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DeFi Stalwarts Buck Bear Market

UNI, MKR and AAVE have outperformed Bitcoin and Ether in the past three months.

DeFi Stalwarts Buck Bear Market

Governance tokens for blue chip DeFi protocols Aave, MakerDAO and Uniswap have outperformed Bitcoin and Ether in the three months since the crypto market began its collapse. 

As crypto companies that once managed billions in user assets declare bankruptcy, established DeFi protocols have, thus far, stayed afloat amid choppy waters. 

Crypto markets have, by and large, followed stocks in a broad decline this year. But crypto was also rocked by the implosion of Terra and its UST stablecoin in May, which set off a chain reaction that has culminated in the liquidation of hedge fund Three Arrows Capital and the bankruptcies of Voyager Digital, a publicly-traded cryptocurrency platform, and crypto lender Celsius

DeFi proponents found a silver lining in the news, however, noting that decentralized protocols holding billions in users’ crypto and offering the same services as their failed centralized (CeFi) counterparts seemed to have weathered the storm. 

DeFi Outperformance

Despite a weekend price surge, Ether has lost 49% of its value since late April, according to data from TradingView. But governance tokens for Aave, MakerDAO and Uniswap – three of the top five DeFi protocols, as measured by total value locked – have outperformed it.

Source: TradingView

Aave has lost 44% of its value since late April while MKR has lost 43%. UNI is only down 19%. 

Meanwhile, the protocols themselves remain solvent; a low bar by which to measure success, perhaps, but one that advocates have trumpeted as once high-flying CeFi businesses fail. 

The website makerburn.com, which provides an estimate of the Maker protocol’s annual profits “if expenses and parameters remain stable” shows a steep decline in Maker’s revenue. In late April, the protocol could be expected to rake in $60M over a 12-month period. That figure has since plunged to just over $2M. But it remains in the black. 

The Aave ecosystem reserves held $355M at the end of 2021, according to data compiled by Llama, a support community for DAOs. The reserves currently hold a little more than $123M. 

Uniswap, meanwhile, made headlines last month when it surpassed Ethereum in daily fees. It has not relinquished its spot atop that chart since. 

Proponents have celebrated one particular recent development as vindication of the DeFi thesis. 

Celsius DeFi Repayments

Crypto lender Celsius Network recently declared bankruptcy. Even as it was preparing to do so, it was rushing to pay back its outstanding loans on Aave, MakerDAO and Compound. 

Some have posited that DeFi protocols have been spared the carnage that befell their CeFi counterparts because on-chain data, available for all to see, deters would-be bad actors, or at least makes it possible to respond to adverse developments in real-time. 

DeFi lending protocols eliminate counterparty risk as they take trust out of the equation with overcollateralized loans. Liquidations are carried out on-chain with no exceptions.

Tarun Chitra, the founder of crypto firm Gauntlet, took a slightly different tack in a series of tweets Monday. 

“Arguably, the main difference between CeFi and DeFi couterparty risk is not that it’s *eventually* transparent (when a counterparty blows up all of your private docs are public in court) but that your agreements are actually enforceable without needing a government’s helping hand,” he wrote

Or, as someone who commented in response put it: “CeFi – fuzzy enforcement,” while “DeFi – algorithmic enforcement.”