Data published by Ganesh Swami, the co-founder of Ethereum (ETH) analysis firm, Covalent, indicates that decentralized finance, or DeFi, transactions are representing an increasing share of Ethereum block space at the expense of ETH transfers.
Swami analyzed the gas costs incurred by Ethereum transactions over time in order to estimate the share of network activity represented by ETH transfers, simple ERC-20 transactions, and the complex interactions with smart contracts usually associated withDeFI protocols — as each transactional category incurring progressively larger gas fees.
DeFi transactions ‘cannibalize’ Ethereum block space
Swami identifies what “seems to be a natural ceiling to the total gas consumed across all types of transactions,” indicating “the intense demand for block space of Ethereum” and the network’s “lack of scalability,” adding:
“In an ideal scalable world, all types of transactions have room to grow. But on Ethereum today, for one kind of transaction to grow, it has to cannibalize the others.”
When looking at the relative proportion of transactions represented by each of the three categories, the data shows a steady increase in the number of complex transactions at the expense of ETH and ERC-20 transfers — with complex transfers growing from roughly 5% of network activity at the start of 2017 to hover between 20% and 30% in recent months.
Relative share of gas fees for each transactional category on Ethereum: Covalent
The graph also illustrates the rise and fall of initial coin offerings, with ERC-20 transfer accounting for 20% of network activity during early 2017. ERC-20 transactions would hover between 10% and 15% throughout the rest of 2017, before sliding as low as 5% by mid-2018.
After a short bounce back up to 10% during the later months of 2018, ERC-20 transactions have consistently fallen — with ERC-20 transfers currently representing less than 5% of Ethereum network activity.
Covalent predicts upcoming ‘flippening’ within Ethereum
Swami predicts that complex transactions will continue to represent a growing percentage of network activity as an increasing number of decentralized organizations (DAOs), games, and other applications for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) launch on Ethereum.
As such, the analyst expects the trend will soon drive a ‘flippening’ in which complex transactions overtake ETH transfers.