2022 was a painful year for many in crypto. Alongside a broad market downturn, the year was punctuated by a number of major exploits, collapses, and bankruptcies.
With one major exception, the largest losses of user funds this year resulted from centralized platforms going insolvent, as falling asset prices exposed their unsustainable business practices.
The spark that ignited this fire was also the exception to the trend. When Terra’s algorithmic stablecoin lost its peg in May, the collapse came swiftly. In a matter of days, $45 billion of value was wiped from the market capitalization of TerraUSD and its reserve asset: LUNA.
This all occurred on-chain. It was a spectacularly visible collapse. What wasn’t so visible was the exposure that major centralized organizations had to the Terra ecosystem.
Unsecured loans, opaque use of customer funds, and many allegations of outright fraud combined to create the perfect storm. Now that the dust has settled, at least for the moment, we can take stock of the major players that were wiped out over the course of 2022.
With many billions of dollars now locked up in bankruptcy proceedings, the scale of losses from centralized crypto firms dwarfs the sum lost from decentralized protocols in 2022.
But that doesn’t mean that all is well in the world of DeFi. 2022 has seen approximately $3 billion lost from Web3 platforms, the worst year on record.
Web3 offers fundamental solutions to the underlying causes of centralized meltdowns. Real-time proof of solvency, on-chain transparency, and open-source applications combine to create a free and fair ecosystem. Centralized organizations that do not incorporate these values cannot legitimately be called crypto companies, they’re part of the same old system that Web3 is replacing.
On the one hand, the industry seems to be learning the hard lessons of this year. It’s heartening to see a number of major exchanges adopting cryptographic proof of reserves, which are one way to bring the best of Web3 to centralized platforms.
On the other hand, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Tto deliver on its fundamental promise, Web3 needs to address its security problem. It’s not enough to just lose less money than centralized finance, not when the tally is still in the billions of dollars. Web3 needs to be a safe, secure place for everyone to transact.
In this report, we go through some of the year’s biggest losses and outline the steps Web3 needs to take to reach its revolutionary potential.