2021 an Interstellar Year for Cosmos ATOM as Network Expands and IBC Ramps Up | Whats Next?
It’s been another 12 months and 2021 is almost over, so there are many things to be thankful for at Cosmos. It has been an incredible year, with many significant milestones for our ecosystem. These include the launch of IBC and the ongoing growth of the network. Before we start a new year, let’s celebrate our accomplishments.
Launch of IBC, Completion and Release of the Cosmos Whitepaper
As the year began, everyone in the Cosmos community was either actively involved in delivering IBC or anxiously waiting for it to happen. We started out by shipping Stargate in February, our largest-ever software upgrade and a collaborative effort between several distributed entities in our ecosystem including Iqlusion, Regen Network, Interchain GmbH, Agoric, Tendermint, Akash, and Informal Systems. Stargate, a key set of upgrades and performance improvements to the Cosmos SDK, paved the way for IBC’s launch in April.
Thanks to IBC, blockchains no longer have to exist as siloed ecosystems unable to communicate with each other. Blockchain networks can avoid overcrowding and bloat from too many decentralized applications (dApps) competing for throughput on a single base layer. Shipping IBC marked the completion of the original Cosmos whitepaper allowing everyone involved to realize the vision laid out back in 2016.
The first IBC transaction took place between IRISnet and Cosmos Hub on April 2 and, since then, we have seen more than 5.8 million IBC transfers and a total of 25 chains connecting through IBC with more than $60 billion in combined market capitalization. One of the largest chains in the blockchain industry Terra enabled IBC in October, bringing with it more than $18 billion of digital assets in liquidity and its native LUNA token and stablecoin USDTerra (UST).
The Rapid Growth of Cosmos DeFi
The DeFi sector has undergone explosive growth in 2021 as a burgeoning alternative financial system of borrowing, lending, staking, trading, and liquidity providing has reached well over $100 billion in value. With the launch of IBC, Cosmos has started taking DeFi to the next level offering cross-chain opportunities through the rise of the most advanced cross-chain decentralized exchanges (DEXs) and other innovative DeFi protocols.
There’s now access to new and promising tokens with higher liquidity for smooth trading, permissionless token listings, opportunities for generating higher ROI by participating in liquidity pools, unlimited decentralized financial markets, and a whole lot more! One of the star players of Cosmos DeFi in 2021 has been Osmosis, an advanced AMM protocol built with the Cosmos SDK. Beyond successfully attracting users to create liquidity (reaching over $700 million in liquidity at its height so far) and trade IBC-enabled tokens, Osmosis has been key in bringing IBC to market.
2021 also saw the mainnet launch of Injective, the first fully decentralized protocol for cross-chain derivatives trading, allowing individuals to create unlimited financial markets for all kinds of assets beyond crypto, including commodities, NFTs, forex, equities, and more. Injective brings one of the most varied and compelling offerings to the DeFi space to date and enables 24/7 trading with zero gas fees — compared to the average gas fee of Ethereum-based protocols, often well over $100.
Since its launch in 2018, Cosmos ecosystem chain Kava, which will become the 26th blockchain to join the #IBCGang in January, has seen huge success growing from a single-application blockchain to a thriving DeFi platform with more than $2 billion in on-chain assets. 2021 was another huge year for Kava, introducing Kava Swap in August, a cross-chain Autonomous Market Making (AMM) application that enables safe swaps between the world’s largest cryptocurrency assets. Kava Swap offers low fees and high efficiency, with strong opportunities for returns for liquidity providing.
Cosmos Chain Bridges to Ethereum
With the saturation of the Ethereum mainnet resulting in high fees and lengthy transaction times, 2021 saw an even greater awareness of the need for blockchain ecosystems to connect. One of the major focuses of the industry this year has been interoperability and we saw the first Cosmos to Ethereum bridges being launched.
Already emerging as one of Cosmos’ most popular cross-chain DEXs, Sifchain integrated its Peggy bridge from Cosmos to Ethereum in early 2021. Peggy uses pegged tokens so that users can easily swap and pool between IBC tokens and ERC-20 tokens more cheaply and efficiently than using any Ethereum-based DEX.
Cosmos chain Sommelier Network also rolled out its version of the Gravity Bridge from Cosmos to Ethereum, a bi-directional Ethereum bridge that’s managed by a global network of validators. The Sommelier Gravity bridge implementation includes a Solidity Contract that controls the bridge, a Cosmos module that synchronizes the validators, batches transactions, and enables bi-directional token issuance; and a relayer of all transactions that are batched.
The first validator-managed DeFi application to launch on Sommelier is Sommelier Cellars that act as DeFi vaults, automatically rebalancing and optimizing users’ Uniswap V3 Liquidity positions by finding the highest volume/volatility opportunities for maximum fee generation.
The Althea team also made great progress this year launching its Gravity Bridge Chain in December with its own token and a decentralized validator set to boost adoption through strategic incentives. The Gravity Bridge was originally planned to launch on the Cosmos Hub but was instead deployed as its own chain for faster iteration to provide all Cosmos chains with access to a trustless Cosmos to Ethereum bridge. The Gravity Bridge Chain plans on using Interchain Security from the Cosmos Hub when it becomes available. Watch this space for more updates soon.
Cosmos Events Around the World
Another highlight of 2021 was that, after so long of having to work remotely and speak over video chat, we were able to get together and meet some of our community members face to face. Cosmoverse, organized by Cryptocito and DeFi Times in Lisbon on Nov 5 and 6, was an extra-special event, drawing some of the most interesting projects and personalities in the Cosmos ecosystem and giving us two full days of inspiring content and conversation.
We also held the largest hackathon in Cosmos history HackAtom VI from Nov 11 to Dec 10, which was a one-month virtual event online, with an in-person warm-up event in Berlin and an official opening ceremony in Lisbon. Offering a massive $1,000,000+ in prizes in ATOM from our various sponsors in the Cosmos ecosystem, HackAtom VI had over 1900+ registrants and more than 100 impressive submissions. The winners will be announced on Thursday, Dec 16 at 14:00 UTC.
The Interchain Sustainability Mission
In 2021, like no other year, the world’s eyes were opened to the real and pressing problem of the climate crisis. With an increase in natural disasters, depleting global resources, and rising temperatures, it’s clear that we must take action fast to lower our emissions. But we don’t have to rely on international governments to take all the initiative. At Cosmos, our mission (the Interchain Sustainability mission) is to become the leading blockchain ecosystem for sustainable and regenerative digital finance.
This year, the Interchain Foundation signed an MoU with ixo — The Internet of Impact to implement a multi-year program of R&D, advocacy, and strategic collaborations, together with partners Informal Systems, Regen Network, BlockScience, Grassroots Economics, and The Commons Stack. Together we can make a difference and be a force for good in financial inclusion, sustainability, and saving our planet.
The Largest Airdrops of 2021
It’s exciting to see almost all new Cosmos chains using the Airdrop incentive solution to onboard Cosmos community members to their projects. Airdrops have proven to be a powerful form of marketing and creating interest in new up-and-coming chains. Not only are ATOM holders rewarded with new chain tokens but they are encouraged to engage with the platform and take certain steps to fully unlock the airdrop by minting an NFT, trading a token, or taking some other action.
Some of the most important airdrops in 2021 were Osmosis, Juno, Regen, Sifchain, Persistence, Comdex, and Desmos. Remember, if you are an ATOM holder but you keep your ATOM on exchanges, you will not be eligible for airdrops. You must withdraw your tokens and stake them with Cosmos validators to receive airdropped tokens. Not your keys, not your #Airdrops.
Of course, 2021 was also the year in which we launched Cosmos Signal, our all-new high-impact quarterly keynote revealing the latest developments in the Cosmos ecosystem. Cosmos Signal was designed to be visually stunning and packed full of exclusive news and updates that highlight the strength and innovation of our growing network. With almost 500,000 views, the first release of Cosmos Signal was a major success and the perfect vehicle to attract more people to the Cosmos ecosystem. Watch out for Cosmos Signal 2 coming up next quarter.
That’s a Wrap
It’s certainly been an exciting year for Cosmos! From furthering blockchain interoperability and enabling cross-chain DeFi to live events, online hackathons, cross-chain bridges, and NFTs, we haven’t been holding back. Be sure to follow us on our socials, visit our all-new Cosmos merch store where you can find a host of cool new swag, and keep up to date with our blog — there’s plenty more to come!