The last few months’ frenzy of institutional money flowing into Bitcoin (BTC) has seen crypto hitting the headlines — at the least as a novelty asset, at the most as a must-have. There is undoubtedly a trend in the market toward greater awareness and acceptance of digital assets as a new investable asset class.
A June 2020 report by Fidelity Digital Assets found that 80% of institutions in the United States and Europe have at least an interest in investing in crypto, while more than a third have already invested in some form of digital asset, with Bitcoin being the most popular choice of investment.
A good starting point for institutional investors would be to differentiate between crypto (Bitcoin, in particular) and decentralized finance products. To date, most institutional interest has involved simply holding Bitcoin (or Bitcoin futures), with few players dipping into more exotic DeFi products.
There are a plethora of reasons for the recent Bitcoin rage. Some would cite the relative maturity of the market and increased liquidity, which means sizable trades can now take place without resulting in excessive market movement. Others would cite the unusual high volatility, high return and positive excess kurtosis (meaning a greater probability of extreme values compared with the stock market) of the asset class. Bitcoin’s backstory and its limited supply that makes it akin to digital gold have also been highlighted, making it more and more attractive in a world of inflated asset prices and unruly monetary and fiscal policies.
However, the main reason for the recent institutional interest in crypto is much less philosophical, much more practical and has to do with regulations and legacy infrastructure.
Financial institutions are old behemoths, managing billions of dollars’ worth of other people’s money, and are therefore required by law to fulfill an overabundance of rules regarding the type of assets they are holding, where they are holding them and how they are holding them.
On the one hand, in the past two years, the blockchain and crypto industry has made leaps forward in terms of regulatory clarity, at least in most developed markets. On the other hand, the development of the high-standard infrastructure that provides institutional actors with an operating model similar to that offered in the traditional world of securities now allows them to invest directly in digital assets by taking custody or indirectly through derivatives and funds. Each of these represents the real drivers in giving institutional investors enough confidence to finally dip their toes into crypto.
Keeping institutional interest alive: What about other DeFi products?
With U.S. 10-year Treasurys yielding a little higher than 1%, the next big thing would be for institutions to look at investing in decentralized yield products. It might seem like a no-brainer when rates are in the doldrums and DeFi protocols on U.S. dollar stablecoins are yielding between 2% and 12% per annum — not to mention more exotic protocols yielding north of 250% per annum.
However, DeFi is in its infancy, and liquidity is still too thin in comparison with more established asset classes for institutions to bother upgrading their knowledge, let alone their IT systems to deploy capital into it. Additionally, there are real, serious operational and regulatory risks when it comes to the transparency, rules and governance of these products.
There are many things that need to be developed — most of which are already underway — to ensure institutional interest in DeFi products, whether on the settlement layer, asset layer, application layer or aggregation layer.
Institutions’ primary concern is to ensure the legitimacy and compliance of their DeFi counterparts at both the protocol level and the sale execution level.
One solution is a protocol that recognizes the status of a wallet owner or of another protocol and advises the counterparty as to whether or not it fits its requirements in terms of compliance, governance, accountability and also code auditing, as the potential for malicious actors to exploit the system has been proved over and over.
This solution will need to go hand in hand with an insurance process to transfer the risk of an error, for example, in validation to a third party. We are starting to see the emergence of a few insurance protocols and mutualized insurance products, and adoption and liquidity in DeFi need to be large enough to caution the investments in time, money and expertise to fully develop viable institutional insurance products.
Another venue to be enhanced is the quality and integrity of data through trustful oracles and the need to increase the confidence in oracles to achieve compliant levels of reporting. This goes hand in hand with the need for sophisticated analytics to monitor investments and on-chain activity. And it goes without saying that more clarity on accounting and taxes is needed from certain regulators who haven’t emitted an opinion yet.
Another obvious issue concerns network fees and throughput, with requests taking from a few seconds to double-digit minutes depending on network congestion, and fees twirling between a few cents and 20 bucks. This is, however, being resolved with plans for the development of Ethereum 2.0 in the next two years and also the emergence of blockchains more adapted to faster transactions and more stable fees.
A final, somewhat funny point would be the need for improvement in user experience/user interfaces in order to turn complex protocols and code into a more user-friendly, familiar interface.
People like to compare the blockchain revolution to the internet revolution. What they fail to remember is that the internet disrupted the flow of information and data, both of which were not regulated and had no existing infrastructure, and it is only in the last few years that such regulations were adopted.
The financial industry, however, is heavily regulated — even more so since 2008. In the United States, finance is three times more regulated than the healthcare industry. Finance has a legacy operational system and infrastructure that makes it extremely hard to disrupt and tedious to transform.
It’s likely that in the next 10 years, we will see a fork between instruments and protocols that are fully decentralized, fully open source and fully anonymous and instruments that will need to fit in the tight framework of the heavy regulation and archaic infrastructure of financial markets, resulting in a loss of some of the above characteristics along the way.
This will by no means slow down the fantastic rate of creativity and the relentless, fast-paced innovation in the sector, as a large number of new products in the DeFi space — products we haven’t even predicted — are anticipated. And within a quarter of a century, once DeFi will have first adapted to and then absorbed capital markets, its full potential will be unleashed, leading to a frictionless, decentralized, self-governing system.
The revolution is here, and it is here to stay. New technologies have undeniably shifted the financial industry from a sociotechnical system — controlled through social relations — to a technosocial system — controlled through autonomous technical mechanisms.
There is a fine equilibrium to be reached between tech-based, fast-paced crypto and antiquated, regulated fiat systems. Building a bridge between the two will only benefit the system as a whole.
DeFi Lending: Understanding the ins and outs of decentralized lending
What is DeFi Lending?
Decentralized finance is a blockchain technology that eliminates the use of intermediaries like brokers and decentralized ledgers. This type of finance offers anybody willing to earn interest and profits through trade using digital assets. Most assets used for trading in decentralized finance are a result of a cryptocurrency platform called Ethereum. It is also responsible for most decentralized finance applications.
Instead of intermediaries like banks in traditional finance, Defi is enabled by smart contracts and protocols directed by AI and computer algorithms. While some think it cannot go mainstream since some traders do not accept crypto coins and tokens due to the fear of volatility, statistics do not support the same. According to Defi Pulse, there is 83.05 Billion USD locked in DeFi today. DeFi has also brought about a significant improvement to the blockchain.
How DeFi Lending works
DeFi lending provides a chance for trade between two parties and can only involve a trusted third party if the APIs allow. With the use of this criterion of finance and smart contracts, P2P ending is possible. A crypto investor can enlist his crypto coins for lending on the crypto platform and lend out to another investor by use of protocols. This type of lending is becoming a trend because of how trustless and transparent it is.
A borrower is supposed to create an account on the cryptocurrency platform then ensure that he has an active wallet. He is then supposed to open smart contracts that are supposed to guide how the lending is expected to happen.
Defi lending allows the lender to earn interest from the loans. One can borrow money at a specific interest rate. It is also helpful as it serves financial services while giving back to the cryptocurrency community. It is beneficial to both lenders and borrowers because borrowers can access crypto loans quickly, and the lender earns a yield from investments instead of watching wealth sit in one’s wallet. Lenders are like investors who deposit their money in lending pools like banks in centralized finance.
Various ways can be used for an investor to access their interest and from borrowers. Moreover, different liquidity pools have different borrowing approaches, so an investor needs to research the pools.
Borrowers are expected to offer something of equal or more value compared to the loan amount provided. This is used as collateral during loan payments. Depending on the borrower, a wide variety of crypto tokens can be offered as collateral for the loan.
Benefits of DeFi lending
Decentralized finance is advantageous in different ways. These are;
- Unlike traditional banks, the processing speed of crypto coins is fast
- Decentralized finance complies with the law of the land
- There is an availability of helpful analytics that a borrower can use to tell the best lender and vice versa
- DeFi is permissionless
- There is transparency in their services
As DeFi targets to go mainstream, it is advisable to try its services like lending to compare it with the usual way of things; it might just be your niche!
Open DeFi Notification Protocol Aims to Help Traders Manage Risk
October 21, 2021 — Decentralized public blockchain platform Orbs has announced the launch of the Open DeFi Notification Protocol, a product designed to supply users with free mobile notifications for consequential on-chain events.
The chain-agnostic protocol originated from the DeFi.Org Accelerator, a joint venture between Orbs, cryptocurrency exchange Binance, and wallet provider Moonstake. The Accelerator helps founders launch the next wave of innovation in decentralized finance, providing liquidity, mentorship and exposure to market players.
The Open DeFi Notification Protocol – which is Orbs’ newest contribution to the venture – leverages contributions from community members to record events such as accumulated pending rewards, price swings, near liquidations, stop loss, contract upgrades, new governance votes, and more.
In gaining access to such data, DeFi users including traders and liquidity providers can better manage their activities and avoid losses, particularly during periods of market volatility. With a simple 30 minute integration on Github, any DeFi project can furnish its users with free mobile notifications, a feature that may help them gain an edge on rival protocols.
‘Transparency is a hallmark of blockchain, yet reliable mobile notifications that can aid the DeFi community are virtually nonexistent,’ says Orbs Co-Founder Tal Kol.
‘Our talented team has created a user-friendly protocol that functions almost like a reactive DeFi assistant, alerting users to the possibility of impending liquidations, significant price swings, contract upgrades and the like. We are positive it will make a huge impact.’
Although the initial beta version of the Open DeFi Notification Protocol will use a centralized node to track and display the various updates, Orbs intends to launch an updated version that utilizes the eponymous network’s set of independent nodes to aid further decentralization.
With the Open DeFi Notification Protocol, users can set up any number of alerts for different defi apps, with the ability to integrate an open-source web component directly within many dApps’ frontend architecture. Users simply downloads the mobile app “DeFi Notifications” for iOS or Android and scan their address QR in MetaMask (or the position QR in the app’s UI). No registration is required. An example video of the Protocol working with Sushi has already been uploaded to Orbs’ official YouTube channel.
Orbs is a public blockchain infrastructure designed for mass usage applications and close integration with EVM-based L1’s and L2’s such as Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain (BSC), Polygon, Solana and Avalanche. The Orbs protocol is decentralized,executed by a public network of permissionless validators using Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus and is powered by the ORBS token.
The Biggest DeFi Hacks in 2021
- According to DeFi Pulse, there is around $100 billion locked up in DeFi.
- In 2020, around $120 million was lost to DeFi hacks
Decentralized Finance deals with a decentralized ledger and lacks intermediaries, making it quite favorable but also risky. According to DeFi Pulse, there is around $100 billion locked up in DeFi. As the total value increases, so does the crime rate around it. Hackers have taken up the opportunity to loot investors as the business is booming.
Nevertheless, more measures have been taken to ensure the safety of investors’ assets. In 2020, around $120 million was lost to hackers. This year, the number is probably going to be much smaller, taking the current statistics.
Funds are swindled from the system by use of hacks, rug pulls, and system failure. However, these are vital areas that the platforms have decided to put significant concerns on to curb the crime. These are some of the biggest hacks that have taken place this year.
Significant DeFi hacks in 2021
Yearn finance flash loan attack
The attack on the platform happened in February this year. The hackers siphoned $11 million and managed to get away with $2.7 million as profit. They used $8.5 million as fees. The hackers used flash loans which they used to make a collateralized loan. The hacker then made a deposit in Yearns pool, which led to an inflation of DAI.
Monday 19th of April this year, a cyptojacking happened to EasiFi. The platform sits atop of the Polygon Network. A loss of $80 million worth of assets was lost to a strategic hack. The hackers took 75 million USD as assets and siphoned 6 million USD from liquidity pools. To recover the loss and prevent future similar attacks, the managing team altered the blockchain network protocol.
PAID Network major loss
The PAID network suffered a significant loss of around 180 million USD. Hackers managed impunity of 3 million USD. As if that’s not enough, the hackers minted PAID tokens worth above 180 million USD. It caused inflation in the supply of the tokens, which led to a drop in their value by about 85%. While some argue that the attack might have been a rug pull and not a hack, there are no facts attached to the claim.
Uranium Finance Token migration hack
An attack on the Binance Smart Chain network-based platform, Uranium Finance, happened during a token migration event earlier in the year. It was focused on BSC’s automated market protocol. The hacker managed to get away with 50 million USD after taking advantage of a coding error. He liquefied the process without revealing his identity.
Spartan Flash Loans hack
The Spartan protocol is also a BSC-based platform that suffered a hack in May this year. The project lost 30 million USD taken out by flash loans from PanCake. He altered the balance of assets that were locked in the liquidity pool. He withdrew the stolen funds by use of DEXs 1inch and Nerve Finance.
DeFi platforms should heighten their security measures since DeFi hacks perpetrators are busy developing better ways to manipulate loopholes in finance to their favor.