The projects that shone in 2023
Angle Protocol, the phoenix
Going back a few months, it would have been hard to imagine Angle Protocol managing to rank among the projects that made a positive mark on the year. But it didn't. The protocol specialising in issuing the stablecoin agEUR has bounced back despite the hack in March of Euler, an external tool it was using to grow its stash.
The project led by Frenchman Pablo Veyrat (awarded Young Talent of the Year at The Big Whale Awards 2023) has reversed the trend by recovering all of its holdings and launching new products. In mid-September, Angle launched a new investment based on tokenised government bonds. Here, everything works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everything is governed by code. There's no need to trust anyone to make the most of the product or recover its collateral. Only to audited smart contracts.
Base, Coinbase's blockchain
There are countless Ethereum layer 2s, scalability solutions that plug into the main blockchain to offload certain operations from it to improve scalability, but Base is a new player to take seriously. Developed by exchange platform Coinbase (based on Optimism's technology), in just four months this rollup has risen to the podium in a category that includes around 30 projects ($675m in value tied up and 4% market share).
While many users are speculating that a token will be launched on this blockchain (fees are paid in ETH), Coinbase has repeatedly stated that such a project is not on the cards. This may not be seen as a ruse, as the US exchange platform would not wish to antagonise the US financial regulator, which is hunting down tokens offered to citizens in its territory.
Blur, the OpenSea killer
Launched at the very end of 2022, the Blur marketplace has very quickly overtaken Opensea, which until now concentrated the vast majority of NFT sales worldwide. The platform is based on two original concepts: there is no commission charged on exchanges, and artists' royalties are optional: it's up to the buyer to decide whether to pay them. In the month of November 2023, Blur accounted for 69% of NFT volumes sold worldwide, compared with 23% for Opensea.
Blur benefited from a much more aggressive strategy thanks to its token, which was widely distributed to those using its services. An option that Opensea has not yet explored and is unlikely to do so unless it leaves its home country. Based in New York, the start-up cannot take the risk of launching a token without incurring the wrath of the US financial regulator, who could sue the company. Blur, meanwhile, is a decentralised project, even though its creator is American.
CoinVertible, the royal road after MiCA
The CoinVertible stablecoin is still worth only €10 million, but it has a bright future insofar as projects replicating the European currency are few and far between and there is a lack of standards to meet the requirements of institutional players. The EURCV from SG-Forge, Societe Generale's blockchain subsidiary, has been designed with this in mind.
Launched in the spring to entities validated by the bank, the EURCV opened up in December to users of Luxembourg's Bitstamp exchange platform, although it is not yet possible to hold any on your personal wallet. This project could be the big winner when the MiCA regulation comes into force in 2024, requiring stablecoin issuers to obtain licences modelled on the banking sector.
dYdX, for freedom from regulatory constraints
dYdX is a decentralised cryptocurrency trading platform that allows users to trade derivatives. It offers advanced features such as leveraged trading and futures.
The project marked the year by migrating at the end of November from Ethereum to Cosmos, enabling it to create its own blockchain. Holders of its token can now stake it to help secure the protocol and receive the revenue generated by the fees (more than $500,000 was redistributed after three weeks). This operation could prevent regulators from reclassifying tokens as traditional financial securities as this is distinct from passive income.
EIP-4337, the technology to democratise access
Adopted in March, EIP-4337 is the concept chosen and implemented by the Ethereum ecosystem to democratise account abstraction within the network. Thanks to this solution, users of the blockchain can be equipped with a "smart account", a wallet in the form of a smart contract that simplifies and improves its use, in particular by erasing the use of the private key.
This standard is the result of several years of reflection and experimentation, which brought together many players in the ecosystem (Ethereum Foundation, Alchemy, Infinitism, OpenZeppelin,etc.). It is an example of the collaboration that results from the decentralisation of Ethereum for the benefit of its users. Its growing adoption will change the way we interact with the blockchain.
Lido, the DAO that dominates Ethereum staking
If you ask Ethereum's detractors what they think of Lido, they'll say it's an entity that has taken control of the protocol. But if you ask its supporters, many will say that Lido has prevented big companies from exerting their influence on the industry's second-largest blockchain. However, everyone will agree on one thing: Lido is a huge, highly structuring project.
Responsible for 32% of the assets that secure Ethereum, Lido is currently the biggest project in decentralised finance ($20 billion under management). It allows anyone to protect the network, whereas the scheme was initially reserved for those able to raise at least 32 ETH. Although the Lido community is preventing itself from reaching the fateful milestone of 33% of staked assets that would allow it to influence certain decisions on the blockchain, holders of its LDO token hold part of Ethereum's future in their hands.
Liquity, the unstoppable stablecoin
Born in 2021, the LUSD stablecoin developed in relative anonymity until it met with unexpected success last spring at a time when the strongest stablecoins were suffering the pangs of the US banking crisis (as many stablecoins have their reserves in, or are dependent on, US banks). The LUSD is generated solely by depositing ETH.
What sets Liquity apart from other lending protocols (against the issuance of a stablecoin) is its 0% interest rate on loans and very low minimum collateral ratio (110%), making loans more accessible and less expensive for users (but more susceptible to liquidations). The protocol is also configured to operate autonomously without human intervention. No one can modify or upgrade the contracts and no one has special access.
Privy, to get users on board with Web2 codes
If it's accepted that the biggest difficulty in attracting the general public to Web3 centres around the wallet, New York start-up Privy has probably come up with the most relevant solution to remedy this. Thanks to Privy, you can manage access to a wallet using an e-mail address or a social network account (Google, Facebook, etc.). Exactly like any user account on a web application.
Privy boasts that it processes several million transactions every month and has integrated more than a million users on on-chain products in various sectors. The company has raised $18 million from well-known venture capital funds Paradigm and Sequoia. Privy got its chance to shine by being integrated with Friend.tech, a typically Web3 social experience that has attracted nearly a million users since last August.
Rabby, the wallet that supplants the ogre MetaMask
There are a plethora of wallets on computers, but Rabby is definitely the solution that won us over in 2023 (and even a little before). Much more user-friendly than MetaMask thanks to its simplicity, it doesn't compromise on functionality because you can use all the blockchains based on the Ethereum virtual machine (even the recent Linea and Base). In all, Rabby supports 68 protocols.
We appreciate its open source design, its ability to switch to the correct blockchain without user intervention, its security warnings in the event of a suspicious transaction, as well as the estimation of its token balance before carrying out an action. The only drawback is that there is currently no mobile application. But its developer DeBank is working on it.