Exclusive: Concentration of Capital Limits Competition within Decentralized Finance
1. The DeFi sector, with a vision to reinvent financial markets without intermediaries, is witnessing a concerning level of concentrative capital limiting competition.
2. The high concentration of capital is due to numerous emerging projects’ security and risk failures, pushing investors to stick with a few established protocols with proven risk management protocols.
DeFi’s Dominant Players
DeFi, an ambitious sector aiming to revamp financial markets, eliminating the need for go-betweens, is ironically becoming a stage managed by a select few. According to Gauntlet, a reputable crypto-risk modelling entity, DeFi is increasingly witnessing the predominance of capital in a handful of leading projects across most categories.
The fierce competition within DeFi exchanges has resulted in the top four projects cornering about 54% of the total market share, surprisingly illustrating a mirror image of the traditional financial industry it aims to disrupt.
Struggle in Some Categories
Conversely, categories like decentralized derivatives exchanges, DeFi lenders, and liquid staking projects face considerably less competition. However, the degree of concentration is equally steep. The top four projects in liquid staking alone register a whopping 90% of the total market share in that category.
Critical Security Failures Drive Concentration
Security and risk failures of emerging protocols are major drivers for this kind of concentration in decentralized finance. These shortcomings prompt investors to religiously stick to projects with robust risk management premiums. As a result, ventures with clean track records continue to enjoy an inflated market share.
Economic Influences & Their Impact
At present, the total value locked (TVL) in DeFi is around $46 billion, a considerable dip from the zenith of $179 billion a couple of years ago. Economic influences like the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes, which has strengthened yields in traditional markets, lure investors away from DeFi.
A sequential outcome of these resistances is that only about 30 DeFi initiatives have managed to pull in profits exceeding $1 million in the past 180 days. This high concentration in the DeFi market poses significant challenges for new entrants, especially as venture funding within the crypto space is on the decline.
Despite the obstacles, promising entities like Vertex protocol, a newer DeFi exchange, have broken through, emerging as leading trading venues by volume. A recent surge in cryptocurrency prices might prove to be a saving grace for these smaller projects, enabling them to preserve operations for a more extended period.
Rune Christensen, considered a pioneer of the DeFi space and the founder of MakerDAO, has expressed apprehension about a substantial rally in the sector. He opines that startups that aren’t economically viable should be allowed to fail, balancing the market in the long run.
As decentralized finance navigates these turbulent waters, the nuances of survival, diversification, and evolving risk management strategies will undoubtedly dominate discussions in the times to come.