While there’s been plenty of talk of Ethereum flipping Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization, the leading cryptocurrency is still firmly holding its ground, dominating as much as 41% of the entire crypto market.

However, there’s still reason to celebrate for Ethereum enthusiasts.

The second-largest cryptocurrency went ahead of Bitcoin in total realized gains in 2021, clinching a narrow win with $76.3 billion to Bitcoin’s $74.7 billion, according to a new report by blockchain forensic firm Chainalysis.

Realized gains are profits arising from selling any financial instrument, be it a share, commodity, or—depending on the jurisdiction—cryptocurrencies.


The reason for Ethereum’s narrow win? Decentralized finance.

“We believe this reflects increased demand for Ethereum as the result of DeFi’s rise in 2021, as most DeFi protocols are built on the Ethereum blockchain and use Ethereum as their primary currency,” reads the report.

According to a January report by CoinGecko, the market cap across the decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols grew by 7.5x from $20 billion to $150 billion in 2021, while its share of the crypto market has more than doubled from 2.8% to an all-time high of 6.5%.

It remains to be seen whether this trend will continue, however. DeFi Llama, a data dashboard tracking all things DeFi, shows that the number two crypto network enjoys a 54.43% market share of all activity.


This time last year, this figure was more than 70%.

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