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Cardano TVL

What is the Cardano TVL?

In the ever-evolving world of blockchain technology, Cardano has emerged as a notable player, particularly in the realm of decentralized finance (DeFi). A critical metric to evaluate its impact and growth in this sector is the Total Value Locked (TVL). The concept of TVL represents the aggregate value of assets deposited in various DeFi protocols operating within the Cardano ecosystem. Understanding Cardano’s TVL is essential for investors, developers, and enthusiasts aiming to gauge its position and potential in the DeFi landscape.

Cardano, founded by Charles Hoskinson, one of the co-founders of Ethereum, stands out for its scientific approach and emphasis on scalability, sustainability, and interoperability. It operates on a unique Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism called Ouroboros, designed to be more energy-efficient and scalable than traditional Proof-of-Work systems. This approach positions Cardano as a viable alternative for DeFi applications, especially in the context of growing environmental concerns related to blockchain technology.

The significance of TVL in Cardano cannot be overstated. It not only reflects the trust and confidence that users place in its DeFi protocols but also indicates the health and growth of its ecosystem. A higher TVL suggests a robust and active DeFi scene, attracting more developers and users to the platform. Moreover, it plays a pivotal role in understanding market trends and predicting future developments within the Cardano ecosystem.

What is TVL?

The Concept of TVL in DeFi

Total Value Locked (TVL) in Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is a pivotal metric that offers insights into the overall health and growth of blockchain-based financial services. It represents the cumulative value of assets currently deposited in DeFi protocols, such as lending platforms, decentralized exchanges (DEXs), and other financial services operating on a blockchain network. TVL is a crucial indicator of both the popularity and trust that users place in these decentralized systems.

Understanding TVL is fundamental for assessing the performance and potential of any DeFi ecosystem, and this is particularly true for Cardano’s TVL. As a relatively newer player in the DeFi landscape, Cardano has drawn attention for its scientific approach and focus on sustainability and interoperability. Cardano’s unique Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, known as Ouroboros, sets it apart, offering a more energy-efficient alternative to traditional blockchain systems. This innovation is crucial for its role in the DeFi sector, where efficiency and scalability are paramount.

The TVL in Cardano’s DeFi ecosystem is reflective of its growing adoption and the success of its DeFi applications. A higher TVL on Cardano indicates increased usage and confidence in its platform, suggesting a robust and evolving DeFi scene. This is essential for attracting developers and users, fostering a vibrant community around its ecosystem.

Analysis of the Cardano TVL

Cardano’s approach to staking, particularly liquid staking, presents a challenge to the traditional TVL metric. In Cardano’s ecosystem, over ₳23 billion is staked, about 66% of its total supply. Yet, these staked assets are not locked in the conventional sense. Cardano allows staked ADA (its native cryptocurrency) to earn yield while still being tradeable without any lock-in period or penalties. This fluidity contrasts with traditional staking models where assets are locked and immobile. Such flexibility in Cardano’s staking model means that liquid staked tokens are not included in TVL calculations by major data aggregators like DeFi Llama. This exclusion results in a lower TVL ranking for Cardano compared to other blockchains where staked assets are counted towards TVL​​.

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Despite these challenges in measurement, Cardano’s TVL continues to show significant growth. As of late 2023, Cardano ranked 13th in DeFi Llama’s TVL rankings, with over $203 million locked. This upward trend in TVL, particularly since November 2022, indicates a growing interest and investment in Cardano’s DeFi ecosystem, despite the TVL metric not fully capturing the value of liquid staked tokens​​.

Liquid staking has been a pivotal innovation in Cardano, allowing greater flexibility for users and contributing to the growth of its DeFi ecosystem. However, due to the nature of DeFi services and the unique characteristics of liquid staking, TVL can sometimes lead to overstated figures or fail to represent the actual liquidity available in the ecosystem​​.

Cardano’s DeFi Ecosystem

Cardano’s decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem has made significant progress since its inception, particularly evident in its TVL growth. The ecosystem, which went live in January 2022 with MuesliSwap, has seen its TVL increase from $50.9 million in the first quarter of 2023 to over $150 million, marking a substantial year-to-date growth of over 200%​​.

Key components of Cardano’s DeFi ecosystem include:

  1. MinSwap: As the largest decentralized exchange (DEX) on Cardano, MinSwap allows users to swap various cryptocurrencies and provide liquidity in multiple pools. It offers over 2500 pools, including stablecoin, constant product, multi-asset, and dynamic pools. As of May 2023, MinSwap had a TVL of $48 million, representing 26.8% dominance in the Cardano ecosystem​​.
  2. Indigo: This protocol enables the creation of synthetic assets, known as iAssets, on the Cardano blockchain. iAssets track the price of real-world assets like stocks, bonds, and commodities, offering users exposure without direct ownership. Indigo leverages Cardano’s Plutus smart contract platform for its operations​​.
  3. Liqwid Finance: A DeFi lending protocol, Liqwid Finance is open-source and non-custodial. It ranks third in terms of TVL within Cardano’s DeFi sector, with over $19 million. The protocol offers high-yield staking pools and a DAO governance system​​.
  4. Djed Stablecoin: This multi-chain crypto-backed stablecoin protocol uses a multi-currency algorithmic system for price stabilization. Djed requires users to over-collateralize their positions to borrow loans, thereby ensuring system stability​​.
  5. WingRiders: A decentralized automated market maker (AMM) offering services like token swap, staking, and yield farming. It’s notable for supporting WalletConnect and Lace wallet, enhancing cross-network token swaps​​.
  6. VyFinance: Designed to simplify DeFi services, VyFinance is the first DEX on Cardano to use an AI neural network. It offers features like yield farming, staking, and a lottery system, contributing to the diverse offerings within Cardano’s DeFi space​​.

To check Cardano’s TVL, platforms like DeFi Llama can be used. They provide up-to-date TVL figures and rankings, though it’s important to remember that due to Cardano’s unique approach to staking, some TVL aspects might not be fully captured in these metrics.

Challenges and Opportunities

Cardano’s DeFi ecosystem presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities that shape its potential and performance, including its impact on Cardano TVL.


  1. Smart Contracts and Plutus: The introduction of smart contracts through the Alonzo upgrade and the native scripting language Plutus offers a robust environment for DeFi app development. Plutus, differing from Ethereum’s Solidity, enhances security and versatility, promising more reliable DeFi applications​​.
  2. Enhanced Scalability and Sustainability: Cardano’s Ouroboros PoS consensus mechanism is not only energy-efficient but also scalable. In a sector where congestion and high fees are common, Cardano’s approach offers a more sustainable and scalable alternative, potentially attracting more projects and users​​.
  3. Interoperability: Cardano is designed for seamless interaction with other blockchains, which could revolutionize DeFi through cross-chain lending, borrowing, and other financial operations​​.
  4. Academic and Peer-reviewed Foundation: Cardano’s extensive academic research and peer-reviewed approach lend credibility to the platform, attracting institutional players and serious developers​​.
  5. Financial Inclusion and Global Outreach: Cardano’s focus on accessibility can bridge the gap in financial inclusion, providing underserved populations with access to financial resources through DeFi applications​​.
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  1. Late Entry: Cardano entered the DeFi sector later than competitors like Ethereum. This delay means Cardano needs to catch up in terms of decentralized application (dApp) development and user adoption​​.
  2. Network Activity Concerns: Cardano has been criticized for lower on-chain activity compared to its competitors. For a thriving DeFi ecosystem, increased on-chain metrics are essential​​.
  3. Execution and Delivery Delays: Cardano’s detailed, research-driven approach, while beneficial for security and reliability, has led to delays in executing and delivering milestones, which may deter some developers and users from fully engaging with the platform​​.


Cardano’s journey in the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector represents a blend of innovation, challenges, and evolving opportunities. Its entry, marked by the development of a robust and secure environment for DeFi applications, showcases a strong foundation in technology and security. The introduction of smart contracts via Plutus, the energy-efficient and scalable Ouroboros PoS consensus mechanism, and a focus on interoperability and financial inclusion position Cardano as a significant contender in the DeFi space.

Despite these strengths, Cardano faces challenges such as its late entry into the DeFi market, concerns over network activity, and delays in execution and delivery of key milestones. These hurdles underscore the need for accelerated development and user adoption to keep pace with established players like Ethereum.

The Total Value Locked (TVL) in Cardano, while growing, highlights the unique aspects of its ecosystem, especially in the context of liquid staking. The absence of locked assets in traditional staking models presents both a challenge in measuring Cardano’s TVL accurately and an opportunity for more fluid capital movement within its DeFi ecosystem.

Looking ahead, the growth trajectory of Cardano’s DeFi ecosystem hinges on its ability to leverage its technological innovations, attract more projects and users, and address the challenges that have hindered its faster growth. As the DeFi landscape continues to evolve, Cardano’s commitment to sustainability, scalability, and inclusion could play a pivotal role in shaping its future and influence in the broader DeFi market.

In conclusion, Cardano’s role in the DeFi space is marked by both promising potential and areas needing improvement. As it navigates these challenges and leverages its unique opportunities, Cardano could emerge as a key player in the increasingly competitive and dynamic world of DeFi.

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