Whales impact on DeFi

We regularly conduct research to develop our products and features. This results in a more confident approach with decision making. We think our materials will help you with creating something useful for the development of DeFi so we decided to start sharing them.

The research which will be discussed in this article, was carried out by our Analyst (R&D) Alex Oranov. He has analysed the behaviour of whales on one of the most popular DEXes, Uniswap, so the data can be determined as representative on the whole of DeFi. The objectives of the study were to determine how whales contribute to Total Volume and TVL of Uniswap and whether their use cases are similar to ordinary users. The answer to these questions is in the summary of the article.

Used data

Source: Ethereum on-chain data of transactions on Uniswap protocol.
Analyzed pools: USDC-ETH and WBTC-ETH.
Period: January 2022 to August 2022.

Distribution of basic characteristics in small data samples, that has been partly obtained from other pools, have a strong correlation between each other, so, this general sample data can be considered representative.

Whales share in swaps

We identified whales as users, who have made at least one swap with more than 100.000 USD volume.

Swaps analysis showed that 4% users-whales swaps occupy 29% of the exchanges total swap volume, i.e. a significant part.

Whales share in swaps on Uniswap

We segmented whales into 3 groups based on their swap volumes:
#1: 100.000 USD — 200.000 USD
#2: 200.000 USD — 500.000 USD
#3: >500.000 USD

Most of the whales swaps range from $100.000 to $200.000. Swaps that exceed $1.000.000 are really rare.

Whales swaps volume distribution on Uniswap

Whales share in the addresses balances

The distribution for the total balance of addresses of users making swaps are radically different. If we consider a whale being a user with an address balance of more than 100.000 USD, then the share of whales in the addresses balances is 83%. Most of the whale’s addresses have $100.000 to $500.000 on their balance.

Whales share and distribution in user with swap on Uniswap address balance total volume
Whales share in user with swap on Uniswap address balance total volume

However, if we calculate the share in the total balance for the largest whales (who have more than $1.000.000) it turns out that the balances of only 8% of whales (4% of all users) make up 59% of all addresses total balance.

This is clearly seen in the following graph:

Whales balance volume distribution

Whales share in deposits and redeems

The patterns for deposits and redemptions differ from those of swaps, but are very similar to each other (difference is 1–2 percent), so we will only consider the deposits data.

There are noticeably more whales among liquidity providers than among swap users. 22% users-whales deposits occupy 97% of the exchanges total liquidity volume.

Whales share in deposits on Uniswap

At the same time, most of the whales liquidity is provided by users who made deposits of more than $1.000.000:

Liquidity provided by whales on Uniswap distribution

Whales behaviour

Whales behaviour is similar to the behaviour of usual users. Number of deposits, swaps and their USD-volume are correlated with the general “market’s mood”. The only difference is whales deliberate caution. The number of usual users deposits began to grow during the 2022 summer market “warming” while the number of whales deposits was still low in comparison with the market peak indicators.


  • Among Uniswap’s audience, 80% of addresses are over $100,000
  • Whales share in swaps is about 4% of all users. Meanwhile, whale swaps generate 29% of total trading volume.
  • Whales share in deposits is 22% of all users. Whales provides 97% of the total liquidity of the exchange.
    Share of deposits that are larger than $10.000.000 is 2% of the total deposits. At the market peak, there were several deposits worth $40.000.000–$60.000.000 in the ETH/USDT, ETH/USDC, and ETH/DAI pools.
  • Volume of whale swaps in USD are an order less in comparison with whale deposits.

It seems like there are two different customer scenarios:
- small whales mostly play on arbitrage;
- big whales prefer to earn on fees.

Thus, whales seem to play a key role in providing liquidity to Uniswap. They are careful, quickly react to the market and prefer to provide liquidity to pairs with stablecoins. In the trading volume whales play a much smaller role, but obviously the total volume of swaps correlates with the total liquidity of the exchange, which is dramatically increased by whales.

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