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With Cardano up 75%, Is This the Right Time to Invest in It? | The Motley Fool


On the surface, all signals seem to be flashing green for Cardano (ADA -3.84%). The crypto is up 75% for the year and 25% during the past 30 days.

Moreover, Cardano is now preparing for another major technological upgrade called Voltaire, which will bring the blockchain one step closer to delivering on its original roadmap. All of that, of course, is good news for investors.

But peer below the surface, and the case for buying Cardano becomes less obvious. The cryptocurrency is still underperforming, according to many of the metrics typically used to value blockchains.

Moreover, in a recent one-hour interview with Cointelegraph, Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson appeared to be lukewarm, at best, when it came to the blockchain's future growth prospects. Is it really the perfect time to buy Cardano?

Cardano metrics

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A good starting point is reviewing some of the key benchmarks used to value blockchains. Cardano is obviously a very popular one: At the end of 2022, it ranked as the top blockchain by development activity. But how has that development activity and computer code actually translated into real-world projects?

Stack of gold digital currency coins.

Image source: Getty Images.

Take, for example, non-fungible tokens (NFTs). In the one-hour interview, Hoskinson specifically mentioned NFTs as a "big win" for Cardano. So let's take a closer look.

According to DappRadar's NFT data, there's not a single Cardano NFT collection in the top 25. Moreover, the top NFT collection on Cardano over the past 30 days -- The Ape Society -- is nowhere close to being as valuable as the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection on Ethereum (ETH -1.07%). Over the past 30 days, the top sale of The Ape Society was $62,550, while the top Bored Ape sold for $561,460. 

Now take a look at the world of decentralized finance (DeFi). Heading into 2023, this was supposed to be the one area where Cardano was going to make a big splash. New decentralized exchanges were emerging, new DeFi protocols were being developed, and staking was growing in popularity on Cardano.

But if you take a look at total value locked (TVL), a metric used to evaluate DeFi strength and total blockchain activity, Cardano is still lagging far behind. It ranks No. 18 among all blockchains, and still trails other Layer 1 blockchain rivals such as Ethereum, Solana and Avalanche.

Future growth catalysts

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Where is Cardano planning to generate future growth, if not from NFTs or DeFi? One option might be artificial intelligence (AI), given that Cardano is now the home blockchain of SingularityNET (AGIX), the hottest AI crypto token on the planet right now. In many ways, a blockchain-based approach to AI could work for Cardano.

However, when asked about future growth at Cardano during the Cointelegraph interview, Hoskinson instead gave an answer that I wasn't expecting at all: Africa.

Cardano has been in Africa since 2017 and is probably the one crypto that's most closely associated with the African blockchain industry. According to Hoskinson, the big-picture view is to continue to generate success stories in nations such as Kenya, before moving on to Ghana and Nigeria. From there, it's on to other emerging markets in places as far-flung as Latin America and the Persian Gulf.

The only problem here is that this growth opportunity is very hard to value if you're an investor. The hope is that there will be some very real DeFi applications that emerge from funding grassroots blockchain projects in Africa.

For example, as Hoskinson points out, there's a huge population of underbanked and unbanked individuals across the continent, and that opens up all kinds of opportunities to provide them blockchain-enabled versions of financial products that already exist in developed Western nations. If that moves the needle on Cardano's DeFi metrics, that would be fantastic.

Buy, hold, or sell?

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At the end of the day, Cardano holds a tremendous amount of promise and potential. My primary concern is that it's taking too long to see the kind of results that investors demand. Cardano says that all of these delays and the slow pace of development are the result of its patient, methodical, and academic approach. 

The big question for investors is the following: How long are you really willing to wait to see results? If you're taking a long-term approach, it's certainly worth holding onto any Cardano that you already have in your portfolio.

But I'm no longer accumulating Cardano and can't advise others to do so, either. There are plenty of better ways to deploy capital, and waiting around for Cardano to regain the $1 price level seems like it's going to take much longer than I originally expected.

Dominic Basulto has positions in Cardano and Ethereum. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Avalanche, Cardano, Ethereum, and Solana. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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