In this analysis, we focus on Goldman Sachs launching an institutional embedded finance offering within Amazon Web Services, and Thought Machine raising a unicorn round for its cloud core banking platform. We explore these developments by focusing on the emerging role of cloud providers as distributors of third party software, think through some of the implications on standalone fintechs and open banking, and check in on AI company Kensho. Last, we highlight the difference between Web3 and Web3 approaches to “cloud”, and suggest a path as to how those can be rationalized in the future.
We look at a recent report from Protos that traces the issuance of USDT to the institutional players in the centralized crypto capital markets. The data reveals the market share of players like Alameda, Cumberland, Jump, and others in powering trading in exchanges. We try to contextualize this market structure with what exists both in (1) investment banking and (2) decentralized finance. The analogies are helpful to de-sensationalize the information and calculate some rough economics.
This week we continue the discussion of the shape of DeFi 2.0. We highlight Tokemak, a protocol that aims to aggregate and consolidate liquity across existing projects. Instead of having many different market makers and pools across the ecosystem, Tokemak could provide a clear meta-machine that optimizes rewards and rates across protocol emissions. This has interesting implications for overall industry structure, which we explore and compare to equities and asset management examples.
Decentralized finance is formulating new mechanisms to correct for the pitfalls of liquidity mining, yield farming, and other early token distribution approaches. This is happening both at the level of individual projects like Alchemix or Fei, and at the level of industry wide consolidation through Olympus DAO and Tokemak. We explore where this evolution is going, and potential outcomes. In this first part of the analysis, we look closely at Olympus DAO, the concept of Protocol Owned Liquidity, and whether the economics make sense.
We focus on the law of unintended consequences, and how making rules often creates the opposite outcome from the desired results. The analysis starts with the Cobra effect, and then extends to a discussion of the Wells Fargo account scandal, dYdX trading farming, Divergence Ventures executing Sybil attacks, and Federal Reserve insider trading. We touch on the concepts of credit underwriting and token economies, and leave the reader with a question about rules vs. principles.
The structure of capital markets precedes the innovations that come from it. High frequency trading, passive ETF investing, SPACs, and crypto assets all telegraphed their value proposition before becoming large and meaningful in scale. We are now seeing a new market shape emerge, one that starts with community and builds up into financial instruments that are cultural and social. This analysis looks at the most recent developments in the overlap between decentralized social and cultural work and related financial features.
In this conversation, we chat with Paul Rowady is the Founder and Director of Research for Alphacution Research Conservatory and a 30-year veteran of proprietary, hedge fund and capital markets research, trading and risk advisory initiatives. Alphacution is a digitally-oriented research and strategic advisory platform focused on modeling and benchmarking the impacts of technology on global financial markets and the businesses of trading, asset management and banking. This data-driven approach allows Alphacution to reverse-engineer the operational dynamics of these market actors to showcase the most vivid and impactful themes among the field of available research providers and platforms.
Paying attention is the path to seeing and doing. Mastercard has bought CipherTrace to see blockchain-based finance, to launch new businesses, and to plug in more networks into its nexus. The crypto networks proliferate at every layer, creating more computation on Ethereum, Polygon, Arbitrum, Optimism, Fantom, and Solana. The US executive seeks to see more too, asking the banks for their records of financial transactions to enforce taxation compliance.
We discuss the top-down and bottoms-up approaches to innovation and project building. For the former, we reference Australia’s draconian surveillance laws, and the integration of US driver’s licenses into Apple’s wallet. For the latter, we dive into the Ethereum-based Loot project and its incredible derivatives, $500MM token, and $200MM of volume. Last, we conclude by highlighting the role of creators on the coming wave of Fintech.
In this conversation, we chat with Jason Wenk, who is the Founder & CEO at Altruist. Apart from this Jason is a writer, self-proclaimed math geek, and investment systems developer. He began his career at Morgan Stanley in NYC at age 20, working on investment research and asset management systems development. After this Jason founded FormulaFolios: quantitative, computer-driven investment models based on academic research to help remove emotion from investing. FormulaFolios would later develop into a standalone asset manager and go on to rank as a fastest-growing private company by Inc. magazine 4 years in a row, reaching as high as #10 in 2017.
More specifically, we discuss all things wealth tech, as well as, serving people with financial planning, financial advice, and generally improving their financial health.