In brief

  • Total value locked by users in Uniswap has passed $2 billion.
  • Uniswap has already processed $13.8 billion in trading volume in September alone.
  • The UNI governance token launch brought TVL back to Uniswap after a brief detour through Sushiswap.

Popular decentralized exchange Uniswap now has more than $2 billion in user value locked in the protocol, the same amount the entire DeFi ecosystem contained just three months ago.

Uniswap, which allows users to swap tokens and receive trading fee rewards for providing liquidity, has seen total value locked in the protocol rise more than 180% to more than $2 billion since September 16, following the distributed launch of UNI governance tokens for the platform. Users are apparently putting their faith in Uniswap’s trading volume to remain high.

Total value locked (TVL), a measure of the value of cryptocurrency and dollar-pegged stablecoin assets deposited in DeFi protocols, also passed $11 billion for all protocols on September 28 according to blockchain data aggregator DeFi Pulse. The rising metric is being fueled by growth in Uniswap and other DeFi protocols, as decentralized exchanges continue to grow their exchange volume month after month.

Uniswap has become the largest decentralized finance protocol by trading volume. DeFi protocols conduct core services like generating dollar-pegged loans or interest on deposits of digital assets using smart contracts, which automatically execute code running on blockchains like Ethereum. 

When token trades are made on a decentralized exchange, the exchange generally charges trading fees, which go directly to users who have locked value in the protocol. This incentivizes crypto traders to seek out exchanges with the greatest trading volume.

Until mid-September, Uniswap was under pressure from copycat protocols like Sushiswap, which attempted to reward users for transferring locked value to their own decentralized exchanges. The UNI governance token release on September 16, distributed in part to any Ethereum address that had interacted with Uniswap since launching in 2018, precipitated a flood of value back into Uniswap that has pushed TVL past the $2 billion mark. Governance tokens give holders a vote on decisions about future development of the issuing protocol.

Sushiswap, which peaked at more than $1.4 billion in TVL on September 11, has seen that number fall more than 70% since then, to less than $400 million locked today.

Decentralized exchanges have grown to service more than $44.5 billion in token swap volume in the past 12 months, with Uniswap increasingly emerging as the service of choice, according to blockchain data aggregator Dune Analytics. From less than $500 million in volume in June 2020, Uniswap volume has exploded to more than $13.8 billion so far in September.

Uniswap has served more than 100,000 unique trading addresses in the last 7 days alone. The next closest exchange by user count, Kyber Network, saw less than 2,000 unique addresses use its protocol in the same timeframe. Unless competitors can develop significant new capabilities and convenience, Uniswap will remain the decentralized exchange of choice for the next $10 billion in TVL.