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Is The Fun Moving to Fantom? All You Need To Know About The Sonic Upgrade

May 31, 2024

In conclusion

Is the fun moving to Fantom?

Those of us who happened to be deep in the degenerate trenches of the last cycle will know that Fantom was, for a long time, the place to be.

It ticked all the boxes needed to fulfill any ape’s gambling needs. High speed, low fees, a solid main character in Andre Cronje, and disgustingly high yields found in the Tomb cemetery. Ahhh, the memories!

Sadly, it all seemed to fall apart at the beginning of 2022, leaving everyone's favorite ghost chain a total ghost town. However, recent price action seems to suggest that Fantom is rising from the grave, and the $FTM token has remained strong throughout the recent dip.

Long story short, Fantom seems to be back, and Andre is back; therefore, the degeneracy must be making a return with it.

With all this in mind, and given the breakneck speed of narrative shifts in the space, it makes more than perfect sense to dive into the Fantom ecosystem, check out what they are cooking up, and get one step ahead of the game.

Get in!

Brief history of Fantom

Fantom is a layer 1 blockchain that sprung into existence in 2018, bringing with it an exceptionally fast and low-fee user experience, something that all crypto natives had long been craving.

By 2019, Fantom had partnered with Binance, and shortly thereafter, the EVM-compatible Fantom Opera was birthed into the world of degenerate speculation, just in time for a crazy 2021 bull run.

During the mayhem that was the 2021 bull market Fantom quickly established itself as a favorite venue for all things DeFi and degens flocked to the chain en masse.

So great was the gathering of crypto bros that Fantom became the second largest chain for DeFi action and TVL eventually topped out at around 8 billion United States hyperinflated dollerinos in March of 2022.

Behind its success were many community-driven based af applications and a DeFi mastermind by the name of Andre Cronje.

Cronje was behind some of the most high-tech DeFi apps of the time, including Yearn Finance and Solidly, the first Ve(3,3) style DEX. This Ve(3,3) model, created by Cronje, is still widely used across crypto today by projects like Thena, Aerodrome, and Velodrome.

Cronje, however, was not the only giga-brain onboard.

Professor Bernhard Scholz, from the School of Computer Science at the University of Sydney was another top contributor and currently holds the Chief Research Officer title.

This is the guy who invented the Souffle programming language, a datalog language that is often used for static program analysis by companies like Oracle and Amazon. The team is clearly stacked with talent!

But as all great things tend to do, it all ended at the start of 2022, and Fantom fell hard alongside the broader crypto markets into the darkness of the bear.

The market crash seemed to hit Fantom especially hard, likely due to the insane leverage, yield, and ponzinomics that had been flourishing on the chain. At rock bottom, the price of the $FTM was down an impressive -95% from its 2021 all-time highs, enough to make even the coldest-blooded degen shudder.

If this wasn’t bad enough, things were about to take a turn for the worse.

The next major hit that Fantom took came in the form of a tweet from Andre Cronje’s partner, Anton Nell, in March 2022, stating: “Andre and I have decided we are closing the chapter of contributing to DeFi/crypto.”

As you can imagine, the sentiment around the chain at the time plummeted even further, and it looked as though Fantom would fade away into the forever-forgotten category of crypto technology.

Then on July 6th 2023 it became clear that about $102 million had been mysteriously withdrawn from Multichain’s Fantom bridge. A total of 7,214 WETH worth approximately $13.6 million, 1,024 WBTC worth $31 million and $58 million USDC had been drained from the Fantom bridge’s Ethereum smart contract.

Mutlichain was at this time the largest bridge in crypto; to say this was detrimental would be a huge understatement. For the remaining hardcore bag holders, all hope was lost.

Luckily, all the greatest stories always involve a defeated character who rises from the ashes in a phoenix-like fashion, and it looks like Fantom could pull this off.

TVL is slowly on the rise, Andre is back, applications in the ecosystem continue to build, and user bases are steadily increasing. You really can’t beat a good comeback story.

Build, and they will come, right?

Fantom has always been at the forefront of epic crypto tech, backed by a bunch of badass devs, and it has always felt like an undervalued ecosystem. The good news is that they seem to be back and building harder than ever, with some serious upgrades in the pipeline.

Sonic Upgrade

The Sonic upgrade is a big one and looks to improve upon all the things that brought Fantom its success in the past. Supersonic performance is the key phrase here, so let’s take a look at what this involves.

First and foremost is the increase in throughput on a chain that was already lightning-fast. We are talking an expected speed of over 2,000 transactions per second and single-second finality.

This would put it on par with the likes of Solana, and having seen the success of the Solana ecosystem so far this cycle, Fantom could be up next as a challenger to this exceptional throughput speed.

This increase in speed is achieved via the new Fantom Virtual Machine that will replace the old Ethereum Virtual Machine model. The FVM will convert old EVM bytecode into a new virtual machine format, support super instructions, and optimize bundles of commonly occurring transaction types.

All this will allow Fantom validators to execute smart contracts with much higher efficiency and bring a 65x speed improvement over the old EVM mechanics.

The Sonic upgrade also significantly reduces storage requirements by about 90%. This new Carmen database storage technology uses a flat storage mechanism instead of a tree-like structure, allowing simplified data retrieval and live pruning.

Live pruning refers to the ability of validators to discard historical data that is no longer needed without disrupting the network, freeing up space, and decreasing storage requirements.

An example of this reduction can be seen in the lowered storage amounts needed for archive node size, which will drop from 11TB to below 1TB. Pretty impressive stuff!

This incredible new tech is currently in its testnet phase, and we can expect to see the new Fantom Sonic network replace the current Fantom Opera network very soon (Spring 2024).

At the time of the new Sonic Network launch, the $FTM token will become the $S token and be redeemable on a 1:1 basis. Yes, this means a fresh new chart!

Currently, a closed testnet that showcases Sonic's capability is available for use, as is a builders testnet that allows developers to get a taste of building dApps on the new network.

For an up-to-date progression timeline for the new launch you can check out the Sonic Status dashboard here.

At the end of the day, all these new tech upgrades will look to greatly increase the development taking place on the Fantom network and seriously improve the user experience for us degens by increasing speed and lowering gas fees.

Plus, there are also some juicy incentives.

Incentive programs

Nothing drives users and developers to an ecosystem like some good ol’ fashioned incentives. And Fantom seems to be rolling out a pretty solid strategy to bring the hoards of gamblers and builders back to the chain.

The largest of these incentive programs is aimed at you devs out there, and is the new Gas Monetization Program.

This works basically by rewarding dApps on the Fantom network with 15% of the gas fees they generate for bringing users to the network. However, some requirements must be met in order to qualify for these rewards.

First up, your dApp will need to have been live for longer than one month on mainnet, you will need to be generating more than 15,000 transactions per contract, and finally, you will need an active multi-sig wallet address.

This Gas Monetization strategy aims to replicate the ad revenue share model that web2 creators enjoy in the normie world. It was all made possible by decreasing the transaction burn rate of the $FTM token from 20% to 5% and allocating the difference to the dApps themselves.

Obviously, gas will be generated from dApps that do not meet the requirements to qualify for these rewards, and the 15% of these fees will be distributed to the top 12 dApps on a tiered, quarterly basis.

For a full overview of the Gas Monetization Program, check out the allocated section of the Fantom docs here.

Canonical stablecoin

On April 5, 2024, backed by Circle and Wormhole, Fantom’s canonical stablecoin USDC.e was launched. This USDC.e is bridged from native USDC and could be upgraded to native USDC in the future.

Having a bridged version of USDC on the Fantom network allows seamless bridging from other networks and increases DeFi activity on the chain.

Let’s face it: Many crypto folks out there are just plain lazy, and making it as easy as possible for them to send funds to the Fantom network will be a big win for onboarding more users.

The Fantom Foundation has already anticipated the upgrade to native USDC, which has provided an additional liquidity boost to USDC.e trading pairs on Beethoven X and Equalizer Exchange.

These USDC.e pairs can be upgraded to the native USDC in the future, and the Fantom Foundation is content to keep them as strong as possible for this future upgrade.

Did someone say airdrops?

Now, with all this new activity taking place on the Fantom network and many new dApps springing up all over the place, it is fair to assume (yes, I said assume) that there will be some airdrops to be had.

If you haven't already, it may well be worth bridging some funds and playing around with some of the DeFi applications available on the network. It certainly never hurts to try anyway!

Speaking of applications, let’s examine some of the interesting places to play on the Fantom network.

Applications of interest

The current TVL of all applications in the Fantom arena is just over $138 million.

Now there are two ways of looking at this: the pessimist could say that’s a measly amount, and the chain is most likely dead, but the optimist sees some serious room for growth. I tend to lean toward the optimistic view in all areas of life and to be honest, things are just more fun that way.

SpookySwap

An oldie but a goodie! Anyone who has played around on Fantom in the previous cycle is most likely familiar with SpookySwap and their $BOO token.

Being the current number one DEX on the Fantom network and sitting at only $22 million in market cap is totally crazy even to consider. $BOO would need to see more than 10x in value for it to reach its 2021 market cap all-time highs, so there is certainly some room for growth here.

We have all seen what has happened to the low-cap DEXes on the likes of Base lately. TVL on SpookySwap has just started to tick up, and if Fantom is going to attract some serious attention in the near future, then fading plays like these could end up in some serious hindsight copium.

Equalizer

Speaking of dexes on Base, we have Equalizer, found on both Base and Fantom. This is another one that has seen its TVL pick up quite significantly of late and has a ridiculously low market cap to go with it.

As a newer application, Equalizer has the advantage of no previous cycle bag holders waiting to dump on unsuspecting victims. Therefore, it could be a solid play for anyone wanting to get involved in the Fantom eco.

Swaps, locks, and liquidity pools are all available on the platform, with their top pool, WFTM/EQUAL, currently paying out around 46%.

This is another platform built using Andre Cronje’s Ve(3,3) model, so if you want something that flaunts some OG Fantom tech, then this one could be for you.

Beefy

Anyone who has used Beefy will already know it's pretty cool. As a multichain yield optimization platform, it’s pretty much every farmer's dream. With 21 chains available and over 650 different vaults on the platform, you can find whatever you are looking for in terms of yield here.

$BIFI is the protocol's native revenue share and governance token, and 100% of tokens are already in circulation. With a number of $FTM vaults available, this could be a great place to put your tokens to work. Of course, though, NFA and DYOR.

Some other projects of note are:

With incentive programs like the Gas Optimization Program, it is fair to say that we will likely see more new, innovative protocols popping up on Fantom over the coming months. It will pay to keep your eyes peeled for these if you're hoping to get lucky with an airdrop or two.

One thing that stands out across the entire Fantom network is the deep integration of the $FTM token itself. For this reason, it pays to understand what it does and some of the basic tokenomics.

$FTM tokenomics

The $FTM token is the native token of the Fantom network and is used for pretty much everything.

Governance, security, and gas are its main use cases. Personally, I especially like to see a native token that is used for gas as the value grows in line with the overall network growth, something that Fantom is working hard to re-discover.

There are some good and bad things about the $FTM token, so let's get the bad out of the way first.

Being an older token, it has seen some serious highs and lows over the years, which can mean a bunch of salty bag holders waiting to get out at break even.

My hope is that with all the new tech coming to the chain, these bag holders will see greater upside potential in simply holding on, maybe to round-trip the lot for a second time.

Another aspect of an older token is that in the world of crypto, the shiniest new thing is usually the most attractive.

Whether or not this will deter people from jumping back into the network will depend on how well the Fantom team can push out these new upgrades and get eyes back on the network.

It’s definitely hard to pull people away from shinier new shit, as we’re acutely aware.

The advantage of being an older coin is that most of the tokens are already in circulation.

Currently, 2.8 billion of 3.175 billion tokens are already on the market, which equates to about 88%. Despite unlocks ending in 2028, there will be minimal inflation with $FTM, estimated at around 2% annually.

With the $FTM token going live way back in 2018, it is likely that the original token distribution now looks a lot different from what it was at the beginning.

It’s probably fair to presume that many of the tokens that went to the team and advisors, around 12% each, have probably hit the open market by now, which can only be good.

The next massive bull factor in the Fantom Foundation case is its insanely large treasury, which is estimated to give it an impressive 30-year runway.

In this blog post from November 2022, Cronje stated that the Fantom Foundation held over 450 million $FTM tokens, over $100 million in stablecoins, and an additional $50 million in non-crypto funds.

It’s pretty clear they have the fuel to pump the ecosystem if they choose to do so.

Final thoughts

There are few if any, ecosystems in crypto that have seen the ups and downs that Fantom has experienced over the past five years.

Any other chain with such a colorful history would likely have faded off the face of the earth by now, but it seems Fantom refuses to die.

The Fantom Foundation has continued to make moves to bring respect back to the chain and restore it to its former glory.

One huge step in this restoration was achieved in January this year when the Fantom Foundation was awarded a default judgment in a court of law for the recovery of the lost Multichain funds. This occurred after Fantom filed an action against the Multichain Foundation for a breach of their contract and fraudulent misrepresentation of the losses sustained by the Fantom network.

This would be a huge bullish catalyst along with the new tech upgrades that the FVM and Sonic Upgrades bring and could turn the flow of attention in their direction.

With Andre back onboard with the rest of the big-brained team at the Fantom Foundation, an array of new incentives to get builders building, and a colossal treasury to back it all up, it certainly looks like a comeback is on the cards.

I, for one, would love to see a resurrection of the chain I once thoroughly enjoyed degening around on in times gone past.

Let’s just hope Andre can stick it out long enough to make it all happen!

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