Top DePIN Crypto Projects To Watch In 2024

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Last updated Jun 27, 2024 | 03:56 PM UTC

DePIN has become a rapidly developing niche within the crypto space. According to the latest research from crypto exchange HTX, DePIN projects on the Solana blockchain alone have a valuation of over $10billion and a market cap of $4bn. 

The concept of Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks (DePIN) emerged from the need to address inefficiencies, high costs, and vulnerabilities associated with centralized infrastructure systems. Traditional models, dominated by large corporations and government bodies, often struggle with single points of failure, lack of transparency, and slow adaptation to changing demands. 

DePIN leverages blockchain technology to distribute control and ownership across a network, offering a more secure, transparent, and efficient alternative. 

So, how do DePIN solutions work? And what are the major DePIN projects to watch in 2024? Let's dive in.

Understanding DePIN

DePIN, or Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks, represents a groundbreaking shift in how we manage and utilize physical infrastructure. Unlike traditional systems that rely on centralized control, DePIN leverages blockchain technology to distribute control and ownership across a network of participants. This approach enhances transparency, security, and efficiency.

Historically, infrastructure management has been the domain of large corporations and governmental bodies. These entities build and maintain critical systems like energy grids, telecommunications networks, and transportation systems. However, this centralized approach often leads to inefficiencies, high costs, and single points of failure. DePIN aims to address these issues by decentralizing control and operations.

At the core of DePIN is blockchain technology. Blockchains are decentralized ledgers that record transactions across multiple computers. This decentralized nature ensures that no single entity has control over the entire network, making it more secure and resistant to tampering. Additionally, the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices plays a crucial role. IoT devices can communicate and coordinate with each other through the blockchain, further enhancing the network's efficiency and responsiveness.

A key example of DePIN in action is decentralized cloud storage. Traditional cloud storage services, like those offered by Amazon or Google, store data in centralized data centers. This centralization makes them vulnerable to outages and cyberattacks. In contrast, DePIN projects like Filecoin distribute data across a global network of nodes, ensuring redundancy and resilience. Users can store and retrieve their data securely without relying on a single provider.Top DePIN projects Source Unsplash

The DePIN Ecosystem

The DePIN ecosystem comprises several key components: nodes, tokens, and protocols. Nodes are individual devices or entities that contribute resources to the network, such as storage space, computing power, or connectivity. In return, they earn tokens, which are the network's currency. These tokens incentivize participation and facilitate transactions within the ecosystem.

In a typical DePIN project, different stakeholders interact in a symbiotic relationship. Users need resources like storage or connectivity, which they acquire from node operators. Node operators provide these resources in exchange for tokens. Developers build applications that leverage the network's decentralized resources, creating value for users and node operators alike.

Economic models in DePIN projects are designed to encourage participation and growth. For example, in the Helium Network, individuals set up hotspots to provide wireless coverage for IoT devices. These hotspot operators earn HNT tokens as a reward. The more data their hotspots handle, the more tokens they earn. This model incentivizes the expansion of network coverage and improves service quality.

The Filecoin network offers another compelling example. In Filecoin, storage providers earn FIL tokens by renting out their unused disk space. Clients who need storage pay for it with FIL tokens. This decentralized approach ensures that storage is available globally, with redundancy and security that surpass traditional cloud services. The economic incentives align the interests of both providers and users, fostering a robust and scalable storage network.

Key DePIN crypto projects to watch in 2024

Filecoin (FIL)

Filecoin is a decentralized storage network designed to store humanity's most valuable information securely. It uses the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) to distribute data across multiple nodes globally, ensuring redundancy and censorship resistance.

Unlike traditional cloud services, Filecoin uses a global network of nodes to store data, ensuring redundancy and security. Users can rent storage space with FIL tokens, incentivizing providers to contribute their unused storage capacity. This model reduces costs and enhances data security. With a market capitalization exceeding $2.5bn, Filecoin has firmly established itself as a leader in decentralized storage solutions​.

Helium Network (HNT)

Helium Network aims to build a decentralized wireless infrastructure for IoT devices. By setting up hotspots, individuals can provide connectivity and earn HNT tokens. This community-driven approach disrupts traditional telecom models, offering a flexible and cost-effective alternative. The Helium Network has expanded rapidly, with thousands of active nodes providing coverage worldwide. Its multi-token system, including HNT and MOBILE tokens, supports various applications, including 5G connectivity​​.

Render Network (RNDR)

Render Network decentralizes GPU computing power, making high-quality rendering accessible to a broader audience. By allowing users to rent out their unused GPU resources, Render supports applications in virtual reality, Metaverse development, and digital content creation. The RNDR token facilitates transactions within the network, ensuring that resource providers are compensated fairly. Render's approach democratizes access to powerful computing resources, enabling innovation across various industries​.

Theta Network (THETA)

Theta Network is transforming video streaming through decentralization. By leveraging users' spare bandwidth and computing resources, Theta offers a more efficient and cost-effective streaming solution. The THETA token is used for transactions within the network, including rewarding users for sharing their resources. Theta's innovative approach to digital rights management (DRM) ensures that content creators are fairly compensated, making it a popular choice among video streaming platforms​.

Arweave (AR)

Arweave provides permanent data storage through a unique endowment-based model. Users pay a one-time fee for lifetime storage, with ongoing maintenance costs covered by an endowment fund. This model ensures data permanence and security, making Arweave an ideal solution for storing critical information. The AR token supports the network, rewarding storage providers and ensuring the sustainability of the endowment fund. Arweave's partnerships with major blockchain projects highlight its growing influence in the decentralized storage market​.

Storj (STORJ)

Storj offers secure, decentralized cloud storage by encrypting and distributing data across a global network of nodes. The STORJ token facilitates payments and rewards within the ecosystem, ensuring that node operators are incentivized to maintain high standards of performance and security. Storj's focus on privacy and security makes it a compelling alternative to traditional cloud storage providers. The introduction of Storj Next, with enhanced features and economic incentives, positions Storj as a strong competitor in the decentralized storage space​​.

Akash Network (AKT)

Akash Network is a decentralized cloud computing platform that connects users with surplus computing resources. The Akash Marketplace, built on the Cosmos SDK, allows users to access computing power at competitive prices. The AKT token powers the network, enabling transactions and rewarding resource providers. Akash's decentralized approach reduces costs and increases accessibility, making cloud computing more affordable and scalable for businesses and developers​.

eTukTuk (TUK)

eTukTuk focuses on sustainable transportation solutions, deploying a network of electric vehicle tuk-tuks in developing nations. By leveraging blockchain technology, eTukTuk creates a decentralized charging infrastructure, promoting the use of electric vehicles. The TUK token supports the ecosystem, providing economic incentives for drivers and charging station operators. eTukTuk's innovative approach addresses environmental and economic challenges, making it a promising project in the sustainable mobility sector​.

How do DePIN projects work?

DePIN projects function through a decentralized architecture, which fundamentally differs from traditional centralized systems. The process involves several key steps and components, all working together seamlessly to provide decentralized services.

  • Resource provisioning: Nodes in a DePIN network provide essential resources like storage, computing power, or connectivity. These nodes can be personal computers, specialized hardware, or other devices connected to the network. For example, in the Filecoin network, individuals and organizations contribute their unused storage capacity to the decentralized cloud storage system. In return, they receive FIL tokens as compensation.
  • Decentralized coordination: Smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code, play a crucial role in coordinating activities within a DePIN network. They ensure that transactions between users and resource providers are executed transparently and automatically. This reduces the need for intermediaries, lowering costs and increasing efficiency. For instance, in the Render Network, smart contracts manage the rental and payment processes for GPU computing power.
  • Token incentives: Tokens are the lifeblood of DePIN projects. They facilitate transactions, reward participants, and incentivize network growth. Each project typically has its own native token, such as HNT for Helium Network or RNDR for Render Network. These tokens provide economic incentives that align the interests of all participants. Node operators are motivated to provide high-quality services because they earn tokens based on their contributions. Users spend tokens to access services, creating a dynamic and thriving ecosystem.
  • User interaction: Users interact with DePIN networks through decentralized applications (dApps). These applications provide user-friendly interfaces for accessing the network's services. For example, in the Helium Network, users connect their IoT devices to hotspots via a mobile app, allowing seamless integration and use of decentralized wireless connectivity. Similarly, developers can create dApps that leverage the decentralized resources provided by the network, expanding the ecosystem and increasing utility.
  • Governance and upgrades: Decentralized governance mechanisms ensure that DePIN projects evolve according to the community's needs and preferences. Token holders often participate in governance by voting on proposals for upgrades, changes, or new features. This democratic process empowers the community and ensures that the network adapts to changing conditions and demands. The Internet Computer (ICP) employs a sophisticated governance system where ICP token holders vote on key decisions affecting the network.
  • Security and redundancy: Security is a critical aspect of DePIN projects. Decentralized architectures inherently offer higher security due to the distribution of data and operations across multiple nodes. This minimizes the risk of single points of failure and makes the network resilient against attacks. For instance, Arweave provides permanent data storage by distributing data across a vast network of nodes, ensuring that even if some nodes fail, the data remains accessible and secure.

Advantages of DePIN crypto projects

DePIN projects offer several distinct advantages over traditional centralized infrastructure models. These benefits highlight the transformative potential of decentralized physical infrastructure networks.

  • Cost efficiency: By decentralizing resource provision and removing intermediaries, DePIN projects significantly reduce operational costs. Users pay only for the resources they use, and providers earn directly from their contributions. This model eliminates the overhead costs associated with centralized management and infrastructure maintenance. For example, Akash Network allows users to access cloud computing resources at a fraction of the cost of traditional cloud service providers.
  • Enhanced security: DePIN projects enhance security through decentralization. Data and operations are spread across multiple nodes, reducing the risk of cyberattacks and single points of failure. This decentralized approach makes it difficult for malicious actors to compromise the entire network. Storj, for example, encrypts and distributes data across numerous nodes, ensuring robust security and privacy for users.
  • Scalability and flexibility: DePIN networks can scale organically as more nodes join the network. This flexibility allows the network to grow and adapt to increasing demand without significant reconfiguration. The Helium Network exemplifies this advantage, as its decentralized model allows for the seamless addition of new hotspots to expand coverage and capacity.
  • Global accessibility: DePIN projects democratize access to critical infrastructure, making it available to users worldwide. This inclusivity ensures that even underserved regions can benefit from advanced technologies. eTukTuk, for instance, provides sustainable transportation solutions in developing nations, leveraging blockchain technology to create a decentralized electric vehicle network.
  • Environmental sustainability: Many DePIN projects focus on sustainability, using decentralized models to reduce environmental impact. By optimizing resource use and promoting green technologies, these projects contribute to a more sustainable future. For example, Arweave's endowment-based model supports permanent data storage with minimal ongoing energy consumption, aligning with environmental goals.
  • Community-driven innovation: The decentralized nature of DePIN projects fosters community involvement and innovation. Participants can propose and vote on new features, improvements, and initiatives, ensuring that the network evolves in response to user needs. The Internet Computer's governance system is a prime example of how decentralized governance can drive continuous improvement and innovation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top DePIN projects?

The top DePIN projects to watch in 2024 include Filecoin, which offers decentralized cloud storage, Helium Network, providing decentralized wireless connectivity for IoT devices, and Render Network, which decentralizes GPU computing for rendering tasks.

What are the key features of DePIN crypto projects?

KYC is crucial for maintaining the security and integrity of financial and cryptocurrency systems. It helps prevent fraud, money laundering, and other illicit activities. Additionally, KYC compliance ensures that platforms adhere to legal and regulatory requirements, driving trust and transparency within the ecosystem.

Which blockchain networks support DePIN projects?

Several blockchain networks support DePIN projects. Ethereum is widely used for its smart contract capabilities, making it suitable for various DePIN applications. Filecoin is specifically designed for decentralized storage solutions, while Cosmos supports projects like Akash Network for decentralized cloud computing. Solana has integrated with Filecoin to enhance decentralized storage solutions. Additionally, Binance Smart Chain supports sustainable transportation projects like eTukTuk. These networks provide the necessary infrastructure for DePIN projects to operate efficiently and securely.

Written by

Mohammad is an experienced crypto writer with a specialisation in cybersecurity. He covers a wide variety of topics spanning everything from blockchain and Web3 to the retail crypto space. He has also worked for several start-ups and ICOs, gaining insight into the mindset and motivation of the founders behind the projects.