2021 was a breakout year for the cryptocurrency market in many respects and most investors are absolutely thrilled that Bitcoin (BTC) price established a new all-time high of $68,789. In the same timeframe, Ether (ETH) went on a parabolic rally which saw its price gain 565% from Jan. 1 to hit a record high at $4,859 on Nov. 10.
While it was a banner year for large cap cryptocurrencies, some of the biggest gains and most impactful developments came from the altcoin market where decentralized finance (DeFi) and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) rallied by thousands of percent and helped to usher in a new level of awareness and adoption for blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
Here’s a look at five altcoin projects that made significant contributions to the cryptocurrency ecosystem in 2021.
The decentralized exchange Uniswap (UNI) has arguably had the greatest impact on the crypto ecosystem as a whole since launching in the summer of 2020, with the DEX seeing significant growth throughout 2021 as it helped facilitate the launch of thousands of new crypto projects by removing the barriers to launch that existed on centralized exchanges.
Data provided by Dune Analytics shows that Uniswap has been the dominant DEX throughout the year and it has consistently seen more trading volume than all other DEXs combined.
Monthly DEX volume by project. Source: Dune Analytics
As seen on the chart above, the volume traded on decentralized exchanges really started to ramp up in the second half of 2021 led in large part by activity on Uniswap.
Throughout 2021 Uniswap led the field in development as well, with the developers behind the protocol announcing the release of Uniswap v3 in March. The v3 upgrade included multiple protocol upgrades and it built the foundation to integrate layer-two scaling solutions like Optimism and Arbitrum with Uniswap as a way to help reduce the transaction costs and processing times for users.
Aave (AAVE) is a DeFi lending protocol that allows users to deposit their tokens and lend them out…