The Emerging Evolutionary Economic Ecosystem -DeFi
The Advent of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) has given birth to Decentralized Finance, or DeFi in short.
DeFi - A Trending Revolution
What is DeFi? And why is it so important? Why is there such a buzz on the Internet and finance sectors about it? How did the market rise from 3 Billion USD to 4 Billion USD in ten days? To understand this, have a look at this quote from a popular website:
“In order to be considered DeFi, a financial platform must have one or more decentralized function. These often take the form of using distributed ledger technology (DLT) rather than storing records in a centralized fashion; decentralized governance of the platform in the hands of the token-holders rather than a ruling board; the use of decentralized information feeds and algorithms to determine things such as interest rates and currency values.”
So, when we have a decentralized function, we have a form of DeFi (decentralized finance)! This is extremely interesting because this definition and its associated connotations encompasses a massive finance sector section. There are many types of financial services that DeFi covers. Many of them are given in the list below:
The defi services list and the dapps listed are from https://defipulse.com/defi-list. You can click on each hyperlink to go to the website of the relevant dapp.
“Unless you have been living in the dark, dark cave of purely traditional finance, you have probably at least heard of crypto lending — the trend opening up opportunity for crypto players big and small, and is powering Ethereum’s decentralized finance ecosystem to over $1 billion in locked value.
At the core of crypto lending is a fairly simple concept: Borrowers are able to use their crypto assets as collateral to obtain a fiat or stablecoin loan, while lenders provide the assets required for the loan at an agreed-upon interest rate. This can also work in the reverse, where borrowers use fiat or stablecoins as collateral to borrow crypto assets.
You’ll likely notice that there is nothing groundbreaking here — they are simply collateralized loans — but credit and lending are powerful financial primitives that open up a wide range of applications and benefits for businesses, institutions, traders and users. Additionally, in the growing DeFi space, this primitive has been unlocked for permissionless, open and composable lending access. This leads to new use cases like optimized rates across platforms and “flash loans,” in which a user can utilize atomic transactions to borrow up to a platform’s full liquidity as long as they pay it back in the same transaction.”
The Future of Crypto Lending
Now crypto lending can be a 2000-word article all by itself. But the main advantages are very clear – increased liquidity, less processing time, the use of crypto as collateral and the lack of regulations makes crypto lending a massive, important facility for ‘a wide range of applications and benefits for businesses, institutions, traders and users.’ Crypto lending is very much here to stay. A small list of the dapps that offer crypto lending is given below:
Crypto Lending Dapps
What is cryptocurrency trading?
Cryptocurrency trading is the act of speculating on cryptocurrency price movements via a CFD trading account or buying and selling the underlying coins via an exchange.
CFD trading on cryptocurrencies
CFDs trading are derivatives, which enable you to speculate on cryptocurrency price movements without taking ownership of the underlying coins. You can go long (‘buy’) if you think a cryptocurrency will rise in value, or short (‘sell’) if you think it will fall.
Both are leveraged products, meaning you only need to put up a small deposit – known as margin – to gain full exposure to the underlying market. Your profit or loss are still calculated according to the full size of your position, so leverage will magnify both profits and losses.
The Bigger Picture
Cryptocurrency trading and speculation has been the most well-known of all the uses of cryptocurrency. The huge volatility that the Bitcoin cryptocurrency always experienced resulted in huge profits as well as huge losses. Experts that model the financial market through non-linear dynamical system theory generally produce semi-accurate results, but because of the Butterfly Effect (Lorenz attractor – Google it), in reality, there is no way to predict the future price of any cryptocurrency that is not a stablecoin or established on collateral.
Crypto Trading Dapps
a decentralized oracle and peer-to-peer protocol for prediction markets on Ethereum that lets anyone create a market around the outcome of any real-world event
Best Cryptocurrency Payment Apps
Cryptocurrency payment gateways allow businesses to accept transactions of cryptocurrencies as payment from customers in exchange for goods or services. These systems accept payments from any country and put an emphasis on security due to the nature of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies.
When the customer makes a purchase using a cryptocurrency as payment, the transaction often goes through the payment gateway at a fixed exchange rate and automatically converts to traditionally recognized fiat currency so the merchant can avoid the volatility of the cryptocurrency markets. However, some cryptocurrency payment gateways do not automatically transfer the cryptocurrency to fiat currency, allowing the merchant to hold the digital coins as long as they prefer, usually inside a cryptocurrency wallet.
Cryptocurrency payment gateways tend to offer lower fees than traditional credit card payment systems. Some of these tools can be highly customizable and provide native dashboards to help track all payments. Bitcoin is the most commonly supported cryptocurrency used during transactions with these systems, but some gateways provide the ability to pay with alternative cryptocurrencies, such as Ether, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash, among others.
The ‘Currency’ of Cryptocurrency
This is the main killer feature for crypto – it can act as money! Tokenizing assets and setting up decentralized systems is a new domain and already there have been some heavy losses and many scams. Indeed, many are skeptical about even Bitcoin (see @WarrenBuffet) simply because the value of Bitcoin can be loosely given as the value given to it by the market currently, and there is no stability or regulation involved.
Not everything is rosy on this front, however. Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, and in particular, Monero, which allow anonymous transactions, are the main medium of payment on the Dark Web and criminals such as drug dealers, human sex traffickers, and other nefarious activities. However, it has proven one thing – cryptocurrencies can be used as currency. And that too, anonymously. Some Crypto payments Apps are given below:
Crypto Payments Dapps
A crypto wallet is a piece of software that enables you to send and receive cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.
They can be used to store multiple tokens and coins at once – however, most wallets will only support a limited number of cryptocurrencies.
Wallets are used to store something known as private keys: long hexadecimal codes known only to you and your wallet. They must match with a public key so you can spend your money.
Wallets come in many forms. They can be stored on hardware which is occasionally connected to the web to perform transactions (some people keep them in bank vaults the rest of the time) – you can even write the keys down on a piece of paper, which is one method of “cold storage.”
Hosted wallets are akin to traditional banking apps. You can access your balance on multiple devices, and your funds aren’t gone forever if you lose your phone or forget your password.
Types of Wallets
Blockchain wallets are divided into 1) hot wallets 2) cold wallets. A hot wallet is accessible online through the Internet and uses asymmetric-key cryptography to secure your pass-phrase – a well-defined string that ‘opens’ your hot wallet and allows the user, the entity, the protocol, the infrastructure, or any entities participating in a transaction with you access to a predefined fixed amount of cryptocurrency. Use hot wallets when you plan to trade and use cryptocurrency for BAU (Business As Usual).
Cold wallets, on the other hand, are hardware devices, embedded software, or even a piece of paper on which you can write your pass-phrase. They are stored in physical and digital form. The cryptographic algorithm’s used are usually RSA or SHA-256. Use cold wallets if you intend to HODL (Hold On for Dear Life) or save your cryptocurrency for a rainy day, basically, if you use it very seldom.
Crypto Wallet Dapps
a secure smart contract wallet built for simplicity, security and usability.
Crypto Assets & Crypto Assets Management
There are a number of different blockchain asset management platforms in the market today.
Some enable investors to gain broad exposure to the digital asset market without having to buy and store each individual digital currency and token themselves. These investment management platforms, such as Crypto20, enable investors to purchase only one token which acts as a de facto share in a diversified digital asset portfolio managed by the company.
Other platforms enable investors to invest in a range of different portfolios, such as on the Iconomi platform, while others, such as Blockchain Capital’s BCAP token, enable investment in an asset class – namely Venture Capital – that would otherwise be difficult to invest in for private investors.
Crypto Asset Management Tokens
When you mention crypto asset management, there are two different industries that go by similar names. Crypto assets usually refer to cryptocurrencies. In this case, crypto assets management refers to diversification and management of cryptocurrency holdings. There is an entire ecosystem built around cryptocurrency management. Most of the companies involved often provide wallet services at the same time.
When security tokens are involved, the term used is still crypto asset management tokens, but the tokens refer to a (usually) high-price valuable commodity. The security tokens in this case give asset holders the opportunity to hold fractional values of assets normally beyond their reach.
A good example in this case might be an apartment in the heart of central New York. The price could be 10 million, but by issuing ten million tokens at 1 USD each, the asset owners receive a fraction of the actual value of the asset. This process is similar 5to offering collateral. The market size in this industry is expected to cross 4 Billion in 2020 alone.
Asset Management Dapps
Santiment is an all-in-one market behavior and network intelligence platform for cryptocurrencies. As a trader, our tools can help you identify, contextualize, and eventually – predict market behavior. All Santiment tools and products serve a singular purpose – to help users understand the behavioral patterns and activities of crucial market stakeholders.
Instead of relying on pricing data, which is notoriously prone to manipulation in crypto, our indicators and custom trading strategies leverage on-chain data, as well as custom social and development information collected and processed by Santiment. This also means that many of our metrics are entirely custom-built and unavailable anywhere else.
Analytics Provide Higher-Profit Insights
Analytics for cryptocurrencies have the claim that they are good indicators of the future prices of the coin. The example given above is from www.santiment.net, one of the largest crypto analytics platforms. Some of the insights and predictions they claim to make involve:
Spot forming tops and exit opportunities
Identify and monitor volatility markers
Spot bottoms and market entry points
Contextualize network behavior and activity
Obviously, advice that predicts the future behavior of a cryptocurrency is enormously useful. While the mathematics involved is beyond the scope of our discussion; I will just mention real-world model-simulating through technology like statistical models and general-purpose optimization. Santiment is the dominant platform and by all accounts, they seem to provide comprehensive coverage of every metric and statistic you need about any cryptocurrency. Some other crypto-specific dapps and firms are given below:
Advantages of DeFi
We will revert to a point-by-point bulleted list to express ideas briefly.
Removal of Intermediaries
Traditional financial institutions involve several safety precautions and a lot of careful management of valuable assets and regulations and laws that govern financial use of money.
While that may be attractive to the traditionally-minded, DeFi offers at least 50%-80% cost reduction on financial operations like loans, trading, stock markets, banks, etc.
This presents problems (who is the arbiter in the case of a dispute?) but also opens the world to 3rd world countries and developing nations that have little financial infrastructure.
This will make financial opportunities feasible a much larger fraction of our total population, since the entry rates to trading in finance, stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, and assets will decrease massively.
There is a lot of scope for highly dynamic business and technology operations, allowing for multiple DeFi dapps to build on each other finally obtaining a highly creative use-case or a previously impossible business.
Lesser operating costs will always equate to greater profit margins.
Self-Governance by P2P Protocols
Instead of a centralized authority governing the entire financial system, dapps usually have self-governance, community governance or on-chain governance.
By that, we mean that DeFi apps can be formally tested, verified and triple-checked and upgrades can even be rolled back by community consensus, shifting the focus from the courts to each node.
Some protocols in some cryptocurrencies like, say, Tezos, can even change their mode of operations dynamically through the very protocol in which they are defined, also called self-governance.
The onus shifts to the implementation of the DeFi systems and brings disputes into question as to who should be held liable for losses incurred by a 2-day down-time for the Ethereum test-net because of a problem with clock synchronization.
It should thus be mandatory that everyone learns how to code, since that will be the common language of financial world in the future.
Greater Security with an Open Source Ecosystem
Considering that no system can ever be hacker-proof, the best security for everyone involved is always in open source systems.
An open system allows for independent audit by multiple judiciaries at multiple time. There is a non-stop scrutiny of the source code since it is freely visible to everyone.
Having said that, some mechanisms need to be centralized to operate freely, and so can be closed-source in isolated scenarios.
In the end, accountability is required, and the best protocol is the one that is capable of dynamic pivoting with minimum adjustment, which can be managed by open source systems.
Security from DDoS Attacks
The biggest threat to modern-day software systems have faced till date is 1) ransomware and 2) DDoS attacks, the latter of which is mitigated by distributed systems.
Since there is no single central controller of operations, DDoS attacks have to be incredibly large-scale to succeed against p2p crypto systems.
Since the system itself is distributed over hundreds of thousands of nodes, DDoS attacks are simply not a threat.
In recent times, DDoS (Distributed Denial-Of-Service) attacks have caused major havoc in several online server-based systems.
Composable DeFi Dapps Built Over Each Other
The equivalent analogy used here is Lego building blocks, for just as Lego blocks build one on each other, multiple dapps can run in conjunction to address a massive variety of use-cases.
Since the Ethereum Platform hosts heterogeneous dapps, multiple dapps can be placed in a pipeline or a workflow to achieve highly creative use-cases.
One possible scenario (since I am a creative at heart) is incentivized art creation at auctioned prices that are cumulative – see below:
Auctionity Dapp on Ethereum blockchain to auction NFT in ETH
The world’s largest blockchain auction house for cryptocollectibles – Auctionity is a Dapp based on Ethereum blockchain to auction NFT in ether. Auctionity allows participants to create auctions, bid on and buy goods in real-time on a global, decentralized network, while maintaining payment and delivery guarantee. Our goal is to revolutionize the auction world thanks to its unique application of blockchain technology. The platform is the first-ever, 100% blockchain-based application enabling people to sell Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) at auction. The community is at the heart of the project: auctions become viral thanks to the users, allowing everyone to earn money by promoting auctions on the platform. Auctionity is interactive and easy to use. For example, live auctions can be run by members called “Auctioneers” who can earn money while having fun animating auction sales!
Huge Market Revenue at Stake
Finally, one should not lose sight of the forest for the trees – the main attraction of DeFi is a worldwide 5 Trillion USD shares and derivatives market (5,000,000,000,000 USD)!
If DeFi builds on its initial promises sufficiently, it could render stock markets obsolete by offering much cheaper and easier methods for obtaining liquidity.
If that must happen, a very thorny set of issues must be worked out, bringing us to the regulatory challenges with DeFi.
Already there have been many scams and money-laundering cases in the cryptocurrency sector, and authorities are just recently starting to take notice (for new taxes on cryptocurrency in 2020 in the US, see https://cryptotrader.tax/blog/the-traders-guide-to-cryptocurrency-taxes)
DeFi will come nowhere close to its initial promise and scope if it does not address the regulatory issues properly. What regulations? Read on!
Basically, there are three basic issues to DeFi as far as regulations go. They are:
Consistency of Regulations Across Borders
Insurance and Security Protection
If the big promise of DeFi across borders and countries has to happen, then regulations must be put in place which ensure uniform treatment in every country. Right now DeFi is not regulated on a global scale – but that has to change.
One of the obstacles is the variation between regulatory laws from country to country. Taxes, commissions, permissions, licenses, and other such financial requirements differ from country to country. If the composability of DeFi apps has to happen, then regulations must be the same world wide and be administered by one body.
Right now, regulations differ widely from country to country. Some are strict (USA), some are almost unregulated (Switzerland) and formerly, some countries had banned cryptocurrencies (India & China, although now both countries have approved both blockchain and cryptocurrencies). There needs to be a single regulatory body with uniform regulations across borders.
However, experts do insist that regulating DeFi to much may hamper viral growth and huge revenue in profits from existing companies. For this reason, most DeFi domain entrepreneurs prefer as little regulation as possible so that viral adoption is not interrupted. However, one cannot permanently remain unregulated. Why? Security and disputes!
Insurance Protection and Security
Suppose a 200 million asset is hacked and there is no way for the former owner to retrieve the money. Who provides insurance? Where is the safety net that protects against criminals and scamsters? Already, there have been a massive number of scams and fraudulent ICOs being held that have richly stolen their investor’s capital and then vanished without a trace.
The DeFi domain needs insurance and security. Without that, scammers will continue to merrily steal millions of USD from investors without being traced.
This is one of the biggest complaints against cryptocurrencies – they allow anonymous transactions. For transparency, it is preferable that at all time every debtor and creditor in a transaction be made public so that the government can track them, criminal deals can be prevented, crime payments stopped and criminals be held accountable for their monetary transactions that are illegal.
The anonymity of Monero and Bitcoin, to take two prominent examples, have resulted in a thriving economy of crime in the Dark Web and the other criminal activities running throughout the entire world. Criminals are thriving on cryptocurrencies because they cannot be traced. At such issues, one needs to ask – is the lack of regulations enabling criminals like human flesh traffickers, and drug dealers to thrive and flourish? The answer seems to be – yes!
If there is no international governing agency to track payments, stop frauds, prevent scams, and settle disputes, there is no assurance for DeFi. Even Bitcoin is nothing more than a speculatory asset whose worth depends upon the market situation and has no intrinsic value. Bitcoin is worth the money we give to it and the market gives it after going through sellers and investors, speculators, and the uninformed public.
Quite obviously, this needs to change if DeFi is to become a mainstream industry. If there is no central law agency that governs cryptocurrencies and blockchain worldwide, no investor is safe, no protocol is safe. There are possible solutions but that will require a worldwide widespread international effort from all DeFi participants across the globe.
And many do not want crypto to be regulated, since anonymous transactions mean criminal activity can continue. This is a very real threat, and much of the opposition to regulation hinges directly or indirectly on the criminal world. So, what is the solution?
There have been several proposals put forward by experts as well as government agencies. None of them have been a satisfactory solution to the problems that unregulated DeFi suffers from. How do we address this problem. How can regulators regulate other regulators? These are very real and thorny issues.
There are many possible solutions and cyber-experts and the international governing bodies all need to participate. Perhaps a world congress of all the blockchain stakeholders and cyber-crime agencies need to meet up and draw an international constitution to tackle DeFi regulation. Doing it too quickly, however, may cause the innovation in the DeFi sector to stagnate.
The future belongs to blockchain and DeFi. In every financial sector, across every vertical, blockchain solutions and decentralization is going to profoundly change the financial landscape of the entire world. This is an industry that is about to take off. There are business opportunities in the thousands. Billionaires will crop up. Existing industries will be completely disrupted. Everything is going to change.
The best solution to this issue for companies is constant research, learning and innovation throughout their lifetime. At the rate at which technology is now changing, you have to sprint just to stay at your current position. And social distancing and Covid-19 has hastened DeFi and blockchain adoption. For leaders, there is only one solution. Learn, learn again, and relearn continuously.
Unless you keep up with the competition, you will very quickly become obsolete. Just speak to Sony if you need to know why. This is a very exciting time. This is where the next Facebook, the next Google, the next Amazon, the next Instagram, and the next WhatsApp will be created. And of course, probably sold to Facebook for 19 Billion USD. But hey – if you are into coding, and finance, and you have an interesting idea – please follow it up! You will never know the next viral phenomenon until it happens.
And it can happen to even your own company! Every great product has started as one single thought in someone’s mind. If one of us has that capacity, so do all of us since we are all the same.
Rinse and Repeat.
The only limitations that one can set to one’s own company’s future is in your mind.
Go for it.
And always – keep learning and applying what you have learnt.
All the best