CoinMarketCap's in-house report returns, covering four main topics — crypto market composition, retail sentiment, proprietary CMC data and insights, and global crypto user trends.
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Chapter 1: Crypto Market Composition
How has the general crypto market cap changed in August?
The total crypto market cap has decreased from $1.082 trillion to sub $1 trillion within August alone, representing a 9.97% drop.
There are a few macro factors that have impacted this price drop:
- Global inflation is still far from under control, with U.S. inflation at 8.5% and other G-20 countries still maintaining somewhat similar levels of inflation to what were previously recorded in June/July. There is no clear sign of inflation dropping to a healthy level in the near term.
- The continuous Fed rate hikes at the current speed. Fed Chair Powell’s speech on Friday, Aug. 26 sent a strong and clear message: the Fed will continue to hike rates despite the challenging economic conditions. This has led the markets to trade the Sept. 21 FOMC (the Federal Open Market Committee) odds — whether they will hike 50bp or 75bp. The NFP (nonfarm payrolls) later released on Sept. 2 printed solid numbers that leaves the 75bps Fed hike on table; the CPI data due to release on Sept. 13 will be key to watch next. Overall, the continuous rate hikes means that risky assets like crypto are likely to see a challenging growth environment.
- Sentiment is bearish across the markets globally. Global economies have started to slow down, with signs of weakness in certain sectors such as retail and manufacturing. Meanwhile, several leading economic indicators start to become sluggish. Sentiment in the markets starts to slow down as investors flee to high quality assets.
This macro backdrop sets the scene for the challenging environment in the coming year or two, not just for crypto, but for all major assets globally. As the crypto industry can be considered nascent, it has never been through a major economic recession. Therefore, although there has been some recorded history about crypto’s cyclicality and previous price history, they may not be closely followed this time around. Buckle up, uncharted waters ahead.
Two interesting reports were published recently on price/trend analysis that are well worth a read, one from Alex Thorn of Galaxy Research highlighting BTC’s key trading indicators; the other is by Glassnode on how near-term weakness continues to haunt numerous Bitcoin fundamentals.
Next, we use a few key discussion points to zoom in and examine how the crypto market cap has changed over the month of August.
Topic 1: ETH Merge
Right now, there are two independent blockchains for Ethereum operating in isolation. These are the current proof-of-work (POW) Ethereum chain and a separate proof-of-stake Beacon Chain.
The Ethereum market cap has consistently been around half of Bitcoin’s for 2022. When the merge was brought back into the spotlight in August, it drove more attention to Ethereum and we have seen the price of ETH increase from $1,635.20 (Aug. 1) to $2,022.79 (Aug. 14) the highest it has been in August; and its market cap increased to 19.39% of the total crypto market cap, while Bitcoin’s market cap now only accounts for 39.12% of the total crypto market — a decreasing trend observed for the past two months.
Topic 2: Sector Analysis (Market Cap, Trade Volume and New Projects)
In August, most sectors experienced negative market cap growth. The two major leading sectors that still saw positive market cap change are: stablecoins growing by $1.67 billion; interoperability growing by $536 million. Despite the market’s sideways actions, the gambling and fan token sectors have seen the highest increase in terms of the market cap % change, and have grown month-on-month by over 404% and 262% respectively.
We will deepdive into these two sectors in the next section when analyzing the social trends.
In terms of the trade volume, stablecoins still dominate; however, smart contracts have seen the most positive volume increases compared with the beginning of the month, now at around $25 billion daily trade volume on Aug. 31, 2022. This trend is partially driven by the active Ethereum Merge trades and real yield narrative in DeFi.
When we measure the sector growth by the number of projects listed, GameFi related areas have seen the biggest growth in the past month. This includes play-to-earn (16 new coins tagged), gaming (14 new coins tagged), and metaverse (11 new coins tagged), all representing an additional 10~14% of the existing universe expansion. This coincides with the trending keyword searches around GameFi. CoinMarketCap has recently released a GameFi industry report with Footprint Analytics in detail on this subject. People often consider the bear market to be the best time to build, and based on the developments in the GameFi space, we are likely to see this sector coming out of the sideway market, showing strong growth and potentially becoming the next wave of the crypto trend.
Topic 3: Bitcoin and Ethereum Key Events
Chapter 2: Retail Market Sentiment
How Has Retail Interest Reacted to the Crypto Market Movement?
As the leading crypto price aggregator, we look at the overall CoinMarketCap pageviews as a proxy for the general crypto market retail interest. There are two major spikes in pageviews, or retail interest, so far this year. This is due to:
- First, retail interest spiked in late-February amid the escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine. BTC plunged 10% to nearly $40,000 after comments by the U.S. President Biden alluding to a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine in days.
- On Feb. 24, BTC fell a further 9% to $34,555 as Russia invaded Ukraine. The intensification of war not only affected crypto, but global markets tanked too.
- Pageviews climbed since February — at 119.5% greater than the average weekly pageviews year-to-date — as BTC price reclaimed the $44,000 level.
A second spike in retail interest started from mid-June, as BTC crashed from the $30,000 level to $17,744 at the lowest. Importantly, this breached the all-important $20K psychological level, and it was also the first time BTC went below its previous cycle all-time-high (ATH).
- The 40% BTC crash and wider crypto sell-off was caused by a sum-of-parts — a bear market filled with turbulent events both within and outside the crypto ecosystem. Uncertain macroeconomic conditions and rising inflation, accelerated by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, saw the Federal Reserve resorting to rate hikes.
- Within crypto, the May 2022 $60 billion Terra implosion — starting off from its algorithmic stablecoin UST depeg from the U.S. dollar, and ending with a death spiral and bank run — set off a ripple effect, affecting major crypto lenders and even a leading hedge fund.
- Therefore, June’s crash can be attributed to a few factors, amongst them: May’s CPI print of 8.6%, the highest since 1981, caused global markets to tank; lending and staking provider Celsius froze over $11 billion of customers’ assets.
- Weekly pageviews in mid-June to early July were 81.8% higher than the average. However, compared to August’s weekly average, pageviews are 48.4% lower than the year-to-date average — suggesting that retail interest correlates to drastic price drawdown, at least for this year.
Which Crypto Sectors Were Most Viewed on CMC?
Looking at the most viewed sectors on CMC to determine which crypto sectors have high mindshare amongst users, we can see that:
DeFi is the most viewed sector in August:
- Pageview grew 34% from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31. While DeFi performed poorly year-to-date — DeFi market cap plunged by 64% and total value locked fell by 60% — interest remains high within the sector. According to a Dune Analytics dashboard, despite a bearish DeFi space, total unique users grew 14% year-to-date.
- DeFi users spiked during periods of extreme volatility and uncertainty, such as the Terra crash, when certain exchanges halted trading while permissionless DeFi protocols continue to operate. In fact, within DeFi, the highest viewed crypto token is Terra Classic — which recently rallied over 180% due to an array of governance proposals, upgrades, burning and staking by the community.
Smart contract platforms is the second highest viewed sector:
- This includes the pioneering smart contract blockchain — Ethereum, and other layer-ones, such as BNB, Avalanche, Solana, which are often referred to as alternative layer-ones (L1s), or “Ethereum killers.” While this narrative peaked in November 2021, with many L1 coins experiencing double-digit gains, many suffered a greater drawdown during the current bear market. Year-to-date compared to ETH, AVAX fell 57% and SOL fell 55%. BNB remained an outlier, gaining 33%.
- Unsurprisingly, with the Ethereum Merge expected to ship on Sept. 15, ETH is the most viewed coin within the smart contracts vertical.
The NFT and collectibles sector rounds up the top three spots:
- After a breakthrough year in 2021, monthly NFT volume on marketplaces hit an all-time-high in January 2022 at $5.63 billion. However, trading volume declined drastically throughout the year, hitting $613.46 million in August — a 89% drop. Despite this, the NFT and collectibles sector managed to maintain substantial community engagement, likely due to one or more of following trends playing out in the NFT space: the introduction of NFT finance protocols offering loans using NFTs as collateral, airdrops to incentivize NFT communities and the idea of soulbound tokens, the implosion of free mints projects, and the consolidation of NFT collections, as seen by Yuga Labs acquisition of the CryptoPunks IP.
Which Tokens Were Most Viewed on CMC?
Solana saw a jump in mindshare from the fifth spot in July to the first in August. This is largely due to the following:
- The Solana hack that occurred on Aug. 2, where almost 8,000 wallets were drained of over $5.8 million in SOL, Solana-based tokens and NFTs, according to Elliptic. The hack originated from four wallets and targeted private keys of Solana browser wallets like Phantom, Slope, Solfare and TrustWallet. It was reported that there was no compromise of the Solana blockchain during the hack.
- However, not all was bad news — Solana’s “Validator Health Report” was released in August, which assessed the resilience and decentralization of the network. The report highlighted three key metrics: validator count, the Nakamoto Coefficient and distribution.
- There are over 3,400 validators across six continents of which 1,900 are consensus nodes that produce blocks and 1,500 are RPC nodes. More importantly, an average of 194 nodes were added monthly since June 2021.
- The Nakamoto Coefficient is a metric used to assess how decentralized a network is. Put simply, it is a measure of the minimum number of nodes needed to stop consensus. Solana scored 31, one of the highest amongst other proof-of-stake networks.
- Lastly, Solana’s distribution across geographies, data servers and entities that control nodes (88.14% of consensus nodes are independent parties) are reported to be generally widely distributed.
Which Tokens Were Most Added to the Watchlist?
Looking at the most added crypto tokens to the watchlist on CMC, we aim to break down which tokens users are most interested in or keeping an eye out for.
Which Crypto Sectors Received the Highest Engagement?
Another proxy for retail interest, we look at the CoinMarketCap Community’s engagement, defined as the combination of likes, posts and comments, for each crypto sector.
- Highly correlated to the most viewed sectors, DeFi again took the top spot. It must be noted that the freezing of crypto users’ assets on centralized crypto platforms and these platforms’ subsequent liquidations, like with Celsius and Voyager Digital, also highlighted the importance of the open and decentralized nature of DeFi to crypto participants.
- Smart contract platforms fell from the top spot, coming second. Likewise, with the ETH merge upcoming, numerous speculators and investors are involved with Ethereum, either to profit or speculate on a potential ETH proof-of-work hard fork.
- The NFT and collectibles sector remains unchanged at third. While already covered above, one thing to note is the importance of community for NFT projects. This is a crucial factor in differentiating between blue-chips and run-of-the-mill NFT collections or projects.
Which Crypto Terms Are Users Most Interested In?
Looking at the most popular glossary terms to peek into what users are learning and searching — we saw that even with an almost 99% drop in NFT trading volume on OpenSea from May 2022 to August 2022, CMC users still had an interest in looking up the definition of NFTs.
And as the Ethereum Merge date has been set for mid-September, several key terms surrounding blockchain scalability and consensus layers have seemingly become more important to understand.
However, as the onset of the bear market continues and prices drop, the search terms in general saw a downward trend in interest.
Highest Gainers for August
Further, the intersection of the sports industry and crypto continue to grow. Socios.com lists over 150 sports teams and counting, with globally renowned sports teams across football, motorsport, MLS and more. World famous athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi have teamed up with Binance, Sorare (a NFT fantasy football platform) and socios.com respectively.
Whether these multi-million dollar deals were signed for the main purpose of raising brand awareness amongst billions of global sports enthusiasts, or the crypto and sports industry see synergies to create killer crypto super-apps, remains to be seen. However, it has spurned sectors like fan tokens, and gambling or esports platforms
Another factor not included within the calculation of the crypto gambling market cap are “non-crypto native” online gambling platforms, i.e. platforms that started out without focusing on cryptocurrencies. These applications tend to offer, on top of other forms of payments, Bitcoin as the leading cryptocurrency. Other crypto options like Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and more may also be included.
Regulatory concerns notwithstanding, cryptocurrencies and online gambling industry have numerous synergies — including being a secure, private, near-instantaneous form of transaction ideal for online transactions. It is no surprise that one of the early Bitcoin use cases include being used in online poker tournaments.
Finally, Terra Classic also saw a rally since mid-August, reaching 215% at the peak. This is due to the community burning over 3.5 billion LUNC tokens and staking over 528.8 billion LUNC, alongside introduction of governance proposals. The 1.2% burn tax proposal is also due to be released on Sept. 12.
Enjoyed reading the report so far? Download According to CMC: Crypto Market Analysis August 2022 here.
Chapter 3: Frontier of the Crypto Market
The CoinMarketCap listing team shares…
Key Themes for August 2022
Layer 2 Solutions
Based on CoinMarketCap listing data and sentiment, the CMC team sees a discernible uptick in interest in layer 2 solutions.
As the Ethereum Merge is approaching — an upgrade that aims to solve some of Ethereum’s scalability problems — the CMC team expects to see a tandem interest towards the end of the year in these layer 2 solutions that will continue to compete with each other and build on the Ethereum network.
One network to note is Arbitrum, a layer 2 Ethereum scaling solution that has not yet put out its own token. The launch of its Nitro upgrade in August sets up developers to work on the network more easily, and has attracted interest from the DeFi community that brought its TVL to the largest among L2s.
Another layer 2 solution attracting interest is BNB Chain’s zkBNB, a zero-knowledge-proof-based scaling solution that aims to solve issues in the GameFi and social DApp space. The zkBNB testnet was launched in early September, with plans to launch the mainnet by the end of 2022.
If this overall interest in layer 2 continues to rise, we anticipate a rise in the number of layer 2-related coins and tokens listed on CoinMarketCap.
Blockchain Optimizations (Besides Layer 2, ZKRollups)
Beyond Ethereum, the CMC team has seen a general trend of interest in layer 1 blockchains with optimization solutions that aim to solve the ongoing issues of transaction speed, high fees and more.
Three layer 1 blockchains have stood out in their goals to optimize and scale.
The CMC team also predicts a rising interest in the “real yield” narrative. Real yield refers to the share of a protocol’s revenue as denoted in a “traditional” cryptocurrency like ETH or stablecoin USDC, while yield is a share of a protocol’s revenue in a project’s native token.
Regular “yield” in this case could have liquidity issues down the line for the receiver, as native tokens are often distributed at sky-high APYs that can’t be long maintained. Projects that offer real yields in ETH or stablecoins may be seen as a positive shift away from the days of unsustainable yield farming and into a DeFi space that would give actual revenue back to users.
Olympus DAO and the associated Olympus forks — a DeFi 2.0 trend that offered token holders large APYs for staking native own hyper-inflationary currencies within these protocols— also may be on their way out as the real yield narrative takes more prominence in the DeFi space.
What’s Being Built?
Based on their market and listings interactions, the CMC team is also seeing a rise in the creation of decentralized social apps, specifically cloned versions of existing apps and websites that make the claim to decentralization. Two examples are Lens, a protocol from Aave Companies that offers an open-source tech stack to build infrastructure for social apps, and Radicle, which bills itself as a decentralized alternative to Github.
Other decentralized protocols that support the narrative of a rising interest in building social DApps are projects that aim to decentralize both the know-your-customer process, like Humanode, and every human’s social identity, like Worldcoin.
Binance Labs also recently led a funding round for a Web3 digital citizenship project called Lifeform. Lifeform plans on implementing decentralized visual digital identity (DID) solutions to foster interoperability between the digital and the physical.
An increase in interest in personalizing domain names through projects like Ethereum Name Service, which allows users to generate .eth nicknames for their long, complex cryptographic addresses, has also been noted by the CMC team. Binance Smart Chain also offers a naming service known as BNS, allowing users to pick a native suffix like .bsc or .bnb. It is also possible to use BNS with DNS names that you already own, even if they end in more traditional domains like .com or .org, or crypto ones like .xyz. Solana is another blockchain that offers its own native domain naming service, allowing users to create .sol domain names.
The belief in the Web3 space is currently that personalized, decentralized domain names could eventually overtake centralized, traditional domains like .com.
What’s Being Funded and How?
After the rise and fall of the GameFi wave this year, the CMC team believes that financing might now be funneled instead towards more sustainable play-to-earn games. However, the CMC notes that funding for NFTs and metaverse-related projects is still quite high and shows no signs of slowing down.
DeFi protocols will continue to fundraise through the use of their own tokens, like Aave and Curve as example, according to the CMC team.
Chapter 4: Crypto Users Around the World
Top Coins From Regions
South America has long been in the spotlight as a crypto hotspot, especially with the rise in play-to-earn gaming over the past few quarters. However, the top coins in the LATAM region are not P2E or Web3 tokens, but crypto classics like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The inclusion of a high interest in Terra Classic across South American CMC users is not unique to the region — the crash of the entire Terra stablecoin system in May 2022 meant that the coin’s page on CMC attracts interest from anyone, anywhere in the world who read about the collapse.
Notably, only South American and African users had an interest in memecoins beyond Shiba Inu, potentially pointing towards a stronger trend in memecoins for developing regions.
Europe and North America were also the only two regions to show an interest in visiting the Solana coin page on CMC, which is the only coin across all top regional interests that is not Bitcoin, Ethereum, a memecoin or a collapsed project. European and American interest in a coin outside the boundaries of BTC/ETH and memecoins could show a more serious investor interest in those regions in blockchain scalability solutions.
Play-to-earn games are top of mind for CMC users in Asia, which was the only region to have a leading interest in a P2E token: STEPN’s Green Satoshi Token. The coin is used as part of the move-to-earn STEPN ecosystem, and was a wildly popular way to exercise in Asia until China-based STEPN users were blocked in July 2022 over regulatory concerns.
Top Countries on CMC
Considering that CMC is the top of the funnel for many people searching for more information about cryptocurrency, we can extrapolate that an influx of visitors from a certain country means that there is a certain amount of crypto interest in that area.
At the top of the list, the majority of CMC users are coming from America. Even though cryptocurrency is a global phenomenon, U.S. users visiting CMC almost triple the amount of users from the next largest country on the list. Over the past year, there has certainly been enough crypto developments in the U.S. to pique its citizens’ interests. The year began with a U.S. Department of Justice arrest in the case of the 2016 Bitfinex hack, with $3.6 billion in stolen Bitcoin seized, and continued in the spring with a roadmap from President Biden setting out the future of digital asset regulation.
The next largest countries coming to CMC all share a similar story of high inflation, an economic phenomenon that often leads to a surge in crypto interest.
Turkey has a reported nearly 80% inflation rate as of August 2022. The country’s government has tried to introduce a bill that would restrict the use of crypto for over a year, but the legislation has not made its way through parliament yet.
Brazil not only saw an inflation rate of over 11.39% in July 2022, but two new crypto brokerages also launched in the country over the summer. The largest investment bank in Brazil, BTG Pactual, launched a crypto platform in July 2022, shortly followed by Brazilian brokerage XP.
Somewhat surprisingly, Ukraine does not make the top ten in the list, despite relatively heavy news coverage of the country’s use of cryptocurrencies to get financial support in the Russian war. However, we cannot rule out that Ukrainians may be using a local crypto data tracker as opposed to using CMC.
The charts in this section show the trend in CMC traffic in various countries, filtered with the criteria of high engagement users, thereby alluding to a higher-quality assessment of trend.
American and British CMC users had a similar visitation pattern — both groups tended to visit CMC in correlation with the rise and fall of the overall crypto market cap. When the market was down, they came to CMC less, when the market was up, they came more.
On July 1, 2022, the government in India introduced a new cryptocurrency tax that imposed a 1% levy on all cryptocurrency transactions. However, CMC has only seen a slight uptick in Indian users in the month after the bill, which could point to the fact that Indian users won’t be deterred from their interest in crypto over this tax.
Japanese users visited CMC more consistently, regardless of the overall market movement. This can be attributed to the region’s interest in move-to-earn games like StepN, whose GST token price movement was uncorrelated with that of Bitcoin’s.
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