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DeFi has steadily grown in prominence over the past year thanks in large part to the strong foundations established by decentralized exchanges (DEX) that enable easy access to the latest tokens and projects. 

While there have been previous iterations of DEX user interfaces, such as IDEX or Etherdelta, it wasn’t until Uniswap launched that trading in the DeFi network really took off and facilitated the launch of the finance tokens.

Here are six of the top-performing tokens in the decentralized finance sector.

UNI/USDT

Uniswap has risen from the humble beginnings of a simple user interface that allowed for a token swap between two ERC-20 tokens, to a rapidly evolving DeFi centerpiece that now sees an average daily trading volume of $1 billion and $3.95 billion worth of liquidity locked on the protocol.

Uniswap liquidity and 24-hour volume. Source: Uniswap

Originally the Uniswap platform operated without a native token and fees that were collected went into a liquidity reserve, but the project performed a surprise airdrop to platform users and liquidity providers following the launch of the rival SushiSwap (SUSHI) platform which offered the same interface as Uniswap at the time but also included the SUSHI governance token.

Following its release and subsequent listing on several top exchanges, UNI quickly spiked above $7.00 before correcting as low as $1.93 on Nov.4.

UNI/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

Since that time the price of UNI has continued to climb to a new all-time high of $32.50 on Feb.20.

Excitement over the release of Uniswap v3 and the ability for token holders to stake their UNI and collect a portion of the fees continues to help drive demand and token price higher.

SUSHI/USDT

SushiSwap has a controversial origin story, from starting off as a clone of Uniswap to having the lead developer dump their tokens on the market and subsequently donating all funds towards project development, but has since emerged as a top DEX in terms of community involvement and token price.

Governance and staking were early features that SUSHI holders benefited from, as well as increased incentives for early liquidity providers that some called a “vampire attack” on Uniswap.

After listing, SUSHI price rallied from $1.16 on Aug. 29 to $8.84 on Sep.1, but lead developer ‘Chef Nomi’s’ token dump on the open market caused SUSHI to drop as low as $0.475 on Nov.4.

SUSHI/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

Since that time SUSHI price has grown by more than 4,080% to a high of $19.77 on Feb.20 and SushiS has become the sixth-ranked DeFi platform in terms of total value locked (TVL) with $3.56 billion currently providing liquidity for the protocol.

CAKE/USD

PancakeSwap (CAKE) has seen a significant rise in price over the first two months of 2021 as the project emerged as a competitive DEX and the first billion-dollar project on the Binance Smart Chain (BSC).

Skyrocketing fees on the Ethereum (ETH) network have opened the door for the BSC to drain liquidity and users from its top Ethereum-based competitors, and CAKE has stepped up to facilitate that process.

The protocol offers an expanding list of staking pools, yield farming opportunities, a collectibles section and a built-in lottery, hitting many of the “hot topic” trends in cryptocurrencies on top of being a DeFi platform.

Prior to late January 2021, CAKE generally traded below $0.70 with its all-time low of $0.194 on Nov. 3, 2020. Price action for the token began to pick up around the last week of January, around the same time as traders from r/Wallstreetbets were causing havoc in the traditional markets.

CAKE/USD 1-hour chart. Source: CoinGecko

Since its low of $0.194, CAKE has exploded 11,000% to an all-time high of $20.33 on Feb. 19 as the Binance Smart Chain emerged as the top competitor to the Ethereum network thanks to the significant resources of the Binance ecosystem.