Is Decentralized Finance just another trend?

a.shah

13 Oct 2020
Is Decentralized Finance just another trend?

Have you been hearing about Decentralized Finance and wondered what it really is? Why has it become so popular? On our Nextrope blog, we break down the technology to decipher its constituents and understand what makes it tick. We compare it to Centralized Finance (the current status quo) and see how it holds up.

Why fix something not broken – Centralized Finance vs Decentralized Finance?

Humans have always had a centralized authority directing and regulating the way they earn and spend money. The norm is that a central mint prints and distributes money, the central bank lends to other banks who then lend to their customers, and these customers deposit their savings back into the banks. It has worked for hundreds of years. Why then do we feel like we need an alternative? Why is Decentralized Finance (DeFi) trending? The simple answer is that Centralized Finance (CeFi) has always had glaring problems, but most chose to ignore it since there was no other alternative at hand. With the introduction of distributed ledger technology (blockchain), this is no longer the case. Decentralized Finance has finally become a reality, albeit with drawbacks of its own.

Whenever power, especially financial power, is centralized, most people get locked out of the decision-making process. Consequently, only a small portion of the population reap the benefits of the financial system while the rest are charged exorbitant fees, high interest rates and low returns. Even in the US, only 7% of the bottom 80% of society own shares in companies, whereas in other nations, most do not even have access to stock markets. Currently, transferring money outside of the country involves countless middlemen and substantial fees, obtaining a loan is met with walls of red tape and bureaucracy and the interest rates on deposits is often abysmal.

Even the safety factor that was attributed to banks eroded after the 2008 housing bubble. 2008 showed us that when few control all the money, risk accumulates at the center and endangers the entire system. In addition, banks use money in ways that most people don’t understand. In times of emergency, bank runs (many clients withdrawing their money from a bank) can quickly lead to zero cash balances, as seen in places like Argentina, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Is it surprising then that Bitcoin was first launched in 2009, a year after the financial crisis? There was a dire need for the first-ever solution to have global peer-to-peer settlements with no intermediaries required so that individuals could keep control over their assets. However, Bitcoin and early cryptocurrencies only decentralized the issuance and storage of money, not access to a broader set of financial instruments.

The infographic below describes a simplistic example of how the ideal decentralized exchange would occur compared to the status quo.

Source: Defi Pubs

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) – the unlikely hero?

On paper, Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is disruption defined, allowing individuals full control and access over their assets. DeFi is an umbrella term referring to all the financial applications, such as lending, borrowing, exchanging, and investing which occur through decentralized channels and exchanges. The idea is to create an open-source, permissionless, and transparent financial service ecosystem available to everyone via peer-to-peer (P2P) capability, operating without any central authority. DeFi is distinct because it expands the use of blockchain from simple value transfer to more complex financial use cases such as borrowing, insurance etc. The activity in DeFi has increased exponentially in 2020 with total value locked in increasing from $1 Billion to $10 Billion in a span of 4 months.

Source: Defi Pulse

As mentioned previously, DeFi is primarily being used for loans, trading and payments but there are additional use cases such as insurance and investing being developed. The Ethereum blockchain eco-system is the most popular for the development of these applications since it provides increased security, transparency, and growth opportunities. The Ethereum platform functions through ‘smart contracts’ which automatically executes transactions if certain conditions are met, removing the human element from all transactions.

Source: Block Crypto

While more and more people are being drawn to these DeFi applications, it’s hard to say where they’ll go. Much of that depends on who finds them useful and why. Many believe various DeFi projects have the potential to become the next Robinhood (popular online brokerage that enables stock trading at very low fees), drawing in hordes of new users by making financial applications more inclusive and open to those who don’t traditionally have access to such platforms.

DeFi’s not so shining armor

As with any new technology, there are growing pains. Some of the ones hurting DeFi particularly have been highlighted below:

1. Incomplete decentralization - Although protocols are decentralized and based on consensus algorithms, many access points to the system, like exchanges, are still centralized. In addition, many crypto projects are managed through centralized organizations or companies that too often lack transparency or accountability, and do not openly show the development of new parts of the ecosystem.

2. Volatility - Many DeFi applications, such as meme coin YAM, have crashed and burned, sending the market capitalization from $60 million to $0 in 35 minutes. Other DeFi projects, including Hotdog and Pizza, faced the same fate, and many investors lost a lot of money.

3. Security – While there are no humans involved in the smart contract process, humans do create the contracts and that is a major source of errors. Smart contracts are powerful, but they can’t be changed once the rules are baked into the protocol, which often makes bugs permanent and increases risk.

4. Rising Network fees – Network usage is directly correlated with fees and due to the recent popularity of DeFi, the Ethereum fees have sky-rocketed. This has led to a decrease in profitability for DeFi users and is hindering user experience.

Source: Coindesk

5. Risk of Fraud – While smart contracts have no human involvement in its execution, there are humans involved in its coding. This vulnerability leaves the door open for errors and subsequent attacks on the network.

Conclusion

Decentralized Finance is still at its nascent stage and is still trying to find solid ground beneath its legs. Blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiasts seem to think there is enormous potential and have therefore poured significant sums of money into various DeFi platforms. Given the multiple challenges DeFi currently faces, worse comes to worst, it will at least force the centralized system to become more competitive by introducing changes to their structure.

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Authorization and Identity: Chainlink Use Cases

Karolina

14 Feb 2024
Authorization and Identity: Chainlink Use Cases

Chainlink stands at the forefront of enhancing security and compliance within smart contract-enabled blockchain networks. By enabling direct access to real-world data, Chainlink ensures that blockchain applications can operate with the same level of trust and verification as traditional systems. This integration is crucial for a wide range of applications, from financial services requiring Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance to any form of digital agreement that needs to securely verify the identity of parties involved.

Overview

Chainlink is a decentralized oracle network that plays a critical role in bridging the gap between smart contracts on blockchain networks and real-world data. It enables smart contracts to securely interact with external data.

  • Decentralized Data Oracles. Chainlink's network of decentralized oracles ensures that data fed into smart contracts is accurate and tamper-proof, mitigating risks associated with relying on a single data source.
  • Smart Contract Connectivity to Real-World Data. It facilitates the seamless integration of external data sources, such as financial market data, weather information, and much more, enabling smart contracts to execute based on inputs from the real world.
  • Chainlink VRF (Verifiable Random Function). This feature provides a secure and provably fair source of randomness for blockchain applications, crucial for gaming, NFTs, and any application requiring random number generation.

READ: "What is Chainlink"

When it comes to authorization and identity verification, Chainlink's role becomes even more crucial. By connecting smart contracts with external data sources, such as governmental identity databases or digital identity verification services, Chainlink enables the creation of blockchain applications that require verified human identities. This capability is essential for applications that must adhere to regulatory standards or for those seeking to mitigate the risk of fraud.

Moreover, Chainlink's decentralized nature ensures that the process of identity verification is not only secure but also resistant to manipulation. By leveraging multiple independent oracles to fetch and validate data before it's provided to a smart contract, Chainlink ensures a level of reliability and trustworthiness that centralized data sources cannot match. This decentralized approach to authorization and identity verification opens up new possibilities for blockchain applications, making them more accessible, compliant, and secure for users around the globe.

The integration of Chainlink's decentralized oracle network into the domain of authorization and identity verification heralds a new era of security, efficiency, and compliance for blockchain applications. By leveraging real-world data and external verification services, Chainlink enables smart contracts to perform functions that were previously unthinkable in the blockchain space. Here, we explore several key use cases where Chainlink's technology significantly impacts authorization and identity verification processes.

E-Signatures

In the digital age, e-signatures have become the norm for legally binding agreements, eliminating the need for physical presence or paper-based documents. Chainlink oracles facilitate the integration of blockchain applications with leading e-signature providers like DocuSign. This integration ensures that e-signatures can be verified and recorded on the blockchain, providing immutable evidence of agreement and authorization. Furthermore, by enabling smart contracts to interact with e-signature solutions, Chainlink opens the door to automated contract execution based on the completion of digitally signed agreements, thereby streamlining business processes and reducing the time and cost associated with manual verification.

Biometrics for Smart Contract Authorization

Unstoppable Domains uses Chainlink oracles to enable users to tie their off-chain Twitter identity to their on-chain Ethereum domain name (Source: chain.link)

Biometric verification offers a high level of security and convenience for identity verification, leveraging unique physical characteristics such as fingerprints or retinal patterns. Chainlink enables smart contracts to securely access and verify biometric data, ensuring that only authorized individuals can trigger certain actions on the blockchain. This use case is particularly relevant for access control systems, secure transactions, and identity verification processes that require a high degree of trust and security. By connecting smart contracts with biometric databases and verification services through Chainlink oracles, blockchain applications can achieve a new level of security and fraud prevention.

Credential Verification

Credential verification is crucial in numerous applications, from financial transactions requiring proof of funds to access systems demanding specific security clearances. Chainlink oracles play a pivotal role by securely relaying credential verifications from external systems to the blockchain. This capability allows smart contracts to automatically verify users' credentials in real-time, facilitating seamless transactions and interactions that require verified identity or authorization credentials. For example, a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform can use Chainlink to verify a user's creditworthiness or asset ownership before allowing them to participate in lending or borrowing services.

Social Media Identity and Domain Names

The integration of social media identities with blockchain applications enhances user experience by providing more intuitive and human-readable identifiers, such as domain names or social media handles. Chainlink oracles facilitate this by securely linking off-chain social media identities to on-chain addresses or domain names. This use case not only improves the usability of blockchain applications but also adds an extra layer of verification, as users can easily confirm the authenticity of the parties they are interacting with.

Intellectual Property Management

Chainlink's decentralized oracle network enables smart contracts to interact with external IP databases for verifying ownership and facilitating transactions related to intellectual property (IP). This application is particularly useful for copyright and trademark management, patent licensing, and royalty distribution. By automating IP verification and transactions through Chainlink, creators and owners can more efficiently manage their rights and receive payments, while users gain access to verified IP assets.

Contribution Bounties in Open Source Projects

Open-source projects can leverage Chainlink oracles to automate the verification of contributions and the distribution of bounties. By connecting smart contracts with public code repositories like GitHub, Chainlink allows projects to automatically track contributions, verify the fulfillment of predefined conditions, and release payments to contributors. This application streamlines the contribution process, incentivizes open-source development, and ensures that contributors are fairly compensated for their work.

Conclusion

Chainlink significantly impacts blockchain, enhancing security and compliance, especially in authorization and identity. It bridges real-world data with blockchain, ensuring trust and wider adoption. As blockchain evolves, Chainlink's innovations promise a more inclusive digital future. Its key role in securing and streamlining blockchain applications marks a crucial step forward for digital interactions. Chainlink is pivotal for a secure, compliant, and efficient blockchain ecosystem, shaping the future of digital transactions.

If you are interested in utilizing Chainlink or other blockchain-based solutions for your project, please reach out to contact@nextrope.com

Chainlink vs. Avalanche: Exploring the Blockchain Frontier

Karolina

13 Feb 2024
Chainlink vs. Avalanche: Exploring the Blockchain Frontier

Chainlink emerges as the bridge between the real world and the blockchain. On the other side, Avalanche flashes through the blockchain space with a lightning speed platform that promises scalability without compromise. Both are revolutionaries in their own right, yet their paths are markedly different. Chainlink's quest to secure the integrity of off-chain data in a decentralized manner contrasts with Avalanche's mission to redefine blockchain's scalability and usability. But what happens when these paths intersect?

Overview

Chainlink is a decentralized oracle network that plays a critical role in bridging the gap between smart contracts on blockchain networks and real-world data. It enables smart contracts to securely interact with external data.

  • Decentralized Data Oracles. Chainlink's network of decentralized oracles ensures that data fed into smart contracts is accurate and tamper-proof, mitigating risks associated with relying on a single data source.
  • Smart Contract Connectivity to Real-World Data. It facilitates the seamless integration of external data sources, such as financial market data, weather information, and much more, enabling smart contracts to execute based on inputs from the real world.
  • Chainlink VRF (Verifiable Random Function). This feature provides a secure and provably fair source of randomness for blockchain applications, crucial for gaming, NFTs, and any application requiring random number generation.

READ: "What is Chainlink"

What is Avalanche?

Overview

Avalanche is a highly scalable blockchain platform designed for decentralized applications (dApps) and custom blockchain networks. It distinguishes itself with its emphasis on scalability, speed, and eco-friendliness.

Key Features of Avalanche

  • High Throughput and Low Latency. Avalanche boasts a high transaction output rate with low latency, making it an ideal platform for scaling dApps and financial solutions.
  • Eco-friendly Consensus Mechanism. Unlike proof-of-work (PoW) systems that require significant energy expenditure, Avalanche uses a novel consensus mechanism that is energy-efficient, contributing to a more sustainable blockchain ecosystem.
  • Scalability and Interoperability. The platform supports the creation of multiple custom blockchains that can interoperate seamlessly, facilitating a diverse and scalable ecosystem of applications.

READ: "Avalanche’s Investment in Real-World Assets Tokenization"

As blockchain technology continues to evolve, understanding the nuances between different platforms and solutions like Chainlink and Avalanche becomes increasingly important. Here's how these two blockchain giants stack up against each other:

Underlying Technologies and Architectures:

  • Avalanche utilizes a unique consensus protocol known as Avalanche consensus, combining the benefits of classical consensus algorithms with the decentralized nature of blockchains. This protocol allows for high throughput, quick finality, and energy efficiency.
  • Chainlink, on the other hand, is not a blockchain but a decentralized network of nodes that provide data to blockchain networks. It uses a network of independent node operators who are incentivized to provide accurate data to smart contracts.

Consensus Mechanisms:

  • Avalanche employs a Proof of Stake (PoS) model designed to be lightweight and energy-efficient. Validators participate in reaching consensus by staking AVAX tokens, contributing to the network's security and governance.
  • Chainlink does not use a consensus mechanism in the same way a blockchain network like Avalanche does. Instead, it relies on a decentralized network of oracles to validate and relay data, ensuring the integrity of information provided to smart contracts.

Chainlink is best suited for applications that require secure, reliable, and tamper-proof data inputs from the real world. This includes:

Avalanche is optimized for a wide range of blockchain applications needing high throughput, quick finality, and scalable infrastructure, such as:

  • Scalable DeFi platforms and DEXes.
  • Enterprise blockchain solutions.
  • Custom blockchain networks (subnets).

Examples of Real-World Applications and Partnerships:

  • Chainlink has partnered with Google Cloud for cloud data integration and with numerous DeFi platforms like Synthetix and Aave for price feeds and randomness.
  • Avalanche has formed partnerships with Deloitte for enhancing security and speed in disaster relief platforms and with top DeFi protocols to build on its highly scalable network.

Ecosystem and Community

Development Community and Ecosystem Support:

  • Both Chainlink and Avalanche boast robust and active communities. Chainlink's community is highly engaged in developing external adapters and securing data for smart contracts. Avalanche's community focuses on developing dApps and custom blockchain networks.

Tools, Resources, and Support:

  • Chainlink offers extensive documentation, a vibrant developer community, and grants for projects integrating Chainlink's technology.
  • Avalanche provides developers with comprehensive resources, including tutorials, technical documentation, and funding for ecosystem growth through the Avalanche Foundation.

Tokenomics and Market Performance

  • LINK (Chainlink's token) is used to pay for services within the Chainlink network, including data requests to oracles. It incentivizes node operators to provide accurate data.
  • AVAX (Avalanche's token) serves as the native currency within the Avalanche network, used for transaction fees, staking, and governance.
  • In terms of market performance, both LINK and AVAX have shown significant growth and adoption, reflecting their utility and the demand for their respective network's services. However, their performance can vary based on overall market trends, technological advancements, and adoption rates in their specific use cases.

LINK vs AVAX

Potential for Integration

The potential for integration between Chainlink oracles and Avalanche’s blockchain platform is substantial. Chainlink’s decentralized oracles can provide Avalanche-based applications with secure and reliable real-world data, enhancing the functionality and scope of Avalanche’s already fast and scalable blockchain. This integration can benefit a wide range of applications, from DeFi and insurance to gaming and prediction markets, by providing them with the essential data needed to operate effectively and transparently.

Conclusion

Chainlink and Avalanche, while serving distinct purposes within the blockchain ecosystem, demonstrate a powerful synergy when combined. Chainlink’s ability to provide secure, reliable, and decentralized data complements Avalanche’s high-throughput, scalable blockchain platform, enabling developers to build more complex, useful, and transparent applications.

READ ALSO: "Chainlink vs Polkadot"

If you are interested in utilizing Chainlink or other blockchain-based solutions for your project, please reach out to contact@nextrope.com