this identification strategy is simple: the vast majority of valid flash swap use cases involve interactions with external protocols. The best way to pass information dictating how these interactions happen (function arguments, safety parameters, addresses, etc.) is via the data parameter. It’s expected that data will be abi.decoded from within uniswapV2Call. In the rare case where no data is required, callers should ensure that data.length equals 1 (i.e. encode a single junk byte as bytes), and then ignore this argument in uniswapV2Call.

Pairs call uniswapV2Call with the sender argument set to the msg.sender of the swap. amount0 and amount1 are simply amount0Out and amount1Out.

Using uniswapV2Call

There are several conditions that should be checked in all uniswapV2Call functions:

function uniswapV2Call(address sender, uint amount0, uint amount1, bytes calldata data) {
address token0 = IUniswapV2Pair(msg.sender).token0(); // fetch the address of token0
address token1 = IUniswapV2Pair(msg.sender).token1(); // fetch the address of token1
assert(msg.sender == IUniswapV2Factory(factoryV2).getPair(token0, token1)); // ensure that msg.sender is a V2 pair
// rest of the function goes here!

The first 2 lines simply fetch the token addresses from the pair, and the 3rd ensures that the msg.sender is an actual Uniswap V2 pair address.


At the end of uniswapV2Call, contracts must return enough tokens to the pair to make it whole. Specifically, this means that the product of the pair reserves after the swap, discounting all token amounts sent by 0.3% LP fee, must be greater than before.


In the case where the token withdrawn is not the token returned (i.e. DOC was requested in the flash swap, and WRBTC was returned, or vice versa), the fee simplifies to the simple swap case. This means that the standard getAmountIn pricing function should be used to calculate e.g. the amount of WRBTC that must be returned in exchange for the amount of DOC that was requested out.

This fee calculation is an excellent reason to use Uniswap flash swaps - if you pay for your flash swap in the corresponding pair token, it’s free!


In the case where the token withdrawn is the same as the token returned (i.e. DOC was requested in the flash swap, used, then returned, or vice versa with WRBTC), the following condition must be satisfied:

DOCReservePre - DOCWithdrawn + (DOCReturned * .997) >= DOCReservePre

It may be more intuitive to rewrite this formula in terms of a “fee” levied on the withdrawn amount (despite the fact that Uniswap always levies fees on input amounts, in this case the returned amount, here we can simplify to an effective fee on the withdrawn amount). If we rearrange, the formula looks like:

(DOCReturned * .997) - DOCWithdrawn >= 0

DOCReturned >= DOCWithdrawn / .997

So, the effective fee on the withdrawn amount is .003 / .997 ≈ 0.3009027%.


For further exploration of flash swaps, see the whitepaper.


A fully functional example of flash swaps is available: ExampleFlashSwap.sol.



import '@uniswap/v2-core/contracts/interfaces/IUniswapV2Callee.sol';
pragma solidity >=0.5.0;

interface IUniswapV2Callee {
function uniswapV2Call(address sender, uint amount0, uint amount1, bytes calldata data) external;