The Cosmos ecosystem stands out for its unique approach to building a connected future. Unlike traditional blockchains locked in their own silos, the layer-1 Cosmos network is designed for seamless interoperability, allowing data and assets to flow freely between independent, application-specific chains. This empowers developers to build custom blockchains for specific use cases without sacrificing accessibility or connection to the broader blockchain world.
The Cosmos Network is akin to a constellation of interconnected galaxies, where each blockchain is a galaxy with its own rules and features. Yet, they can still interact and exchange information with each other.
That's the vision of Cosmos, fostering an ever-expanding constellation of interconnected chains tackling diverse challenges from DeFi and NFTs to gaming and social platforms. The potential is vast, from revolutionizing cross-border payments to unlocking groundbreaking decentralized applications (dApps) fueled by the combined power of the ecosystem. In this article, we take a look at the vibrant and expansive Cosmos ecosystem, and some of the top projects in it.
Cosmos Market Performance in 2023
The past year witnessed significant strides for the Cosmos ecosystem, solidifying its position as a frontrunner in the interoperable blockchain space. Here are some key highlights:
Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) Protocol Upgrade: The launch of IBC v1.4 further streamlined cross-chain communication, opening new avenues for integration and collaboration between chains within the ecosystem.
Booming DeFi Landscape: The Cosmos DeFi TVL saw explosive growth of over 300%, surpassing $1 billion in 2023. This surge was fueled by the rise of innovative DEXs like Osmosis and Injective, offering robust trading opportunities and advanced functionalities.
Expanding NFT Ecosystem: Cosmos-based NFT marketplaces, like Pylons, gained traction, showcasing the ecosystem's potential for supporting diverse applications and fostering communities around unique digital assets.
Increased Network Activity: Transaction volume on the Cosmos Hub, powered by ATOM token, reached record highs, reflecting growing adoption and network utilization.
Cosmos (ATOM) Market Performance
ATOM/USDT price trend over the past year | Source: KuCoin
2023 saw ATOM, the native token of the Cosmos Hub, demonstrate notable resilience amidst a challenging overall market. Despite a significant dip in the first half, ATOM bounced back, recording an 87% surge from its 2023 low by December. This upward trend reflects confidence in the ecosystem's long-term potential and the increasing utility of ATOM for staking, governance, and access to various dApps.
These developments pave the way for an even brighter future for Cosmos in 2024 and beyond.
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Top Cosmos Ecosystem Projects to Know
We’ve researched and compiled a list of some of the best crypto projects in the Cosmos ecosystem that you should pay attention to. Their inclusion is based on various factors, including user popularity, market performance, TVL, growth potential, and unique strengths.
1. Wallet: Keplr Wallet
Keplr is a non-custodial, browser-based web3 wallet specifically designed for the Cosmos ecosystem. It empowers users to securely manage their digital assets, interact with dApps, and participate in various DeFi activities across multiple Cosmos-based blockchains. The Keplr crypto wallet acts as a bridge between users and the diverse applications within the interoperable Cosmos network.
Keplr boasts a clean and intuitive interface, making it easy for users of all technical levels to navigate the Cosmos ecosystem and interact with dApps. Keplr offers several features beyond basic asset management, including staking, governance voting, and integration with popular Cosmos dApps.
Recently, Keplr launched a mobile app for increased accessibility and is exploring Inter-Blockchain Account integration for streamlined cross-chain interactions. Future plans include introducing multi-signature support for enhanced security and collaborative asset management.
Key Strengths: Keplr is chain-agnostic, allowing users to manage assets across various Cosmos chains through a single interface. This eliminates the need for multiple wallets and simplifies the user experience. Keplr leverages secure technology like hardware wallets and mnemonic phrases to ensure user private keys remain under their control, fostering trust and peace of mind.
2. DEX: Osmosis
Osmosis is the leading decentralized exchange (DEX) of the Cosmos ecosystem. It enables users to seamlessly swap tokens across various Cosmos chains through an automated market maker (AMM) design. Osmosis is a central liquidity hub facilitating efficient trading within the interconnected network.
Osmosis offers various features beyond basic swaps, including liquidity pools with customizable fee structures, limit orders, and margin trading opportunities. OSMO token holders actively participate in shaping the platform's decentralized governance through proposals and voting.
Recent developments in the Osmosis DEX include the implementation of features that enhance its interchain functionality and user experience. The platform's plans to expand to non-IBC chains, like ERC-20 tokens, demonstrate its commitment to broadening its scope and usability within the broader crypto ecosystem.
Key Strengths: Unlike traditional DEXs confined to single blockchains, Osmosis leverages IBC technology so users can trade assets across any IBC-enabled Cosmos chain, opening up a vast liquidity pool and diverse trading opportunities. As the largest Interchain DEX, Osmosis employs a dynamic fee structure that adjusts based on trading volume and pool depth, incentivizing liquidity providers and ensuring competitive fees for users.
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Learn more about other popular DEXs in the crypto market.
3. AI: Fetch.AI
Fetch.AI stands out by harnessing AI to create self-governing agents that can learn, adapt, and react to real-time data. This paves the way for autonomous solutions in diverse fields like supply chain management, energy trading, and resource allocation. Fetch.AI facilitates communication and collaboration between connected devices and services across the Cosmos ecosystem, enabling a decentralized and intelligent network of "things" working together. The native token of Fetch.AI, FET, has multiple functionalities: staking for network security and rewards, participating in governance voting, and paying for agent creation and interaction with the network.
AI agents can analyze data and optimize processes in real time, leading to improved efficiency, reduced costs, and smarter decision-making in various sectors. Fetch.AI operates as a DAO, giving users control over governance and token usage. This promotes transparency and community-driven development. Users create and program intelligent agents to perform specific tasks and interact with the network. These agents can access data, make decisions, and even learn from their experience.
Recent developments in Fetch.AI include launching “Agents in Labs,” an online platform allowing developers to experiment with building and deploying AI agents on the Fetch.AI network. It has also been in the limelight recently owing to its $150 million ecosystem development fund, aiming to attract developers and projects.
Key Strengths: Fetch.AI employs a combination of blockchain technology and DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph) features to support efficient communication between millions of agents. The network uses a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) protocol, where participants stake FET coins to approve transactions and earn rewards.
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Here are some more AI crypto projects across various sectors in the industry.
4. DePIN: Akash Network
Akash Network leverages the power of blockchain technology to create a decentralized cloud computing marketplace, like Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform. It connects users with unused compute resources (CPU, GPU, storage) offered by providers worldwide, offering a cost-efficient and transparent alternative to traditional cloud services.
The native token of Akash, AKT, has multiple functionalities: staking for rewards and network security, participating in governance voting, and paying for compute resources on the network. Akash utilizes PoS for secure network operation and incentivizes token holders to stake their AKT tokens for rewards and network validation. Akash is integrated with the Cosmos IBC, enabling seamless communication and resource trading between connected Cosmos chains.
AKT 2.0 introduces new token economics, including stablecoin payments and incentive pools, to further decentralize the network and attract new users. Akash actively engages with data centers and individual providers to increase the network's available compute resources and global reach. The Akash Network team is developing intuitive tools and integrations to make Akash more accessible and user-friendly for developers of all skill levels.
Key Strengths: Akash leverages market dynamics to secure competitive pricing for compute resources, often significantly cheaper than traditional cloud providers. Users only pay for the resources they use, eliminating idle expenses. Akash uses smart contracts to automate resource pricing and settlement, ensuring trust and transparency in the entire process. The decentralized nature removes reliance on single entities for control or censorship.
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Check out other top DePIN projects in the crypto market.
5. Infrastructure: Celestia
Celestia is the cornerstone data availability layer for the Cosmos ecosystem. It offers a secure and decentralized platform for storing and verifying the data used by various application-specific chains, paving the way for seamless interoperability and scalability within the network. Think of it as a shared "storage unit" accessible to all Cosmos chains, ensuring reliable data access and trust across the ecosystem. Like other Cosmos chains, Celestia utilizes PoS for secure network operation, rewarding validators with the native token TIA for staking and participating in consensus.
Celestia facilitates secure and cost-effective data sharing between different Cosmos chains, enabling seamless interactions and unlocking innovative cross-chain dApps.Anyone can become a Celestia validator and contribute to network security, promoting transparency and censorship resistance. Developers building on Celestia benefit from lower development and operational costs than traditional monolithic blockchains.
Celestia leverages the reliable and efficient Tendermint consensus engine to ensure data availability and consistency across the network. Celestia integrates with IBC, enabling secure communication and data transfer between connected Cosmos chains. Developers pay for data storage in TIA, and validators are rewarded with TIA for their contributions. Users can also participate in governance and voting on network proposals with TIA.
Celestia successfully launched its mainnet in October 2023, marking a significant milestone in its development. Several projects are building on Celestia, including cross-chain bridges, interoperable DEXes, and data oracles, showcasing the expanding use cases for the network.
Key Strengths: Celestia separates data storage (Celestia) from computation and execution (application-specific chains), leading to improved efficiency and scalability. Developers can focus on building user-facing applications without worrying about data infrastructure.
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6. DeFi: Injective
Injective is a high-performance, DeFi platform built on the Cosmos network. It offers a full suite of DeFi tools, including margin trading, perpetual swaps, derivatives, and spot trading, all while ensuring fast transaction speeds and MEV (miner extractable value) resistance. Think of it as a decentralized Wall Street built specifically for the interconnected Cosmos ecosystem.
Injective leverages the Injective Chain Tendermint, a hybrid consensus mechanism that combines Tendermint's high speed with additional security features to deliver fast and secure transactions. IBC allows Injective to connect and exchange assets with other Cosmos chains, expanding liquidity and user base. The native token of Injective, INJ, plays a crucial role in the platform: staking for network security and rewards, governance voting on protocol upgrades, paying transaction fees, and participating in margin trading.
In terms of recent developments, Injective introduced perpetual swaps with dynamic fees and MEV-resistant features, attracting professional traders and boosting platform activity. Integration with major external blockchains like Ethereum and BNB Chain is underway, further increasing liquidity and user access. The Injective team plans to launch even more sophisticated financial instruments like options and other derivatives, catering to diverse user needs and DeFi strategies.
Key Strengths: Injective utilizes a custom consensus mechanism called Injective Chain Tendermint (ICTM) and Cosmos's IBC protocol to achieve near-instantaneous transaction finality, a critical advantage for high-frequency trading and fast-paced DeFi actions. It employs innovative features like order book encryption and fair distribution mechanisms to protect users from MEV attacks, ensuring fairer and more transparent transactions. The Injective protocol offers a wider range of trading tools than most DeFi platforms, including margin trading with up to 100x leverage, perpetual swaps with customizable fees, and various order types for sophisticated traders.
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7. Privacy: Secret Network
Secret Network is a blockchain platform built on Cosmos that prioritizes privacy-preserving computation and smart contracts. Unlike most transparent blockchains, Secret Network allows users to conduct transactions and execute smart contracts without revealing sensitive data, creating a secure haven for confidential financial activities, private data storage, and even censorship-resistant communication.
Secret Network offers native privacy-focused tokens like Secret (SCRT) and SecretUSD (sUSD), enabling anonymous token transfers and transactions and protecting financial activities from unwanted scrutiny. The native token of Secret Network, SCRT, serves several purposes: staking for network security and rewards, governance voting on protocol upgrades, paying transaction fees, and participating in confidential smart contracts.
EVM integration development is underway to allow Secret Network to run Ethereum-compatible smart contracts, further bridging the gap between public and private blockchain ecosystems. The Secret Network team is exploring adding features like private messaging and confidential NFTs to enrich the user experience and expand possibilities for secure communication and digital asset ownership.
Key Strengths: Secret Network's unique architecture fosters increased user trust and security by minimizing the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access to sensitive information. Secret Network utilizes advanced cryptography, including homomorphic encryption and secure multi-party computation, to enable smart contracts to operate on data without actually revealing it. This opens up innovative possibilities for confidential DeFi (cDeFi), private data marketplaces, and secure healthcare record management.
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8. Oracle: Band Protocol
Band Protocol acts as a decentralized oracle network for the Cosmos ecosystem, connecting blockchain applications with real-world data and APIs. Think of it as a reliable bridge between the secure world of blockchain and the dynamic world of external information. This allows smart contracts to access crucial data for decision-making, powering various DeFi applications, web3 projects, and data marketplaces within the Cosmos network.
Band Protocol operates on a PoS system, incentivizing node operators to stake the native BAND token for securing the network and validating data requests. Data providers supply information, and data consumers who utilize it pay token fees for using the Band Protocol network. The heart of the ecosystem, BAND tokens have diverse functionalities: staking for network security and rewards, participating in governance voting on protocol upgrades, paying data request fees, and rewarding data providers.
Band Protocol is now powering data feeds for leading DeFi protocols like Osmosis and Juno, solidifying its presence within the Cosmos ecosystem. The upgraded version BANDChain 2.0 features faster consensus and improved scalability, preparing Band Protocol for a surge in data demand. Integration with additional blockchains like Avalanche and Optimism is on the horizon, further increasing network reach and user base.
Key Strengths: Band Protocol extends its reach beyond Cosmos, connecting with other prominent blockchains like Ethereum and Solana, fostering data interoperability, and unlocking new integration opportunities. All data requests and oracle responses are recorded on-chain, enabling transparent verification and building trust among users and developers.
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Here are some more top decentralized oracles in the blockchain industry.
9. Social: HIBLOCKS
HIBLOCKS is a unique Cosmos ecosystem project centered around the HIBS Token. The project's primary focus is on its blockchain-based social media app, HABL, which rewards users with HIBS Tokens for various social media activities such as liking, voting, staking, uploading, and sharing posts.
HIBLOCKS’ diverse ecosystem includes various services like Challenge Run (Move-to-Earn), Produckfi (a media production budget management app), HABL Stone (NFT), and a VR NFT Marketplace. The HIBS Token serves as the foundational asset connecting all these services, creating an interconnected ecosystem where each component adds value to the others.
Key Strengths: HIBLOCKS represents an ambitious project within the Cosmos ecosystem, seeking to blend social media engagement with blockchain technology while creating a diverse range of services interconnected through the HIBS Token.
10. NFT: Pylons
Pylons is a blockchain project on the Cosmos network that simplifies NFT creation and trading. It acts as a bridge between the world of traditional commerce and the digital asset space, allowing creators and businesses to sell their offerings as NFTs easily and for users to purchase and manage them seamlessly. The native PYL token plays a crucial role: staking for network security and rewards, participating in governance voting on protocol upgrades, and paying transaction fees on the platform.
Pylons offers a user-friendly SDK and tools for developers to build NFT marketplaces and dApps on top of their platform, expanding the ecosystem and possibilities. It supports various NFT functionalities, including fractional ownership, royalty settings, and dynamic pricing, catering to the diverse needs of creators and collectors.
Pylons recently launched its mainnet, marking a significant milestone in its development. Several dApps and marketplaces are building on Pylons, showcasing its expanding use cases and adoption within Cosmos. Development is underway for a mobile app, further enhancing user experience and accessibility. The team plans to introduce advanced minting features like scheduled drops and customizable metadata to empower creators.
Key Strengths: Pylons stands out by eliminating the need for cryptocurrency for users to purchase NFTs. They can use real-world payment methods like credit cards and Apple Pay, making NFTs more accessible to a broader audience.
Future Outlook for Cosmos Ecosystem in 2024
The future outlook for the Cosmos ecosystem in 2024 is marked by several significant developments and a clear focus on expanding its capabilities and reach. Key highlights include:
Cosmos Ecosystem Development Budget
The Interchain Foundation (ICF), the core developer behind Cosmos, has allocated a significant budget of $26.4 million for ecosystem development in 2024. This funding is aimed at enhancing various components of the Cosmos ecosystem, including the Byzantine fault-tolerant engine CometBFT, the Cosmos Software Development Kit (SDK), and the native IBC protocool. These investments underscore a commitment to fortifying and expanding the ecosystem's infrastructure.
Focus on Modularity and Interoperability
Cosmos strongly emphasizes blockchain modularity and interoperability, aiming to attract developers looking for flexible and customizable blockchain solutions. The modularity of Cosmos allows for the separation of blockchain functions, offering greater customizability compared to platforms like Ethereum. However, there is still room for growth in this aspect, particularly in making its software more modular in practice.
IBC 2024 Roadmap
The IBC protocol, a key feature of Cosmos, plans to focus on usability and scalability in 2024. The roadmap includes technical improvements such as decoupling IBC-go from the Cosmos SDK, integrating OP Stack, and enhancing cross-chain workflows. These initiatives aim to shorten the time required for native IBC implementation, reduce maintenance costs, and enable more diverse blockchain connections.
From Keplr Wallet's integral role in asset management to the cutting-edge DeFi solutions of Injective, each project we've explored offers unique contributions to the ecosystem. The AI-driven capabilities of Fetch.AI, the cloud computing revolution of Akash Network, and the modular infrastructure of Celestia further demonstrate the diversity and strength of the Cosmos ecosystem.
As global blockchain adoption continues to grow and evolve, it's clear that these projects are not just contributing to the Cosmos ecosystem but are also shaping the future of blockchain technology at large.