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The New Wave in DeFi Staking – Liquid Restaking Tokens and Blast

The New Wave in DeFi Staking – Liquid Restaking Tokens and Blast
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LRTs (liquid restaking tokens) and the emergence of layer two solution Blast are powering a new wave in DeFi staking.
In this article, we’ll look at the backdrop behind this development, what it means for DeFi staking and what the major trends are in the space.
Liquid restaking tokens – t he newest innovation in LSDs

Source: Bing Ventures
LSD (liquid staking derivatives) have been an area in the Ethereum ecosystem that has demonstrated exemplary innovation and adaptability, especially after the Shanghai upgrade.
Lido Finance, a platform that played a critical role in refining the Ethereum staking mechanism, was where it all started.
With its innovative solution, Lido unlocked the liquidity of staked assets in Ethereum, solving a major issue in the Ethereum staking mechanism.
Lido allows users to earn staking rewards on Ethereum without locking up assets, marking a major shift from the traditional rigid paradigm of staking.
Pendle Finance was the next to chart new territories in the LSD space. It pioneered yield tokenization on Ethereum, enabling users to trade yield and earn a fixed yield on their assets.
This new model opened up new approaches for yield optimization and risk management.
The quest for higher yields and fuller utilization of staked assets, however, has no end. Restaking protocol Eigenlayer emerged with a more complex model.
Eigenlayer allows stakers to reallocate their staked assets to secure additional decentralized services on the Ethereum network.
This not only increases stakers’ overall rewards but also enhances cryptoe-conomic security and resilience of the entire Ethereum network.
However, a major challenge emerged. Restaked assets became fragmented and illiquid, hampering the activity and composability in the DeFi space. This was where LRT came into play.
This innovation unlocks the liquidity of restaked assets and further increases stakers’ rewards by enabling them to participate in DeFi.
Users can deposit LRTs to liquid restaking protocols for additional earnings.
With these developments, the LSD space has evolved from a starting point of single-layer staking into a more complex and multifaceted ecosystem.
Some more recent happenings, such as the emergence of Blast, reflect this trend. Blast is an EVM-compatible Ethereum layer two networks that offers native yield staking of ETH and stablecoins on its chain.
This has further democratized staking rewards and elevated the overall user experience by streamlining the process.
The evolvement of the LSD space demonstrated the dynamic environment and adaptability of the Ethereum ecosystem where innovations are constantly being created to meet users’ needs for higher liquidity and yield while navigating the intricacy and risks of DeFi.

DeFi’s next big thing – LRTs

Source: Dune, Bing Ventures
In the realm of DeFi, the emergence of LRTs represents a profound revolution in the traditional staking paradigm.
LRTs represent a breakthrough not only by thinking out of the box of single-asset staking but also by introducing and facilitating the development of multi-protocol staking.
Through EigenLayer, users can transcend the boundaries of a single protocol and diversify their rewards by staking ETH assets across multiple AVS (actively validated services) on Eigenlayer – i.e., applications and networks that are secured via restaking.
This significantly enhances network security and in doing so injects a more intricate layer of security into the whole DeFi ecosystem.
The advantages embodied by LRTs are manifold – a significant improvement in capital efficiency, enhanced network security and substantial savings for developers in resource allocation.
However, we must remain vigilant about the accompanying risks, including potential penalty risks, protocol centralization concerns and revenue dilution caused by fierce market competition.
Regarding the market prospects of LRTs, we believe LRT protocols will have a tremendous allure for users with their high earnings potential.
LRT protocols offer additional revenue streams for ETH stakers, encompassing not only the basic staking rewards but also rewards from EigenLayer and the potential benefits of token issuance.
Moreover, through incentive measures such as airdrops, LRTs have the potential to attract a wider range of participants, thereby driving overall DeFi growth and creating a trend that could replicate or even surpass the heat of the DeFi summer of 2020.
The trend is worth paying attention to. With LRT providing fresh impetus, the DeFi space is expected to see increased competition similar to the previous ‘Curve War,’ and token economics may evolve toward more complex veTokenomics models.
In the meantime, as more AVS are launched, the additional rewards that they offer to LRT holders could become a key driver for user acquisition in the LRT space.
In conclusion, LRTs have demonstrated their unique value in unlocking liquidity, enhancing yields and optimizing governance and risk management.
As such, LRTs are not only a staking tool but also a crucial catalyst for DeFi innovation and growth.
Their development and application could bring profound changes to the DeFi ecosystem, opening new possibilities for users, developers and the entire blockchain world.
Associated risks and challenges
Stader Labs has recently emerged as a dark horse with its launch of Ethereum mainnet’s first LRT rsETH garnering widespread attention.
With rsETH, users will be able to ‘restake’ liquid staked tokens, such as Coinbase’s wrapped staked ETH (cbETH), Lido’s staked ETH (stETH) and Rocket Pool’s rETH on multiple different networks, minting a liquid token to represent their share in a restaking contract.
This allows greater liquidity and flexibility of staked assets.
With the support of EigenLayer, rsETH has successfully achieved large-scale restaking of ETH by streamlining the process for users entering the restaking ecosystem, further reinforcing the decentralization of the Ethereum network.
However, such innovations also bring risks.
Ethereum’s founder, Vitalik Buterin, and the co-founders of EigenLayer have both pointed out that restaking may lead to complex scenarios, posing a threat to the security of the main network.
Additionally, with the proliferation of AVSs and LRTs, excessive dispersion of industry funds and attention could result in market instability and weakened governance structures.
As an emerging force, layer two network Blast added more vitality to the space with its unique automatic compounding feature.
Its innovation lies in the design that it not only provides users with basic staking yields by working with liquid staking protocols such as Lido, but it also enables users to receive additional yields from its auto-rebasing stablecoin USDB by working with protocols like MakerDAO.
Although such a model is user-friendly and offers users more returns, owing to its impact on the TVL (total value locked) composition, it also brings in centralization concerns and increases its sensitivity to market risk.
How Blast’s strategy influences the actual utilization of assets and the dynamics of capital flows within its ecosystem will be the key.
Blast should aim for its TVL composition to shift more from capital preservation to asset growth so that it can maintain good network activity and sufficient liquidity in DApps.
Only in this way can it truly achieve its goal of driving the growth of its blockchain network, rather than merely serving as a deposit platform.
Overall, while both Stader Labs and Blast signify innovation and progress in the staking models of the DeFi sector, they are not without risks that we should remain vigilant about – to ensure the safety and well-being of the Ethereum network in the long run.
A robust and sustainable balance needs to be reached between these innovations and risk management in the future.
Other new paradigms for Ethereum staking
We believe dynamic staking strategies like LRTs are having a profound impact on the Ethereum staking market.
Firstly, the automation and efficiency of these strategies have lowered the investment threshold, attracting more individual investors.
Secondly, as more funds flow in, market liquidity significantly improves, contributing to the stability of the entire DeFi ecosystem.
Moreover, dynamic staking strategies – by offering diversified and customized investment options – are driving market innovation and development.
However, implementing these strategies faces technical challenges, particularly in constructing efficient and accurate algorithmic models and ensuring system security and resilience against network attacks.

Source: Bing Ventures
Meanwhile, there are other new paradigms of staking under exploration. Let’s take a look.
A new model known as the ‘layered staking system’ emerged in response to a maturing market with diverse investor demands.
This system distributes staked assets across different risk layers, each with varying profit potential and risk configurations.
Low-risk layers offer relatively stable returns, suitable for risk-averse investors, while high-risk layers cater to those with a higher risk tolerance.
The flexibility of this system allows investors to allocate assets based on their risk preferences and market forecasts.
Implementing a layered staking system requires complex smart contracts and sophisticated risk management strategies to ensure liquidity and security between different layers.
Its introduction provides investors with more choices and flexibility, propelling the Ethereum staking market towards maturity and diversification.
Contract-based automated staking strategies are an interesting development too.
They enhance asset management efficiency and effectiveness by automatically executing staking, unstaking and asset reallocation.
The risk management capability of automated staking strategies is enhanced through specific risk parameters set within smart contracts.
Once market conditions trigger these parameters, smart contracts automatically adjust staking positions.
Despite challenges such as ensuring the security and reliability of smart contracts, as the security of smart contracts strengthens with the advancement of technology, automated staking strategies are expected to see broader applications.
Additionally, collective staking and profit-sharing models enable multiple investors to collectively stake their assets and share the generated profits proportionally.
This model utilizes smart contracts to automatically distribute earnings, offering collaborative wealth growth opportunities for small-scale investors.
Smart contracts play a pivotal role in collective staking by executing profit distribution and ensuring fair returns for each participant.
Collective staking provides small-scale investors with opportunities to reduce risk and costs, enhancing inclusivity within the DeFi ecosystem.
Lastly, linking staked assets with RWAs (real-world assets) is another innovative approach in the DeFi space.
Under this model, real-world assets such as real estate and artwork are tokenized on the blockchain and serve as the underlying assets for staked assets.
This approach provides liquidity for typically illiquid assets and offers new sources of funding for owners of real-world assets.
Although this model faces challenges such as accurate assessment and tokenization of real-world assets – as well as dealing with regulatory and compliance issues related to these assets – the future holds the promise of broader applications for linking staked assets with RWAs.
This can provide traditional asset holders with new funding channels and offer cryptocurrency investors new investment opportunities, deepening the integration of cryptocurrency markets with traditional finance markets.
In conclusion, the future of DeFi staking promises further advancements. It’s an area worth paying attention to for both investors and DeFi players.

Kyle Liu is the investment manager at Bing Ventures and a seasoned crypto analyst and writer. He provides insightful analysis and research on a wide range of topics including market trends, sector analysis and emerging projects. He is especially strong at providing forward-looking analysis on DeFi related topics.
 
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