Australia is experiencing a decentralized finance (DeFi) boom, playing host to some of the most talked-about projects in the space.
They include longtime DeFi leader Synthetix (SNX), the up-and-coming Thorchain (RUNE) along with the just-launched Ren (REN) and mSTABLE (META).
RUNE has increased 167% in the past 30 days, REN is up 36% (mostly in the past week), and SNX is up 35% — and 2,600% since its lows prior to launching last year.
"I think the fact that Australia is punching way above its weight in DeFi is probably not well appreciated," said Henrik Andersson, the Chief Investment Officer from Apollo Capital. The Swedish-born investor spent a decade trading equities on Wall Street for Handelsbanken before moving into crypto and emigrating to Melbourne, Australia.
"You can be a bit blind sometimes and you don't see what's going on in your own backyard, but many of these projects are among the top in the world."
Derived from synths
The country's most successful DeFi project to date is Synthetix, which hopes to become a decentralized version of derivatives exchange BitMEX. It was the second-largest DeFi project according to DeFi Pulse until earlier this week — when it was overtaken by Compound following the launch of its COMP token. Synthetix is now at number three with $162.7 million in USD value locked.
It enables the trading of synthetic assets, or ‘synths’ — tokens tied to the price of everything from gold to stocks or tea in China. There are also synth derivatives such as ‘inverse BTC’ which goes up in value when the BTC price goes down.
Interest in stablecoins
In late May, the RenVM Mainnet went live. The project is a decentralized custodian that fluidly mints and burns tokenized digital assets on Ethereum, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Zcash as ERC20s for use in other DeFi applications. It's currently integrated with Uniswap and 1Inch.
mStable also recently launched on the Ethereum mainnet. While still in beta, almost $800,000 worth of the stablecoin ‘MUSD’ has already been minted. The tokens are backed by USDT, USDC and TUSD and DAI (although DAI currently has a zero percent share). MUSD holders receive interest from lending collateral assets on Compound and AAVE, along with swap fees generated on mStable. mStable also offers zero slippage swaps between stablecoins.
One project to Rune them all
But the Aussie project that's been attracting the most attention in recent weeks is Thorchain — which is a bit like a cross-blockchain version of Uniswap. A strategic partner of Synthetix, it’s a cross chain liquidity protocol that enables fast, low-fee swaps of crypto assets, powered by users staking its native token, RUNE. Thorchain's latest testnet went live on June 16,
"They haven't launched a live product yet but they have started with initial products and their goal is to be able to, in a trustless manner, be able to swap between chains," explains Andersson.
Like a rocket
ETH 2.0 staking service Rocket Pool is another Australian project. Rocket Pool allows any individual, business, DApp, wallet provider, exchange or pretty much anyone else, the ability to earn staking rewards on the forthcoming ETH 2.0 without having to maintain staking infrastructure or remaining connected to the internet at all times. It's particularly useful for users who do not have the minimum 32 ETH required to become a validator and receive rewards.
It won’t happen overnight but it will happen
Andresson said Melbourne, where Apollo Capital is based, also hosts the up and coming development studio Flexdapps, which has developed DApps for the Ethereum Foundation, Australian Red Cross and Liven Pay. Influencer and co-host of the Into The Ether podcast, Anthony Sassano, is Australian too.
Andresson added that the apparent overnight success of a number of Aussie projects had actually been a long time coming:
"All of those projects have been running for a couple of years. If you look at the ICO boom Australia was in the top countries. Australia has always had a lot of activity in the crypto space."
This story has been updated to include Rocket Pool.