Examining Synthetix: the Ethereum DeFi Project Making Waves This Week

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Never heard of the Synthetix (SNX) project? You’re not alone.

Some stakeholders in the Ethereum ecosystem are just now hearing about Synthetix after the address linked to the popular Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, or a16z, bought up approximately $235,000 USD worth of SNX this week.

That buy up caused the token’s price to acutely surge some 38 percent, which caught the attention of cryptoeconomy users who haven’t previously crossed paths with the project. So if you’ve been sleeping on Synthetix, you might want to wake up: the derivatives play has surged into 3rd place on tracker site DeFi Pulse when it comes to the value locked in it, which is currently $66.9 million.


First Off, What Is Synthetix?

Simply put, Synthetix is a platform built atop Ethereum that has been designed to host on-chain synthetic assets, or Synths, that are ERC20 tokens tied to the value of real world assets like stocks, indices, and beyond.

Notably, the platform started out as a stablecoin project dubbed Havven, which the effort’s whitepaper still refers to. But a rebrand occurred earlier this year and the Synthetix mainnet was launched this spring, now bearing more than 20 Synth markets.

As such, the SNX token is the native currency of the Synthetix Network, and it powers the creation of Synths, the project’s builders noted last December:

“The platform uses a token called SNX (the Synthetix Network Token), and holding this token allows you to create Synths. You do this by locking SNX into a smart contract and minting Synths against this value. In order to ensure Synths are fully backed, the system will only you to issue a fraction of the SNX value you lock.”

Moreover, these collateral tokens also reward transaction fees to holders, as a portion of fees generated by the project’s Synthetix.Exchange non-custodial DEX goes to Synth minters and SNX holders.

A Conspiracy in the Works? It’s Doubtful

After a16z bought up a swath of SNX tokens this week, rumors abounded in the absence of an official announcement (note: a16z previously announced a large purchase of MKR tokens) that it wasn’t really the VC firm that purchased the assets but a trickster that was trying to convince other investors to buy in.

It was an intriguing theory to be sure, but one that didn’nt stand up to scrutiny. That’s per Larry Cermak, Director of Research at The Block, who lambasted the notion in a short Twitter thread on October 17th. He wrote:

“It’s a completely ridiculous theory. Price of SNX went up 30% in the last two days. Someone would have to send $195k to a16z’s wallet and willingly lose it. So that means they would have to have at least $650,000 worth of SNX to break even. Presumably much more …”

In other words, for the conspiracy to be true someone would have had to have gambled with a massive of SNX tokens, a line that doesn’t pass Occam’s Razor when it comes to the fact that this investment was by all indications a routine investment from a16z.

Ethereum DeFi on the Rise

Synthetix is just the latest comer to push up the prospects of the Ethereum DeFi space.

Indeed, this week the aforementioned DeFi Pulse noted that the total value locked in DeFi (when denominated in ether) crossed the 3 million ETH mark for the first time ever.

The metric didn’t mean that 3 million ether were literally locked up in DeFi, but rather that the value locked in DeFi had reached the 3 million ETH mark when denominated in ether. It’s a notable milestone for ether, which is being increasingly hailed as money by its many proponents.

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William M. Peaster is a professional writer and editor who specializes in the Ethereum, Dai, and Bitcoin beats in the cryptoeconomy. He's appeared in Blockonomi, Binance Academy, Bitsonline, and more. He enjoys tracking smart contracts, DAOs, dApps, and the Lightning Network. He's learning Solidity, too! Contact him on Telegram at @wmpeaster

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