Fantom (FTM -2.86%) was supposed to be one of the big breakout cryptos of 2022. Remember when people were touting it at the beginning of the year as the next Ethereum (ETH 0.31%), the next Cardano (ADA 0.83%) or the next Solana (SOL -3.85%)? Ever since it burst onto the scene in December 2019, Fantom has attracted users with its super-fast blockchain, low transaction fees, and exciting opportunities related to decentralized finance (DeFi). But the much-anticipated Fantom gains never materialized in the first half of 2022. 

Now, it looks like the big breakout moment might finally be coming. Even during the crypto downturn, Fantom has retained its value, and its overall market cap is just south of $1 billion right now. Once it hits $1 billion, it will edge into Top 50 crypto territory and reappear on investor radar screens. Best of all, many interesting DeFi projects continue to be built on the Fantom blockchain. So is it finally time to invest in the phantom of the crypto market?

Spooky good performance in a scary market

What's interesting is just how well Fantom has held up during the market downturn. If you look at crypto market performance recently, your trading screen is going to look scary. Lots of red everywhere. But there have been a few highlights. Fantom, for example, is up nearly 15% over the past week.

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Overall, proof-of-stake Layer 1 blockchains such as Fantom have enormous long-term potential because of their fast transaction speeds and low costs. It's a lot less risky to invest in one of these blockchains because they come with their own unique ecosystems. People are building on top of them, creating value with every new project. Moreover, they are willing to "lock up" the value of their crypto tokens in these projects. Fantom has always had a very high total value locked (TVL) number, which is a useful metric for considering how dedicated users are to the platform and the health of the overall ecosystem.

The psychologically important $1 billion market cap figure

At its current trading price of $0.30, Fantom has a total market capitalization of just about $800 million, ranking it as the No. 57 crypto on CoinMarketCap right now. That's why the $1 billion market cap figure is so important -- not only is it psychologically important for investors (tantamount to being a "unicorn" in the world of Silicon Valley), but also it means that Fantom will become much more visible to average investors who might be concerned about holding obscure crypto tokens. Some high-profile analysts are already predicting that $0.46 could be the next support level for Fantom. At that price, Fantom would easily eclipse a total market value of $1 billion.

New projects on the horizon

Primarily, Fantom has made a name for itself in decentralized finance, or DeFi. If you look at a list of the top projects on the Fantom network right now, you'll see almost all of them are decentralized exchanges (DEXes) or DeFi protocols, including SpookySwap, SpiritSwap and Curve. That makes sense primarily because Fantom is known for its high speeds and low costs. If you are processing a high volume of trades on a DEX, you need these high speeds and low costs to create an efficient market. One catalyst for Fantom could be an aggressive move into a more diversified set of crypto opportunities. Imagine a new non-fungible token (NFT) platform or a new blockchain gaming platform.

Will this phantom finally break out?

Fantom is trading for just $0.30 right now. Even if it only makes it to the $1 mark over the next 12 months, you are still getting a threefold return on your investment. But that could be underestimating things. After all, at the beginning of 2022, some predicted that Fantom might be the next Shiba Inu, with 10-fold returns or higher. The phantom of the crypto market has been waiting patiently in the wings, preparing for the biggest performance of its life. And it could come as soon as the second half of 2022.