The Two Big Themes In The Crypto Market Right Now

For all the hype about Bitcoin these days, its momentum has actually quieted down a little bit lately. After almost hitting $65,000 in the wake of the Coinbase IPO, it’s dipped a bit. And currently it’s still below even its February levels.

The Two Big Themes In The Crypto Market Right Now

Meanwhile, as Joanna Ossinger points out in a piece today,  Ethereum (ETH) has been on a tear, consistently making new highs. In addition to gaining in price, ETH is clearly gaining mindshare as well. Last week, Jens Nordvig of Exante Data joked that the most interesting thing in the market was, in fact, this outperformance. JPM strategist Josh Younger put out a note pointing to ETH’s impressive price resiliency. It’s clearly the coin of the moment, capturing a lot of attention.

There are two interesting things going on.

The first is that people are very hyped on so-called “decentralized finance” (DeFi). This involves trading, lending, derivatives, etc. all done on the blockchain directly. And basically none of this action happens with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is simple, made for either holding or passing between two parties. Anything related to smart contracts or stuff like that is suited towards other chains, such as Ethereum. And so a lot of the DeFi hype and enthusiasm is to Ethereum’s benefit, and the expense of Bitcoin.

But the other phenomenon is that Ethereum has its own competitors in the realm of decentralized finance. If you go to CoinMarketCap, you see the third biggest coin right now is the Binance token. Binance has its own blockchain (The Binance Smart Chain — BSC) that can run decentralized applications, facilitating a lot of the same types of DeFi transactions as Ethereum. The difference is that BSC is much faster and cheaper. It’s also more centralized, with just a handful of nodes running the network.

Another hot chain is Solana, which is associated with crypto wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried (a previous Odd Lots guest). Again, this is a faster, less decentralized blockchain able to facilitate DeFi activity.

So the two question are: Is DeFi going to stay the hot new thing that everyone wants to bet on? And if so, will Ethereum be able to maintain its dominance, or will traders prefer to play cheaper, less decentralized ETH-killers?

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