Why Curve is the leading DeFi dapp when considering underlying value and growth

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Curve – the leading DeFi dapp

The DeFi ecosystem has gathered a lot of attention recently due to the increase in its Total Value Locked (TVL) metric. 

However, given TVL measures both the change in locked token value and the change in the value of these tokens compared to USD, we need to be more nuanced in our analysis, especially during a bull run in USD token values.

We can even ask the question “Is DeFi really growing?

So, in this context – and in this report – we will analyze stablecoin-focused AMM exchange Curve, which is currently the third most important DeFi dapp in terms of its TVL.

In particular, we will use the measure of Inflation-adjusted TVL to discover Curve’s real growth excluding fluctuations in token price, and compare this to other leading DeFi dapps.

Key takeaways

  • While Curve’s TVL has surpassed $1 billion, its adjusted TVL has not (yet)
  • Stablecoins account for 74% of total value locked in Curve
  • Curve’s growth has out-performed both Aave and MakerDAO


In this report, we consider two metrics: Total Value Locked and Inflation-adjusted Total Value Locked.

Total Value Locked is simply calculated by looking at the total volume of tokens locked into a dapp multiplied by each token’s current USD price. 

The Inflation-adjusted Total Value Locked is calculated by calculating the total volume of tokens locked into a dapp, but locking all token prices relative to USD over the previous ninety days. All prices are collected from coinmarketcap.com.

Curve TVL surpassed $1 billion

Curve is a decentralized exchange using an Automated Market-Maker (AMM), which is optimized for stablecoins. It also has a native governance token CRV. 

As per DappRadar’s DeFi page, Curve currently holds 16% of the total value locked in the DeFi space. Curve’s TVL has increased by almost 400% in the past 30 days and recently surpassed $1 billion.


Stablecoins account for 74% of TVL

Stablecoins in Curve are automatically wrapped to a cToken (for Compound) or a yToken (for iEarn). The top stable coins are wrapped yTokens such as iearn USDC (yUSDC),  iearn USDT (yUSDT), iearn TUSD (yTUSD), and original form: USDC and USDT. 

USDC, USDT, and TUSD hold 28%, 27%, and 19% of TVL respectively, giving a total of 74%.

The remainder of Curve’s value is held in various Ethereum-based Bitcoin tokens such as Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC) and synthetic Bitcoin (sBTC).

Adjusted Total Value Locked metric | An introduction

Inflation-adjusted TVL vs TVL

Stablecoins are the key element in Curve’s growth and have an enormous impact on TVL.

By comparing the Inflation-adjusted Total Value Locked to the nominal TVL we observe a similar pattern of growth. Unlike MakerDAO’s adjusted TVL, 75% of which was driven by the increasing USD price of its underlying tokens, we can observe Curve’s organic growth, because the value of stablecoins doesn’t increase compared to USD.

Over the past 30 days, the growth in the nominal and the Inflation-adjusted TVL of USDT, USDC, and TUSD tokens has increased in value by $233 million, $197 million, and $150 million respectively. 

Curve – the leading DeFi dapp

Currently, the top three DeFi dapps are respectively Aave, MakerDAO, and Curve, each of which has surpassed $1 billion TVL.

However, when considering adjusted TVL, none of these dapps has yet hit the magic $1 billion. Indeed, because of its stablecoin weighting, Curve is running neck-and-neck with Aave as the most valuable DeFi dapp, with around $920 million of adjusted TVL.

More specifically, we can see that over the past 30 days, MakerDAO increased its TVL by $861 million but its adjusted TVL by only $348 million. 

Aave increased its TVL by $1.3 billion but its adjusted TVL by only $742 million. 

Curve increased its TVL by $996 million and its adjusted TVL by $962 million.

On this basis, Curve has clearly been the winner in terms of attracting value within the DeFi ecosystem. 


Curve’s TVL has surpassed $1 billion but even though its adjusted TVL is around $920 million, it has outperformed the likes of Aave and MakerDAO when the relative increase in the value of tokens to USD is stripped away. 

In addition, Curve’s TVL and adjusted TVL metrics are broadly aligned because three-quarters of Curve’s total value is measured in stablecoins, which don’t increase in value compared to USD.

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