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6 projects fueling the growth of Australia's crypto scene in 2024

Could Australia be the next location for a spike in crypto interest, adoption, and invention? Many in the space are bullish on just that, and for good reason.

At 23%, the nation has the highest rate of crypto adoption among all developed countries and the eight highest globally, according to a Swyftx survey. Meanwhile, 25% of the 2,199 adults surveyed in July 2023 intended to purchase digital assets over the following 12 months. And, according to the same survey, 54% of Australian millennials own or have owned crypto in the past.

As more Australians act on their interest in crypto, we're also seeing the arrival of myriad projects that are helping to advance the industry, its products, and its underlying infrastructure. Alongside a rise in user interest, these projects represent the deepening of crypto's roots in the Southern Hemisphere.

In this article, we introduce six crypto projects built and thriving in Australia today.

1. Synthetix

Synthetix is a decentralized liquidity protocol founded by Australian Kain Warwick. The Synthetix platform supports derivatives trading in DeFi, and does so by enabling the tokenization and trading of traditional commodities such as gold and oil. The platform also provides liquidity for permissionless derivatives such as options, perpetual futures, and parimutuel markets. Synthetix aims to simplify access to derivatives trading in DeFi while also supporting an ecosystem of decentralized apps (DApps) built on top of the liquidity Synthetix provides. Currently available on Ethereum and Optimism, March 2023 saw the project release its third and latest iteration which focused on providing a liquidity layer for DeFi derivatives that supported cross-chain functionality.

SNX is the project's native token, which users must hold to create synths — categories of tradeable synthetic assets. Four categories of synths are currently available: crypto, forex, equities, and commodities. These synths are ERC-20 tokens that can be traded on most decentralized exchanges.

Warwick, a former co-founder, CEO, and now non-executive director of Australian digital payments platform Blueshfyt, launched Synthetix in 2018 under its previous name Havven.

2. Immutable

Immutable has grabbed plenty of attention in the GameFi space as a new Layer-2 solution supporting NFT minting and Web3 gaming.

The project aims to democratize Web3 game development and enable millions more to build on its gaming-specific blockchain. More specifically, Immutable is focused on greater cost-efficiency, scalability, and rapid transaction processing from Web3 gaming. To this end, the platform is underpinned by Zero-Knowledge Rollup (ZK-rollup) technology powered by StarkWare. This foundational technology bundles multiple transactions into a single zero-knowledge proof on the Immutable network. The bundled transactions are then moved as a single unit onto the Ethereum blockchain for validation via smart contracts, providing rapid confirmation and minimal gas fees.

With Immutable zkEVM, another Layer-2 solution, allowing developers to launch smart contracts on Ethereum's Layer-1, the project also supports interoperability with other games and platforms across the network. This, in theory, should help to lead more developers to the platform, fueling the growth of Web3 gaming.

Immutable was launched by Australian trio James Ferguson, Robbie Ferguson, and Alex Connolly in 2018 in response to the challenges faced by Web3 gamers, namely high costs and scalability.

3. Rocket Pool

Rocket Pool is the self-proclaimed leading decentralized liquid staking protocol for Ethereum. The protocol provides two product streams: liquid staking and node staking.

With liquid staking, users stake ETH in return for an equivalent amount in rETH — the project's liquid staking token. Those who adopt liquid staking earn rewards that build over time. The tokens earned can be transferred, exchanged, or used across the DeFi ecosystem. Node staking, meanwhile, sees users stake ETH while also running an Ethereum validating node. Doing so earns a higher annualized potential reward plus a reward of RPL — the protocol's native token. When users adopt node staking with Rocket Pool, they stake both their own ETH and ETH on behalf of liquid stakers, earning them a commission fee. What's more, staking helps to bolster Ethereum's scalability, security, and sustainability. As of November 2023, almost 815,000 ETH had been staked on the protocol — a year on year increase of almost 300%.

Rocket Pool began life back in December 2016 as the brainchild of Brisbane-based David Rugendyke. After years of beta versions and updated iterations, the protocol launched on the mainnet on November 9, 2021.

4. Maple Finance

Maple Finance aims to bring the capital markets on-chain by providing enterprise blockchain solutions to financial institutions. Through its offering, Maple enables financial firms to operate as digital asset lenders. Maple's capital marketplace, meanwhile, provides institutional investors with access to rewarding lending opportunities. Stablecoin and altcoin secured lending are both possible, alongside corporate credit and access to on-chain cash management via the U.S. Treasury yield. Debt capital can also be accessed through Maple's platform to support digital asset businesses to scale, with $3.75 billion in loans issued at the time of writing.

Maple diversified its offering in 2023 with the launch of the U.S. Treasury Receivables Financing Pool that focuses on IRS Tax Credits. The move marked a pivot towards the flourishing real-world asset space, and a bridging of the traditional and DeFi worlds through Maple's platform.

Melbourne-based Maple Finance was founded in 2019 and formally launched on the Ethereum mainnet on May 12, 2021.

5. Swell Network

Swell Network introduced a new approach to DeFi staking when it launched in 2023. Through Swell, users can stake ETH in return for the same value of the project's liquid staking token, swETH. swETH can then be restaked to receive the equivalent value in rswETH. Swell's mechanics allow users to earn rewards by putting their tokens to work yet still retain access to their tokens' value and utility through the swETH or rswETH received in return. These tokens can be staked back into the Swell ecosystem to earn additional rewards.

Swell is built upon the EigenLayer Ethereum restaking protocol, which it uses to provide liquid staking opportunities to users. EigenLayer aggregates liquidity from multiple platforms, improving security and strengthening the network. April 2024 saw Swell announce Swell L2, a new restaking ecosystem that expands the project's ecosystem. Swell L2 rewards users for securing and adopting Actively Validated Services such as EigenDA.

Swell is headquartered in Sydney and is backed by Swell Labs.

6. Illuvium

Illuvium is an interoperable blockchain game. It's drawn comparisons to the wildly popular Pokémon franchise as players are invited into a world of fantastical creatures. Here, players are tasked with hunting and capturing more than 150 Illuvials — deadly and powerful beasts that rule the game's alien landscape. Illuvium is built on Immutable X, a Layer-2 solution for the Ethereum blockchain.

The game is governed by a decentralized autonomous organization and incentivizes players through play-to-earn. Players are rewarded with Illuvium's native token, ILV, for completing in-game achievements. Additionally, players can also mint as NFTs any Illuvial they successfully subdue in the game. Incorporating Unreal Engine 4.26 technology to create a stunningly immersive environment, Illuvium aims to be the first AAA game — a classification of major high-budget games — in the GameFi space.

The Illuvium game is produced by the Sydney-based video game developer of the same name, an organization founded by Kieran, Aaron, and Grant Warwick. The company received Series A funding of USD$12 million in March 2024 to support its growth ambitions.

The final word

Australia is emerging as a thriving crypto location for more than speculative trading. The projects outlined in this article demonstrate the wealth of ideas, talent, and technology that's picking up momentum in the nation, with pioneering platforms spurring progress across GameFi, staking, DeFi derivatives trading, and more.

Barring a dramatic course-correction, Australia looks set to continue strengthening its crypto knowledge base, building a network of thriving and imaginative Web3 businesses, and attracting more people to take greater control of their finances.

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