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Is Tether About to Take Over DeFi?: Flipside Crypto

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Published on:
December 22, 2020

Flipside Crypto examines where the three largest stablecoins are being used — are they all over DeFi or centralized exchanges?

Table of Contents

A labeled view of all USDT, USDC and DAI transactions in Q1 2020 compared to today suggests that Tether is gaining significant ground in DeFi. 


At the beginning of the year, the total supply of stablecoins in circulation was at around $5 billion. Today, it stands at over $25 billion. 


And if we look at transaction volume, over $1,000 billion have been settled on-chain using stablecoins. That’s 4x the amount we saw in 2019. 


This exponential growth can be attributed to several factors, mainly the explosion of DeFi and the yield farming food token craze, and the popularity of stablecoin-collateralized derivatives. 


By labeling every USDT, USDC and DAI transaction, we can see where the three largest stablecoins in circulation are being used, and how that’s progressed throughout 2020. 

How to Read the Graphs 

  • Each point is an Ethereum address, and each colored line is a token transfer. The graph is annotated with labels for known exchanges and DeFi platforms.

  • Each line on the graph represents two connected user addresses. Think of this line as a spring. These springs pull the addresses in different directions until they settle into an equilibrium. The more transactions between a group of addresses, the closer together they will be on the graph. 



Q1 2020 

erc20 stablecoin activity

At the beginning of the year, the structure of the network revealed a clear DeFi spectrum, with USDT centered around centralized exchanges, DAI mainly used for DeFi, and USDC interacting with both. 

And although Coinbase is a centralized cryptocurrency exchange, people were trading DAI on there too — placing the exchange right in the middle between CEX activity and DeFi. 

The three clusters were also very distinct, with DAI clearly dominating DeFi, and USDT being the key stablecoin used for arbitrage on centralized exchanges in Asia. 


Tether: Then 

tether then


Download the report to compare with Tether activity this quarter. 



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Author(s)

Rochelle Guillou

I'm a market analyst and writer at Flipside Crypto.

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