As the crypto industry’s most optimistic year ever draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the coins that encapsulated the spirit of the year.
These are the coins that started a new trend, established a new sub-niche, or defied the odds by acquiring popularity. Their appearance was sometimes accompanied by large price increases, and other times by significant volatility. Many of the coins featured below have also gained popular attention, demonstrating that cryptocurrency is much more than market leaders Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Aside from the values of Bitcoin and Ethereum, the market capitalization of stable coins has been a popular indicator. The total value of all dollar-pegged cryptocurrencies has increased by more than $167 billion this year.
However, there is one issue for decentralization purists (well, two actually). Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC), the two most popular and widely utilized stable coins, are both owned by established financial institutions. There are no Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), no Discord channels, and, perhaps, very little transparency into the coins’ backers.
To fight these centralized incumbents, decentralized projects like Terra (and its stable coin UST) have arisen, building on the success of one of the first algorithmic stable coins, DAI. Because they’re backed by other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum or Luna rather than cash deposits or equivalents, these stable coins are decentralized.
Terra’s UST has had an especially successful year. The stable coin’s market cap was less than $200 million on January 2. UST recently overtook DAI as the largest decentralized stable coin in crypto, bringing the total to more than $10 billion.