“Real Yield” Mania Has Hit DeFi. Here Are Five Projects to Watch

Key Takeaways

  • Over current months, DeFi has been captured by a brand new narrative centered round protocols that generate “actual yield.”
  • As an alternative of incentivizing stakeholders with dilutionary token emissions, actual yield protocols pay token holders with revenues generated from charges.
  • As older ways of sourcing liquidity have brought on many DeFi tokens to underperform, tasks at the moment are revamping their tokenomics designs towards extra sustainable fashions.

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Because the period of high-risk, high-reward yields in decentralized finance has all however come to an finish, a brand new development of tasks providing smaller however extra sustainable yields has began to exchange it. 

What Is DeFi’s “Actual Yield” Pattern?

Anybody remotely concerned with crypto has seen that the market strikes in cycles. So-called “bullish” intervals usually comply with Bitcoin halving occasions and—towards their finish—are sometimes marked by exorbitant undertaking valuations as new market entrants rush to pile into the hype and guarantees. The sharp value surges that characterize bull markets are usually adopted by even faster plunges and extended “bearish” intervals that solely tasks with probably the most strong fundamentals survive. 

Furthermore, each cycle is often enveloped by totally different narratives—prevalent tales that purpose to explain the present market construction or speculate on the subsequent. Whereas the primary simmering of DeFi arrived in 2018 with the emergence of tasks like Dharma, MakerDAO, and Compound, the area actually took off through the “DeFi summer season” of 2020 after Compound launched the COMP token to reward customers for offering liquidity. 

DeFi summer season kicked off a interval of yield farming mania that noticed quite a few tasks mimicking Compound by launching tokens to supply yields to customers. In probably the most excessive situations, liquidity suppliers had been supplied synthetic APYs that briefly topped 5, six, and even seven figures. This liquidity sourcing mannequin helped bootstrap the nascent trade but in addition proved unsustainable in the long term. Liquidity dried up throughout DeFi as customers began to vanish and most DeFi tokens considerably underperformed ETH all through the 2021 bull run. 

This early liquidity mining mannequin is flawed as a result of it’s primarily based on extreme emissions of the protocols’ native tokens relatively than sharing natural protocol earnings. For protocols, sourcing liquidity is vital. Nevertheless, taking this strategy is extremely costly, with some projections estimating a mean value of round $1.25 for each $1 of liquidity secured. For liquidity suppliers and stakers, in the meantime, the nominally excessive yields protocols supply are deceptive as a result of the true yield—measured as nominal yield minus inflation—is non-existent.

After exhausting a number of narratives since DeFi summer season, the crypto trade is now converging towards a brand new one. As with most others earlier than it, it’s enveloped by a brand new buzzword: actual yield. The time period refers to protocols that incentivize token possession and liquidity mining by sharing earnings generated from charges. Actual yield protocols typically return actual worth to stakeholders by distributing charges in USDC, ETH, their very own issued tokens which have been taken off the market by buybacks, or different tokens that they haven’t issued themselves. 

Whereas the record of protocols behind the development is rising, 5 have stood out from the bunch as torchbearers of the rising “actual yield” narrative.


GMX is a decentralized spot and perpetual change that has made rounds in current weeks after its native governance token neared its all-time excessive value regardless of the continuing bear market (GMX topped $62 in January; it hit $57 on September 5). Since launching in late 2021, GMX has shortly accrued deep liquidity and seen its buying and selling volumes soar. Moreover the obvious product market match, a big a part of its success may be attributed to its distinctive revenue-sharing mannequin. 

The undertaking has two native tokens: GLP and GMX. GLP represents an index of the out there property for buying and selling on the platform, whereas GMX is the undertaking’s native governance and revenue-sharing token. 70% of the change’s buying and selling charges are paid to liquidity suppliers or GLP token holders within the type of ETH on Arbitrum and AVAX on Avalanche, and the remaining 30% goes to GMX stakers. It at the moment presents 14% APR for staking GMX and 28% for holding GLP, not accounting for boosted yield supplied for vesting. 

This yield—secured by natural revenue sharing relatively than dilutionary token emissions—has confirmed engaging for liquidity suppliers and governance token holders. Consequently, GMX has accrued probably the most liquidity on Arbitrum (over $304 million in complete worth locked on the chain) and has one of many highest staking charges for its governance token within the asset class, with round 86.15% of its complete provide staked.

Synthetix (SNX)

Synthetix is a decentralized protocol for buying and selling artificial property and derivatives. It’s one of many oldest protocols in DeFi, discovering early success within the Ethereum ecosystem after it revamped its tokenomics mannequin to supply actual yields to SNX holders. In keeping with Token Terminal information, the protocol generates an annualized income of round $82 million, and the complete sum goes to SNX stakers. With SNX’s value of round $3 and a fully-diluted market capitalization of round $870 million, the token’s price-to-earnings ratio stands at 10.47x.

The present APR for staking SNX stands at round 53%, with the yield partly coming from inflationary staking rewards within the native token and partly from change buying and selling charges within the type of sUSD stablecoins. As a result of some liquidity mining rewards come from inflationary token emissions, Synthetix just isn’t a pure actual yield protocol. Nonetheless, it’s certainly one of DeFi’s high revenue-generating protocols providing one of many highest blended yields for single-sided staking in the marketplace.

Dopex (DPX)

Dopex is a decentralized choices change on Arbitrum that lets customers purchase or promote choices contracts and passively earn actual yields. Its flagship product is its Single Staking Choice Vaults, which give deep liquidity for choice consumers and automatic, passive revenue for choice sellers. Moreover the SSOVs, Dopex additionally permits customers to wager on the route of rates of interest in DeFi by Curiosity Charges Choices and wager on the volatility of sure property by so-called Atlantic Straddles.

Whereas all Dopex merchandise enable customers to earn actual yields by taking over some directional danger, the protocol additionally generates actual income by charges, which it redirects to stakeholders. 70% of the charges return to the liquidity suppliers, 5% to delegates, 5% to buying and burning the protocol’s rebate token rDPX, and 15% to DPX single-sided governance stakers.

Like with Synthetix, a number of the staking yields for DPX come from dilutionary token emissions, which means the liquidity mining mannequin is blended. Dopex at the moment presents round 22% APY for staking veDPX—a “vote-escrowed” DPX that stays locked for 4 years. 

Redacted Cartel (BTRFLY)

Redacted Cartel is a meta-governance protocol that acquires the tokens of different DeFi tasks to wield governance affect and supply liquidity-related companies to different DeFi protocols. It at the moment generates income from three sources: the treasury, which consists of various yield-generating governance tokens; Pirex, a product that creates liquid wrappers that enable for auto-compounding and the tokenization of future vote occasions; and Hidden Hand, a market for governance incentives or “bribes.” 

To earn a portion of Redacted Cartel’s income, customers must “revenue-lock” the protocol’s BTRLFLY token for 16 weeks to obtain rlBTRFLY. They then obtain a portion of fifty% of Hidden Hand’s income, 40% of Pirex’s, and between 15% and 42.5% of the treasury’s. The true yield is paid out in ETH each two weeks. Within the final yield distribution, the protocol paid out $6.60 price of ETH per rlBTRFLY, which comes from its actual income.

Features Community (GNS)

Gains Network is the decentralized protocol behind the perpetual and leveraged buying and selling platform gTrade. Moreover crypto property, gTrade lets customers commerce artificial property like shares and international change currencies. Many contemplate it the strongest competitor to GMX.

The protocol permits stakeholders to earn actual yields generated from the buying and selling platform charges in a number of methods. For instance, customers can stake GNS or present single-sided DAI liquidity to earn yields generated from charges. In complete, 40% of the charges from market orders and 15% from restrict orders are allotted to GNS single-sided stakers, which at the moment earn a compounded annual yield of round 4% paid out within the DAI stablecoin. Alternatively, liquidity suppliers within the single-sided DAI vault and the GNS/DAI liquidity swimming pools earn actual yields of about 6% and 18% APY.

Closing Ideas

Whereas “actual yield” might have generated a buzz, it’s price noting that this liquidity sourcing mannequin isn’t excellent. For one, protocols have to be worthwhile to offer one thing to their stakeholders, so it doesn’t do a lot for brand new tasks with few customers. Protocols within the bootstrapping section should nonetheless resort to inflationary liquidity mining to compete and entice adequate liquidity and buying and selling volumes. Moreover, if protocols should hand out their revenues to liquidity suppliers or token holders, meaning they’ve much less funding for analysis and growth. This might probably harm some tasks in the long term. 

Actual yields or not, time and time once more, historical past has proven that when the markets take a downturn and liquidity dries up, solely the protocols with the strongest fundamentals and finest product-market match survive. Whereas the “actual yield” development has solely not too long ago caught on, its survivors ought to flourish as DeFi grows sooner or later. 

Disclosure: On the time of writing, the creator owned ETH, rlBTRFLY, and several other different cryptocurrencies.

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