$99 Gas Fees on Ethereum Are Crippling DeFi’s Growth

The surging popularity of decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols on Ethereum (ETH) has contributed to skyrocketing fees, with the network processing an all-time high of $6.87 million in total fees yesterday. 

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Synthetix (SNX) founder and CEO, Kain Warwick warned that high fees were impacting the growth of DeFi, stating:

“In the last three months, we’ve gone from an environment where DeFi was expensive to use and a little bit slow, to now, [where] for a lot of people it’s prohibitively expensive.”

Ethereum fees have spiked nearly 100% over the past 24 hours as congestion saw transaction expenses smash the previous high of $3.27. 

Ethereum transactions fees, 3-month chart

Ethereum transactions fees, 3-month chart: BitInfoCharts

While the average Ethereum transaction fee is more than the daily income in many countries, the additional smart contract executions needed to engage with DeFi protocols has seen users report fees of up to $100.

Major roadblock to growth

The rush to stake coins in the doomed YAM protocol saw numerous SNX stakers report transaction fees as high as $99 when seeking to collect weekly participation rewards. Reddit user Willy 3380 posted:

“To require a transaction fee of 99 dollars is beyond ridiculous. This will be a major roadblock to growth if someone on the team does not address this.”

To mitigate the exorbitant fees, Warwick revealed that Synthetix will launch the Optimism Virtual Machine (OVM) Ethereum layer two scaling solution sooner than previously planned. Already trialled on testnet earlier this year the L2 solution also enables a couple of thousand of transactions per second, rather than the current handful of TPS:  

“We’re focused on the OVM and I think it’ll be sooner than ‘three to six months’ to be honest. I think we’ll be transitioning faster than that because it’s probably one of the top-three things we need to nail.”

The solution theoretically works with any Ethereum smart contract.

Opportunity to dethrone Ethereum

Layer 2 solutions for Ethereum’s congestion problem are becoming increasingly important due to delays in the roll out of ETH 2.0. Messari’s head of product Qiao Wang asserted that Ethereum may face aggressive competition from rival scalable blockchains:

“I’ve changed my mind after using a dozen of Defi platforms. So long as ETH 2.0 is not fully rolled out, there’s an obvious opportunity for a highly scalable blockchain to dethrone Ethereum. Paying $10 transaction fee and waiting 15 seconds for settlement is just bad UX.”