Liquidity Fragmentation in DeFi

Vesper Finance
4 min readMar 8, 2024


DeFi has continually evolved over the years, but the challenge of fragmentation still remains


  • What is Liquidity in DeFi?
  • What is the Fragmentation Problem?
  • What are the Causes?
  • How Does this Affect Users?
  • Summary

What is Liquidity in DeFi?

Within DeFi, liquidity is fundamental and is essential for the smooth exchange or trading of assets. It’s the lifeblood of the ecosystem, underpinning the functionality of decentralized protocols that depend on it to operate.

Consider DEXes as a prime example. These dApps utilize smart contracts to create liquidity pools that facilitate token swapping. The liquidity in these pools is determined by the amount of tokens users deposit. For example, in a liquidity pool with ETH and DAI, the balance of these assets impact transaction dynamics. If the pool has more of one asset, users might experience slippage, meaning they could receive fewer tokens than anticipated due to the pool’s asset ratio influencing token price points.

Additionally, liquidity is crucial for lending protocols like Compound, which need sufficient liquidity to provide loans to users. Without adequate liquidity, these protocols can’t fulfill their core purpose.

What is the Fragmentation Problem?

Crypto is populated by a large number of blockchains, from Layer 1s like Ethereum and Solana to Layer 2s such as Optimism and Arbitrum. While their end goals are usually the same, their underlying technologies may be significantly different. Ethereum utilizes Solidity, whereas Solana uses Rust, leading to changes in hashing techniques, block sizes, and other technical characteristics.

This diversity ultimately results in networks that operate in isolation. Without inherent interoperability, these chains exist in silos, unable to communicate or transfer assets between one another. Therefore, users looking to interact across these chains must resort to bridging assets, costing time and money.

Liquidity fragmentation in the space manifests in two primary forms. The first type, single-chain fragmentation, occurs when liquidity is spread across multiple protocols within the same blockchain. This scenario often leads to dominant protocols like Uniswap accumulating a significant portion of the chain’s liquidity, while smaller protocols struggle with much less. This uneven distribution can impact the efficiency of the overall ecosystem on a single chain.

The second form is cross-chain fragmentation, where liquidity is scattered across protocols living on different chains, such as Solana and Ethereum. In this case, dApps developed on newer chains come across challenges in tapping into the vast pools of liquidity available on more established networks like Ethereum. Although solutions like LayerZero exist to facilitate cross-chain liquidity, the process can be extremely complex, and certainly not as user-friendly as it could be. Currently, there’s no straightforward method for native inter-chain communication, which remains a significant obstacle that the space is battling to overcome.

What are the Causes?

The surge in new blockchains over the past few years has led to a spread of assets, causing liquidity fragmentation. This creates isolated pools of liquidity on each chain, which isn’t exactly ideal for scalability. Each chain comes with its unique setup, from the algorithms to consensus rules, preventing them from easily communicating with each other. To move assets across these chains, users often have to resort to using bridges or similar tools.

So why can’t these blockchains just naturally work together? It all comes down to their designs and objectives. Each blockchain is built with a specific purpose in mind, influencing everything from its governance structure to its technical architecture. For example, Ethereum leans heavily into decentralization and security, while Solana aims for high scalability, even if it means being a bit more centralized.

How Does this Affect Users?

Navigating multiple protocols across various blockchains can lead to a frustrating user experience, often resulting in significant time and financial costs. Users may find themselves spending excessive amounts of time just figuring out how to operate within this fragmented landscape. While aggregation protocols offer some solutions, this problem at a fundamental level persists.

Liquidity fragmentation also brings about market fragmentation, where even modest trades can substantially affect asset prices in smaller liquidity pools, leading to slippage. Additionally, the price discrepancies across different protocols and blockchains can create arbitrage opportunities, typically favoring traders who have more knowledge or resources. This imbalance can make the DeFi space challenging for average users to navigate and benefit from equally.


Liquidity is crucial in DeFi, enabling smooth asset exchanges and powering protocols such as DEXes and lending platforms. However, the landscape is tainted by liquidity fragmentation due to the multitude of unique, isolated chains, complicating asset transfers, and user interaction.

This fragmentation occurs both within single chains, where dominant protocols hoard liquidity, and across chains, limiting access to liquidity pools. While solutions like LayerZero aim to bridge these gaps, true inter-chain communication remains a complex challenge.

This fragmentation not only affects market dynamics, leading to issues like slippage but also significantly reduces the user experience, making navigation extremely time-consuming. These areas must be addressed to ensure scalability and user accessibility.