Blockchain is dead: Long live DeFi

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DeFi has become the centerpiece of many dapp project marketing efforts in 2020.

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand for most of 2020 it is clear that a new buzzword has emerged around the blockchain space. DeFi or Decentralized Finance has emerged as a new, perhaps more friendly word to encapsulate what blockchain or Web3 technology can offer the world.

In many ways, DeFi provided blockchain with its first real-world use case of note and a foundation to grow from. Similar to the way apps revolutionized mobile devices a decade ago. After all, technology is fantastic but without a use case or benefit to the user, it will always struggle to gain traction and achieve mass adoption.

Looking at behaviour

Out of interest, we performed a Google Trends search to reveal the interest in two key keywords on Youtube and Google. The keywords chosen were Blockchain and DeFi and the data was captured worldwide and over 5 years.

Looking at the results for interest over time of the two keywords on Youtube there is a clear inflection point at the end of April 2018. Interest in searching for DeFi content overtook interest in Blockchain content on Youtube.

Interest over time on Youtube – Source: Google Trends

Observing this inflection point led us to investigate further into any possible stimulus around the same date range. Looking at the chart of Ethereum token price below we observe that after the crypto winter post-December 2017 where the price of Ethereum continued to decline after hitting all-time highs. When the token price finally showed positivity for the first time – interest in DeFi also appeared to spike.

Interestingly, a similar spike can be observed in both the price of the Ethereum token and interest in the search term DeFi on Youtube in 2020.

Source: CoinMarketCap

Google search shows a different trend

Given that Google and Youtube are the two most used content search engines on the planet with the latter being second it feels appropriate to use these as a guide to users’ behavior. Looking at the interest over time in the search term DeFi through Google search we do not observe the same inflection point. We do see a small spike but nothing like we observe on Youtube.

Moreover, it would appear that as time has moved forward that there seems to be a shift occurring and it could be theorized that search volumes for DeFi on Google will overtake Blockchain by the middle of 2021.

Are people now searching for DeFi instead of blockchain? Has the word DeFi now been attached to an entire industry that has many separate components? Or are we simply observing hype cycles caused by the introduction of new opportunities to make money?

Interest over time on Google – Source: Google Trends

Rebranding to DeFi spikes interest

DeFi has become the centerpiece of many dapp project marketing efforts in 2020. Ethereum dapps are at the center of this revolution but other protocols such as TRON and EOS have also thrown in their hats.

EOS now has 11 dapps in the DeFi category on DappRadar

In some cases, rebranding efforts are aiding a surge in the protocols token price. For example, the market value of TRON’s TRX coin, which is tied to a new DeFi token called Sun Genesis Mining, increased by $800 million in the days after the announcement.

Source: CoinMarketCap

The reason perhaps that DeFi dapps have captured the imagination of retail users could be that they offer services that allow people to lend, borrow, trade, and take out insurance directly from each other, without the use of intermediaries or banks. As a result of this, many ‘get rich quick’ schemes such as yield farming have emerged that are often promising 2 or 3x returns.

Rebranding is not a new thing of course. Companies from all warps of the global economy have pivoted and shifted attention to what’s hot and relevant in order to maximize brand awareness and ultimately revenues. From the perspective of those that work within the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector this change in buzzword offers a welcome change of pace to the endless discussions and education articles based around ‘what is blockchain’.

It appears things have moved on and that people are more interested in the services and solutions blockchain can offer as a pose to how it functions as technology.

Blockchain games show promise

In fact, we have often said that in order for blockchain developers to appeal to larger audiences and reach mass adoption it would be best for them to hide blockchain technology in the background and simply offer users seamless and beneficial experiences. After all, do you care how a cash machine works? Or would you just like quick and easy access to your finances?

Blockchain games show promise in this area. Games such as Upland, Splinterlands, and LiteBringer are retaining users at above-average levels and providing excellent game experiences. At the same time, those projects never really highlight the fact the game is decentralized and they try to avoid making users jump through the arduous loops necessary to even begin playing a game.


In summary, what we observe here is a shift. A shift in understanding and clever work by marketers to attract users during a hype period. In some cases projects that emerged years ago but with little utility are starting to kick on once again.

So as protocols and dapps pivot and adjust their marketing message to offer users what they are looking for will we see a deeper understanding emerge of blockchain technology and the benefits? Only time will tell.

As always we will continue to report, investigate, and deliver the most up to date news and analysis in the dapp space. Don’t forget to bookmark DappRadar and sign up for our weekly newsletter below to receive updates directly to your inbox.

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