2021 was a big year for airdrops, with leading Ethereum DeFi projects offering generous rewards to early users.
Layer 2 solutions and bridges look set to take center stage in 2022.
Experimenting with other ecosystems such as Cosmos, Solana, and Avalanche is also a solid strategy to receive token rewards.
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Those who test out new protocols can often be handsomely rewarded.
DeFi Airdrops in 2021
To say 2021 was a good year for airdrops would be something of an understatement.
In January, Crypto Briefing published a list of 10 DeFi projects that were likely to airdrop tokens to early users. So far, three of the 10 listed have distributed tokens, netting early adopters thousands of dollars worth of digital assets.
In June, Instadapp was the first on our list to reward its users, airdropping 11,000,000 INST tokens to Maker DAO, Compound, and Aave users on Ethereum and Polygon. Next up, the on-chain trading platform dYdX announced its own token in August, dropping 7.5% of the total DYDX token supply to early users. Finally, despite publicly announcing that it wasn’t planning an airdrop, Paraswap dropped 150 million PSP tokens to frequent users in November.
Of the seven that haven’t rewarded users with tokens this year, several still look promising. MetaMask has continually hinted that an airdrop could be coming but has been vague on who will be eligible or when it’s likely to happen. Other picks, such as Zapper and DeFi Saver, have been less vocal but are still favorites for a future airdrop.
As always, with airdrops, nothing is guaranteed because factors like eligibility criteria are so hard to predict, even moreso after a series of Sybil attacks targeting airdrops were discovered earlier this year. However, the previous record of airdrops has proven that those who consistently get involved early are likely to be handsomely rewarded.
Here, we list our top 10 Ethereum-based projects that could airdrop a token in 2022.
zkSync is a Layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum. It uses ZK-Rollups and is one of several Ethereum scaling projects to make our list. Pioneering users can transfer ETH to the zkSync 1.0 mainnet, where they can mint NFTs or test out dApps preparing to launch on the network.
To qualify for a potential future airdrop, users can try transferring ETH to zkSync’s mainnet wallet and make swaps on the testnet version of UniSync on the zkEVM.
Notably, zkSync has confirmed that it plans to decentralize through a governance token, which many speculate will be distributed through an airdrop to early users.
StarkNet by StarkWare
Like zkSync, StarkNet is another scaling solution built using ZK-Rollups. StarkWare, the company behind StarkNet, provides the technology used to scale several existing DeFi and NFT protocols, such as dYdX, DeversiFi, Sorare, and Immutable X.
The StarkWare team has been tight-lipped on whether it plans to launch a token but has not outright dismissed the idea. On the StarkWare Discord server, team members frequently respond to questions about a token with “no comment.” One of StarkWare’s key initiatives is to decentralize StarkNet, and a popular method for doing so is to issue a governance token.
StarkNet Alpha recently started allowing developers to build apps on the network ahead of a general release in 2022. To prepare, users can download Argent, one of the first StarkNet compatible browser extension wallets.
As StarkWare has refrained from weighing in one way or the other, many to believe that a token, and possibly an airdrop for early adopters, is likely in the future.
The next step for those who have transferred ETH to zkSync or StarkWare’s StarkNet is to make some trades on ZigZag.
ZigZag is the first decentralized exchange built on zkSync and StarkNet Alpha. It’s still in the early stages of development and only supports a limited number of trading pairs but appears to have a significant head start over other protocols planning to launch on ZK-Rollup-based Layer 2 solutions.
Rumors are circulating that early adopters could potentially receive an airdrop in the future if the exchange decides to release a token.
Continuing the theme of Ethereum Layer 2 solutions, Arbitrum, an Optimistic Rollup, is next on the list for a potential token airdrop.
The speculation for an Arbitrum airdrop comes from when Good Bridging, a popular token bridge to Avalanche, airdropped 100% of its token supply to those who had used the bridge to transfer funds. Some speculate that users of the Arbitrum bridge could also expect a similar payout in the future.
However, Ed Felten, co-founder of the company behind Arbitrum, Offchain Labs, has publicly stated that he doesn’t expect an Arbitrum token. This hasn’t stopped people from speculating, though. There’s evidence that people have attempted to Sybil Attack a future Arbitrum airdrop by sending small amounts of Ethereum through the Arbitrum bridge from multiple wallets.
Optimism is another Optimistic Rollup project aiming to scale Ethereum. Like Arbitrum, there is speculation of an airdrop for those who bridge tokens over to Optimistic Ethereum and interact with DeFi applications. Synthetix, Synapse, and Uniswap have all deployed on Optimism so far; making trades on these protocols could also result in airdrop eligibility.
Despite no word from the Optimism team, many are hopeful for a token airdrop for early adopters.
As several Ethereum Layer 2 solutions are rumored for upcoming airdrops, a bridge linking them together also looks like a good candidate. Hop is a scalable rollup-to-rollup bridge linking Ethereum to Arbitrum, Optimism, Polygon, and xDai.
There are rumors that both using the Hop Protocol bridge and supplying liquidity and staking liquidity provider tokens could qualify users for a future airdrop.
For those wanting to speculate on airdrops from Arbitrum and Optimism, using Hop can give exposure to all three at once. Users can send funds to Arbitrum and then use Hop to bridge them to Optimism, saving on Ethereum gas fees.
In addition to a potential Hop Protocol governance token, those who bridge funds may also qualify for other airdrops. Instrumental Finance recently announced an airdrop for those who participated in cross-layer and cross-chain strategies between Aug. 5 and Nov. 25, with Hop Protocol users eligible.
Bored Ape Yacht Club
Switching gears from Ethereum Layer 2 solutions, the next rumored airdrop is for holders of one of the most coveted NFT collections: Bored Ape Yacht Club. The project’s Twitter account discussed the possibility of launching a token back in October, stating that a Q1 2022 launch is likely.
It’s not confirmed whether Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT holders will receive a token airdrop, but it seems likely. For those who can’t afford the eye-watering prices of Bored Apes on the secondary market, there’s potential for holders of its spin-off projects, Bored Ape Kennel Club, and Mutant Ape Yacht Club, to also be eligible for an upcoming airdrop.
CowSwap is the first decentralized exchange built on the Gnosis V2 Protocol. It lets users buy and sell tokens using gasless orders settled either peer-to-peer or by any on-chain liquidity source.
Airdrop rumors have been circulating on Twitter and within the CowSwap and Gnosis communities for some time. An improvement proposal outlining a protocol token has also gained traction on the Gnosis forum.
If CowSwap does decide to launch a token, it’s possible that holders of the Gnosis Protocol token could be in line for the airdrop, too.
Clipper is another newly-launched decentralized exchange to make the airdrop list. It positions itself as the exchange for retail traders, specializing in swaps under $10,000 in value to keep slippage low.
A Clipper airdrop is more speculative than most on this list, but there are a couple of clues. Besides not yet having a token, Clipper has announced it plans to create a DAO, so it may launch a token in the future to decentralize the protocol.
Using the exchange to trade or provide liquidity could make users eligible for future token rewards. Those wanting to avoid the high gas fees on Ethereum can make swaps on Polygon to gain exposure to this potential airdrop.
Following the surprise airdrop from Ethereum Name Service in early November, speculation is rising over whether other blockchain domain providers will follow a similar path.
Unstoppable Domains provides “.crypto” domain names on Ethereum and Polygon, similar to how ENS provides “.eth” names on Ethereum. The protocol currently does not have a token, making it a prime candidate for a future airdrop.
Unlike ENS, Unstoppable Domains only requires a one-time payment to purchase a domain with no renewal fees. Unstoppable Domain owners could end up being eligible for a future airdrop if the protocol decides to issue a token.
At the start of 2021, DeFi protocols appeared to be the most promising prospects for token airdrops. As expected, many of the most lucrative airdrops came from DeFi projects on Ethereum.
For 2022, Ethereum Layer 2 solutions and cross-chain bridges are now favorites ahead of a big year of releases. Aside from the names mentioned in this list, testing out any additional Ethereum scaling solutions or interoperability protocols over the next year is likely a good bet for maximizing the chances of hitting an airdrop. Moreover, besides Ethereum, exploring other ecosystems such as Cosmos, Avalanche, and Solana is also likely to yield rewards for early protocol adopters.
Token rewards aside, getting familiarized with these upcoming technologies is an excellent educational investment in and of itself. While being an early adopter can pay off handsomely, those doing so should also be aware of the risks involved with using protocols that are still in the early stages of development.
Disclosure: At the time of writing this feature, the author owned ETH, SOL, and several other cryptocurrencies.
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