A data-driven look at dApp adoption in 2018



via medium

2018 was the year when crypto went from mainstream hype and speculation mania to a sobering price crash. While most mainstream headlines have focused on the price crash, most people in the space are well aware that loads of interesting products are currently being built out.

Many prominent projects went live on the Ethereum Mainnet this year. Most people in crypto are aware that dApps are pretty far from any meaningful adoption. Beyond some very high-level metrics like “x transactions happened” few have a granular understanding of how users actually interact with dApps, including the teams building these products. What user behaviour patterns do we see? How many users are retained over time? What share of the activity in a dApp comes from the top 10 largest addresses? These are the type of questions any web 2.0 startup want to understand the moment they launch.

At Dune Analytics we work with data like this for Ethereum dApps on a daily basis. In this post, we’ll explore data to answer these type of questions for a handful of high profile Ethereum projects. What did dApp usage in 2018 really look like?

Cryptokitties - 40% Retention

Cryptokitties really kicked things off this year. Congesting the Ethereum network and making the general public even more clueless on what the heck to make of this whole Crypto thing. At the end of 2017 Cryptokitties had a brief spike to ~ 30 000 weekly active users, but that didn’t even last until the first week of 2018 when Cryptokitties saw 6 000 weekly active users. Throughout 2018 that number has tumbled to 1 000.

Cryptokitties Weekly Active Users and retention (Click for interactive view)

What is quite interesting is that Cryptokitties actually have a pretty solid week over week retention hovering around 40 % throughout the year. However, as we can see from the active users graph, most of these users are dropping off eventually. At least a decent portion of the users are engaging with the Cryptokitties system over some time — even this autumn during the crash.

Maker DAO’s DAI - 56% of senders have sent only one or two transactions

Maker DAO is another much talked about project this year, after going live in December last year. There’s been a bunch of focus on the CDP’s that are used to create DAI, but not that much focus on the usage of DAI in and of itself.

Addresses sending DAI has been steadily increasing over time. However, the total number of unique addresses sending DAI in December is only 2 500. Compared to a public-facing traditional web product that’s next to nothing.

Monthly senders of DAI (click for interactive view)

The positive thing here is that, similar to Cryptokitties, DAI’s retention is actually pretty solid. The active senders of DAI keep sending DAI month over month. So only 2 500 addresses are monthly active, but how many senders are there in total? Actually, only about 11 000 unique addresses have sent DAI. 56% of those have sent only one or two transactions.

Number of DAI sends per address — % of all addresses (click for interactive view)

Currently, 10 000 addresses are holding DAI. Thus it seems likely that DAI is mostly used as a safe haven for falling crypto prices rather than for payment or dApp usage. The two most active addresses have sent 90 000 and 50 000 transactions, and are associated with Maker’s own Oasis DEX.

Compound - 8 million DAI supplied

Speaking of DAI; Compound is a money market system where you can supply crypto to lending pools. Others can borrow from a pool as long as they have supplied more crypto into another pool, acting as collateral. Interest rates are algorithmically set based on supply and demand for each asset. Compound went live in September and had one user supplying ~1 million REP tokens (that’s almost 10% of all REP).

Supply of REP per address in Compound (click for interactive view)

After a community vote on Stablecoin choice, DAI was added to Compound late November. Our REP supplying friend started borrowing DAI en masse with REP as collateral. The interest rate for supplying DAI shot up and suddenly you could both hold stable DAI and earn a solid >15% annual return for supplying that to Compound. In under a month, almost 8 million dollars worth of DAI were supplied to the Compound DAI pool.

Amount of DAI moved in and out of Compound (Click for interactive view, then input DAI address)

Contrary to the REP supply, and a lot of other whale dominated markets on Ethereum, the supply of DAI was surprisingly evenly distributed across 580 unique addresses.

Amount of DAI moved in and out of Compound (Click for interactive view, then input DAI address)

As the interest rates came down with the increased supply 4 million DAI have been withdrawn, but over 6% of all outstanding DAI is still locked up in Compound. These numbers are of course nothing compared global finance and all of that, but it’s interesting to see how much happened within Compound in just a few weeks.

0x - 630 000 orders filled

The most prominent decentralized exchange protocol, 0x, saw 630 000 orders filled this year.

Daily and cumulative 0x fills in 2018

0x version 2 has also been emerging fairly quickly since it’s launch in late September, with one day of “v2 flippening” in late November. Notice that there’s been a substantial surge in orders filled (v1 + v2) during the downturn this autumn. Dollar volumes have been down, but trades filled have been up. The major spike 0x got when the competitor IDEX was frozen for a few days in May shows us that there’s some very real competition in the DEX space. Better bring your popcorn when DDEX launches their Hydro fork of 0x next year.

Aragon - 200 DAOs created

Aragon went live with Decentralised Autonomous Organizations on mainnet about two months ago. Since then there’s been created just short of 200 organizations in total, with a handful of new DAOs created daily.

Daily Aragon DAOs created

Again, the absolute numbers are not too impressive. The big question, however, is if these are actually being used for anything or simply created by crypto enthusiasts playing with the system. We’re currently working on looking into this.

2018 was going live - 2019 is getting users, hopefully

The last year some mind-blowing new products have been deployed on the Ethereum Mainnet. As the top line numbers show dApp adoption is still very low. With all the attention Maker DAO gets one could have hoped that DAI was actively sent by more than 2 500 and held by more than 11 000. There are, however, some encouraging signs when one takes a deeper look. For instance, both Cryptokitties and DAI have pretty solid retention. The decentralized finance (DeFi) space is moving fast and Compound is an example of how fast things can move when you give users an easily usable system with compelling financial incentives.

What we’ve seen so far is of course just the tip of the iceberg. Going live is only the first step of a long journey for any technology product. It’s going to be super interesting to revisit data like this in a year and see if dApps are truly solving problems for users at a larger scale.