DeFi for the layman: Why do we need decentralization in 2021?

BTC Peers team
BTC Peers team

During one of the most polarised times in recent history, decentralisation is quickly becoming a unifying concept across the US and wider world. The infamous debacle involving hedge funds and associated brokers that unilaterally locked traders out of fair buying and selling of stocks has further emphasised in people’s minds the need to provide a decentralised framework for finance, social media and the transactional economy in general.

Alongside the increased censorship from social media and tech giants Facebook, Apple and Twitter, the finance sector - once upheld as the final bastion of free market expression - has begun to show signs of a centralised power structure losing its grip on the market it previously held so exclusively. Everyday ‘retail’ investors have discovered the power that can be yielded when bands of ‘little’ money comes together to take on ‘big’ institutional money. Mobilising as a unified group has become far more simple with the invention of social media and the internet; a popular forum, resentment and a spark was all it required to bring down a multi-billion dollar hedge fund in the recent Reddit-fuelled GME short-squeeze, brought on by millenials with trading accounts and a keen eye. However, despite breaking no trading laws, many online brokers unilaterally blocked the purchasing of GME stocks (alongside other ‘gamma-squeeze’ stocks) and only permitted selling - a fundamentally tragic event for the finance industry.

So, we move on to a text interview with Joshua Bate, a Representative from Digital Reserve Currency, a decentralised and community-driven store of value asset built on the Ethereum blockchain. He is here to represent the view that we should be (and are already on the way to) moving to more decentralised platforms across all aspects of our digital lives.

1. Let’s begin with Social Media. We are seeing a lot of people from Brazil to the US who are moving to Signal, moving to Telegram. We are seeing them leave the big mainstream platforms, in this case, Whatsapp. Is this a trend, and what do you think is behind it?

I do believe it is a global trend, yes. Privacy concerns are a key reason for the flight of members onto new social media platforms not backed by the existing tech hegemons.  These concerns about privacy and owning one’s data is a viewpoint shared by cryptocurrency groups. Telegram in particular is incredibly popular with cryptocurrency investors. A staple feature of every cryptocurrency project, especially the lower market cap currencies, is their social media groups. A well moderated chat room populated with informed individuals can be the factor that brings someone to purchase a project’s token; marketing takes on a new and organic form with these more community-minded initiatives. See an example of a Telegram community here.

Each group on Telegram can have its own rules, standards, members and atmosphere. Hopping from a high-browed chat about the potential implications of Decentralised Finance on global banking institutions to a chat bursting with memes and GIFs really gives users a feeling of freedom in their social media wanderings. Conversely, cryptocurrency and non-crypto groups alike have seen their activity dampened on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter by the centralised authorities that govern the content posted on these platforms.

2. Explain to the layman what is a decentralized internet, or even decentralized finance as a segment of that.

Centralised internet relies on servers; centrally controlled and high-powered. A decentralised internet would rely on a peer-to-peer network built by a community of users.  Unlike the current centralised server structure, these users and their devices would host the website themselves. Each hosted website would be distributed across hundreds of nodes on different devices. A decentralised internet would remove the possibility of servers failing due to power outage, DDoS attacks or manipulation. Censorship of online activity also becomes a far more difficult endeavour with a decentralised internet; some innovative developers are already creating blockchain-based, decentralised and thus uncensorable social media platforms for this very reason (e.g. SAV3).

Decentralised Finance (or DeFi) is an emerging form of finance that does not rely on traditional centralised financial intermediaries such as banks or brokerages, but instead is built on the Blockchain and utilises smart contracts. Similar to a decentralised internet, DeFi is removing the risks associated with centralised authority: manipulation; unilateral shutdowns; privacy breaches and increasing barriers to entry for other aspiring financial services.

3. Does DeFi need crypto, is it reliant on crypto? In other words, think of this as an introduction to Defi if you can. Teach me about it. What is it? Why do I want it?

As mentioned above, DeFi is an abbreviation of the phrase Decentralized Finance which generally refers to digital assets and financial smart contracts, protocols, and decentralized applications (DApps). A common phrase coined in the DeFi communities is to describe DeFi as blockchain based ‘Money Legos’. The majority of DeFi protocols are built on Ethereum - the world’s leading programmable blockchain. Without blockchain technology, DeFi could not exist.

A swathe of financial products are currently available across DeFi, including decentralized exchanges (DEXs, e.g. Uniswap), lending and borrowing markets (e.g. AAVE), tokenized physical assets such as gold (e.g. PAXG), derivatives (e.g. Synthenix), Store of Value assets (e.g. Digital Reserve Currency), prediction / betting markets (e.g. FTX), payment networks (e.g. Swipe), insurance (e.g. COVER), fixed-rate bonds (e.g. 88mph), yield-generation for providing liquidity (e.g. Curve.fi) and yield-generation protocol aggregators (e.g. Harvest Finance).  DeFi and crypto work hand in hand because the value of a decentralized, trustless, and cross border payment system is inherent to ensuring DeFi develops as a clear alternative to the centralized finance system we see today.

DeFi is a pioneering industry, one that is only just beginning; Since January 20th 2020, the Total Value Locked (TVL) in DeFi protocols has risen from $820.6 million to a whopping $28.06 billion in January 17th 2021 (analytics provided by Defipulse.com). DeFi aims to create a financial system that’s open to everyone and minimizes one’s need to trust and rely on central authorities. Technologies like the internet, cryptography, and blockchain give us the tools to collectively build and control a financial system without the need for central authorities.

4. Relating to decentralisation, what solutions does DRC bring to the table?

Digital Reserve Currency (DRC) was designed to become a decentralized digital store of value (SoV) with a limited supply and a zero inflation rate, created by Maxim Nurov during the COVID-19 crisis when fiscal and monetary policies have exposed serious vulnerabilities in the current financial system. We expect the demand for decentralized “store of value” assets to rise considerably as the risk of currency devaluation increases, especially in emerging nations with high inflation rates or countries with greater risks of financial corruption. DRC thriving global communities are discovering the utility of a digital Store of Value for the coming DeFi Cambrian explosion.

A decentralized “store of value” asset that has a limited supply has true value. The fact that it is secure, censorship-resistant, and portable makes it more advanced than gold or fiat money. Furthermore, DRC is an indivisible ERC-20 token. With a fixed total supply of 1billion tokens (all in circulation), 1 DRC will always be 1 DRC, there is no further breaking down of the DRC token.

DRC is currently in the adoption phase of its lifecycle, and as such can not yet be considered a true SoV. During this stage of the adoption process, DRC holders can use their DRC as the exclusive access key to the upcoming Digital Reserve, a decentralized financial tool designed to automatically allocate DRC holdings to a basket of the most efficient store of value assets, such as gold, US dollar, and Bitcoin.

5. If you have any venture capital money, who are your biggest backers? This is especially relevant for EU firms, or Emerging Market firms with Western capital backing.

Who are our biggest backers? The community. Let me explain: Digital Reserve Currency token (DRC) has a unique structure within the cryptocurrency sphere; a fair launch token with no ICO, premining or retention of tokens by the developer. As DRC is designed as a potential decentralised Store of Value, there is no centrally governing body, and thus no venture capital investment. The DRC ecosystem is backed primarily by the DRC community and secondarily by the DRC Foundation.

The DRC Foundation is a non-official, community-led organization dedicated to supporting the growth and development of the DRC ecosystem. The DRC Foundation’s role is not to control or manage the DRC network, as it is fully decentralized. Its mission is to advocate for the DRC ecosystem and to facilitate its global adoption and success, alongside each and every holder of DRC.

The DRC Foundation itself is backed by the DRC Foundation Fund, a fund established to support the development of the DRC ecosystem. All received contributions are from the community and are held in a secure multi-signature Gnosis wallet to be used strictly for the purposes of supporting the DRC ecosystem growth. Usage of the funds is fully transparent and disclosed to the DRC community members.

6. How can people learn more about DRC?

If you have any more questions about decentralisation, DeFi, or Digital Reserve Currency, please feel free to contact us at drcfoundation@protonmail.com.