Fantom (FTM) Surges, NEAR Sets Highs as Major Cryptos Stagnate

A revived interest in layer 1 bets is fueling growth in some tokens even as bitcoin shows signs of weakening.

Jan 4, 2022 at 2:44 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 4, 2022 at 3:40 p.m. UTC

Native tokens of the Fantom and Near blockchains surged as much as 20% in the past 24 hours amid a continuing trend of investors betting on the growth of layer 1 protocols. The NEAR token hit a new all-time high of $17.48 before a brief sell-off at the time of writing.

The moves defied stagnation in the price movements of major cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and ether, which fell 2% in the past 24 hours, data from CoinGecko showed.

Layer 1 networks refer to individual blockchain platforms such as Ethereum or Avalanche, atop of which decentralized finance (DeFi) applications or other software can be built. DeFi itself refers to protocols and services that rely on smart contracts instead of middlemen to provide financial services, such as trading, lending and borrowing, to users.

Why NEAR is surging

Most DeFi activity has centered around Ethereum-based applications since 2019. But slow speeds and an expensive network have led to users migrating to cheaper and faster networks.

Avalanche (AVAX), Solana (SOL) and Terra (LUNA) have emerged as top contenders in the past month – attracting billions of dollars in capital – but investors are now betting on the upside of even more networks, such as Near and Fantom, among others.

Early Asian trading hours on Tuesday saw NEAR break its previous highs of $16.20, reaching as high as $17.59 on some exchanges in European trading hours before dropping 50 cents. Over $1 billion worth of NEAR changed hands in the past 24 hours, with much of the trading activity occurring on crypto exchange Binance.

NEAR broke previous highs on Tuesday morning. (TradingView)

This is despite a relatively smaller amount of capital – just a little above $141 million – locked up on Near-based DeFi protocols. This puts Near at 29th among all DeFi-enabled blockchains, as per DeFi Llama.

NEAR prices started rising in late December 2021 on the back of an integration with Terra, the world’s second-largest DeFi blockchain by total valued locked (TVL), and its UST stablecoin. NEAR prices bumped 20% in the hours after that announcement, and the uptrend has since continued.

FTM climbs

Fantom was the other big gainer in mid-European trading hours on Tuesday. Prices surged 21% in Asian trading hours before tumbling to $2.97 at the time of writing. FTM has now risen over 133% in the past two weeks. DeFi protocols built on the network hold over $5.91 billion in value, according to DeFi Llama. $2 billion of that came in the past two weeks alone.

Technical charts show FTM remains in an uptrend but faces resistance at the $3 mark, a level the tokens saw selloffs from in November 2021.

Fantom prices remain 15% lower than their previous highs of $3.46 in November 2021, as per CoinGecko.

Fantom faces resistance at the $3 level. (TradingView)

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Shaurya is an analyst/editor for CoinDesk's markets team in Asia.