This blog examined the top five emerging trends in the decentralised finance (DeFi) sector in June. DeFi was still in its infancy at the time. It was an exciting new movement that had just reached the $1 billion total value locked (TVL) milestone—the number of crypto funds deposited by users to decentralised applications (dApps).TVL would reach $2 billion by the end of the month and more than $15 billion by the end of 2020. 1 Today, as the movement shows no signs of slowing, several key trends have become established, while others are worth keeping an eye on as space develops throughout the year. Let’s look at what they are and why they are important.
DeFi Is Growing: Follow the Developments Shaping the Movement in 2021
1. Scaling Solutions Become Priorities
The popularity of DeFi dApps is putting a burden on the Ethereum network, resulting in higher transaction (or gas) fees. Simple token transfers can cost a few dollars as of this writing, whereas complicated smart contract transactions like launching a Vault can cost hundreds of dollars or more. Ethereum 2.0 will eventually address the network’s ongoing gas problem, as well as other concerns, allowing it to expand to the point where it can sustain general usage. However, the update will be implemented in stages (the first of which, Phase 0, will begin on December 1, 2020) and will take several years to complete.
Meanwhile, developers are working on interim and complementary solutions to facilitate the launch of large-scale dApps before Ethereum 2.0 is fully released.
Moving some coins and actions to child chains on the Ethereum network is one option. Matic Network2, which is now part of the Polygon suite of scaling solutions, is an example of this. Matic transactions are quick and affordable because they take place on sidechains.
Another technology allows developers to bundle transactions off-chain and submit them to the main blockchain in batches.3 Those bundles, called Rollups (also offered by Polygon), could enable Ethereum to support a 200-fold increase in transactions.
2. Users Embrace AMM-based DEXes
Automated Market Makers (AMMs) offer an entirely new concept for decentralised exchanges (DEXes), replacing traditional order books with liquidity pools and pricing determined by an algorithm based on supply and demand. 4 Instead of trading directly with other users, users trade through a smart contract-based liquidity pool. It’s a simple and easy-to-use solution for trustless crypto trading that avoids the challenges and complications of migrating established exchange systems to the blockchain.
AMMs are a good example of how DeFi platform developers are adjusting to space’s specific demands and providing consumers with chances, unlike anything they’ve seen in the traditional banking sector. Along with Curve, Sushiswap, and Balancer, Uniswap, which popularised the AMM technique, is a popular DEX in the crypto industry. In reality, the total value of those four swaps is almost $13 billion TVL. 5 The most popular AMMs draw a fraction of the trade volume of the largest order book-based DEX.
AMMs like Uniswap are simple to use and allow for quick and secure crypto trading.
3. Stablecoins: DeFi’s Killer Assets?
Stablecoins, which Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin describes as “at once the most valuable and the most boring thing to come out of DeFi, “6 provide users with a vital means of storing and transferring value on the blockchain without exposing them to the volatility for which crypto is known, without exposing them to the volatility for which crypto is notorious. Importantly, stablecoins are effective tools for allocating capital efficiently to DeFi yield farming prospects.
4. NFTs: A Most Exciting Crypto Trend
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are indivisible blockchain tokens that represent a single physical or digital item. They’re becoming increasingly popular as a way to confirm the authenticity and ownership of digital art, collectibles, in-game items, and even virtual property parcels. People can purchase and trade various kinds of collectibles using ETH and, increasingly, stablecoins on NFT platforms like SuperRare, Nifty Gateway, Rarible, and others.
5. Cross-chain Collateral Gains Ground
As the need for collateral to use in DeFi dApps grows, new methods of bringing liquidity into the industry emerge. The growth of Bitcoin on Ethereum is a significant step in this field (via ERC20 tokens that are backed 1:1 by BTC). Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), which uses BTC held in custody by the token issuer (similar to USDC for Bitcoin), and Ren Protocol, which uses a trustless methodology for tokenizing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for use on Ethereum, are two examples of this. Bitcoin, as the most valuable and largest cryptocurrency, represents a vast amount of potential liquidity for DeFi.
What Else is Unfolding in DeFi?
While the five developments listed above are the most closely followed, users are starting to pay attention to a few others, including:
Central banks and governments have been investigating the possibilities of blockchain technology for the past five years, with the goal of launching their own Central Bank Digital Currencies. The first CBDC variants are now being tested, most notably in China. Several more nations are planning to follow suit.
Insurance apps that are decentralised have the ability to provide transparency and efficiency to a multibillion-dollar sector. A minor but rapidly-growing use case in the DeFi sector is protection against different dangers, such as smart contract exploits and exchange hacks.
- The rise of true DAOs:
Implemented properly, decentralized finance protocols can be more secure, transparent, and efficient than traditional, centralized financial systems. As the DeFi space evolves and awareness of genuine decentralized operations increases, more projects are progressing toward becoming true DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations).
DeFi’s Time to Shine
DeFi’s rise in 2021 shows an interesting sector with a lot of potentials. DeFi is increasingly obvious that it has the potential to alter the future of finance. New trends supported by the strength of stablecoins, the increased acceptance of NFTs, and new scalability and liquidity alternatives are putting dApps on track to enjoy another amazing year.