Ethereum’s sprawling Web 3.0 ecosystem — which includes the majority of the decentralized finance (DeFi), stablecoins, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and blockchain gaming worlds — continues to expand and draw users, with 3.4 million Ethereum addresses interacting with DeFi protocols, according to ConsenSys’ Web 3 Q3 2021 report published this week.

Led by Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin, ConsenSys is a New York-based software company that specializes in building Ethereum blockchain infrastructure and applications.

Fast facts

  • Stablecoin supply on Ethereum — which hosts the majority of stablecoin protocols — has become more diversified with USD Coin (USDC) and Binance USD (BUSD) taking Tether’s (USDT) market share, according to the report, as Tether comes under increasing regulatory heat. In October, Tether and its affiliated crypto exchange Bitfinex agreed to pay US$42.5 million to settle charges from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) over allegedly making misleading statements and illegal transactions.
  • DeFi borrowing and lending saw significant growth, and reached an all-time-high on Sept. 6, with approximately US$24.7 billion worth of debt outstanding, according to the report.
  • Ethereum still holds a majority — 77% — share of the total value locked by the top five smart contract platforms, followed by Binance and Solana at 10% and 5% respectively, accordig to ConsenSys. Newer layer-1 protocols like Hedera, Avalanche, Fantom, Terra and Celo have also emerged to challenge Ethereum’s DeFi dominance. With the explosive growth in DeFi and NFTs, high transaction costs have been a key issue for Ethereum and layer-2 solutions like rollups are being developed improve Ethereum’s scalability.

See related article: Vitalik Buterin: Layer 2 is the future of Ethereum scaling

  • “2021 has without a doubt been the year of the non-fungible token,” the ConsenSys report said. NFT sales amounted to US$10.7 billion in Q3 — up eight-fold from the previous quarter — from a total of 33,985,609 sales, according to the report. Profile Picture NFTs (PFPs) like CryptoPunks have exploded in popularity. “Crypto communities have become an expressive place where users depict themselves in various avatars through their profile pictures,” the report’s authors wrote. “This is no longer a fad for the crypto-natives. PFPs are going mainstream with celebrities like Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg buying and choosing Cryptopunks as their profile pictures on Twitter, payments company Visa adding a Punk to their collection, and society continuing to embrace this cultural bull market.”