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Messari predicted ten things to watch in the DeFi field next year: Maker, Uniswap, liquid mining, dynamic automatic market makers, unsecured lending and lightning loans, smart machine gun pool, governance, etc.
Original Title: “Messari Annual Report: Top Ten DeFi Hotspots in 2021”
Written by: Ryan Selkis, founder of Messari
Recently, Messari founder Ryan Selkis released the 134-page ” Crypto Investment Theory Report 2021 “. In the “DeFi: Lego Currency” chapter of the report, Selkis introduced his expectations for DeFi in 2021, covering Maker, Uniswap, liquid mining, dynamic automatic market makers, unsecured lending and flash loans, smart Ten major directions such as machine gun pool and governance.
This article is the sixth part of the report: “DeFi: Lego Currency”
In the 2017 bull market, all projects wanted to catch up with the hot spots of “cryptocurrency”. By 2020, all projects want to classify their tokens into “DeFi”. Therefore, the definition of DeFi is very important, and our analysts have put forward a stricter definition of DeFi. This agreement and its assets must meet the following requirements:
- Financial use: clearly applicable to financial applications such as loans, exchanges, derivative/synthetic asset issuance, and asset management.
- No permission required: open source; anyone can use or build the project without the permission of a third party
- Anonymity: People can use the protocol without revealing their identity
- Non-custodial: does not rely on third-party helpers
- Decentralized governance: decision-making and management privileges are not held by a single entity, or there is a reliable way to eliminate them
Before introducing the following currency Lego evolution, we first provide some counterexamples (those that are not DeFi projects), which is very helpful for understanding. Chainlink is a popular decentralized oracle. It is an important part of the data infrastructure, but it is more like middleware than a financial product. Similarly, the smart contract platform provides the impetus for DeFi, but it is not primarily aimed at financial applications. Financial assets that are mainly used as “shadow securities” (for example, crypto exchange tokens) are also not considered. However, this classification is not perfect.
For example, Binance’s BNB token actually highlights the existence of the gray area, because BNB can be used to protect the Binance smart chain, realize Binance transaction fee discounts, and can also be used for destruction through exchange income.
However, according to the stricter definition mentioned above, a lot of Lego blocks have been added to the cryptocurrency toy box this year. We will explain each of these primitives in easy-to-understand terms, and then layer some predictions for the coming year. Generally, we are here to help you understand this chart:
DeFi is the shining point in cryptocurrency. After a 75% adjustment, the market rebound last month was fierce in terms of speed and liquidity (trading volume). Despite this, the total market value of this fledgling industry is only 7 billion US dollars, which is roughly equivalent to BCH. We bet on the revaluation of DeFi and continue to grow rapidly in the coming year.
Maker-Fully mortgaged bank on the chain
To build a parallel financial system, the first thing you need to do is: a stable digital currency, the so-called stability, means that its purchasing power will not fluctuate by more than 10% within a day.
No one wants to spend a currency that may appreciate by 10% tomorrow, and no one wants to accept a currency that may depreciate by 10% tomorrow. The same goes for borrowing.
You don’t want to borrow assets whose repayment cost is 10% higher due to the soaring real interest rate, and you also don’t want to lend assets that may depreciate because your implied rate of return may be negative. With BTC and ETH, all transactions are speculative in nature because both parties agree to bear the main risk of the underlying account unit. Early centralized stablecoins like Tether are a temporary improvement, but with the risk that the authorities may confiscate their bank deposits. We need something that belongs entirely to the encryption protocol itself, such as Dai.
At the end of 2017, a cryptocurrency mortgage-based “contract” lending platform called Maker was officially launched, aiming to finally solve the volatility problem of cryptocurrencies. Using Maker, users can lock ETH in collateralized debt positions (currently called “treasury valuts”) mandated by smart contracts, and borrow U.S. dollar-linked units (called Dai) based on user holdings. The project creates incentives for long-term Ethereum longs to use Dai to add on-chain leverage to their long orders.
Therefore, if you are an ETH whale in January 2018 (with a long-term exposure worth $1 million at the top of the market immediately after the MKR launch) and you want to cash out some money to buy a new house, then you can pledge ETH to Obtain Dai, so you don’t have to bear the huge capital gains that you will lose due to the complete sale of ETH: use the $1 million ETH position to borrow $500,000 Dai, pay interest to the Maker agreement, but not pay taxes to the state. As long as your CDP maintains a 150% mortgage rate, you are fine.
Of course, the problem is that ETH fell from peak to trough in 2018, a drop of more than 90%. So people quickly see the disadvantages of leverage. Once the value of the $1 million collateral drops to $625,000, the $1 million ETH CDP will be liquidated (plus fees). This kind of thing makes many skeptics (including myself) believe that Maker is fundamentally flawed and will collapse at a loss. But miraculously, the system did not die in 2018, nor did it die in the market crash caused by the COVID panic in March this year. At that time, most of the company’s liquidation agreement and emergency auction system were working normally, to a large extent. This is the case.
Maker still has some criticisms, but now I think the project is the most flexible and powerful cryptocurrency mortgage bank in the industry. More importantly, the project has proven that other on-chain stablecoin projects may create cryptocurrencies. To help us avoid traditional banks altogether. I like those encryption protocols that “refuse to die”, and Maker meets the requirements. The market value of DAI has soared 15 times in 2020, thanks in large part to DeFi. By the end of 2021, it will at least double again to reach US$2 billion, and other synthetic stablecoins will also join the competition.
The Central Limit Order Book (“CLOB”) is the backbone of the modern cryptocurrency exchange, which summarizes the bids and asking prices (limit orders) from market makers for various asset pairs at various price points. . They usually work well in a centralized exchange (CEX), but the CLOB model fails when it enters the chain. The reason is simple: every bid and asking price, and every adjustment to these bids and asking prices, will consume gas to be stored on the chain, and theoretically, every order can be preemptively traded, because the order is prioritized Gas fee and timestamp. Some projects are studying Layer 2 solutions to these problems of on-chain orders, but now, only know that it is very expensive to manage an order book on the chain.
Uniswap is a decentralized exchange that uses the “automated market maker (AMM)” model. The concept was first proposed by Vitalik at the end of 2016 and implemented by Bancor in mid-2017, but Uniswap made it mainstream. AMM solves the problem of maintaining CLOB by locking the trading pair assets in the “liquidity pool” instead of issuing more temporary limit orders on the account books. Today, AMM has many forms, but they all use a method called “constant function market maker” to price assets and ensure that all orders for any listed currency pair are matched.
I would recommend a series of excellent videos to visually decompose these and other DeFi concepts, but for now, I only know that the ETH-DAI pair on Uniswap holds the same amount of ETH and Dai at a ratio of 600:1. If a liquidity pool of 12,000 USD is needed for trading, it means that approximately 10 ETH and 6,000 Dai are required to be locked in AMM.
In the past, the problem with AMM was that they were only suitable for small batch orders. If you try to trade 1,000 USD in ETH in a market with only 12,000 USD liquidity, the price of ETH will change significantly. However, even with slippage, AMM is still a “zero-to-one” innovation that can help avoid large exchanges. Not only for security reasons (self-hosting), but also for convenience and accessibility. Each market supported by AMM does not have too many compliance costs. Anyone can immediately launch a market for new assets on Ethereum-which may make CEX unable to beat them in terms of availability and liquidity.
AMM is particularly convenient and fast, and can be used to synthesize assets on the chain, which we will discuss later. My way of thinking about AMM and CLOB exchanges is the same as that of BTC and global currencies. Compared to the U.S. dollar, Bitcoin is a bad currency, but compared to the Argentine peso or Venezuelan bolivar or Sudanese pound, Bitcoin is a very good currency. With the appreciation of Bitcoin and the inflation of other currencies, Bitcoin has risen in the currency rankings. Similarly, compared to Binance and Coinbase, Uniswap is a “bad exchange” (although it is even somewhat controversial now), but it is another very important issue for long-tail assets and compared with CEX outside the top 50 by trading volume. Good exchange. Soon, it will become the top ten exchange in terms of trading volume.
In the future, most of the liquidity in most markets will be conducted through decentralized exchanges, and AMM will become an important part. Even better, AMM ensures that retail investors will always have the opportunity to lead institutions and venture capitalists in the value creation game of cryptocurrency.
Uniswap may continue to rank in the top ten. They only need a little spark to start…
Liquidity mining spark
In the DeFi environment last year, there were Makers and other players. Maker’s mortgage loan agreement was basically the only game that could borrow crypto assets for lending. The Dai Saving Rate, which was launched in November 2019, became one of the first and fastest-growing interest-bearing accounts in cryptocurrencies. However, when Compound launched “Liquid Mining” this summer, they created a brand new game, which ignited the entire DeFi field.
In most DeFi agreements, liquidity providers will get the largest share of system rewards. This makes sense: if you invest capital in market transactions, you should earn market maker fees. If you lend money, you should earn interest. But the problem is that this is a long process of establishing liquidity. Many potential capital contributors may think that the risk-adjusted income they generate in DeFi is not enough. For example, this is like picking up a few cents in front of a road roller. .
The benefits of liquidity mining for the early DeFi stakeholders are relatively sweet. Those fund contributors who injected funds into the early liquidity pool (“revenue farmers”) are allocated network management rights (including from The ability to make money in the agreement (market fees) tokens.
Liquidity mining not only increased the agreement deposits by several orders of magnitude, but also turned DEX into a capital cooperative and solved the “cold start” challenge that is common in the DeFi market. They distributed billions of dollars worth of new liquidity tokens to network contributors this summer.
Liquid mining is a bit like taking steroids. It may increase the energy level of the project in a few cycles, but as a project, you still need to go through heavy work to build a useful and long-term viable market and active community. Otherwise, your end result will be worse than when you started. Uniswap and Compound demonstrate this perfectly. Since its launch in June, Compound deposits have increased 15 times, and its liquidity mining rewards will be distributed within four years. Uniswap uses a more circular approach. At the end of the initial distribution cycle, its deposits dropped rapidly by 50%, but the early rise was obvious: Uniswap’s liquidity was 6 times higher than when the UNI token was first issued in August.
Since 80% of the maximum supply of UNI has not been allocated, there is still room for the future cycle of liquid mining steroids, which can help increase network participation and/or defend against competitive attacks. This is equivalent to using large treasury bills, but the liquidity mining cycle must be controlled and carefully planned. As the market develops slowly, it is easier said than done. Today, interest income and market maker income are growing rapidly, but they are still small.
Liquid mining rewards will continue to help users speculate on the long-term scale of their market.
Common sense warning: You need people to believe that your network is a constant focus in order to keep the revenue farming game going. If the governance tokens obtained from liquid mining are worthless at all, you can make the headlines with more than 1000% APY that lasts only one hour, and then become negative APY as the participant’s market sells. This has become the norm, which is why CoinGecko even established the Degen mode.
Prank projects like this are one of the reasons you can hear about the DeFi “blue chip” network. The community of this network seems to be gathered around long-term viable projects, although most people still get involved in the Degen casino. I coined the term “UNEASYs” for Uniswap, Nexus Mutual, Ethereum, Aave, Synthetix and YFI. Coupled with Maker and Curve, you have captured all top-level agreements at locked value.
When I said that I hope that in the next market cycle, the price of DeFi assets will rise again by 3-5 times (in BTC), what I am talking about is “blue chip stocks.”
Dynamic automatic market maker
Uniswap proves that the AMM model is feasible, and liquidity mining proves that it can be expanded. What follows is a set of predictable iterations on top of the lower-level Lego bricks. Uniswap AMM is not without problems. They require a lot of funds because they need a balance of two tokens to maintain a constant product. (Mathematically speaking, X * Y = K, where the token balance X * token balance Y should always be equal to a constant K.) They are also affected by “Impermanent Loss”, where high market volatility will lead to AMM and reference market prices The imbalance of and causes liquidity providers to post money to arbitrageurs:
“Compared to Binance trading pairs, the less liquid Uniswap pair may fluctuate up and down, while automated trading can arbitrage the spread.”
Impermanence losses can usually be permanent and offset the costs that market makers may earn.
Therefore, it is important to repair the impermanence loss. Obviously, some functions of AMM can be adjusted to reduce capital intensity and protect market makers as the foundation of the DeFi market. Two particularly important upgrades of AMM were introduced to the market from Balancer and Curve, and further iterated by AMM OG and Bancor. Balancer promotes the idea of a constant product market maker, making it easier to combine multiple assets in the same comprehensive liquidity pool, and reducing the possibility of arbitrageurs’ impermanence in a highly volatile environment (the default state of cryptocurrencies) Sex.
Instead of providing liquidity to the ETH-DAI, BAL-USDC, CRV-DAI and BAT-ETH pools on Uniswap, Balancer liquidity providers can add ETH, DAI, BAL, BAT, and USDC to the same pool, allowing the same Of collateral across multiple market pairs. Bancor launched v2 of its AMM, focusing on more liquid crypto trading pairs. Whenever they break away from the shackles of the off-chain market, it uses data oracles to dynamically rebalance its pool. These upgrades can increase capital efficiency by 20 times, but they are also accompanied by the risk of relying on off-chain oracle data.
Curve is probably the most exciting new AMM on the market. The agreement first realized that they could tighten the parameters of trading pairs with lower predictable slippage: similar stablecoin to stablecoin transactions, and fixed assets such as renBTC to wBTC.
Curve has increased the DeFi circulation of USDC, USDT and Dai by 10 times, although they have introduced risks when storing multiple types of unique stable currency risks in the same transaction pool (if a stable currency loses a fixed exchange rate, the entire system will Will crash). CRV is one of the most critical innovations in the past year. With the interoperability of the platform (to the eth1.5 +Rollup chain and the bridge to the Layer1 alternative to Wrapped assets), the expansion of asset liquidity will affect similar asset trading pairs. The importance of will become more obvious. This is the main trend in 2021. Uniswap has already carried out some bundling sales, as each AMM agreement provides its own liquidity mining token incentives, aimed at tightening slippage and improving the quality and strength of the DEX ecosystem compared to its centralized competitors.
The market share of DEX, especially the market share of the AMM protocol, will quadruple again in 2021, reaching 2% of the global total. This sounds small. This is only because the rebound of BTC and ETH promoted by institutions will occur in Traditional place. For ERC-20 tokens with a market value of less than US$100 million, the DEX market share will climb to 10%. For ERC-20 small projects, DEX will expand its leading position as the sole market maker.
Smart Machine Gun Pool (Vaults)
“We do need things like Wealthfront in the DeFi world,” said a man named Andre Cronje. Yearn.Finance has become the most important DeFi agreement of the year, explaining how to combine all the unique Lego blocks of DeFi and adding some of its own blocks. Yearn (originally iEarn) was originally an interest rate optimization tool that developer Andre Cronje used to dynamically allocate his assets in various DeFi loan agreements based on the highest daily yield. Note: Wealthfront is a well-known robo-advisor platform.
With the expansion of the Cronje product suite, he began all the work under the Year banner. Create a financial brand and introduce a “completely worthless” governance token called YFI to set system parameters and capture a portion of the costs generated by various “smart Vaults” on the network.
Yearn’s asset management platform now manages more than $450 million in funds and provides liquidity for AMM (Uniswap, Curve, Balancer), lenders (Compound, Aave, dydx) and insurers (Nexus Mutual). Without Andre’s continuous innovation, I would not even be able to write any articles about YFI, but we will continue to introduce the arduous pace of new development and integration of the protocol in Messari Pro.
Yearn can also be said to be specifically for those who are relatively lazy (receiving DeFi income and mining rewards, but outsourcing management to obtain a part of the performance fee), entrepreneurs (“strategy creators” are introduced to provide support for each yVault The new programmatic investment strategy to get rewards) and risk aversion (I just want to get a little profit and minimize the risk of my gas fee and total principal loss). If you want to bet that “Wearlthfront of DeFi” will become an important part, then YFI is worthy of your possession.
Unsecured credit and flash loan
One of the most interesting new DeFi primitives is “Flash Loan”, where users can borrow an asset, deploy that asset in a transaction, and then repay the loan as part of a single multi-step transaction. Lightning loans can be used for arbitrage (programmatically exploit the price inefficiency between DEXs in a single block), mortgage swaps (replace collateral with basic loans without repaying the loan) and “self-liquidation” (you can It is believed that DeFi refinancing will not trigger a taxable event), and a large number of potential applications in the future. Lightning loans can take advantage of inefficiencies and require almost no operating funds (except for gas fees), which makes DeFi more liquid. Their role in many DeFi vulnerabilities is “actually good news”, helping to establish system-wide resistance to vulnerabilities.
Flash loans are basically a series of sequential database entries, executed only when all entries are processed in the same batch transaction block. Aave is one of the initial initiators of flash loans (and dydx is also), and charges 9 basis points of initiation fees to provide short-term liquidity to borrowers. Aave issued a loan of $25 million in the first six months of 2020 and then $500 million in the third quarter. They executed another US$500 million in loans in October and November, so this year is not bad.
Even if DeFi assets move sideways in 2021, as more white hat arbitrageurs and black hat market manipulators use this method to take advantage of the weaknesses of the DeFi market, the size of flash loans will increase by 5 times, reaching $5 billion. I have 51% confidence that flash loans will completely destroy at least one of the top ten DeFi projects in 2021. They are likely to have a partner in the exploitation of this vulnerability: bad data oracle.
Encrypted data middleware: Oracle (Oracle)
With Bitcoin, there is no need to rely on any external data. Bitcoin transactions are native to the Bitcoin blockchain. The protocol knows nothing about the world outside the ledger and node network, and doesn’t care. But how does Augur settle on-chain sports betting, or how does MakerDAO settle under-collateralized CDPs based on the fall in ETH prices? They use oracles, a type of middleware that connects the blockchain to off-chain data sources.
Augur’s REP uses a system of “designated reporters” to reward oracles that provide accurate information about real-world events, and perform a dispute arbitration process when the results include some kind of subjective interpretation. This is a good choice for bets that can accept a longer settlement time, but DeFi applications require more timely and continuous data to achieve a 24×7 market. If you want to build a synthetic token designed to provide information such as a specific stock price, you need a data oracle to provide a reliable reference price for that stock. Even if you want to obtain information from other on-chain data sources (such as Uniswap exchange rates), you still need to manage the risks associated with market manipulation (for example, using a flash loan to destroy the exchange rate of a poorly liquid market trading pair).
Chainlink is responsible for managing the flow of information from multiple data sources and acting as a key data converter without introducing trusted third parties into encrypted transactions. They make manipulating reference data more difficult and expensive. We do not regard Chainlink as “DeFi”, but this is an important project, because most DeFi vulnerability attacks are related to poor reference data infrastructure and risk control, and most protocol builders understand that they need to maintain a reliable The oracle is very difficult.
Nowadays, when it comes to oracles, Chainlink has become the first project that people think of. This project has been integrated with hundreds of encryption projects and can help every new partner who joins its camp to promote (including such as Harmony and NEAR and Shanghai). Many DeFi darlings listed in the article and other Layer 1 platforms). There are also other “decentralized oracle network” projects, but Chainlink has become the de facto choice for teams that want to outsource oracle services, and the fact that it is currently the sixth-ranked crypto asset by market value is also very important. Hard to be ignored.
But this is not to say that LINK’s entire focus is on how to trade it as an asset: LINK’s current market capitalization is 5 billion U.S. dollars, and 60% of the remaining supply is kept in reserves to incentivize partners and use the core of the agreement Contributor. LINK looks like a reduced version of XRP in many ways. An anonymous short-selling research company Zeus Capital (Zeus Capital) published a 59-page short-selling report on Chainlink earlier this year, shorting the agreement and its main stakeholder SmartContract. Some conclusions of the report are false, and some accusations are defamatory, so I will not post a link to the report here. But the report does have several substantive points. That is, the bad LINK economics surrounding Chainlink.
Today, LINK is just a “payment token”. In other words, its competitiveness is that you must have a certain amount of commodity funds to host oracle nodes and/or pay for reference data contract calls. However, like most 2017 “utility tokens” projects, there is no reason to hold LINK for any period of time: if you really need LINK for payment, you can hold other more liquid “funds”, as needed The jump-in function is not so useful, the less liquid payment token. When staking LINK for network security, the problem is that ChainLink’s fee model seems unstable or scalable. The cost model has been proposed, but it has not been charged for each transaction, because the introduction of the cost of each call will make the usage cost too high.
It is difficult for me to support any reference data contract calling model with a market size of 10 billion US dollars. If you want a bullish case: I think LINK is. But I am not a long LINK.
Vampire attack: legal theft
The best and worst part about building in DeFi is that everything is open source. For competitors, it is fair game to fork your code, eat your meal and laugh at the same time. DeFi is not for the faint-hearted. This summer, we saw the best and the worst that the industry can provide. SushiSwap forked Uniswap, and its liquidity mining reward program is designed to induce Uniswap liquidity providers to succumb to this new anonymous publishing competitor. An anonymous developer was a big success on Curve. He found the unactivated token contract of the project in the github repository and started the contract by himself. Then someone forked Curve and launched Swerve.
Compound works with Cream’s “vampires” because they see the new project as a real complement: Cream supports a wider range of DeFI assets, crosses with new blockchains such as Binance Smart Chain, and shares 2.5% with Compound’s “victims” Supply.
Once the vampires drain the speculator’s blood, they will soon return to the grave, but others will stay (surprisingly, including projects like SushiSwap) because they implement new, interesting features and partnerships , So it seems to be recovering.
Vampire attacks are good. If capitalism is all about creative subversion, then DeFi capitalism is about subversion of rentiers. First-mover advantage no longer leads to monopoly, but a temporary advantage. Only through reasonable commitment to community governance and fair (and early) stakeholder consistency can the temporary advantage be maintained.
The main vampire attacks we see in 2020 come from “no tokens” projects that try to defeat and surpass competitors by issuing new tokens. Wallets such as Metamask seem to be the main candidates. They may launch tokens for some reason, such as competitors siphoning users with their own token incentives. This situation first occurred in Binance and BNB. With the prosperity of liquidity mining. I predict that this may happen in the areas of wallets and self-custodial services.
There are other ways to build defense capabilities in DeFi. Brand, integration, usability, goodwill, partnership, and good security are all important. However, a sound fiscal strategy is essential.
The success of Uniswap proves that you can develop a phenomenon-level product that has received rave reviews from the community, but will still be threatened by motivated groups who are willing to better share the economics of the platform with users. Fiscal governance and protocol politics are high-risk parts of DeFi. Community governance tokens have a scale of 6 billion U.S. dollars and financial assets now worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
How should these assets be managed?
In general, most networks have automatically returned cash rewards to investors through “dividends” or through token repurchase destruction (same as corporate repurchase, but not true), but the use of funds first incentivize core developers ( Executives) seem to be smarter, then long-term capital providers (board of directors), then community contributors (team), then mercenaries (hedge funds). This should be obvious, but the incentives for 2020 will still favor mercenaries at the expense of other (more important) stakeholders.
But this situation will change.
I am most interested in the development of PowerPool’s CVP (“Centralized Voting Rights” token, which is basically a proxy service used to accumulate DeFi voting rights) and Aragon (early DAO manager). There are already a lot of funds on the track. This is not just a change in governance monetary policy and agreement parameters; we will see more in the field of negotiated mergers and acquisitions in 2021, which I predicted in last year’s report, and it did develop in the fourth quarter. (Aragon, Voyager, Harvest, and of course YFI have long been active here.)
DeFi Bug Bounty
The list of DeFi vulnerabilities is already long and growing. Many entrepreneurs seem to be “satisfied” to make the same mistakes repeatedly in order to release new versions as soon as possible.
The good news is that this becomes a bounty program that reduces the risk of DeFi becoming “too big to fail.” In fact, the lending platform bZx even provides bug bounty as a service. The team conducted two hacking contests in February 2020 (a total of US$1 million in prize money), as well as the first DEX hacking contest (a prize of US$550,000) in July, and held a US$8 million in September Hacking competition.
I am excited for the next hacking contest. We are working hard to contain the damage that high-risk and untested DeFi applications can cause. We started to better predict the most likely attack vectors (oracles and flash loans), and now there are tools to score the risk of each project.
ConsenSys CodeFi released the Defi Risk score, and the security research company Gauntlet released the economic safety score of DeFi Pulse. This will help better price Nexus Mutual, Opyn and Cozy Finance’s existing $100 million smart contract insurance policies. This should help reduce the risks in the process of moving towards “no bank”.