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The Race to the Biggest Blockchain by TVL in 2023: Who Won? (Excl. Ethereum)

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TL;DR

  • Shifts in Blockchain TVL: The year 2023 saw changes in the total value locked (TVL) rankings among various blockchain platforms, with significant fluctuations and new entries making an impact.
  • Highlights in Blockchain Performance: Certain networks gained popularity and development recognition, outperforming rivals in aspects like Google searches, NFT sales, and on-chain trading volume.
  • Cryptocurrency Value Fluctuations: There were notable increases in the prices of some cryptocurrencies, influenced by factors like TVL dynamics and market trends, though the direct correlation between TVL and price is not always clear.

Shifting Positions Throughout 2023

According to Coin98 Analytics, the blockchain platform with the highest total value locked (TVL) as of the end of 2023 is Tron (over $8 billion). BNB Chain ($3.5 billion) and Arbitrum ($2.4 billion) rounded up the top 3 list, while Solana comes next with $1.4 billion. The analysis excludes Ethereum, whose figure reached almost $30 billion.

However, the current standings have not always been the case. The three leading platforms retained their positions for the entire year, although BNB Chain was first at the beginning, whereas Tron came second.

Solana was at the bottom in January 2023 with a TVL of $210 million. As the year passed, new blockchain networks emerged and shifted the landscape. One example is Coinbase’s layer-2 solution – Base – which saw the light of day in August. Its TVL gradually increased throughout 2023, reaching almost $440 million by the end.

For its part, Blast – an upcoming L2 blockchain – made waves in the industry in the final quarter, positioning itself among the leaders and finishing the year in the fifth spot with a TVL of over $1 billion. The rising popularity of the network led to a phishing attack in November, following which a victim parted with more than $130,000. Blast’s mainnet launch is scheduled for February this year.

Optimism, Avalanche, Polygon, and Cardano are the remaining blockchains from the top 10. Cardano started the year with less than $50 million and crossed the finish line at above $400 million.

Some cryptocurrencies, including Solana’s SOL and Cardano’s ADA, have charted notable price increases last year. The former surged from less than $10 to almost $125 by Christmas, whereas the latter experienced a 150% surge to above $0.60.

While the rising TVL could be a factor for those spikes, the relationship is not always directly proportional. Total value locked refers to the entire amount of crypto assets deposited in a particular DeFi protocol and might be considered a sign of trust and stability in the relevant network.

On the other hand, rising TVL could be a result of a bull market. In this case, new funds do not enter the ecosystem, but the value of the locked assets heads north as prices do so too.

Solana and Cardano in the Spotlight

Those two networks have been particularly intriguing to industry participants lately due to their achievements toward the year’s end. Solana surpassed Ethereum regarding Google searches in mid-December, becoming more popular in countries like Spain and the Philippines.

It outpaced its rival on the non-fungible token field, too. Its NFT sales volume exploded to $75 million on a weekly basis last month versus $72 for Ethereum. Additionally, Solana’s on-chain trading volume peaked above $2.6 billion on December 22, while Ethereum recorded $1.6 billion on that day.

For its part, Cardano was highlighted as the top network by development activity in the last 30 days. This happened at the end of December, with Polkadot, Kusama, and Avalanche next in line.

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