Prices for Solana’s SOL and Terra’s LUNA tokens hit all-time highs on Monday, as the total market capitalization of cryptocurrency broke $2 trillion for the first time since May.
The price rally for the tokens representing two projects that are built for the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector shows that investors remain confident about the industry, especially in layer 1 protocols, despite security risks that were exposed by the biggest DeFi hack ever in monetary value last week.
Solana, the native token of Solana, a public blockchain that is backed by Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of crypto exchange FTX, logged a record high price Monday of $69, according to data from FTX and TradingView.
Meanwhile, Messari’s data shows that Terra ($LUNA), the token of Terra, an algorithmic balancing system that helps stablecoins maintain their pegs to stable currencies like the U.S. dollar, went as high as $22.22 on Monday, also an all-time high.
Both projects are layer 1 alternatives to Ethereum, the blockchain for ether, the second biggest cryptocurrency by market cap.
Solana and Terra’s rise, according to analysts, reflects the market’s increasing demand for higher scalability, as the recent non-fungible tokens (NFTs) craze has brought crypto to a more mainstream market and many investors and traders continue to bet that Ethereum’s impending migration from a proof-of-work (PoW) blockchain to a proof-of-stake (PoS) on will be delayed.
At press time, ether was changing hands at $3,226.39, up 2.09%, according to CoinDesk 20, compared with SOL’s gain of 27% on the day.
“The NFT-driven mania presented in the Ethereum space is starting to spill over into its layer 1 competitors,” Adam James, senior analyst at OKEx Insights, said. “Because the alternative layer 1 [protocols] haven’t all had pieces of positive development news at the exact same time, it stands to reason that speculation is the primary driver pushing funds into less-fleshed-out blockchain ecosystems.”
In particular, Solana’s aggressive push with its latest release of the Wormhole, cross-chain communication protocol between Ethereum and Solana, could not be “timelier,” said Denis Vinokourov, head of research at Synergia Capital.
“The need for [a] scalable network is needed right now, as opposed to years away as is the case for Ethereum given its much needed undergoing transition to PoS,” Vinokourov said.
The launch of Wormhole’s main network has also occurred as new protocols that allow digital tokens to be transferred across multiple blockchains have become particularly vulnerable to attacks: Last week, cross-chain DeFi site Poly Network was attacked with losses worth more than $600 million, the biggest DeFi hack to date.
The hype around Wormhole shows that investors and traders remain confident in cross-chain protocols as they downplay the security risks.
Hacks “are not great, of course, but I think crypto natives have proven to be very resilient,” Vinokourov said.
LUNA’s price rally, meanwhile, can be attributed to its anticipated Columbus-5 network upgrade that is set to go live in the next few weeks, as well as to the fact that users can now use ether as collateral on the Anchor protocol, a lending and saving platform in Terra’s ecosystem.
Columbus-5 upgrade “will make … all swap fees go to Luna stakers, instead of being burned like they were in the past,” Justin Barlow, research analyst at The Tie, said. “Numerous apps on Terra are also slated to be released after the Columbus-5 launch, so we’ll be see a huge influx of new projects going live on the network.
“As each project goes live, Terra stakers will receive airdrops of the token in-kind for their staking efforts,” Barlow added.
On the other hand, Anchor’s news pushed up the total value locked in Anchor to nearly $2.2 billion from $1.75 billion in just three days, data from DeFi Llama shows.
LUNA, as CoinDesk reported, is part of an algorithmic balancing system that helps the stablecoins in Terra maintain their pegs. For example, when TerraUSD (UST) trades above $1, users can send $1 worth of LUNA to the system and receive 1 UST in return – a trade that helps to bring the stablecoin’s price back in line.
The growth of total value locked in Anchor reflects demand for UST, because borrowing on Anchor is subsidized by Anchor liquidity mining, said Jeremy Ong, vice president of business opportunities at research firm Delphi Digital. And as demand for UST grows, more LUNA tokens are burned, which naturally drives LUNA’s prices up.
It is also possible that a “Coinbase effect,” where a digital token gets a price pump after listing on the crypto exchange, has hyped up LUNA’s prices as Coinbase listed both wrapped luna (WLUNA), an ERC-20 token that’s designed to track LUNA’s value, and TerraUSD (UST), a decentralized stablecoin powered by LUNA and the Terra ecosystem, in the past week.
According to Ong, the timing of Coinbase’s listing of UST also plays a role in boosting LUNA’s price.
“The Coinbase listing for UST probably gave UST a lot more credibility and demand amidst regulatory FUD about stablecoins,” Ong said. “This is the first time a reputable exchange like Coinbase has listed an algorithmic stablecoin like UST.”