Ethereum layer 2s, such as Optimism, Arbitrum and Polygon, increased in popularity in the first quarter of 2023, according to a report from Web3 development platform Alchemy. Ethereum users bridged over $635,000 worth of crypto assets to these networks from January to March, an increase of 44% over the fourth quarter of 2023 and 518% over the first quarter of 2022.
The report, titled simply “Web3 Development Report,” cited Dune Analytics as its source for this data. It showed that users only bridged approximately $103,000 worth of assets to layer 2s in the first quarter of 2022, whereas the same three months in 2023 produced over $635,000 in bridging volume.
Alchemy suggested that this increased activity may have been reinforced by successful airdrops from Optimism and Arbitrum in Q1, 2023.
In addition to increased asset bridging from users, layer 2s also showed greater activity from developers. Although the deployment of smart contracts related to layer 2s decreased by 30% relative to Q4 2022, it still increased by 160% when compared to Q1, 2022, the report said.
The crypto industry is coming off the back of a steep downturn in trading volume and crypto prices during 2022, with scandals like the UST depegging and FTX collapse causing many investors to shy away. But despite this negative sentiment, users still flocked to these new scalability solutions.
The Ethereum ecosystem as a whole also showed increased developer interest. Ethereum software development kits (SDKs) such as Ethers.js, Web3.js, Hardhat and Web3.py were downloaded 1.3 million times in Q1 2022. This became 1.9 million in the first quarter of 2023, an 8% increase. In addition, downloads of the MetaMask SDK, a tool used to develop apps that can interact with Ethereum wallet MetaMask, increased in each month of the first quarter.
Ethereum layer 2s have been offered as a solution to Ethereum’s scalability problem, which has been periodically causing high gas fees since as early as 2020. Some experts have argued that sharding the Ethereum network will also help to cut down on gas fees.