Ethereum whales undoubtedly drive the decentralized finance (DeFi) movement, but many people making money on DeFi trends are just regular Joes, so to speak.
One such trader, who asked to go only by Joe, is a math student at a Canadian university. Just by playing with Ethereum software and his own calculations, he managed to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2020. This wasn’t his first rodeo, however, he’s been trading on decentralized exchanges (DEXs) for more than a year.
“I’m not a whale in the crypto world but I’m one of the top users of the DeFi protocol I use,” he said. “Before, when DeFi was smaller, there was a lot less competition.”
Since Weird DeFi’s food craze began, Joe said “high yields” are now available to newcomers “without a lot of technical knowledge.”
It’s impossible to say just how many rookie traders raked in unusually high profits during the YAM debacle in August, when an unaudited crypto experiment garnered $465 million in crypto then imploded within 72 hours.
Read more: Yearn, YAM and the Rise of Crypto’s ‘Weird DeFi’ Moment
One such anonymous YAM user, who said he rarely trades on exchanges, said he found the YAM trading game fun and relatively easy. He participated in the community vote to “save” YAM, then said he promptly “dumped” his tokens when he realized the software experiment was not sustainable. All things considered, he said he earned $15,000 from participating in YAM, having spent up to $800 on transaction fees.
For both of the above-mentioned DeFi fans, this is a life-changing amount of money. These users often rely on service providers to access the DeFi ecosystem. As such, traders weren’t the only winners of the Yam gambling game. Companies that run the Ethereum network also accrued traffic and transaction fees during the rise of Yam and Sushi, CREAM and now Pickle.
“I access farming and do most one-time things with MetaMask,” Joe said. “The only other [service] I use is the Web3 provider Infura.”
The DeFi mentality emphasizes open-source access to tools, services with low barriers to entry and distributed teams. Sometimes, this includes low barriers to entry for high-risk games.
According to Uniswap founder Hayden Adams in June 2020, most of the Uniswap ecosystem relies on ConsenSys infrastructure services, like Infura. This has also proven to be the common pattern for copycat DeFi projects like SushiSwap. ConsenSys spokesperson James Beck said the Ethereum conglomerate restructured to make infrastructure and wallet services, like Infura and the DeFi-friendly wallet MetaMask, pillars of the company’s “core software business.”
ConsenSys’s head of product for Infura, Michael Godsey, said his team handled the “increased usage” from the food-themed yield farming spike, watching closely to understand “these new usage patterns.” Such DeFi experiments provide inspiration and research data for Ethereum startups, not chagrin.
Read more: SushiSwap Migration Ushers in Era of ‘Protocol Politicians’
In reference to the DEX tools people use to access these trading games, Godsey added, “Uniswap and MetaMask are two of our amazing customers and many yield farmers are utilizing their platform to participate in this new activity.”
As for Joe, the Canadian college student, he said he plans to keep stacking tokens because the broader DeFi movement is “sustainable and has been growing at a relatively slow pace for years.”
On the other hand, he said the trends over the past few months were heavily influenced by Compound’s token model. Joe reasoned these DeFi experiments might end in a “big crash” or slow fizzle.
“As long as risk-adjusted yield is higher than for other opportunities, I will keep using them,” he said.