Decentralized finance (DeFi) started 2021 by taking the cryptocurrency sector by storm and helping to kick the bull market cycle into high gear as traders capitalized on ways to easily trade cryptocurrencies and earn high yields on their hodl stacks.
Eventually, high fees on the Ethereum (ETH) network and a few sharp market sell-offs helped contribute to a pullback in token prices and DeFi transactions beginning in late February, but that trend appears to have reversed over the past week as activity on decentralized exchanges is once again on the rise.
DEX user and volume comparison. Source: DappRadar
As seen in the chart above, decentralized exchange (DEX) volume spiked in late February, followed by a downtrend through the first week of April which saw the total volume traded on all DEXs fall as low as $603 million on April 4.
The uptick in users in mid-March was in part due to the explosion in popularity of nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and the end of that frenzy is marked by a precipitous drop-off in users seen between March 26 and March 27.
Bitcoin dips ignite DEX activity
One possible explanation for the spike in activity on DEXs in recent weeks can be found comparing the volume charts with the price chart for Bitcoin (BTC), which indicates a possible correlation between a dip in the price of BTC and increased trading activity.
BTC/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView
As the price of Bitcoin saw declined from April 6 through April 8, DEX volume began to increase and reached a peak on April 7, just as BTC price was bottoming out and preparing to climb higher.
After Bitcoin price reached a peak at $64,840 on April 14, it fell into a downtrend that continued through April 24 as the asset remains pinned below $50,000.
DEX volume saw a substantial increase beginning April 18, the same day that Bitcoin experienced a 16% pullback in price from $60,900 to $50,500, and it has remained elevated since, indicating that traders may be rotating out of Bitcoin and into altcoins as the top cryptocurrency works its way through what traders hope will be a brief corrective phase.
Daily DEX volume. Source: Dune Analytics
As seen on the chart above, the daily DEX volume reached its highest level in weeks on April 22 as Bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency market underwent a significant downturn that saw the total market capitalization fall by more than $324 million.
With Bitcoin now fighting to regain the $50,000 support level and a majority of the altcoin market now at fire-sale prices following the downturn from recent highs, decentralized exchange activity may hint at an approaching altcoin season that has historically as Bitcoin searches for direction following a pullback from a new all-time high.
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