Yield Farming Fuels Buzz Around DeFi, but Fundamentals Are Lagging

Yield Farming Fuels Buzz Round DeFi, however Fundamentals Are Lagging

The hype surrounding decentralized finance is usually credited with triggering a wider market rally in July, as new protocols started releasing tokens that had been instantly posting positive aspects of many occasions their preliminary worth. Regardless of simple worth development, nevertheless, it’s not instantly clear if the sector as an entire has grown, as dependable metrics to measure the elemental efficiency of DeFi protocols are extremely arduous to return by. 

The tasks lend themselves to pretty rigorous evaluation strategies, as they may usually have well-defined revenues and bills. However the rise of liquidity mining, or yield farming, is throwing the metrics off stability in some methods. Protocols reward their customers with their very own governance tokens, primarily as a cost for utilizing the platform. A frenzied motion to maximise the yield for these tokens distorted the prevailing DeFi success metric, the Complete Worth Locked, or TVL. 

A transparent instance of that is the Compound protocol the place the worth of Dai equipped to it surpasses its complete quantity of tokens by virtually thrice — $1.1 billion vs. $380 million in existence as of writing. This is because of Compound customers getting into leveraged positions on Dai — one thing that usually doesn’t occur with stablecoins. Whereas this led the group to debate the deserves of TVL, another comparable measurements have been distorted as nicely.

Evaluating a DeFi lending mission

Valuation metrics will change barely primarily based on the kind of mission. Within the case of lending protocols like Compound and Aave, TVL represents the supply-side liquidity of the mission or the full sum of all deposits presently held by them. It’s value noting that TVL solely takes the on-chain reserves under consideration. In line with DeFi Pulse, there are solely round 220 million Dai locked in Compound, not 1.1 billion.

DAI locked in Compound. Supply: Defipulse.com

Nonetheless, lending suppliers are typically evaluated primarily based on ebook worth, or how a lot is being borrowed. Since that’s what generates income, it’s thought of a way more direct measurement of the protocol’s financials.

Because of the distribution of the community’s coin, COMP, nevertheless, all tokens besides Tether (USDT) and 0x (ZRX) have damaging efficient curiosity when borrowing, in keeping with Compound’s dashboard, which means that customers are paid to take action. The Compound protocol is presently offloading that price to the patrons and holders of COMP by dilution. 

Although it could be troublesome to filter out how a lot liquidity there may be solely to take a position on COMP yields, this is probably not needed. The aim of evaluating the financial institution’s or lending protocol’s income is to gauge how a lot of that worth will be captured by the inventory or token, however for the reason that token is getting used to subsidize the price of borrowing, the worth is being successfully extracted from its holders. This may be seen by COMP’s token worth. Since its launch, it has continued to fall in worth because of the dilution and promoting stress from newly mined tokens.

COMP token price chart

COMP token worth chart. Supply: TradingView

Because of this phenomenon, an analysis technique for Compound may simply ignore, and even subtract, the a part of the ebook worth that’s extracting worth from token holders. Even within the former case, Compound’s ebook worth would simply be $25 million out of a claimed $1 billion — the full sum of the USDT and ZRX being borrowed. 

Although clearly not all property are there only for the yield, Cointelegraph beforehand reported that solely $30 million value of Dai was being borrowed simply earlier than it grew to become the go-to forex for liquidity mining. Andre Cronje, the founding father of the yEarn protocol, informed Cointelegraph that the market has not been taking these nuances under consideration: “We now have this bizarre TVL equals analysis mentality, which I don’t perceive in any respect, the place if the TVL is $100M, then the market cap — circulating, not absolutely diluted — ought to be $100M.” Though he finds it “utterly insane” to disregard income, he continued his thought train:

“So, if circulating market cap equals TVL, what’s one of the simplest ways to extend that? Improve TVL. How do you improve TVL? Reward with tokens. Token worth goes up due to TVL hypothesis, and repeat the loop.”

Results on different protocols

Compound began the yield farming development, nevertheless it was not the one protocol that noticed sizable will increase in exercise. Decentralized exchanges like Uniswap, Balancer and Curve have seen their buying and selling volumes leap dramatically since June. Quantity on Curve, a DEX centered on swapping stablecoins with each other, jumped as yield farming started in June. 

Monthly volume across decentralized exchanges

Month-to-month quantity throughout decentralized exchanges. Supply: DuneAnalytics

Uniswap has a extra various providing, and most of its quantity includes Ether (ETH) to stablecoin pairs, particularly Ampleforth — which noticed a strong boom-and-bust cycle happen. It has additionally taken in a number of the amount for brand new tokens like YFI, usually being the primary place the place they had been listed.

MakerDAO noticed its TVL virtually triple from $500 million. Nearly all of that’s because of the Ether worth rally, although it grew by way of ETH and Bitcoin (BTC) as nicely. As Cointelegraph beforehand reported, the group determined to extend the full quantity of Dai that may very well be minted in an effort to return its worth to $1.

Whereas at face worth, the expansion of Dai could also be thought of a hit story, the Maker group determined to place rates of interest for nearly all liquid property to zero, foregoing any income from the expansion. On the identical time, Compound has been the first recipient of latest Dai, with locked worth having risen from about $140 million to $210 million since late July, over 55% of all Dai. 

Is the expansion actual?

The liquidity mining growth had an undeniably optimistic affect on some normal metrics, particularly the customer volumes for DeFi platform web sites and the variety of customers interacting with the protocols. Knowledge from SimilarWeb reveals that visitors to Compound has quadrupled since June to about 480,000, whereas for Uniswap it has greater than doubled to 1.1 million, and Balancer established a robust presence in two months with 270,000 month-to-month visits. 

Moreover, DeFi alternate aggregator 1inch.alternate virtually tripled its visitors within the final two months. Protocols with a weaker relation to yield farming benefited as nicely, with MakerDAO and Aave posting extra modest however nonetheless important development. 

Associated: Compound’s COMP Token Takes DeFi by Storm, Now Has to Maintain Prime Spot

By way of person quantity, Compound noticed the variety of month-to-month common distinctive wallets utilizing it quadruple to 20,000 in June, although that quantity has since been reducing. Additionally value noting is that greater than 80% of current exercise has been from simply 30 wallets, in keeping with DappRadar information.

User activity on Compound

Person exercise on Compound. Supply: DappRadar

The general variety of DeFi customers, in keeping with a DuneAnalytics visualization, elevated by about 50% from June 1 to Aug. 1. That is in distinction to the earlier two-month interval from April 1 to Might 31, which noticed a 30% development. 

Nearly all of new customers are coming from decentralized exchanges, with Uniswap having doubled its complete person base since June to 150,000. Nonetheless, this metric reveals all of the customers who’ve interacted with the protocols, not solely those that are lively at any given second.

Total DeFi users

Complete DeFi customers. Supply: DuneAnalytics

What’s going to stay?

In abstract, the DeFi development within the final two months is multi-faceted. Whereas the liquidity mining hype and subsequent worth positive aspects have possible contributed to attracting further consideration, elementary metrics grew to become extremely distorted because of the hypothesis. 

Decentralized exchanges seem to have benefited essentially the most from the hype, each by way of new customers and volumes, however that seems to be an acceleration of an already optimistic development. Whether or not the expansion will stick stays an essential query. Kain Warwick, a co-founder of Synthetix — a crypto-backed asset issuer — informed Cointelegraph:

“It’s all the time doable that folks will farm the yield after which discover a contemporary subject, so bootstrapping liquidity just isn’t a assure that your protocol will retain customers. […] However bootstrapping liquidity with some form of incentive is a good way to draw newcomers as a result of you probably have something resembling product-market match, then there may be prone to be some stickiness.” 

Cronje was considerably extra damaging, utilizing a farming analogy to explain what may occur, saying: “All of the yield chasers simply working in to farm yield after which leaving,” which is a damaging factor in keeping with him, appearing like a swarm of locusts, including: “However after they’ve ruined the crops, typically, a stronger crop can develop, and a few locusts stay, they usually find yourself being symbiotic as a substitute of the preliminary parasitic.” 

Cronje believes that the preliminary results of yield farming are unsustainable, making a false notion amongst newcomers that 1,000% yields are the norm. As soon as that’s now not the case, customers shall be left with a foul style of their mouths, he argues: “Proper now, it’s overhyped; quickly, it will likely be hated; and what stays after that, I believe, shall be fairly cool.”

Distributing tokens in a brand new means

Warwick described the aim of liquidity mining as incentivizing early participation with partial possession. Cronje was far more skeptical, saying: “All liquidity mining presently is, is getting paid for propped up TVL.” Nonetheless, he ran a liquidity mining program himself, although he harassed that it was only a means of distributing tokens. 

“My purpose was to get an lively and engaged group. And I believe yEarn managed to perform that,” Cronje concluded. In contrast, yEarn forks like YFFI and YFII had been “pure liquidity mines, and all that occurred was individuals bought,” he stated. The value of YFII has collapsed by 90% since its excessive on July 30.

Warwick famous that “there presumably is a greater method to distribute possession whereas bootstrapping development,” although he doesn’t understand how. He nonetheless finds it preferable to preliminary coin choices, as customers solely must quickly commit their liquidity: “They’re clearly taking up some platform threat, nevertheless it’s preferable nonetheless to dropping their capital by utilizing it to purchase tokens.” However whereas the dangers for the liquidity miners could also be low, the instance of YFII clearly reveals that the results of dilution and speculative demand can flip catastrophic for the patrons of those tokens.