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Cryptocurrency investors around the world pulled in 400% more in gains in 2021 than the previous year, driven by price increases to all-time highs for the two most valuable cryptocurrencies, according to Chainlysis.
Investors realized total gains of $162.7 billion in 2021, a jump from $32.5 billion in 2020, said Chainalysis, a cryptocurrency data firm, in a report published Wednesday.
Driving the big growth were price climbs for bitcoin and ether in what was a notable year for the wider cryptocurrency market. Bitcoin, the world's most traded cryptocurrency, leapt 60% to finish 2021 at about $46,300. Ether, the token currency for the ethereum blockchain network, jumped about 400% in 2021, landing at around $3,650.
Ethereum edged out bitcoin in total realized gains worldwide at $76.3 billion compared with $74.7 billion, the data firm said.
"We believe this reflects increased demand for Ethereum as the result of DeFi's rise in 2021, as most DeFi protocols are built on the Ethereum blockchain and use Ethereum as their primary currency," Chainalysis said. DeFi refers to decentralized finance, which include crypto lending and borrowing platforms.
Each of the top two cryptocurrencies hit all-time highs in November of last year, with bitcoin reaching as high as $69,044.77 and ether peaking at $4,878.26, according to Coingecko.com.
On a country-by-country basis, investors in the US logged $47 billion in realized gains, more than their counterparts in the UK, Germany, Japan, and China. UK investors made $8.2 billion from crypto.
"However, like last year, we see many countries whose collective cryptocurrency investment performance seems to be outperforming their rankings in traditional measures of economic prosperity," the firm said.
Bitcoin hit its all-time high in 2021, bolstered by increasing exposure and interest in the cryptocurrency and digital assets overall by institutional and retail investors.