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How sustainable are DeFi projects?

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Stablecoins were adding $100M in market capitalization nearly every day back in June 2020. When expressed in big picture terms, the cumulative market capitalization rose from $9.4B in June 2020 to $35.4B in January 2021.

On the contrary, DeFi projects’ TVL hiked by over 2500% from June 2020 to January 2021. Now, though DeFi projects’ TVL has risen by over $25B in 1 year, the sustainability of the entire sector may be in question.

How sustainable are DeFi projects?

Source: DeFiPulse

As algorithmic stablecoins enter what may be termed as a “death spiral,” they are throwing in coupon upgrades and new farming incentives at it as a last-ditch attempt to hold on to the market capitalization. The challenge here is that these short-term fixes signal a drop in the sustainability of these projects in the long-term.

It should be noted, however, that the sustainability of DeFi projects was not a concern throughout 2020. DeFi supported Ethereum’s long-term price rally in the market cycle, and the perception was that DeFi projects are here to stay. In fact, some hold this opinion in the year 2021 too, with Dan Morehead of Pantera Capital recently tweeting on the growth of DeFi projects,

It’s interesting that Pantera is bullish on DeFi projects largely since they are built on Ethereum. This has become a cycle now. DeFi projects get investment flows and investor interest since they are built on Ethereum and increasing TVL in DeFi helps Ethereum’s price rally and thus, the cycle goes on.

DeFi is like a plug and play element of the cycle, even with the rising TVL. It is entirely possible that DeFi projects may lose the flow of investments when Ethereum’s price rally comes to a halt or stops. Since it is a cycle, DeFi projects’ sustainability will be tested and it may turn out that only 20% of all DeFi projects are highly sustainable while the remaining 80% are masquerading without real utility and use case.

This would make these projects no different from the hundreds of altcoins in the crypto-market. Overall, the longevity of DeFi projects is an important question for an altcoin trader building a portfolio or updating one. DeFi’s growth may not be as sustainable as expected, but they are the rage due to an increasing number of use cases and the increasing price of Ethereum.

AAVE started at $57 in 2021 and was trading at $270.71, at press time, having hiked by over 440% on the charts. SUSHI was up 164% and UNI was up 167%, while SNX and LINK gained by over 100% in 2021. Less popular DeFi projects have offered three-digit returns in 2021 and this marks the beginning of the DeFi rally. In 2021, the TVL may increase further and investment flow from Bitcoin and Ethereum may pour into DeFi projects. Sustainable or not, DeFi projects may be heading towards a short top, before corrections set in.


Ekta is a full-time journalist at AMBCrypto and her specialization lies in spot markets. Currently pursuing her MBA, she is passionate about trading, fintech, and everything decentralized.
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