In the long take this week, I revisit decentralized finance, providing both an overview and 2019 update. The meat of the writing is the following long-range predictions for the space in the next decade -- (1) the role of Fintech champions like Revolut and Robinhood as it relates to DeFi, (2) increasing systemic correlation and self-reference in the space, which requires emerging metrics for risk and transparency, and (3) the potential for national services like Social Security and student lending to run on DeFi infrastucture, (4) the promise of pulling real assets into DeFi smart contracts and earning staking rewards, and (5) continued importance of trying to bridge into Bitcoin. Here's to an outlandish 2020!
With a message on Twitter and complaints of locked accounts, Crypto.com announced it was the first significant exchange hacked in 2022.
This week, I grapple with the concepts of financial centralization and decentralization, anchoring around custody, staking, and DeFi examples. On the centralized side, we look at BitGo's acquisition of Lumina, Coinbase Custody and its similarity to Schwab and Betterment Institutional. On the decentralized side, we examine the recent $500 million increase in value within the Compound protocol, as well as the recursive loops that could pose a broader financial risk to the ecosystem.
Dozens of Coinbase users were complaining on Reddit regarding unexpected charges on their credit and debit cards; Worldpay and Visa issued a joint statement saying the issue was not cause by Coinbase; the Financial Times reports that the source of the problem was still not clear though it did seem related to merchant category codes that were assigned to Coinbase; the issues bring up concerns that regulators have been discussing, rules around the new digital currencies are not clear. Source.
The Securities and Exchange Comission punted again on allowing a passive Bitcoin ETF to enter the market. It failed to approve the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust, instead opting to open a commentary period to address several questions around Bitcoin price formation and the health of the exchanges. A similar outcome faces the Bitwise Bitcoin ETF. You can tell I am not a fan of this waffling, and there are two core reasons: (1) the years-long delay and uncertainty is responsible for financial damage to both traditional and crypto investors, and (2) the premise of the objections misunderstand the environment of the Internet and the way our world is shaping up in the 21st century.
Making fintech news this week is Coinbase, Stripe, Goldman Sachs, Column, Robinhood, FTX and more.