Centralisation in a Decentralised World
It all started with Bitcoin, a decentralised ledger democratising money, giving everyone equal opportunity without nepotism. Sending borderless and censorship-resistant money over the internet was a utopian idea that no one had successfully implemented. But Bitcoin was not accepted in stores as a payment method, so naturally it had to be exchanged for currently used fiat currencies.
This is where decentralisation took a turn. The problem was: how do you set a price and exchange a coin for a centrally-issued fiat currency in a decentralised manner? It was simply not possible.
That’s why centralisation had to be introduced. To exchange Bitcoin to a fiat currency and make use of it, linking accounts via a centralised exchange and to centrally controlled bank accounts was necessary.
Though the dream had always been to decentralise the entire process. It was not possible then, but possible now.
Back to the Roots
Bitcoin introduced the idea of democratising money and replacing central authorities with incorruptible code. That was enough to make people from around the world to commit to developing on top of that idea.
Side Note: The majority of teams and projects are taking (or took) a ride on Bitcoin’s back just to gain attention and scam money out of people. In fact, that is the majority.
One of those people was Vitalik Buterin, founder of the Ethereum blockchain or father of smart contracts. Ethereum could not only do what Bitcoin did (transfer value) but create rules and build applications that would run on it. This opened the door to a whole new world, the world of Decentralised Finance (DeFi). Not only were decentralised price feeds introduced and decentralised exchanges, but other traditional finance institutions are fully being replaced by blockchains and lines of code.
CeFi vs DeFi
Right now, we’re going to evaluate different sectors within the financial industries and summarise which DeFi projects are replacing well-known CeFi products. This is inspired by one of our Instagram posts.
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The most used fiat currencies already have digital versions of them living on different blockchains like Ethereum. The most popular ones are USDT and USDC, however these are still issued by companies which does not make them fully decentralised and represents a single point of failure.
DAI: One of the alternatives to centralised stablecoins is DAI. Anyone can issued the USD-pegged DAI tokens via the Maker Protocol by putting other cryptos as collateral.
ETH: ETH is the native asset of the Ethereum blockchain, it is not pegged to any centrally-issued fiat currency. However, it is considered “money” in the sense that it is used to pay for fees of any transaction made in Ethereum DeFi.
AMPL: Ampleforth (AMPL) was created with flexible supply which would automatically be increased/reduced, in order for the price of AMPL tokens to gravitate back to the 1 USD mark. Note that it is NOT a stablecoin.
2. Central Banking
Maker: The maker protocol acts as a lending/borrowing market as well as a DAI generator, which practically decentralises the work of central banks.
Reserve: The Reserve Protocol was built to create algorithmically-pegged stablecoins. Initially to USD but ultimately create a stablecoin that is stable in purchasing value.
mStable: Allowing any individual from anywhere to mint mUSD (stablecoin) using a wide variety of other stablecoins in order to minimise risk of loss by breakage of one particular stablecoin.
3. Commercial Banking
Compound Finance: Earning yield on savings is almost inexistent with commercial banks. Instead of lending your assets to a central authority who will then lend it to someone else and pay you a small fraction of the yield, Compound gives users the ability to borrow/lend immediately via the protocol and with no middle men.
bZx: Lending and borrowing protocol for margin trading, allowing developers to build exchanges powered by the protocol.
Uniswap: Decentralised exchange powered by automated market making (AMM) allowing users to seamlessly swap ERC tokens.
0x: An open-source protocol giving anyone the ability to built a peer-to-peer exchange of ERC tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.
Curve Finance: Curve facilitates very low-slippage swapping of stablecoins. The other side of the protocol allows anyone to provide liquidity to the protocol and get a share of the fees paid to the platform.
The point of brokerage firms is to facilitate and make the investing pathway shorter and easier. Their job is to aggregate and study all the different venue via which an investment can be made and present to you a good UX solution.
Zerion: A simple to use decentralised “banking” interface that uses different DeFi protocols.
Zapper: Another DeFi aggregator offering a trustless banking interface using DeFi protocols.
MatchaXYZ: Smart order routing for optimal liquidity, as well as the ability to place limit orders on AMM DEXs such as Uniswap
Nexus Mutual: A mutual allowing users to buy cover against smart contract risks, decision are made in a decentralised manner by users of the protocol via staking.
Opyn: A protocol allowing users to hedge their crypto-exposure risk with options (calls or puts).
Holding the private keys is on thing but being able to send transactions is another and requires an infrastructure (i.e. wallet interface). The most prominent wallets used in DeFi are MetaMask, Coinbase Wallet and Argent.
8. Asset Management
Set Protocol: A decentralised funds world where anyone can invest in a fund of their liking. Portfolios are built from ERC20 tokens. Social trading, following trades from a particular Ethereum address will also be enabled.
Melon Protocol: An asset management protocol, offering anyone the ability to create a fund and seek investors while integrating all compliance, risk management and other requirement into code and avoiding excessive set-up and running costs of funds.
iEarn Finance: An asset management interface for investors to seek yield, borrow assets or buy cover in the Ethereum ecosystem.