What Is DePIN? Plus the Most Popular DePIN Crypto Tokens

DePIN is one of the hottest narratives in crypto at the moment. Learn more about what DePIN means, how it works, and the most popular projects.

May 13, 2024
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20240517 Best Depin Tokens Of 2024 Kv

Key Takeaways:

  • A Decentralised Physical Infrastructure Network (DePIN) provides a novel approach to developing real-world infrastructure through blockchain technology and tokenised economic incentives that leverage unused resources worldwide through open participation.
  • DePIN projects include both physical networks (location-based resources like sensors, energy, wireless) and digital networks (e.g., computing, data storage).
  • The rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) is a key driver of DePINs being seen as a rising narrative in crypto. An example project at the intersection of DePIN and AI is Render Network.
  • DePINs offer incentives to contribute excess infrastructure capacity through native tokens; if and when the network scales up through increased participation, the native tokens are expected to gain greater value.
  • You can buy DePIN tokens, including Render Network and Helium, in the Crypto.com App and on the Exchange.

What Is DePIN?

DePIN stands for Decentralised Physical Infrastructure Network, a concept that leverages blockchain technology and token incentives to facilitate the development of physical infrastructure in various sectors, including transportation, energy, and wireless networks.

DePINs provide a novel approach to developing and maintaining real-world infrastructure through the use of blockchain technology and tokenised economic incentives. It is a narrative in the cryptocurrency space gaining significant traction, particularly driven by the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI).

The concept of DePIN revolves around the decentralisation of control and operations, shifting away from traditional, centralised models that often suffer from inefficiencies and heightened vulnerability to failures or attacks. Instead, DePINs can be broadly categorised into either physical resource networks or digital resource networks (e.g., computing and data storage).

In other words, DePINs aim to decentralise the ownership and governance of traditional infrastructure networks and tap into unused or underutilised resources around the world. 

DePINs present a contrasting approach to centralised forms of infrastructure that have long dominated various sectors (e.g., utilities, telecoms, cloud data storage). 

By leveraging unused and idle physical resources through open and voluntary coordination, DePINs aim to tap significant underutilised capacity. Proponents of DePINs view them as potentially more efficient, resilient, and performant than centralised infrastructure.

Centralised InfrastructureDePINs
CapExSignificant upfront capital requirements create high barriers to entry.Crowd-sourced CapEx: users contribute capital, assets, and labour towards a common objective, incentivised by token rewards.
OpExInefficient, bureaucratic processes in both marketing and operations depress operating margins.On-chain settlement: blockchains reduce admin overhead by becoming the single-source-of-truth shared ledgers across all market participants.
ResilienceSingle points of failure: security and reliability depend entirely on a handful of infrastructure providers.Decentralised resiliency: decentralised networks reduce single-points-of-failure risks — or at least make them more transparent wherever they exist.
InnovationSlow innovation culture; new tech takes decades to roll out and integrate.The pace of experimentation in open, permissionless, global ecosystems is much faster than in centralised companies.
CapEx
Centralised InfrastructureSignificant upfront capital requirements create high barriers to entry.
DePINsCrowd-sourced CapEx: users contribute capital, assets, and labour towards a common objective, incentivised by token rewards.
OpEx
Centralised InfrastructureInefficient, bureaucratic processes in both marketing and operations depress operating margins.
DePINsOn-chain settlement: blockchains reduce admin overhead by becoming the single-source-of-truth shared ledgers across all market participants.
Resilience
Centralised InfrastructureSingle points of failure: security and reliability depend entirely on a handful of infrastructure providers.
DePINsDecentralised resiliency: decentralised networks reduce single-points-of-failure risks — or at least make them more transparent wherever they exist.
Innovation
Centralised InfrastructureSlow innovation culture; new tech takes decades to roll out and integrate.
DePINsThe pace of experimentation in open, permissionless, global ecosystems is much faster than in centralised companies.
Source: Crypto.com Research

Read our in-depth Research report on DePINs in the crypto space here.

How Does DePIN Work?

DePINs generally work by establishing native tokens that incentivise node operators to provide access to unused storage space, bandwidth, sensors, and other physical devices or resources. 

On the other side, users pay with these tokens to access services provided through the decentralised network. The goal is to bootstrap supply and demand to reach economies of scale that make the decentralised network self-sustaining over time.

Rni Depin Economics Flywheel B
  • Resource providers are initially motivated to enrol otherwise idle physical assets into the decentralised network to access rewards. This taps facilities lying dormant with excess capacity.
  • By bringing these distributed resources online, DePINs expand the services available to end-users, who are also attracted by the relatively low costs compared to centralised alternatives.
  • As the network scales up through increased participation, the native utility token gains greater value. This boosts the rewards earned by providers, as well as the returns expected by investors.
  • The growing value proposition in turn attracts more providers to contribute their facilities, feeding additional resources back into the growing network.
  • As this self-reinforcing cycle repeats, the DePIN model is expected to take off, driving a sustained expansion of the distributed infrastructure platform through network effects. The flywheel effect exemplifies the incentivised resource optimisation goal of DePINs.

One example project is Render Network, which provides near real-time rendering using a decentralised Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) model to meet users’ increasing GPU compute needs — both for current 3D rendering tasks and emerging 3D applications. Another example is Helium, a decentralised wireless network that enables devices anywhere in the world to wirelessly connect to the internet and geolocate themselves without the need for satellite location hardware or cellular plans.

1. Render Token (RNDR)

Launched in 2020, Render Network provides one of the largest distributed GPU networks globally, with over 100,000 node operators (GPU rendering service providers) on its waitlist. The network facilitates advanced AI and 3D rendering capabilities, thanks to its decentralised GPU offering invaluable compute resources.

For creators (customers) who require additional computation power for rendering their scenes, the Render Network (RNDR) connects them to node operators, who receive RNDR tokens in exchange for their GPU power. An ERC-20 token, RNDR is pivotal to the network’s operations, required by both creators and node operators.

2. Golem Network (GLM)

Golem Network (GLM) is a decentralised compute marketplace, establishing a peer-to-peer (P2P) network where application owners and users can rent resources of other providers’ machines. Part of its vision is to create a global supercomputer that will offer purchasable computing power through a globally distributed network of computers. To demonstrate Golem Network’s capabilities, researchers were able to rent out 20,000 CPU cores to simulate 11 billion-plus chemical reactions.

Golem Network is amplifying its efforts to expand its ecosystem and to develop a decentralised physical infrastructure for open-source developers and AI companies, mainly through its GPU Beta Testing Programme. The GLM token plays a vital role in the network, as it is the main payment method and store of value on the network. It is also used in the reward system to incentivise providers.

3. Akash Network (AKT)

Akash Network (AKT) is an open-source decentralised cloud computing platform providing decentralised processing and storage to users seeking alternatives for Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS). It features Akash ML, a supercloud for AI designed to provide decentralised and open access to the most sought-after commodity for machine learning GPUs. 

In December 2023, Akash Network unveiled Akash Chat, its own version of a ChatGPT alternative that runs on an open-source version of the ChatGPT model (Mistral-7B open-source large language model). AKT is Akash Network’s multi-utility token used for governance, security, incentives, and value exchange within the network. 

4. NEAR Protocol (NEAR)

NEAR Protocol was created by the NEAR Collective as a community-run cloud computing platform that can achieve up to 100,000 transactions per second (tps). It also features human-readable addresses and a more straightforward onboarding process for decentralised application (dapp) developers.

The native token, NEAR, serves as the core medium of exchange within the platform’s ecosystem and is mainly used by validators for staking; NEAR is distributed as rewards to these validators in exchange for serving the network.

5. Filecoin (FIL)

Filecoin is a decentralised storage network and cryptocurrency that aims to create a global, peer-to-peer (P2P), and open marketplace for storing and retrieving digital information. It was developed by Protocol Labs, the same team behind the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), which is a protocol designed to create a content-addressable, P2P method of storing and sharing hypermedia in a distributed file system.

6. Theta Network (THETA)

Theta Network is a cryptocurrency that underpins a decentralised video streaming and delivery network, which aims to improve the quality and efficiency of video streaming over the internet. The Theta Network leverages blockchain technology to incentivise users to share their redundant computing and bandwidth resources as caching nodes for video streams, which helps reduce the costs of delivery networks while increasing their reach and quality.

The core of Theta Network’s innovation is the Theta token (THETA), which serves as the governance token of the network, and Theta Fuel (TFUEL), which functions as the operational token used to power all transactions and operations within the network.

7. Arweave (AR)

Arweave is a cryptocurrency that powers a unique blockchain-based storage solution aimed at offering permanent, immutable data storage. The Arweave network operates on a principle it calls the ‘permaweb’ — a permanent, decentralised web where data is stored forever without the risk of loss or alteration, backed by its native token, AR.

The technology behind Arweave is designed to make information storage sustainable and cost-effective over the long term. This is achieved by leveraging a novel consensus mechanism known as Proof of Access, which not only secures the network but also ensures that data once added to the blockchain is retrievable and unchangeable, creating a truly permanent data store.

The AR token is used primarily to pay for data storage, and its economics are structured so that the one-time fee covers the cost of storing data indefinitely.

8. Ocean Protocol (OCEAN)

Ocean Protocol (OCEAN) leverages AI to unlock large-scale data sharing while preserving privacy. The platform connects data consumers with data providers through a decentralised blockchain-based marketplace. Tokenising datasets and data services allows data providers to monetise their data and consumers to access valuable information. The project’s native AI token, OCEAN, enables transactions within the marketplace.

9. Helium (HNT)

Launched in 2019, Helium has rapidly gained attention for its potential to revolutionise how devices communicate over long distances without the need for traditional wireless infrastructure. The Helium token (HNT) stands out for its innovative approach to creating a decentralised network for Internet of Things (IoT) devices and primarily acts as a reward for those operating Hotspots, incentivising the expansion and maintenance of the network’s coverage.

10. Internet Computer (ICP)

Internet Computer (ICP) is a public blockchain network that combines the power of individual computers into a seamless universe. It is designed to host smart contracts built on an advanced decentralised protocol, known as Internet Computer Protocol (ICP). Its native token, ICP, is a utility token with multiple functions.

As a governance token, ICP can be staked to exercise those governance rights. As a utility token, it can be burned to obtain ‘cycles‘; this serves as gas for computation and storage in canister smart contracts. In addition, ICP tokens can also be minted to reward ‘node machine‘ providers for providing compute and storage, plus used to participate in decentralisation swaps.

How to Buy DePIN Crypto Tokens

Crypto.com offers a user-friendly platform to buy DePIN tokens, including Render Network, ICP, and Helium.

Follow these steps to buy DePIN tokens on Crypto.com:

  • Download the Crypto.com App and create an account.
  • Complete the necessary verification process to unlock full access to the platform.
  • Deposit funds into the Crypto.com account; users can utilise fiat currency or other cryptocurrencies to fund their accounts.
  • Navigate to the ‘Buy’ section of the App and search for the token (e.g., RNDR).
  • Specify the amount of tokens to acquire and review the transaction details.
  • Confirm the transaction and wait for the order to be executed.
  • Monitor the token holdings in the Crypto.com App, which doubles as a wallet.

Crypto.com provides a secure and reliable trading environment, ensuring that users can trade DePIN tokens with confidence. Take advantage of the platform’s intuitive interface, advanced trading features, and competitive fees to make the most of the DePIN token trading experience.

Conclusion

DePINs signify a transformative approach in how we envision, create, and oversee infrastructure networks. By decentralising ownership structure and distributing resources across numerous nodes, these networks bolster resilience, encourage innovation, and enhance inclusiveness. They present a significant shift from traditional centralised infrastructure models, offering a more dynamic and adaptable solution better equipped for our rapidly evolving world.

However, transitioning to decentralised infrastructure networks involves challenges. This necessitates a revision of current regulatory frameworks, the establishment of new technical standards, and a dedication to continual maintenance and support. Despite these obstacles, the advantages of decentralised infrastructure networks — including improved efficiency, sustainability, and social equity — render them an attractive option for the future.

Due Diligence and Do Your Own Research

All examples listed in this article are for informational purposes only. You should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, cybersecurity, or other advice. Nothing contained herein shall constitute a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by Crypto.com to invest, buy, or sell any coins, tokens, or other crypto assets. Returns on the buying and selling of crypto assets may be subject to tax, including capital gains tax, in your jurisdiction. Any descriptions of Crypto.com products or features are merely for illustrative purposes and do not constitute an endorsement, invitation, or solicitation.

Past performance is not a guarantee or predictor of future performance. The value of crypto assets can increase or decrease, and you could lose all or a substantial amount of your purchase price. When assessing a crypto asset, it’s essential for you to do your research and due diligence to make the best possible judgement, as any purchases shall be your sole responsibility.

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