In contrast to traditional cryptocurrencies designed primarily as stores of value or mediums of exchange, many modern crypto assets are intended to power applications and networks via their native tokens. Analyzing the utility value of these tokens is key to evaluating their merits.
What is Token Utility Value?
Tokens generally derive value from either utility or speculation. Utility value refers to the usefulness of a token in enabling functions on its native network. The more activity a token facilitates, the higher its utility value.
Some examples of utility include:
- Allowing access to a network/protocol.
- Powering transactions and operations.
- Providing governance rights.
- Offering discounts/rewards.
- Serving as an incentive mechanism.
The utility value depends on current and potential usage. A thought experiment is to ask — if speculation was removed, does the token still have inherent usefulness and adoption?
Assessing Utility Value
When analyzing utility crypto assets, some key factors to evaluate include:
- Current utility — How is the token being actively used today? Look at metrics like active addresses, transaction volumes, platform usage.
- Addressable market — What is the size of the potential market the crypto asset could capture? Assess upside.
- Competition — Are there rival cryptos trying to serve the same use cases? How strong is the project’s competitive position?
- Integration — How easily can the token integrate into other protocols to expand utility?
- Stickiness — Will users have incentives to continue holding/using the token? Or could they easily abandon it?
- Roadmap — Does the project have a credible plan to drive and expand utility over time?
Models for Valuing Utility
Some models used to estimate fundamental utility value include:
Equation of Exchange
Valuation based on Money:
Supply x Velocity / Transactions.
And variations like MV=PQ apply.
Network Value to Transactions
Market cap relative to total transaction volumes or network activity.
Network effects and value is proportional to square of users. Can modify based on activity.
Value derived from efficiencies and savings the network provides over alternatives.
Examples of Token Utility Value Assessment
To illustrate analyzing utility value, here are some short examples looking at major crypto assets:
High utility value due to large developer ecosystem creating decentralized apps and issuing tokens. Also powers DeFi and NFT use cases. Future scalability upgrades will expand addressable market.
Provides a useful service for decentralized storage. But needs greater adoption and integration. Large supply and mining dynamics also constrain utility value currently.
Existing integration with hundreds of projects to supply price oracle data is promising. But may face competition from alternative oracle networks.
Novel token design to incentivize bandwidth sharing for video streaming. However, needs substantial user growth. Integration with streaming partners will be key.
Leverages blockchain for fan engagement in sports. Promising niche, but narrow focus also limits addressable market size and scalability. Brand partnerships can help drive utility.
Core utility as the governance token for the popular MakerDAO and DAI stablecoin system. Use cases dependent on continued DeFi growth.
This analysis provides examples of how assessing factors like competitive dynamics, addressable markets, integration pathways and more can inform judgments of tokens’ utility.
Speculation vs. Utility
Ideally, both speculation and utility will contribute to a token’s value. Speculation can help grow networks and liquidity early on. But for long-term sustainability, tangible utility is essential. Relying solely on speculation raises risks of bubbles and volatility collapses.
Analyzing both aspects provides the most comprehensive view of fundamental value and growth potential. Some networks purposefully constrain speculative activity to emphasize utility. Finding the optimal balance is key.
While hype cycles will continue impacting crypto prices, evaluating the underlying utility value of blockchain assets remains crucial. Analyzing factors like usage activity, addressable markets, competitive dynamics, integration, and roadmaps allows investors to discern assets aligned with real-world utility and adoption. Those focused on driving tangible value are most apt to succeed long-term.