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NFT Marketplace War Doubles Trading Volume in First Quarter

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Opensea loses NFT market dominance in Q1 2023, lowest percentage since Feb 2021

The dapp industry in Q1 2023 experienced both highs and lows, with fluctuations in on-chain metrics and market trends. However, overall sentiment remains optimistic, as the crypto space continues to demonstrate resilience and adaptability.

Key Takeaways 

  • In Q1 2023, daily Unique Active Wallets (dUAW) interacting on-chain with dapps decreased by 9.7% compared to the previous quarter.
  • In Q1 2023, DeFi’s Total Value Locked (TVL) rose by 37.44% from the previous quarter reaching $83.3 billion.
  • ARB airdrop’s launch on March 23 resulted in a record-breaking daily transaction on Arbitrum of 2,728,907, surpassing Ethereum and Optimism.
  • Social-based dapps registered 210,600 dUAW this quarter, up 2,250% from Q3 last year; social dapps make up for 12% of DappRadar’s on-chain activity.
  • NFTs had a strong Q1 2023, with a 137.04% increase in trading volume to $4.7 billion, the highest since Q2 2022. However, March saw a 15.65% decrease in monthly trading volume to $1.7 billion and a 4.63% decrease in monthly sales to 2.7 million.
  • It’s the first quarter when Opensea doesn’t dominate the NFT market, and we haven’t registered such a percentage since February 2021.
  • $373 million in funds lost due to hacks and exploits in Q1 2023, a sharp decline of 92.60% from the previous quarter’s $5 billion.

1.Dapp Industry Overview

After a dynamic quarter for the dapp industry the number of daily Unique Active Wallets (dUAW) interacting with decentralized applications , saw a decrease of 9.7% compared to the previous quarter. On average 1,735,570 wallets were connected to dapps on a daily basis. Despite this decrease, some categories and blockchains have shown growth.

Blockchain gaming continues to dominate the industry, with an average of 791,474 dUAW in Q1, representing a decrease of 8.58% from the previous quarter. This category holds a 45.6% dominance over the industry. However, DeFi had an average of 399,522 dUAW in Q1 2023, representing a decrease of 14.73% from the previous quarter and a dominance of 23% over the dapp industry.

Social dapps have become one of the industry’s most popular verticals. This category, which comprises all Web3 platforms for social networking, messaging, and content creation, had on average 210,644 dUAW in Q1 2023. Compared to the previous quarter this category had a 4.9% decrease, but has grown an astonishing 2,250% since Q3 2022. Social dapps currently represent 12% of DappRadar’s on-chain activity.

NFT dapps, including marketplaces, had on average 139,350 dUAW, an increase of 0.2% from the previous quarter and responsible for 8% of the wallet activity. That’s a boost from the 6% dominance registered in the last quarter of 2022.

In terms of blockchains, BNB Chain remains the most active blockchain this quarter with an average of 449,543 dUAW, despite a decrease of 28.62% from the previous quarter. Wax follows next, with an increase of 9% over the past 3 months, reaching on average 397,273 dUAW. Polygon experienced a strong quarter and saw its daily Unique Active Wallets go up 25.93% to reach 197,343 unique wallets per day.

However, the top performer this quarter has been Arbitrum, which had an increase of 125.83% reaching on average 46,071 dUAW. We can attribute this growth to the Arbitrum airdrop in March, which incentivized users to interact with the blockchain. We will analyze these numbers and the Arbitrum ecosystem in a few sections below.

2. DeFi TVL soars to $83.3 billion, Layer2s on the rise

The DeFi sector has been in the spotlight in Q1 2023, with the Total Value Locked (TVL) in DeFi closing the quarter with $83.3 billion. This is a remarkable increase of 37.44% from the previous quarter, indicating a growing interest in decentralized finance. The rise in popularity of scaling solutions like Arbitrum, Fantom, and Optimism has contributed to the cause. However, it is worth noting that Ethereum’s price increased this quarter by 48%, reaching $1,803 at the time of writing.

This quarter, one of the major factors driving hype around DeFi was the much-expected Arbitrum airdrop, which attracted a lot of attention from traders. However, on 11 March, following the SVB crash and the subsequent USDC depegging, the DeFi market experienced a significant drop in its TVL, falling by 9.6% from $79.28 billion to $71.61 billion. This created panic among investors, leading to a considerable sell-off and a decrease in the TVL.

Fortunately, on Monday 13 March, USDC reserve deposits held at Silicon Valley Bank were fully available to the public, which helped stabilize the market. This announcement led to a 13% spike in DeFi TVL, reaching $81.15 billion, but most importantly, it helped the market to quickly regain trust showing robustness all along the process.

When we look at the top blockchain protocols in the DeFi landscape, Ethereum dominates with a TVL of $55.8 billion. This is an increase of 48.32% from the previous quarter and represents 66.95% of the entire DeFi TVL.

BNB Chain comes in second place with an increase of 20.69%, reaching $7.2 billion in Q1 2023, with PancakeSwap still the most used dapp in the industry with 1.37 million UAW in March. Tron remains the third largest blockchain by TVL with $5.2 billion, an increase of 17.55% amidst charges from the SEC against Justin Sun and the Tron Foundation. This includes allegations that TRX is a security. Despite the news, TVL has remained pretty steady.

Arbitrum and Optimism have maintained their position in the top 10 TVL blockchains and have actually increased their dominance in the market. Arbitrum is one of the top performers this quarter with an increase of 118.40%, reaching $3.2 billion. Optimism reaches $1 billion this quarter, translating into an increase of 85% from the previous quarter. This indicates that Layer-2 solutions are gaining traction in the DeFi sector.

Surprisingly, Solana has seen an increase in its TVL by 127.05%, reaching $791 million. The increase seems to have been driven by the DAO building tool SPL Governance, which was recently launched and has already $179.75 million in TVL. Additionally, Solana’s token SOL has also increased by 115% this quarter, reaching $21.13 at the time of writing.

Arbitrum launches governance token, stabilizing near $1.5 billion market cap

On 23 March, the highly anticipated token airdrop of Arbitrum took place, causing a frenzy in the crypto community. The Ethereum layer-two scaling solution distributed over 1 billion ARB tokens to over 600,000 select individuals, causing the token’s market capitalization to stabilize near $1.5 billion.

The excitement for ARB was so high that Arbitrum’s website and blockchain scanner were down ahead of the token’s release, with crypto enthusiasts eagerly waiting for their share. Between Claims and Trading made, the daily transaction on 23 March, had a record of 2,728,907 surpassing Ethereum or Optimism.

Source: Dune Analytics

While the token’s price hit its highest point of $11.80 on the day of launch, it has since stabilized around $1.23, with a current market capitalization putting it ahead of its closest competitor, Optimism.

Apart from individual users, ARB tokens will also be distributed to decentralized applications (dapps) that have been most successful in the ecosystem. Popular Web3 companies such as Uniswap, Aave, and OpenSea have moved to Arbitrum in recent months, taking advantage of its similarity to Ethereum’s blockchain architecture.

One of the most successful projects on Arbitrum is the decentralized exchange (DEX) GMX, which allows its users to engage in leveraged trading through financial instruments called perpetual futures. Additionally, GMX has positioned itself as a leader in Arbitrum’s DeFi space accounting for over 80% of all TVL. The blockchain is also populated by dapps dedicated to gaming and NFTs, with Treasure quickly becoming a prominent Web3 gaming studio in the industry.

Arbitrum’s token distribution is not only limited to users and dapps, but also to the community through a DAO. The Arbitrum Foundation aims to decentralize its networks and allow the community to be in control of its ecosystem and technology. This airdrop and DAO are just a few of its many plans to give all sub-communities a voice.

It is important to note that all investor and team tokens are subject to four-year lockups, with the first unlock happening in one year, and monthly unlocks for the remaining three years.

Arbitrum’s potential as a scalability solution for Ethereum is undeniable, and the airdrop and ARB token could help it make significant strides in the crypto world. However, users must remain cautious and avoid falling victim to phishing scams and other frauds in the excitement of the blockchain’s growth.

3. The future of social networking: how social dapps are leading the way in Web3

Social dapps are emerging as a new trend in the blockchain industry, with a growing number of decentralized applications being developed to facilitate social interaction and collaboration among users. These dapps utilize blockchain technology to ensure data privacy, security, and transparency and offer features such as user profiles, messaging systems, and content sharing functionalities.

One of the leading social dapps is Hooked, a BNB based dapp, with an average of 120,584 daily Unique Active Wallets (dUAW) in Q1 2023. Hooked is a community-driven social protocol that offers a gamified experience and integrates wallets and decentralized identifiers (DIDs) into its ecosystem. Galxe is another popular social dapp with 39,953 dUAW, which aims to build an open and collaborative credential data network that is accessible to all developers in Web3.

CyberConnect, with 30,407 dUAW, is a decentralized social graph protocol that enables users to create profiles on BNB Chain as the anchor of their decentralized identities. Lens Protocol, with an average of 3,146 dUAW, provides a platform for decentralized communities to create and manage their own governance mechanisms. We previously analyzed its quarterly performance in our metaverse report, which can be found here.

Lastly, Phi, with 2,405 dUAW, is a social platform based on ENS and on-chain/off-chain wallet activity, enabling visualization of on-chain identity.

The emergence of social dapps is a significant development for the blockchain industry, as it represents a shift towards web3 and data ownership. These dapps offer users greater control over their data and enable them to interact and collaborate in a decentralized and secure manner. As the industry continues to evolve, we can expect to see more social dapps emerge and further transform the way we interact and communicate online.

4. Frantic start for the NFT market, $4.7 billion in sales

The NFT market has had an impressive start of the year with Q1 2023 being the best quarter since Q2 2022. Despite a slight decrease in trading volume in March, the overall performance has been bullish. Let’s take a closer look at the key highlights from the NFT market performance in Q1.

The NFT Market saw a 137% increase in trading volume in Q1, reaching a total value of $4.7 billion. March saw a 15.65% decrease in trading volume after a February inflated by the Blur token farming period. NFT sales count only decreased by 4.63% in March, with 2.7 million NFTs sold. However, Q1 2023 had a total of 19.4 million NFT sales, which is an increase of 8.56% from the last quarter of 2022.

Ethereum remains the dominant blockchain in the NFT market by volume, accounting for 89.50% of the market share in March. Furthermore, Ethereum’s quarterly trading volume increased by 245.43% to $4.1 billion in Q1 2023, compared to Q4 2022. CryptoPunks was the most traded NFT collection on Ethereum with a trading volume of $241 million, an increase of 1,214% from the previous month. In March 2023, Yuga Labs NFT collections dominated Ethereum volume, accounting for 38.61% of the NFT volume on Ethereum and 34.55% of the entire NFT industry.

Surprisingly, Solana is in second place with a trading volume of $242 million, which is an increase of 4.55% from the previous quarter. The NFT collection Monkey Kingdom drove the Solana NFT protocol in March, with a trading volume of $7.9 million, doubling its number from February. Back in December, two of the most popular NFT collections on Solana announced they will be bridge to Ethereum and Polygon, which was a big hit for the blockchain. On 27 March, one of the co-founders of DeGods and y00ts announced the first sale of y00ts on Polygon, which marked the success of the bridge for one of the collections.

Furthermore, Polygon had a bullish start to the year, with a trading volume of $29.8 million in March, despite a 24.20% decrease from the previous month. However, looking at the quarterly data, it had a trading volume of $85 million in Q1 2023, which is a remarkable 125.04% increase from the previous quarter and one of the best quarters recorded since Q4 2021.

Polygon’s popularity has been on the rise among NFT creators in recent months. This is due to its low fees and fast transaction times compared to other blockchains, making it an attractive option for those looking to launch and trade NFTs. In addition to this, on 8 March, Binance NFT, the non-fungible token (NFT) arm of crypto exchange Binance, announced that the Polygon network had been included in its supported blockchains within the marketplace.

Overall, 2023 has started on a very bullish note for the NFT market. Despite a slight decrease in trading volume in March, the overall performance in Q1 has been remarkable, with an increase of 137.04% compared to the previous quarter. The dominance of Ethereum and the growing popularity of Polygon have been the key highlights of the NFT market performance in Q1.

5. Challenging the leader: Blur vs. OpenSea

The NFT market is rapidly evolving, with the emergence of new players and changing dynamics. In Q1 2023, Blur dominated the NFT market, experiencing a significant increase in trading volume and market dominance. The marketplace recorded a trading volume of $2.7 billion, which is a 783.89% increase from Q4 2022, and a market dominance of 57.44%. In March, despite a decrease in trading volume by 6.56% to $1.2 billion, Blur still had a dominance of 70.5% over the market.

Blur’s rise to dominance can be attributed to its unique features and offerings. One of the significant reasons pro traders are flocking to Blur is its promise to users that it will reward them with future airdrops of the BLUR token, totaling some 300 million BLUR during its next “season” of give-outs. The token has a fully diluted market cap of $2.5 billion, and the Blur team is more than willing to throw its financial weight around to entice NFT traders to stick with them.

On the other hand, OpenSea, which was once the undisputed leader of the NFT market, is now facing stiff competition from Blur. In Q1 2023, OpenSea recorded a quarterly increase of 68.41% with a trading volume of $1.4 billion and a market dominance of 31.10%. However, in March, OpenSea’s trading volume decreased by 35% to $381 million, and it had a market dominance of 22%. That’s the smallest market share since February 2021.

The native marketplace for the CryptoPunks NFT collection became one of the best-performing NFT marketplaces in March with a trading volume of $30 million. The marketplace registered an increase of 90.46% from the previous month and the highest amount since July 2022.

It is noteworthy to mention that CryptoPunks are currently experiencing massive trading activity on Blur Marketplace. According to recent data, a staggering 87% of the total trading volume for CryptoPunks is taking place on Blur, amounting to an impressive $216 million. What’s even more interesting is that the average size of trades on Blur is 7.34% lower than on the CryptoPunk native NFT marketplace, with an average trade size of $114,453.69.

While Blur’s rise to dominance is impressive, the marketplace needs to be careful in how it manages its user base and perceives its loyalty. Token farming is not a new concept, and it would be a mistake for Blur to presume that the wallets driving its phenomenal rise right now will do anything but jump ship if another platform offers them a better financial incentive to do so.

Source: DappRadar

More importantly, the ripple effects of Blur’s rise to dominance on the rest of the space need to be considered. The NFT world should celebrate the fact that there is such an attentive and inventive platform out there dedicated to serving the needs of traders. Still, big problems could start to rear their heads when one marketplace or demographic’s prosperity comes at the direct or secondhand expense of another’s, whether that’s in a zero-sum marketplace face-off or eroding royalties rights for the artists who built the space from the ground up.

Blur claims OpenSea is a centralized antagonist in the NFT ecosystem, but making royalties payouts and marketplace dominance beholden to a group of just a few hundred NFT whales isn’t exactly the most decentralized system, either. The Web3 ecosystem needs to ensure it’s innovating and catering to the needs of every demographic in the space, not just pro traders. One group that would be great to start with is the creators who helped make the NFT ecosystem what it is today. Instead of leaving them to wonder which platform will honor royalties on their work and in what manner, there needs to be a decentralized way for artists and project heads themselves to control them.

In conclusion, Blur’s rise to dominance in the NFT market in Q1 2023 is impressive. However, the NFT ecosystem needs to ensure that it’s catering to the needs of every demographic in the space, not just pro traders. The focus needs to be on the long-term growth and sustainability of the ecosystem, not just short-term gains.

6. $373 million lost due to hacks and exploits in Q1 2023

In Q1 2023 total of $373 million of funds lost due to hacks and exploits, a significant decrease of 92.60% compared to the previous quarter’s total of $5 billion, according to REKT Database. However, this doesn’t mean that the crypto space is completely free of security issues.

One of the most notable hacks that occurred during Q1 was the attack on Euler Finance, which resulted in the theft of millions of dollars in various cryptocurrencies. The attacker was able to steal nearly $196 million, including DAI, USD Coin, staked Ether (StETH), and Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC). This attack was carried out through a flash loan attack that leveraged a multichain bridge to transfer funds from the BNB Smart Chain to Ethereum. The funds were then deposited into the crypto mixer Tornado Cash, making it difficult to trace and recover the stolen funds. According to a tweet from BlockSec, the Euler exploiter returned 51,000 ETH to Euler Finance on 25 March. However, some of the stolen money still remains in the hands of the hacker.

Another major hack that occurred during Q1 was the BonqDAO, and AllianceBlock exploit, where the attacker manipulated the BonqDAO price oracle to increase the WALBT price. This manipulation allowed the attacker to mint over 100 million BEUR, which was then used to manipulate the WALBT price and liquidate multiple troves. The attacker was able to withdraw the illicit gains, which amounted to 113.8 million WALBT and 98 million BEUR, valued at over $10 million.

Interestingly, more than half of the hacks that occurred during Q1 happened on the BNB Chain, with 18.2% of them happening on Ethereum and 9.1% on Polygon. This highlights the need for increased security measures on these chains and for users to be extra vigilant when transacting on them.

It’s worth noting that January 2023 was one of the lowest months for hacks, with a total of $14.6 million lost, a sum that wasn’t registered in all of 2022. This may be a positive sign that the industry is taking security more seriously and implementing better measures to prevent hacks and exploits.

In conclusion, it’s important to remain vigilant and implement robust security measures to prevent future incidents. The industry must continue to prioritize security and work together to prevent attacks and protect users’ funds.

DappRadar has recently formed a partnership with Blockfence, a company that has developed a free browser extension which utilizes the DappRadar API to enhance user safety and improve overall user experience. This browser extension is open-source, anonymous, and completely free to use. By integrating the DappRadar API into the Blockfence extension, users can benefit from an added layer of security and convenience when interacting with decentralized applications.

7. Blockchain gaming dominance increased to 45.60% in Q1

The blockchain gaming industry has been steadily growing over the past few years, with the first 3 months of 2023 being no exception. Despite a slight decrease in daily unique active wallets (dUAW) interacting on-chain with gaming dapps in March, the industry has shown an overall increase in dominance over the past quarter.

In March, the number of daily unique active wallets interacting with gaming dapps on-chain was 741,567, a decrease of 3.33% from the previous month. Looking at the quarterly performance, there was a decrease of 8.58% from last quarter, where on average 865,783 dUAW were connected. Although these figures might appear disappointing, it’s essential to consider that the industry is still relatively new and continuously evolving.

In Q1 2023, blockchain gaming has shown a bullish sign of growth, with an increase in dominance from 42.87% in Q4 of 2022 to 45.60% in Q1 of 2023. This means that despite the decrease in dUAW numbers, blockchain gaming becomes a bigger part of the Web3 ecosystem.

We, DappRadar, along with the Blockchain Gaming Association (BGA) will launch the quarterly gaming report on 6 April. The report will provide a comprehensive analysis of the blockchain gaming industry’s performance in Q1 2023. The report will include data on the number of active wallets, transaction volume, and the overall growth and updates of the industry.

ImmutableX and Polygon partner to pave the future of Web3 gaming

Web3 gaming is rapidly expanding, and the demand for scalable and efficient infrastructure has never been greater. ImmutableX and Polygon have come together to create a strategic alliance that aims to make web3 gaming faster, easier, and more accessible to developers. The partnership introduces a new EVM-compatible zk-rollup powered by Polygon technology called Immutable zkEVM, which will enable developers to build high-quality games that support true asset ownership.

Source: ImmutableX Blog

Immutable zkEVM is the first EVM-compatible solution for games with enforceable royalty fees, making it easier for game developers to protect and grow their revenue while empowering their communities with asset ownership. This technology dramatically improves transaction speeds and reduces costly gas fees while leveraging the battle-tested security of the Ethereum blockchain.

Polygon’s scaling solutions have seen widespread adoption, boasting over 220.8 million unique addresses, 1.18 million smart contracts created, and 2.48 billion total transactions processed. With this partnership, developers can easily migrate their games and smart contracts from Ethereum, Polygon, and any other EVM-compatible solution into the product suite of Immutable, without any modifications. This unlocks everything developers need to take their game from concept to reality, complete with custom smart contracts, rich economies, and on-chain functionality.

ImmutableX and Polygon’s partnership will pave the way for web3 gaming to become mainstream, bringing digital ownership to millions of people worldwide. By combining Polygon’s zero-knowledge technology with Immutable’s gaming knowledge and product suite, players can expect a wave of AAA web3 games that push the boundaries of what’s possible.

As always, utility is key, and there are big plans ahead with the introduction of Immutable zkEVM. Upon launch, IMX will be used as gas for Immutable zkEVM, becoming the native network token and representing the equivalent utility of most current L1 blockchains. Additionally, 20% of trades on the Immutable platform, regardless of rollup, must be paid in IMX. This fee utility will scale significantly as it expands to all new Immutable zkEVM environments and applications, ultimately creating more rewards for IMX holders.

In conclusion, the partnership between ImmutableX and Polygon is a significant milestone for the web3 gaming industry. With the introduction of Immutable zkEVM, developers can create high-quality games that support true asset ownership, making web3 gaming accessible to millions of people worldwide. ImmutableX and Polygon’s collaboration is an industry-defining strategic alliance that will make web3 gaming faster, easier, and more accessible than ever before.

8. Silicon Valley Bank collapse spurs need for stablecoin regulations

The recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) has sparked a conversation about the need for stablecoin regulations. Stablecoins are digital currencies that are backed by a reserve asset, typically the US dollar, and are designed to maintain a stable value. USD Coin (USDC), issued by Circle Financial, is one of the leaders in the $100 billion plus stablecoin market. However, when SVB failed, Circle revealed that it had $3.3 billion in deposits at the shuttered bank, causing the stablecoin to trade below its $1 peg for about three days, to as low as 88 cents.

The incident highlighted the fact that the stablecoin market is in dire need of a set of road rules. While Circle and other stablecoins claim to hold 1-to-1 collateral for every digital dollar they mint, Circle was holding $11 billion in uninsured bank accounts, which are not as safe as previously assumed. On the other hand, Tether openly admits that billions of its stablecoin reserves are held in corporate bonds, secured loans, precious metals, and even other cryptocurrencies.

If you want to know more about SVB fallout and its impact on the dapp industry, dive deep into this report launched by DappRadar on 16 March.

9. Conclusion

After a dynamic first quarter in 2023, the dapp industry has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Despite this, on-chain metrics and market trends suggest that the crypto space is still poised for growth and that the future remains bright.

The first quarter of 2023 saw a 14.07% decrease in daily Unique Active Wallets (dUAW) interacting on-chain with dapps compared to the previous quarter. However, despite this decrease, DeFi Total Value Locked (TVL) increased to $83.3 billion, demonstrating the resilience of the decentralized finance sector.

Meanwhile, the NFT market had a strong Q1 2023, with a 137.04% increase in trading volume to $4.7 billion, the highest since Q2 2022. Despite a slight decrease in March, NFTs continue to capture the attention of investors and collectors alike.

One notable trend in Q1 2023 was the increasing dominance of blockchain gaming, which now accounts for 45.60% of all on-chain activity. Platforms like ImmutableX and Polygon are leading the way in the gaming space, and their partnerships and innovations are paving the way for the future of Web3 gaming.

However, the crypto space is not without its challenges. In Q1 2023, $373 million in funds were lost due to hacks and exploits. This represents a sharp decline of 92.60% from the previous quarter’s $5 billion, demonstrating the resilience and adaptability of the blockchain ecosystem.

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank has also highlighted the need for stablecoin regulations. As more and more traditional financial institutions enter the crypto space, it is essential that we establish clear guidelines and regulations to ensure the stability and security of the market.

Despite these challenges, the overall sentiment in the cryptocurrency market is optimistic and bullish. The first quarter of 2023 has demonstrated the resilience and adaptability of the blockchain ecosystem, and on-chain metrics and market trends suggest that the future remains bright. As we move into the rest of 2023, we can look forward to exciting innovations and continued growth in the world of cryptocurrency.

(By Sara Gherghelas)

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