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Luna, Polygon Among 5 Fastest-Growing Cryptocurrencies of 2021

Twenty twenty-one has been a year of growth for crypto. The cryptocurrency market hit a record high cap of $3 trillion in early November, while the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum repeatedly broke their own all-time highs on numerous occasions. At the same time, the sector as a whole witnessed a massive surge in interest, with non-fungible tokens, DeFi platforms, blockchain-based games and metaverse cryptocurrencies all inspiring manias at one point or another.

While some people may have lost themselves in the general hubbub and excitement of 2021, it would be useful to take a closer look at the data in order to find out just which cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms were the fastest growing in 2021.

Well, we’ve done just that, with this retrospective article ranking cryptocurrencies and platforms according to two primary categories: 1) price growth over the year; and 2) growth in total value locked in (indicating use of its blockchain and ecosystem). Such an overview should help you get a firmer handle on just which cryptos had the best 2021, and may have the best 2022.

There were a large number of cryptocurrencies that saw incredible growth in 2021.

The 5 Fastest Growing Cryptocurrencies of 2021 by Price

Despite its relative maturation this year, the cryptocurrency market remains notorious for manipulation and extreme volatility. As such, we’ve narrowed down the field in this category by excluding any cryptocurrencies outside of the top 100 by market capitalization. We’ve also excluded meme coins, so sorry Shiba Inu.

By doing this, the list below should reflect actual market interest, rather than large traders exploiting illiquid markets in order to greatly pump smaller altcoins before (presumably) dumping them.

Keep in mind the cryptocurrency market is always moving so even these sure-fire winners might change significantly over the last couple weeks of 2021. But at the current moment, these are the biggest gainers of 2021:

1. Gala (GALA) +185,088%

Gala’s price on January 1 was $0.00149469, while its price as of writing (December 17) is $0.49357, according to CoinGecko.

GALA is the native cryptocurrency of Gala Games, a gaming platform. Based on the Ethereum blockchain, it enables developers to develop their own games, which can involve the ownership of in-game objects via NFTs.

The cryptocurrency didn’t really begin rising in price until early November, not long after Facebook created a craze for gaming- and metaverse-related cryptocurrencies by changing its company name to Meta.

2. ECOMI (OMI) +15,440%

OMI’s January 1 price was $0.00003418, while its current price is $0.00677224.

OMI the native token of VeVe, a marketplace for non-fungible tokens and digital collectibles. Over the course of 2021 it has signed over 100 brands to its platform, all of which use it to sell officially licensed merchandise.

Users of the marketplace use OMI to trade the collectibles it lists, something which has resulted in OMI’s price increasing rapidly as more users have joined the platform. It reached its current all-time high of $0.01343572 on March 19, and despite falling by around 49% since then, it has still managed to post a very large annual gain.

3. Axie Infinity (AXS) +14,040%

AXS the year at $0.537308, and is currently priced at $103.

The native token of the blockchain- and NFT-based Axie Infinity game, AXS is one of crypto’s biggest success stories of 2021. The game, which lets users breed and battle Pokémon-style monsters, has witnessed steadily growing users since the start of the year. It had only 38,000 daily active users at the end of April, yet it now claims around 2.5 million.

Witnessing strong growth from mid-July, the price of AXS reached its current record of $164.90 on November 6.

4. Terra (LUNA) +13,764%

LUNA was priced at $0.651791 on January 1, and at $66.29 now.

LUNA is used as part of the Terra platform, which issues a range of fiat-pegged stablecoins. LUNA is used to maintain the pegs of Terra’s various stablecoins, with UST being the largest. For example, UST is always convertible into LUNA at a price of $1 (so if LUNA is priced at $50, 50 UST will get you one LUNA, even if the market price of UST is actually below $1). LUNA is also burned whenever additional UST is issued, something which could potentially make LUNA deflationary over time.

LUNA has risen more or less steadily throughout much of the year, although it reached its all-time high of $77.73 on December 5.

5. Polygon (MATIC) +10,977%

Polygon started the year at $0.017594143, and is currently $2.16.

MATIC is the native token of the Polygon network, a layer-two scaling solution for Ethereum. Polygon has enjoyed growth this year more or less in parallel with Ethereum, which has seen increased usage but also pretty high transaction fees. This has increased demand for Ethereum-compatible scaling solutions that offer lower fees, with Polygon — and MATIC — being one of the chief beneficiaries.

MATIC hit an all-time high $2.62 on May 18, and has risen through much of the year.

The Best of the Rest

  • 6. Solana (SOL) +10,533%
  • 7. The Sandbox (SAND) +10,078%
  • 8. Kadena (KDA) +7,494%
  • 9. Fantom (FTM) +7,004%
  • 10. Decentraland (MANA) +3,738%

The 5 Fastest Growing Crypto Platforms of 2021 by Total Value Locked In

While price movements may be of chief interest to traders, longer term investors may also be interested in total value locked (TVL). This is a metric which measures the value of assets (i.e. cryptocurrencies, tokens) that have been deposited in one way or another on a particular blockchain platform.

This is a metric that relates only to smart contract-capable platforms such as Ethereum, Solana and Avalanche, since smart contracts are usually necessary for such platforms to be capable of hosting the DeFi dapps with which users can ‘lock in’ cryptocurrencies.

One interesting thing to note about the following list is that the top two spots are occupied by layer-two Ethereum scaling solutions. This suggests that, even though Ethereum’s TVL didn’t grow as fast as the top five’s in 2021, demand for access to the Ethereum ecosystem remains extremely high, and may continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Also, when Ethereum does transition to Ethereum 2.0 in Q1/Q2 2022 (and begins using proof-of-stake), it could see substantial growth.

1. Polygon TVL +1,456,508%

Polygon’s TVL went from $324,727 at the start of the year to $4.73 billion as of writing.

As noted above, demand for access to the Ethereum blockchain — but with lower fees — increased exponentially in 2021. This is why Polygon’s TVL increased by such a massive percentage, with much of the Ethereum DeFi sector transferring value to Polygon from the Ethereum blockchain itself. Polygon’s TVL was also multiplied by the fact that MATIC itself rose strongly during the year.

2. Arbitrum TVL +338,994%

Arbitrum’s TVL went from $519,029 on September 1 to $1.76 billion today.

Another layer-two scaling solution for Ethereum (this time based on the use of optimistic rollups), Arbitrum was a beneficiary of rising ETH gas fees in 2021. Its mainnet launched only as recently as September 1, with its growth to $1.76 billion in TVL in just over three months being testament to the sheer demand for Ethereum scaling solutions.

3. Avalanche TVL +167,000%

Avalanche’s TVL went from $6.7 million at start of year to $11.2 billion as of writing.

Avalanche’s native token AVAX was another one of the year’s big gainers (at 3,321%), although it just missed out on a place in the top ten. The platform is a smart contract-enabled multi-purpose blockchain in the vein of Ethereum, but capable of a higher transaction throughput (due to its use of proof-of-stake, which Ethereum will transition to in 2022). Avalanche famously attracted an investment of $230 million in September from Polychain Capital and Three Arrows Capital.

4. Fantom TVL +156,000%

Fantom went from $2.9 million on April 22 to $4.53 billion today.

Fantom is another smart contract-enabled platform for decentralized applications, much like Ethereum, Avalanche, Binance Smart Chain and Solana. It uses a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, giving it more scalability than Ethereum (which is still awaiting its transition from proof-of-work), and enabling it to settle transactions in a second.

5. Terra TVL +24,000%

Terra went from $53.16 million to a massive $12.83 billion

Terra’s total value locked in grew off the back of the ecosystem of DeFi apps it hosts on its blockchain. For example, liquidity protocol Lido requires uses to deposit LUNA in order to borrow UST, something which obviously drives up its TVL the more people use the protocol (and also the more LUNA rises in price).

Honorable Mentions

  • Binance Smart Chain +13,130%, $124.49 million to $16.47 billion
  • Solana +7,530%, $147.7 million to $11.27 billion
  • Tron +3,898%, $130.8 million to $5.23 billion
  • Ethereum +702%, $18.08 billion to $145 billion
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CryptoVantage Author Simon Chandler

About the Author

Simon Chandler

Simon Chandler is a journalist based in London. He writes about technology, markets and politics, and has bylines for Forbes, Digital Trends, CCN, Wired, TechCrunch, the Verge, the Sun, the New Internationalist, and TruthOut, among many others. His Twitter handle is @_simonchandler_

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