In this discussion, we explore ways that Stripe — arguably the best American fintech company full-stop, although who would want to mess with Square — could be entering the crypto space. We consider approaches similar to the payment onramps, then discuss the underlying market structure powering those experiences, and highlight more generally the role of gateways relative to protocols. We touch on the role of custodians, banks, and wallets, as well as Square’s attempt, the tbDEX, where KYC/AML comes down to forms of opt-in identity. Finally, we address questions about Circle and USDC, and how stablecoins differ from the rails on which they travel.
We anchor our writing around the World Economic Forum 223 page report on CBDCs and stablecoins. The analysis highlights the key conclusions across several white papers in the report. We then add a layer of meta analysis around the language in the report, and question what it is trying to accomplish, and whether that will work with the Web3 revolution. This leads us to think about the tension between populism, as represented by crypto, and institutionalism, as represented by banking structures. We discuss theories of cultural and national DNA, and the rise of populism, as difficult problems to solve for any global alignment.
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.
Last quarter, fintech funding rose to $30 billion, the highest on record. $14 billion of SPAC capital is waiting to take these companies public. Robinhood and Circle are about to float on the public markets, via SPAC and IPO. In this analysis, we explore the fundamentals of both companies, as well as the unifying thesis that explains their growth.
In this conversation, we talk with Rune Christensen of Maker Foundation about how he became one of the most influential builders in the DeFi ecosystem. Additionally, we explore the creation, experiences, and evolution of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), the nuances of stablecoins, the interaction between Maker and DeFi with traditional finance and traditional economies, and Maker’s approach to leveraging layer 2 solutions to aiding scalability and transaction throughput.
In this conversation, we talk with Jon Helgi Egilsson about his incredible journey to becoming Chairman and a co-founder of Monerium.
Jon is a former chairman and vice-chairman of the supervisory board of the Icelandic Central Bank, a former adjunct professor in financial engineering and MBA lecturer at Reykjavik University, a visiting scholar at Columbia University, and co-founder of four software companies. Additionally, we explore the various concepts of digital money in the framework creating a competitive yet unified environment between fiat money, banking based on fractional-reserve, and the token economy.
This week, we look at:
How banks and financial advisors have failed to deliver on $1 trillion in capital appreciation for their clients over the last 12 years
The role of bank regulators in the United States, and the tensions between state and federal agencies
How the OCC is laying the groundwork for national banks to custody crypto assets, bank stablecoin reserves, run blockchain nodes, and use crypto payment networks
And instead of financial advisors or other CFAs guiding the retail market in good decision making, a newsfeed of *what’s popular* has driven Apple, Google, Tesla and the other John Galt hallucinations to the stratosphere. Don’t get us wrong. We love the robot as much as the next Fintech commentator. But it is clear to us that “the masses” are not being “advised”. And that the capital appreciation that matters — cementing the next trillion dollar networks for global future generations in work yet to emerge — is misunderstood and misrepresented by most financial professionals to their clients.
This week, we look at:
Proposed US regulation from FinCEN, legislation from the House of Representatives, and UK FCA registration requirements that would impact the crypto industry
The difference between competition for share within an established market, and competition between market paradigms (think MSFT vs. open source, finance vs. DeFi)
The crypto custodian moves from BBVA, Standard Charters, and Northern Trust
The bank license moves from Paxos and BitPay, as well as the planned launch of a new chain by Compound, in the context of the framework above
Permissionless finance is a paradigm breach. It pays no regard for the very nature of the incumbent financial market. Without banking, it creates its own banks. Without a sovereign, it bestows law on mathematics and consensus. Without broker/dealers, it creates decentralized robots. And so on. It tilts the world in such a way as to render the economic power of the incumbent financial market less important. Not powerless -- the allure of institutional capital is a constant glimmer of greedy, opportunistic hope. But the hierarchy of traditional finance does not extend to DeFi, and thus has to be re-battled for the incumbent. This is cost, and annoying.
Sometimes more is more, and sometimes less is more.
In that spirit, we strongly urge you to check out Messari’s Crypto Theses for 2021. It is a mammoth work of 134 pages, covering each and every development in the ecosystem.
If you don’t want to fuss around with the email gate, the direct link is here.
We are going to pick out five things that are interesting to us substantively and provide a view below. By pick out, we mean screenshot and respond.
In this conversation, we go through the essentials of Decentralized Finance with Kerman Kohli, who is a serial entrepreneur and the writer of the DeFi Weekly newsletter. We discuss the mechanics of issuing stablecoins, decentralized lending, decentralized exchange, automated market makers, and the increasing complexity of synthetic assets that have grown the sector to nearly $7 billion in August of 2020.