DeFi Tokens Are April's Biggest Losers as Revenues Fall; Memecoins Outperform

April saw bearish sentiment despite being a historically favorable month for cryptocurrencies.

AccessTimeIconMay 6, 2022 at 9:17 a.m. UTC
Updated May 6, 2022 at 3:42 p.m. UTC

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

April fared relatively well for memecoins, such as dogecoin (DOGE) and shiba inu (SHIB), but marked big losses for decentralized finance (DeFi) tokens, including aave (AAVE) and thorchain (RUNE), research by crypto exchange Kraken noted this week.

Considering bitcoin’s (BTC) 17% loss as a benchmark, the broader DeFi sector lost 34% on average, closely followed by tokens of layer 1, or base blockchains, at 33%. DeFi relies on smart contracts instead of third parties to provide financial services, such as trading, lending and borrowing, to users.

DeFi tokens have been the biggest losers on a yearly basis with over 71% in average drawdowns for investors. Ether (ETH), the native token of Ethereum over which most DeFi protocols are built, gained 3% in comparison.

DeFi-centric RUNE slumped 51%, the most in that sector, while the minimum loss was 22%. Among layer 1s, Solana’s SOL, Avalanche’s AVAX, and Near Protocol’s NEAR slumped at least 34% in the past month.

DeFi projects also saw a drop in revenues, which are earned each time a user conducts financial activity on the protocol with the protocol receiving a small cut of volumes as fees. The drop likely occurred as token prices fell and interest among investors took a hit.

Financial services platform SushiSwap saw a 29% drop in revenue, while those on DeFi exchange Balancer fell as much as 66%. Their corresponding tokens, SUSHI and BAL, have lost 45% and 18% over the past month, respectively, CoinGecko data shows.

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SUSHI has slumped 45% in the past 30 days. (TradingView)

Curve (CRV) and Uniswap (UNI) were the only DeFi projects to post revenue gains. Curve earned 51% more in April than it did in March, while Uniswap made 13% more. The strong fundamentals failed to attract buyers, however, as CRV and UNI lost 15% and 34%, respectively, in the past month.

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DeFi revenues dropped at least 24% on popular protocols in April. (Kraken)

Memecoins and exchange tokens were the relative outperformers among crypto sectors. Memecoins lost an average of 19%, while exchange tokens – such as OKX’s OKB and FTX’s FTT – lost just 13% on average. Privacy tokens also outperformed with 16% in gains, buoyed by the likes of Monero (XMR) and Zcash (ZEC).

Meanwhile, trading activity in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) increased in April compared to prior months, even as the number of users remained the same. Average daily volumes bumped 40%, while the average transaction amount increased by the same percentage as well.

Popular Ethereum-based NFT collection CryptoPunks lost favor among investors, slipping to the third spot by market capitalization as the Mutant Ape Yacht Club jumped to second place with a $2 billion capitalization.


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

CoinDesk - Unknown

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