Ethereum (ETH) edged out bitcoin (BTC) in a ranking of the top cryptoassets by realized gains in the world, with USD 76.3bn taken out in fiat profits last year, compared with USD 74.7bn in realized profits for bitcoin, according to blockchain intelligence firm Chainalysis.
The higher profits that have been realized by ETH holders are likely a result of the rise of decentralized finance (DeFi) in 2021, Chainalysis wrote in their latest report, noting that DeFi applications are mostly built on Ethereum, where ETH is the primary currency.
“Our analysis of cryptocurrency gains should be encouraging to the cryptocurrency world, and reflects the growth of the ecosystem in 2021 — especially in DeFi,” the authors of the report said.
However, not all countries follow the same pattern of higher realized profits among ETH investors than among BTC investors. In Japan, BTC investors were responsible for a much higher share of the total crypto gains, with USD 4bn in profits from BTC compared to just USD 790m from ETH.
At 16:06 UTC, BTC traded at USD 42,139 and was up 3% in a month and down 25% in a year. ETH stood at USD 3,105 and was up 7% in a month and 34% in a year.
Overall, across all cryptoassets Chainalysis tracks, investors around the world realized total gains of USD 162.7bn last year, compared to USD 32.5bn in 2020.
Further, the report said that the United States leads the ranking of countries that have realized the most profits from crypto “by a wide margin.”
The country saw realized profits of USD 46.95bn last year, significantly higher than number two on the list – the United Kingdom – which saw USD 8.16bn taken out as profits.
The US and UK were followed by Germany, Japan, and China as the top five countries by realized crypto gains last year.
Among them, China stood out as particularly interesting, with Chainalysis saying it has seen crypto investment activity decline relative to other countries. With a year-over-year growth rate in realized gains of 194%, the growth in China is significantly behind that of for instance the US, which saw growth of 476% during the same period, the report said.
The lower growth in China is believed to be related to a major government crackdown on most crypto-related activities in the country, including fresh bans on mining and trading.
Lastly, Chainalysis noted in its report that several countries rank significantly higher in terms of realized crypto gains than they do in traditional economic metrics.
For instance, Turkey, a country that ranks 11th in terms of its gross domestic product (GDP) (based on purchasing power parity) and that has struggled with very high inflation, ranked 6 in terms of crypto gains. Similarly, Vietnam, which ranks 25th, came in with the 16th largest realized crypto gains.
The results support the idea that many developing countries have embraced crypto for a number of real-world use cases. This includes remittances and using crypto as a way to protect against inflation and currency devaluation, Chainalysis said.
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