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Solana Ecosystem Guide 2024 (DeFi, DePIN, Gaming, NFTs, AI)

  • CoolWallet is going to support Solana’s Dapp ecosystem soon.
  • Learn more about the best 2024 projects on Solana in DeFi, DePIN, AI, gaming, NFTs and more.


Solana became crypto’s red-headed stepchild in 2022 following the FTX collapse and SBF BFF drama, dropping in value from a November 2021 zenith of $260 per SOL coin to a miserable $8 at one point. It was uncool and unloved, derided as a centralized VC coin with a network that constantly broke down. It was about to be replaced by newer, shinier chains like Sui and Aptos.

Not so fast. CoolWallet attended Solana’s Breakpoint conference in Amsterdam in late 2023 and found that the groundbreaking layer-1 chain was very much alive and kicking at a grassroots level, with smart money piling back in. Soon after, the price of Solana started to skyrocket as its Firedancer announcement and airdrop season started to drive momentum. 

Fast forward to 2024, and Solana’s ecosystem absolutely bursting out of its seams again as the overall crypto bull run picks up momentum before the next Bitcoin halving. Not even its recent outage, the first in 12 months, could dampen investors’ enthusiasm and it’s now firmly entrenched in most investors’ minds as the number 1 “Ethereum Killer”.

CoolWallet Supports Solana Dapp Ecosystem

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Great News: Our CoolWallet Pro hardware wallet and & HOT software wallet are soon going to support connecting to Solana DApps via our CoolWallet App’s Web3 browser, which means that our users will be able to interact with the entire Solana ecosystem.

Let’s take a look at the sectors and leading projects at the vanguard of Solana’s ascent. Many of them like Marinade and Drift don’t have tokens yet, so fire up your CoolWallet and start airdrop farming!

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only, and shouldn’t be construed as financial advice of any kind. Do your own research and take extra care when interacting with new protocols and Dapps due to the threat of phishing or scams. Any projects mentioned here are not off.

What is Solana?

Solana is a high-speed blockchain that supports smart contracts, Dapps and NFTs. Some key things to know about Solana: transactions on the network are very fast and low cost compared to networks like Ethereum; the native cryptocurrency of the Solana blockchain is SOL; and over 192 million NFTs have already been minted on Solana, making it a top NFT blockchain. Its Proof of History consensus mechanism created by founder Anatoly Yakovenko has allowed it to reach a TPS of up to 65,000 transactions per second, at a cost of a fraction of a cent.

Solana Network Overview and Organization

Solana’s architecture is designed for speed and efficiency, utilizing a unique consensus mechanism called Proof of History (PoH) alongside Proof of Stake (PoS) to achieve high throughput. The network supports a wide range of applications, from decentralized finance (DeFi) to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and has become a popular choice for developers looking for scalability and users seeking cheap and lightning-fast transactions.

Messari published a detailed report recently on the state of the Solana ecosystem, which really captures its explosive growth in especially Q4 2023. You can also use analytical platforms like DappRadar, DeFiLlama and SolanaCompass to navigate its growing universe of Dapps.

Solana DeFi

Solana’s DeFi TVL is surging again thanks to some exciting new players, huge airdrops and lucrative yields for staking and providing liquidity. It grew from $245 million in Q4 2022 to a crazy $1.45 billion in Q4 2023, with a daily DEX volume of $416 million and stablecoins totalling $1.83 billion, according to Messari. Here are a few of the best in each category. 

Solana DEXs


Raydium is a well-established and very popular decentralized exchange (DEX) built on the Solana blockchain, offering fast and affordable trading of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. It’s known for its AMM capabilities and integration with Serum.

This leading Solana DEX allows users to trade directly with each other without intermediaries, providing a more secure and transparent trading experience. Thanks to Solana’s high-performance infrastructure, Raydium can handle lightning-fast transactions with low fees, making it a great alternative to centralized exchanges. Beyond trading, Raydium also offers liquidity pools, staking, and yield farming opportunities, allowing users to earn rewards for providing liquidity to the platform. 


January 2024’s “Jupuary” airdrop gifted over $600 million to nearly a million lucky Solana users, and if you missed out, don’t worry because the next rounds are scheduled for January 2025 and 2026.

Jupiter offers a comprehensive trading experience with its DEX aggregator, ensuring users get the best prices across multiple exchanges, much like 1Inch does on Ethereum. The platform’s limit order feature allows traders to set specific prices for their trades, providing more control over their transactions.


Known for its user-friendly interface, Orca‘s Whirlpools feature enables liquidity providers to concentrate their funds within specific price ranges, increasing their potential returns. The platform also has a strong focus on community governance and environmental initiatives.


Drift brings on-chain, cross-margined perpetual futures to Solana and aims to provide a CEX-like experience on a decentralized platform. Its features include high leverage trading, a full-suite money market for borrowing and lending, and various passive income opportunities for users.

Solana LST Staking Protocols

Liquid staking and restaking (LSTs and LRTs) is all the rage in 2024, and helping users reinvest their staked SOL for more yield. Here are the ones leading the pack:

Marinade Finance 

Marinade Finance offers liquid staking, allowing users to earn staking rewards without locking up their assets. The protocol automatically redistributes staked assets among the most rewarding validators, optimizing returns for stakers.


Jito kickstarted 2023’s Solana Airdrop season with a belter of a token launch that gave early users up to $100k in JTO tokens. It focuses on maximizing staking yield through MEV rewards. The platform provides a secure and efficient way for users to participate in staking, with the added benefit of liquid staking through jitoSOL.

Solana Lending Protocols


Solend is an easy-to-use and efficient lending platform, offering various crypto assets for borrowing and lending. The protocol features a liquidation system to manage bad loans and maintain the platform’s stability.


Lending protocol MarginFi’s TVL grew 14x between Q3 and Q4 of 2023, to $337 million, going from the sixth largest to the top Solana DeFi protocol by TVL. It differentiates itself with its focus on risk management, providing users with tools to monitor their loans and manage risks effectively. The platform’s bridge and swap features enhance its flexibility and utility.


Provides a unique approach to liquidity and lending with its CLMM-based protocol. Users can earn yield by providing liquidity and use their Ktokens as collateral for borrowing, creating a synergistic ecosystem within the platform.

Solana Oracles

Pyth Network

Pyth Network is a decentralized oracle solution similar to Chainlink that runs on the Solana blockchain, offering real-time, high-quality data for DeFi applications. By tapping into Solana’s fast and cost-effective infrastructure, Pyth aims to provide accurate data feeds across various asset classes, including cryptocurrencies and traditional markets. This integration with Solana allows Pyth to supply dependable price data that Dapps can use for accurate decision-making and smooth execution of smart contracts. Pyth Network is key to boosting the reliability and performance of DeFi ecosystems on the Solana blockchain.

Solana DePIN

DePIN, or decentralized physical infrastructure network, is a massively important new sector in Web3, laying the foundational decentralized infrastructure for all its future applications. 


This Solana DePin project aims to revolutionize internet connectivity by enabling users to set up their own hotspots and earn rewards. The migration to Solana is expected to enhance the efficiency and scalability of the network.

Render Network 

Render has been on the radar of those in the know for a while now, thanks to its potential. It offers a decentralized solution for GPU rendering, enabling creators to access additional computing power for their projects. The integration with Solana is anticipated to improve the speed and cost-effectiveness of the rendering process.


Hivemapper is a cutting-edge mapping platform that has recently integrated with the Solana blockchain, leveraging its high-performance infrastructure to enhance its mapping and analytics capabilities. By utilizing Solana‘s fast and low-cost transactions, Hivemapper can offer its users seamless and efficient access to decentralized mapping data and services. This integration not only improves the platform’s scalability and speed but also opens up new possibilities for decentralized mapping applications, such as enabling secure and transparent data sharing and incentivizing community contributions through tokenized rewards. 

Deeper Network

Decentralized VPN network and DePIN hardware maker Deeper Network recently announced its network will move over to Solana. 


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Solana Gaming

The gaming sector on Solana is evolving, with projects like Star Atlas leading the way in creating immersive and interactive experiences. The use of blockchain technology in gaming opens up new possibilities for player ownership and in-game economies, and thanks to the network’s incredibly fast and cheap features, it’s perfect for GameFi. 

You can check out this DappRadar chart to see some of the most popular games on Solana, but please be aware that you should interact and invest with caution. Games are notorious for diluting their token supply in order to incentivize users, and with this comes dropping token prices. There are also security risks that come with connecting your wallet to unaudited protocols, so use a new wallet if you have to. 

If you want to ensure you get IDO access to new games when the bull market’s at its peak, check out launchpads like Seedify and Starlaunch. 

Star Atlas

A futuristic metaverse set in space, Star Atlas is Solana’s flagship game, a super-ambitious AAA title that combines real-time strategy gameplay with NFT assets on Solana. Players engage in galactic warfare, resource management, and economic growth within a visually stunning universe. Star Atlas had a high-profile keynote at Solana Breakpoint last year where the team wowed the audience with their progress.

Sidus Heroes

An RPG featuring playable characters based partially on famous celebrities, Sidus Heroes allows players to collect, trade, and battle unique NFT heroes while earning SIDUS tokens on Solana. With a strong focus on storytelling and immersive experiences, this project aims to bridge the gap between traditional entertainment and Web3 gaming.


A fantasy MMORPG built on Solana, Aurory invites players to explore a vast world filled with adventure, quests, and PvP battles. Featuring a rich ecosystem of NFTs, Aurory enables players to own and monetize their in-game items and progression.


A farming simulation game where players manage virtual apiaries and compete in honey production challenges. Built on Solana, Honeyland introduces a novel approach to gamified agriculture, offering players opportunities to earn rewards by participating in the game economy.

Solana Memecoins


Bonk, a Solana-based memecoin, emerged as a lighthearted yet significant player in the world of cryptocurrencies. Inspired by internet culture and humor, Bonk has experienced remarkable growth since its launch, increasing over 10,000% in 2023 alone. It positioned itself as the first dog-themed coin on Solana “for the people, by the people” and airdropped a wild 50% of its token supply to its community.

Unlike many other memecoins, Bonk offers unique features that distinguish it from competitors. For instance, it utilizes single-sided staking pools, serving as an incentive mechanism for holding the coin. Additionally, Bonk’s creators allocated 15% of the total supply to a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), empowering the community to shape the project’s future development and governance.

By late December 2023, Bonk had become the third-largest memecoin by market cap, following Dogecoin and Shiba Inu, and the 43rd largest crypto overall!


DogWiFi, a humorous take on the popular Dogecoin meme, is another Solana-based doggy memecoin that has captured the attention of both seasoned cryptocurrency enthusiasts and casual observers alike.

Solana AI

The Solana blockchain’s high throughput and low-cost transactions make it a suitable platform for AI applications that require real-time data processing and decentralized computing resources. 

Projects like Render Network and io.net could potentially support AI use cases by providing the necessary computational power, and with a huge demand and shortage of GPU and processing power following the pandemic-induced backlog and rise of AI, these protocols could help drive the next wave of AI adoption. 

Solana has launched a $10m developer fund to attract new AI projects to its network. You can learn more about it here.

Solana NFTs

Solana NFT volume is starting to climb again after a quiet 2022 and 2023.

There are a few main standards for NFTs on Solana.

  • Legacy NFTs: The original NFT standard on the network was developed by Metaplex. This Legacy standard is used by early projects like Claynosaurz.
  • Programmable NFTs (pNFTs) allow for royalties, rules, and more to be enforced on Solana NFTs. Solana Monkey Business utilizes the pNFT standard. 
  • Compressed NFTs (cNFT): NFT standard which uses compression to significantly lower minting costs – 2 million cNFTs can be minted for only 1 SOL. 
  • Executable NFTs (xNFTs): First introduced by Backpack’s soaring MadLads collection, xNFTs allow NFTs on Solana to have attached apps and experiences.

Top Solana NFT Collections

Some of the most popular current (February 2024)  Solana NFT collections currently include:

  • Mad Lads with a 206 SOL floor price; 
  • Tensorians at 80.5 SOL floor; 
  • Claynosaurz at 34.4 SOL floor; 
  • Degen Ape Academy at 14.4 SOL floor; and 
  • Saga Monkeys with a 3.9 SOL floor.

Former top dog DeGods infamously moved during the bear market to Ethereum. 

Getting Your First Solana NFT

Visit Solana NFT marketplaces like Tensor or Magic Eden with your compatible wallet of choice, browse different Solana NFT collections and click “Buy” on one you want to purchase it. There are also free mint opportunities on platforms like DRiP where you can get starter Solana NFTs without having to pay beyond transaction fees.

WARNING: Always make sure you connect to the official website. Failure to do so may result in you getting phished and robbed of your entire portfolio. CoolWallet’s Smart Scan helps crypto users stay safe by identifiying malicious transactions and entities before you approve a transaction.

Creating and Selling Solana NFTs

If you want to create your own Solana NFT collection, Metaplex Studio is the go-to for minting. Once minted, collections can be listed for sale on marketplaces like Tensor or Magic Eden. The process for listing and selling Solana NFTs on those platforms is similar to major Ethereum NFT platforms.

Key Takeaways

Solana’s ecosystem is diverse and rapidly growing, with a strong focus on scalability, efficiency, and user experience. Its low transaction fees and high throughput make it an attractive platform for a wide range of applications, from DeFi to gaming and potentially AI. The network’s continuous improvements and expanding community contribute to its increasing prominence in the blockchain space.

While Ethereum currently has a wider overall NFT ecosystem, Solana has huge growth potential in this space thanks to its speed, low transaction fees, and growing daily trading volume. It’s worth exploring Solana for NFTs alongside Ethereum and other NFT blockchains.

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