Examining Maker Vaults (CDP) Creation Metrics From 2019

Looking at the 3 major spikes in account creation.

Hey everyone, I hope you are all off to a great week. For those in highly populated areas, please stay safe from the coronavirus. Remember, it’s not just about protecting yourself, but protecting the people around you! With that PSA out of the way, let’s dive into some data today (I know, great rhyme).

MakerDAO has been the backbone of the entire decentralized financial movement within crypto. Maker vaults which enables anyone to obtain an overcollateralized loan have been the flagship product of the DeFi ecosystem with Maker accounting for over 50% of total value locked in DeFi protocols and platforms.

The Most Successful DeFi Product: Maker Vaults

With Maker’s impressive rise, I wanted to examine the rise of vaults (accounts) over the course of 2019 and see if there were any standout events. So, I pulled some Alethio reports as well as some Coinmetrics data about Sai (single collateral dai) and Dai (multi-collateral dai) got to work. (All the visualization are from yours truly, so please ignore the lack of aesthetic touch).

How Maker Vaults Work

MakerDAO vault users are able to perform various actions that are represented as call functions to the smart contract. Vault owners are able to perform the following actions:

Create or change ownership

  • Open: A user opens a new vault with a sequentially generated id.

  • Give: An owner gives away ownership of a CDP to another address.

Note: When examining the data, it appears that the Maker protocol “gives” a vault to a new user (Ethereum address) shortly after a user opens a vault. So, “give” transactions aren’t a very useful metric for gaging actual vault users. Notably, there were 260 more give transactions than opens, suggesting that 260 vaults actually transferred ownership throughout 2019.

Adding Collateral

  • Join: A user joins the collateral pool by depositing ETH in exchange for PETH. PETH is sent to the Maker contract and exchanged for DAI and PETH is locked until the DAI is repaid.

  • Lock: Anytime a user adds collateral to an existing vault.

Withdraw Collateral

  • Free: this function is called when a user withdraws collateral from a vault.

  • Exit: a user withdraws collateral (PETH) in exchange for Ether.

Lend or repay DAI

  • Draw: A user borrows DAI which is then minted and issued to the user.

  • Wipe: User pays back some DAI and interest which is then burned.

Liquidate collateral

  • Bite: When a vault becomes unsafe, the collateral is liquidated and used to repay the loan until the collateralization ratio returns to a safe level.

  • Shut: A vault is closed

Since opening a Maker vault is rather trivial and users are only required to pay a small amount of gas on Ethereum, we have to further define what qualifies as “opening” a vault. So from now on in this post “open” vaults will be counted as vaults that were both opened and joined — meaning that the user joined the Maker collateral pool by depositing Ether into their vault.

After sorting the criteria, there were 75,424 vaults opened throughout 2019, which eliminated just over 30% of all the total vaults.

Spikes in Maker Vault/Account Creation

Spike 1: Multi-Collateral Dai Announcement

As you can see from the above figure there were several drastic spikes of vault creation throughout the year. For instance, Maker experienced the largest and second-largest days of vault creation immediately following its announcement of Multi-Collateral Dai in October (15–16th).

Over 6000 vault accounts where users opened and deposited collateral were created on October 15th alone! This is actually sorta funny because it means that users created accounts that they then would have had to close a month later to obtain multi-collateral Dai.

Spike 2: The Coinbase Earn Bump

The second-largest instance of vault creation occurred over August 1st-4th. The four days combined for a total of 9290 vaults which was 12% of the total amount of Maker Vaults created in 2019.

The likely reason for the rapid account creation in 2019 was Coinbase Earn’s “Maker Advanced Task” which required individuals to open a Maker Vault in exchange for the Dai stablecoin. In fact, the Maker Advanced Task was so successful that Coinbase has distributed all the Dai that was pledged to individuals who complete the lessons and Maker vault tutorial.

This means that Coinbase Earn has certainly been the single largest user adoption tool in DeFi and potentially one of the most effective crypto campaigns besides ICOs and Bitcoin.

In a way, it makes perfect sense: Coinbase gave people money to open Maker vaults. But companies try and pay users to do things all the time.

I’m excited to see how other companies try to leverage Coinbase and other exchanges for adoption. Imagine if Dharma and Coinbase partnered to give every user 20 dollars for them to stake USDC (Coinbase’s stablecoin) using Dharma.

Spike 3: Reduction in Stability Fee

The last major increase in accounts occurred in September after the MakerDAO governance vote to reduce the stability fee which was at 14.5%. Obviously it’s impossible to tell what catalyzed the account creation but it’s reasonable to think that the stability fee reduction may have helped catalyze account creation.

Caveats: A note about the data

This was just some analysis I did quickly. With a better dataset, I could have filtered active accounts even further based on how much ether was in each account or potentially which addresses were linked to one another. However, this quick analysis can still provide some interesting points of information such as the spikes in accounts throughout 2019.

What about the 2020 Vault Statistics and Metrics?

We could easily examine the 2020 stats for Maker single collateral vaults, however, for a few reasons it’s really not useful. First, the single collateral Dai or “Sai” has decreased rapidly over the past three months as users switch to the Multicollateral Dai. The transition to Multicollateral Dai has obviously resulted in the reduction of the Sai stablecoin (single collateral Dai) which as of March 1st sits around 21 million Sai.

Maker’s transition to multi-collateral Dai and the Dai Savings Rate (DSR) occurred on November 18th and now multi-collateral Dai’s fully diluted supply sits around 50 million Dai with a circulating supply of a little over 115 million Dai.

As the final Sai vault users transition to multi-collateral vaults, Sai will fade away to little more than a distant memory where we’ll say to our grandkids, “I remember when we had to use only single collateral Dai”. Oh, the nostalgia.

Final Thoughts

Overall, 75,000 vaults opened over the course of 2019 is a historic feat for any crypto project, let alone one as complex as MakerDAO. It’s also super fascinating to see that many accounts were opened because of Coinbase Earn, MCD’s announcement, and the stability fee reduction. In my opinion, the collateral dai announcement and stability fee reduction reflect more educated crypto users. The reduction in stability fee makes sense as a catalyst for new accounts. The Coinbase Earn spike is also interesting because of how it created nearly 10k new accounts and potentially for more retail users.

In a future post, I’ll revisit the number of accounts/vaults opened and compare it against 2019, as well as marketing campaigns and DeFi events to see if there are any noticeable correlations. I’m very excited to watch the continued growth of Maker and other DeFi protocols in 2020.


Advancing Web 3.0 is a weekly newsletter about cryptocurrencies, decentralized finance (DeFi), and technologies that are shaping the next era of the Internet. Welcome to the bleeding edge. Welcome to Web 3.

About the Author: I’m Mason Nystrom, a writer and aspiring angel investor. Previously I worked for ConsenSys as a marketer focused on marketing strategy for ConsenSys and its portfolio companies. Prior to joining ConsenSys, I worked as a Business Analyst at Gatecoin, the first cryptocurrency exchange to list ether, Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency.

I’m passionate about Bitcoin, Ethereum, DeFi, Web 3.0, and all things crypto. When I’m not writing or heads down in crypto, I’m learning to become a developer at Lambda School.

The views, information, and opinions expressed are solely those by the author and are meant for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a recommendation or investment advice to buy or sell any securities, cryptoassets, or other financial products.