Jan 28, 2020 11:38 PM | Charlie Custer

In the world of crypto, it’s easy to focus on the two most common types of tokens: smart contracts tokens (like Ethereum) and currency tokens (like Bitcoin). But when you look at median return on investment (ROI) data for the past 90 days and the past year, a single sector emerges as the winner: lending.


The chart above depicts the median ROI for the past 90 days and the past year in different crypto sectors. Each of the 349 tokens analyzed was categorized by Messari using methodology detailed here. We then charted the median ROI figures — because of a few extreme outliers, the median seems to represent the overall trend in each sector better than the average. To make the chart above more readable, we also left out all sectors with five or fewer tokens. 

Lending, a relatively small sector (8 tokens), earns the top spot thanks to five tokens that have posted positive median ROI (in USD) over both the past 90 days and the past year: Maker, Nexo, Ripio Credit Network, Aave, and Cred. Overall, lending sector tokens posted a median ROI of more than 75% over the past year and 15% in the past 90 days.

Although it’s a small sample, this suggests that in both the recent past and in the longer-term, lending is one of crypto’s hottest sectors. 

Each project has its own unique selling points. Crypto lending projects in general tend to offer decentralized investment and lending to users, often allowing users to invest their tokens in a wide variety of options with different risk profiles and expected returns — backed, of course, by the immutable, trustless nature of blockchains.

Exchange tokens (listed under “Centralized Exchanges”) also had an excellent median one-year ROI, thanks to the stellar performances of tokens like Binance Coin last year. More recently, however, their performance has been less impressive. Decentralized exchange tokens, on the other hand, haven’t had much to cheer about over the past year. They’re down more than 40% over the past year, and nearly 20% in the past 90 days. 

It’s worth noting, however, that although the 90-day figures are more varied, over the longer one-year term no sector had a median ROI higher than Bitcoin’s ROI over the same period (140%), and lending and centralized exchanges were the only sectors that eclipsed Ethereum’s ROI over that period (40%). 

In other words, while lending is hot, even the hottest altcoin sectors haven’t outpaced Bitcoin.

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