DeFi has unquestionably become the latest allure of the crypto world. These innovative financial products powered by smart contracts have effectively removed the middleman (traditional banks) from the borrowing-lending equation and created a truly permission-less economy. By empowering people to be their own bank and getting rid of identification or credit check protocols, DeFi projects have opened up a basket of financial products to anyone around the world that has a smartphone and an internet connection.
Each day, multiple decentralized finance projects are springing up with ingenious techniques that let anyone lend, borrow, stake digital assets with high APY rates that were unheard of until now. The Total Value Locked into DeFi projects surpassed the $1 billion milestone earlier this in June. As of this writing, a phenomenal $11 billion has been locked into DeFi smart contracts of various kinds. This level of monetary activity has captured the attention of an increasing number of people looking to make a quick buck but, on a brighter note, it has also democratized finance for the billions of people that remain unbanked even in 2020.
Traditional banks are notorious for bogging down customers with a bevy of formalities that need to be completed before they can see any money. If a person does not have a credit history, or if they have no identification (as is the case with millions across the globe), they are instantly denied access to essential capital at these banks.
DeFi is on the verge of transforming this deadlock by introducing self-perpetuating systems that need no approvals. Smart contracts based on Ethereum govern this entire process and allow anyone to stake collateral in the form of digital assets to gain access to loans, derivatives, and other financial instruments. In a short span of less than two years, this novel technology has introduced techniques such as yield farming and liquidity mining that let users compound their returns through reinvesting their rewards.
Of course, this may seem convoluted to the majority of people not familiar with cryptocurrencies, but there is a new wave of startups that have made it their mission to demystify the complexities of this nascent concept.
Consider PlasmaPay for example — a digital payments company that has optimized the fiat-crypto-fiat conversion process for millions of people from over 165 countries. The PlasmaPay app lets users purchase digital assets with virtually any Visa/MC card. In other words, you could deposit money from your bank account and instantly spend.
To make this possible, PlasmaPay is branching out to its own blockchain, called Plasma Chain, which effectively merges the worlds of centralized finance and DeFi using the power of distributed ledger technology. Developers can utilize the fundamental fiat on/off ramp gateways and payment processing systems on the Plasma Chain to build new dApps or protocols.
This will help tap into benefits such as seamless cross-border payments, sending or receiving money regardless of card provider or bank, all with zero commissions and instantaneous transaction speeds. PlasmaPay is also on track to release its own virtual card that will enable users to spend not only popular cryptocurrencies but also DeFi tokens, with the add-on benefit of ATM withdrawals. This should truly be a game-changer, since there is no option in the market for people to pay for transactions using DeFi tokens.
A new wave of innovation
Companies such as PlasmaPay are making great strides towards achieving mainstream adoption by making it easier than ever to onboard new users, but the DeFi space certainly needs some fixing before the technology can be implemented to its full potential.
Since January 2020 alone, the space has seen multiple hostile attempts to hack various protocols such as bZx, Balancer, YAM Finance among others resulting in losses upwards of $26 million.There is no hiding from the fact that trading DeFi tokens comes with exorbitant gas fees and drastically slow transaction speeds. These problems have largely kept the average user at bay, and forced anyone willing to participate in the system to go through a steep learning curve.
Hopefully, the newfound interest from able people and agile companies in the traditional markets will usher the much-needed security, interoperability, and scalability upgrades that will ultimately contribute to DeFi’s mission of taking over the centralized world of finance.