Joakim Hjønnevåg

Marketing Lead @ aXpire

The Intermediate's Guide to Blockchain and DeFi

Understanding Blockchain’s Purpose

Blockchain is not synonymous with cryptocurrency. Crypto is a market onto itself that operates on the decentralized networks utilizing blockchain technology. This is an important distinction because of how traditional news outlets often use these terms interchangeably. For FinTech professionals, blockchain represents a group of technologies, while DLTs refer to ledger applications with more specificity. Developers of publicly distributed ledger frameworks are upholding Satoshi’s vision of true decentralization. True decentralization, as Satoshi heralded with the creation of Bitcoin, is an important development for the world to move forward. By bringing "power" back to the people, a plethora of opportunities emerge.

Decentralizing Finance

Ethereum introduced the world to decentralized finance (DeFi). By creating a dynamic mechanism for digital assets and protocols utilizing them to exist on open-source code, Ethereum helped usher in a brand new type of FinTech. This new type of financial technology provides individuals with the advantage of autonomous, publicly distributed solutions that are fair and democratizing. Many do not yet feel ready to put their financial resources on a decentralized system. Still, everyone wants more control over their money, and the opportunities that go along with this freedom. As the DeFi space grows and matures, so is the likeliness of the various platforms and solutions' adoption.

Among the transformative solutions inspired by Ethereum is MakerDAO. The transparency and stability that MakerDAO innovates has the capacity to change the world. It’s these emerging DeFi solutions that provide users with powerful tools, creating a chance for the individual to compete against the big banks of the world. This movement of user-empowered finance is expanding in its independent and enterprise solutions. For instance, Compound is a tokenized debt platform that makes decentralized technology easier for developers to use. Dharma, as well, is another innovating lending solution. Tools like Compound and Dharma allow for developers to create applications that represent the future of finance. Combine all of these platforms and solutions together, and a complete, sustainable decentralized financial system becomes apparent.

The Full Potential Of Decentralizing Assets And Their Mechanisms

Decentralized money and platforms such as DEX-es and lending protocols have the potential to progressively replace current financial systems. This is the viewpoint of a growing number of technologist. Even governments around the world are beginning to recognize that the underlying technology of blockchain has value, funding trials through various governmental bodies that utilize it for a variety of different use cases.

The trend of financial reconstruction is aimed towards allowing the entire population to gain absolute control of their money, increasing the resources and opportunities available to them with open and permissionless finance. With this, the growing use cases of DeFi become increasingly important since even modest financial reconstruction will include the banking system. If we want to change the financial system, then DeFi will likely be a part of that change.

The Rise of DApps

The full potential of an autonomous system for decentralized assets and data is becoming more clear. DApps are decentralized applications built on top of publicly distributed ledgers. Many believe that the eventual expected adoption of DApps will lead to the adoption of cryptocurrencies. Before looking at the advantages of DApps, it is important to discuss how we, as a technologically driven society, got to this point.

Decentralized Smart Settlement Programs

Ethereum’s usherance of smart contracts and the emergence of DApps has not gone without its problems. Smart protocols and platforms that settle transactions over a decentralized network are at their core still iterations of a young technology. Growing pains are expected, and some of the entry barriers that currently inhibit DApps from going mainstream include:
  • Sp eed
  • Costs
  • Knowledge
Education about blockchain's core benefits and how to use it can greatly help solve these problems. For mass adoption to occur, the technology requires that users have the knowledge to create accounts and manage their private keys. User-empowered adoption will foster an appreciation for the underlying technology. As a consequence, patience toward innovation will be more acceptable while the rewards of using decentralized systems outpace traditional applications. As platforms like Ethereum continue their development, current problems such as speed and costs are also likely to disappear. In short, the future is bright.

Regulatory Efforts

Shiraz Jagati, a cryptocurrency journalist and analyst, wrote an article for Cointelegraph in which he examined the varying adoption of blockchain technology across the globe. He found several nations that welcomed its innovation. They are:
  • Switzerland
  • Malta
  • Luxembourg
  • Singapore
  • Belarus
Jagati described Japan and South Korea of being “ahead of the curve”. On the opposite side of the spectrum are countries such as India who make great efforts to ban the technology in all its forms. It is important to keep in mind that governments have been quick to rollback their opinions, however. We recently saw this with China, for example, with the creation of the digital currency yuan and with the leader of the country, Xi Jinping, announcing massive investments into blockchain technology. Often, such rollbacks simply exist to mask the creation of centralized ledgers and currencies. It would be truly dystopian to see blockchain used for the purposes of controlling the populace rather than freeing them.

How Blockchains Are Innovating Traditional Business

Even centralized institutions realize that blockchain is here to stay. Some companies have already chosen to adopt the technology rather than fight it. More and more organizations realize how their internal operations stand to benefit. One of the most attractive benefits is that of smart settlement programs and their many applications. Even if established companies do not like the idea of participating in a fully decentralized ledger, they are seriously looking into the more noteworthy hybrid applications.

Lori Cameron of the IEEE Computer Society examined how the dynamic applications of smart settlement programs can be incorporated into virtually any transaction. Financial transactions are merely one application. Logistics are another key area where usage of blockchain technology creates unmatched advantages. All in all, the wide-ranging applications have the capacity to service anything from the diversity of individual needs, to the demanding requirements of large companies. Cameron, in her article, goes on to discuss how researchers continue to find new ways to innovate and match blockchain to FinTech demands, such as, complex finance and banking solutions.

Centralized usage of blockhain, as seen through the Facebook-led Libra Association, attempt to institute an axis of control. Once allowed to take hold, users will have little choice but to make their everyday purchases on a single network. Libra promises easier living, but the cost is greater than most people realize. In a time when decentralized distributed ledger technology is ready to explode, centralizing money in the digital sphere is the wrong way to proceed.

A Better Future Through A Decentralized World

The potential of decentralized systems is greater than most people imagine. It will likely even be more impactful if done right than many of those who are already involved in the new economy expect. The developer's playground that is Ethereum is a great indicator of the innovation that is currently underway, paving the way towards a decentralized world. It continues to be the preferred platform for the development of DApps and smart settlement programs. Below are some of the more promising smart applications it has helped inspire:
  • Decentralized exchanges
  • Non-asset-backed stablecoins
  • Token baskets resembling ETFs
  • Asset management funds
  • Tokenized debt solutions

Conclusion

A distributed ledger has unmatched potential. Hybrid solutions have already demonstrated their value. Finance is merely one application where decentralized systems excel at providing solutions. User adoption will be key. Developers understand this and are finding new ways to integrate blockchain technology into modern day business practices and the needs of the individual. Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, Ethereum’s DeFi, and more all illustrate the genius of developers striving to create better solutions to the financial problems that exist around the world.

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