Release of long-awaited Arbitrum cryptocurrency generates $1.8 billion in just 2 hours

March 23, 2023, 8:34 PM UTC
The logo for Arbitrum is superimposed over a green background.
The $ARB token will be used to govern the management and development of Arbitrum's two blockchains.
Illustration by Fortune

A treasure trove of crypto appeared on Thursday in a matter of minutes.

The long-awaited native cryptocurrency for Arbitrum, the leading scaling solution for the Ethereum blockchain, finally became available for more than 600,000 recipients, according to Dune Analytics.

With over 1 billion ARB tokens airdropped—distributed to select individuals—so far, the total market capitalization for the token has stabilized near $1.8 billion, per data from CoinMarketCap. Developers have planned to create an initial supply of 10 billion tokens—putting the current fully diluted market cap above $14 billion.

Among the total number of eligible recipients—ARB was made available only to members of the Arbitrum community—more than half have claimed theirs.

The token’s release, one of the most valuable in recent memory, follows last week’s announcement that Offchain Labs, the developer that created Arbitrum, was establishing the Arbitrum Foundation and an associated DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization.

The two entities will govern the management and development of the Arbitrum ecosystem, which is composed of two layer-2 blockchains built on top of Ethereum: Arbitrum One, the larger of the two blockchains, and Arbitrum Nova, designed for Web3 games and social media applications. Both blockchains are designed to make transactions on Ethereum faster and less expensive.

The ARB token will not be used for transaction fees on the blockchains but will allow owners to vote on proposals submitted to Arbitrum’s DAO.

Fervor for the token was so high that Arbitrum’s website and blockchain scanner were down ahead of the token’s release, as crypto enthusiasts stampeded to the sites in anticipation.

As of late Thursday afternoon, ARB’s price was hovering near $1.45. Its current market capitalization puts it ahead of the token for Arbitrum’s closest competitor, Optimism, another layer-2 blockchain that aims to expedite transactions on Ethereum. On Thursday, the market capitalization for OP was around $774 million, after briefly shooting up above $800 million soon after ARB dropped, with a token price of $2.46.

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