2023 was unique, dynamic and volatile. Here are some of the biggest crypto narratives that gained the most traction throughout the year.
This year appears to be ending on a much brighter tone than it started. The ice of the crypto winter has finally thawed, and Bitcoin, the market leader, is now trading at $43,000 – a staggering 156% gain from last year.
A key driver of growth this year has been BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, which sent the market into frenzy after filing an application to launch a spot Bitcoin ETF earlier this year.
While BlackRock has taken much of the media limelight, boosting hopes of institutional adoption, the biggest crypto narratives of 2023 were far more broad, new research from CoinGecko shows.
AI tokens soared
The report illustrates that AI constituted the biggest narrative of 2023, accounting for 11.3% of the sites’ web traffic.
Akash Network (AKT) gained the most among AI tokens, reaching a yearly high that was 13 times the price at the beginning of the year. Other huge gainers included OriginTrail, Bittensor, Worldcoin and Fetch.ai.
Render, which is the biggest AI token by market cap, was also a huge gainer and is currently trading 1101% higher than this time last year.
The surge was sparked by the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, which triggered a wave of interest in AI across a range of sectors. “This interest has spilled over into the crypto space, bringing attention to AI-related cryptocurrencies,” CoinGecko wrote.
Solana had a particularly strong year
Following the collapse of FTX last year, many prophesied that Solana would become a “dead chain”, given that FTX was one of the largest holders of SOL. Adding fuel to this fire was the fact that the Solana network was persistently prone to outages. (The risk of these outages will soon be significantly reduced by its new validator client, Firedancer, which is live on testnet.)
Throughout 2023 however, the Solana ecosystem flourished, and SOL has gained nearly 900% from this time last year.
Last week, Solana flipped XRP to become the fifth largest cryptocurrency by market cap, holding a capitalisation of $33.38 billion. SOL also surpassed Ethereum’s 24-hour decentralised exchange volume, marking another major milestone.
Key drivers of Solana’s growth are its impressive partnerships with Web2 giants like Visa and Shopify, which strongly boosted investor confidence.
Solana has also dominated the decentralised finance (DeFi) sector this year through various platforms such as Raydium, Serum and Orca. DeFi platforms Orca and Raydium collectively surpassed a trading volume of $3 billion in November, contributing to a substantial rise in Solana’s TVL and enhancing the overall liquidity and activity within Solana’s DeFi ecosystem.
Memecoin mania gripped the market on various occasions
Memecoins accounted for 8.5% of investor interest in 2023, making it the third most popular crypto narrative.
ERC-20 token Pepe the Frog (PEPE) is one of the most memorable. Pepe saw price returns of up to 19x at its peak, having reached a market cap of $1 billion shortly after launching in May.
The surge is perhaps surprising, given that the Pepe website itself declared that the coin has “no intrinsic value”, is “completely useless”, and was created for “entertainment purposes only”.
Bigger than Pepe though is Bonk (BONK), a Solana-native memecoin that reached 129x its price on January 1, per CoinGecko data.
Bonk initially launched as a free airdrop to the Solana community on Christmas Day 2022, but it quickly outpaced other major memecoins, such as Pepe, in terms of market capitalisation.
At the time of writing, Bonk is trading at $0.00001451, representing a 300% price increase from last month.
Other popular narratives included GameFi, which saw a huge revival with tokens such as ImmutableX (IMX) surging 7x, and BRC20 tokens, which dominated the NFT market.
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