What Is DeFi’s Future?

Panelists discussing how to level up DeFi at the EBC23

This insightful panel about DeFi is moderated by Chandar Lal, Principal of Mosaic Ventures, who leads the discussion among Ali Al-Ali, Technical Lead at Gridex Protocol, Alex Strzesniewski, Founder & CEO of AngelBlock, Francesco Abbate, Chairman of 1inch pro, Ivo Grigorov, CEO of Credefi, and Mounir Benchemled, Founder of ParaSwap.

How Did the FTX Collapse Impact DeFi?

Francesco and Mounir both admit the collapse of FTX has led to an increasing shift from centralized exchanges (CEXs) to decentralized exchanges (DEXs) as users are more concerned about self-custody. Mounir points out that the technological advancements over the past few years, especially the Layer 2 solutions, make users more comfortable using DEXs.

Despite growth in volume and user base, Alex believes the DeFi ecosystem is still in its early stages, requiring enhancements in user experience and interface design. While the FTX collapse attracted new users, he questions if those unfamiliar with Web3 will choose DeFi as their initial entry. Alex anticipates the continued popularity of CEXs due to ease of use and familiarity with traditional finance.

Agreeing with Alex, Ali asserts that the user experience in DeFi needs a revolution to cater to non-crypto people. On the other hand, Ivo mentions that appropriate regulations and governance will be needed to make new users comfortable trusting the DeFi services.

Ali Al-Ali, Technical Lead at Gridex Protocol, shared his insights on DeFi adoption at EBC23.

Should DeFi Focus on Onboarding New Users or Benefitting Active Web3 Users?

Alex believes that it’s important to identify a specific target audience and keep optimizing services based on community feedback. “Building for everyone means building for no one.” He suggests companies be flexible and adjust to market feedback to avoid losing focus along the way. 

Francesco recognizes the need for DeFi to strike a balance between listening to core users and not designing something too sophisticated for new users. Ivo thinks that in order to attract new users, DeFi needs to find a way to interact with the real-world economy and bring institutional adoption.

“I think while we need to do some level of adaptation to bring on those people, DeFi still needs to stay DeFi. I think eventually that will become the norm.”
– Ali Al-Ali, Technical Lead at Gridex Protocol

The conference room is full of the audience listening to the DeFi panel at EBC23.

Will Regulations Drive DeFi Adoption in the Coming Years?

Ivo emphasizes the inevitability of regulation, as he believes DeFi cannot exist in a separate universe from society. Meanwhile, education and a clear explanation of DeFi’s purpose to regulators will be crucial to proceed with this in a structured way.

Working in the United States, Alex reminds us that regulations in different regions are not a one-size-fits-all approach, and it’s important to understand the nuances. He thinks litigation is not the appropriate way to regulate DeFi. EU’s MiCA regulation seems to him a better step for DeFi regulation. 

Ali points out that the purpose of regulation is supposed to protect users, but regulations won’t be able to protect users if regulators don’t understand what DeFi is and how it works. For example, to him, Know Your Customers (KYC) on the DeFi front end may not be effective in deterring malicious actors, as they are likely technically skilled and may bypass the KYC by interacting directly with the smart contracts. From a technical perspective, Ali thinks Zero-Knowledge(ZK)-proof solutions can be a better solution to protect users.

Based on the crypto mantra, “If you don’t like it, fork it,” Alex thinks overregulation should be avoided as there will always be competitors that offer a similar or better UI/UX service without the same regulatory compliance. At the end of the day, it’s always up to the market to decide. And if protocols choose to take a route that their user base doesn’t agree with, they’re always going to find an alternative. Always. 

Francesco Abbate, Chairman of 1inch pro, shared his opinion on DeFi regulations.

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What’s Your Advice for Builders in the Crypto Space?

Francesco advises builders to stake cash and consider whether they can survive for two years without revenue. They should focus on building something that addresses a real issue and spend money accordingly. 

Alex suggests builders focus on creating a strong community and listening to their feedback. Don’t jump to implement Artificial intelligence (AI) simply because everyone is talking about it, and spend the budget on fixing real issues. During bear markets, use the opportunity to reassess and build something that users truly need.

Watch the full panel to learn more about DeFi’s future!

Crypto Funding in 2023: VC Perspectives and Advice for Startups

The moderator for this VC funding panel discussion is James Ryan, VP of Marketing of GammaX. Panelists include Sarah Gottwald, Managing Director of Blockchain Founders Group (BFG), Chia Jeng Yang, Investor at Pantera Capital, Pierre Chuzeville, Investor at Lattice Fund, and Alexis Kricorian, Director of Digital Corporate Finance at NodeGate.

Will Investor Sentiment Improve or Deteriorate in 2023?

Pierre thinks that this year is going to be tough for crypto companies to raise funds. Alexis also acknowledges the difficulty due to macroeconomic factors and the industry crisis. He believes that as builders create more real-world asset-based blockchain technology and investors shift towards long-term opportunities, the situation might improve. 

Sarah also agrees that VCs might be more hesitant to invest this year. As a startup, it’s thus important to reach out to several investors. However, she believes that there is still a lot of money in the market, and at some point, people will start investing again, potentially in crypto and Web3. Therefore, surviving the next few months is crucial for startups to have a chance at funding in the future.

The audience attentively listens to the panel discussion on crypto predictions at EBC23.

What Specific Areas Will Potentially Grow in the Crypto Space?

Chia Jeng states that there is a huge opportunity to take down incumbent players in the crypto space, as many have suffered losses and are not in the best position to continue being market leaders. 

Sarah and James both think that regenerative finance (Refi) space, particularly the carbon market, is an emerging area where startups can combine people’s desire for financial gains with a positive impact on the environment. Pierre, on the other hand, acknowledges the growing importance of on-chain carbon credits, but he thinks there is more that can be done with blockchain technology to fight climate change.

Chia Jeng, Pierre, and Alexis shared their insights at EBC23.

How Can Young Companies Get VC Funding?

Alexis thinks that the first step is to accept the difficulty in raising capital, and then focus on identifying the market and executing the plan for user adoption and returns, exploring different types of investors, getting creative in funding options, and reducing cash burn to extend the runway.

For Sarah, adaptability and flexibility are keys for startups to survive. In her opinion, young companies should be able to pivot quickly based on market feedback. Pierre thinks that founders should build things that matter and people want to use. Traction is often tiny even for top protocols, so identifying what the space needs to move forward is important.

Sarah and Pierre both value the team the most in early-stage startups, followed by the product and the timing to enter the market. They believe that building something innovative with real modes against potential competitors is essential in the crypto space.

Speaking about preparing oneself to kickstart a career in Web3 and crypto, James advises young people to be willing to do whatever is asked of them, be flexible, and be team players with a diverse set of skills to make themselves useful to a young company. Alexis encourages young people to follow their passions and not be afraid to try different things, even if it means taking a different path than the safe one.

Watch the whole panel and understand what VC pays attention to when it comes to selecting startups in Web3!

When DeFi meets TradFi: Alliance of MakerDAO and Societe Generale-FORGE

Rajiv and Sylvain share their insights on DeFi and TradFi at EBC23.

Rajiv Sainani, Head of European Business Development of MakerDAO, and Sylvain Prigent, Chief Product Officer & Co-founder of Societe Generale-FORGE shared their unprecedented journey of innovative collaboration. Read on to learn what happens when DeFi meets TradFi!

Rajiv starts the panel by saying that the future of finance will be traditional finance (TradFi) and decentralized finance (DeFi) coming together. MakerDAO has been cooperating with Societe Generale-FORGE to issue security tokens for more than a year. In this panel, Rajiv and Sylvain share their experience, learnings, and challenges along this incredible journey.

The collaboration started when Societe Generale-FORGE proposed to issue a native blockchain-based security token on the Maker public forum in September 2021. Their main goal was to bring liquidity to security tokens and they partnered with a DeFi protocol, Maker, to find an innovative solution.

The technical integration was fast and smooth, but the real challenges lay in the governance of a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) and the legal processes. Know Your Customer (KYC) and jurisdiction were necessary, and the team had to find solutions and educate the regulators along the way. 

Watch the full panel to learn more about MakerDAO and Societe Generale-FORGE’s unprecedented collaboration!

Amazing Things Happen When DeFi Meets TradFi

Regarding the next steps, Rajiv and Sylvain both hope to scale up the collaboration and bring the project to the next level, rather than simply experimenting. Societe Generale-FORGE is planning to open this service to many of its investors through Maker by the end of 2023 or in the first quarter of next year. They believe that both the TradFi players and the MakerDAO community can benefit from this project.

Throughout their cooperation, Rajiv thinks the key to the success of a TradFi-DeFi project is to have people that can navigate successfully both worlds and find the synergies. It’s easy to imagine a financial space when these two worlds collaborate, but the process is not only rainbows and unicorns.

Rajiv acknowledges the difficulties for a DeFi to cooperate with a TradFi. Therefore, he hopes their collaboration can pave the way for other projects as they have proved to the world that despite having different cultures, ideologies, and processes, TradFi and DeFi can work together to create something amazing!

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Significance of Privacy in Web3: Restore Trust and Navigate Data Ownership

The 8th European Blockchain Convention discusses privacy and security in Web3.

Bryn Bennet, Co-Founder of Secret Agency DAO, moderated this privacy panel. Oskars Jepsis, CEO & Co-Founder of ALTER Network, Jaya Brekke, Chief Strategy Officer of NYM Technologies, and Fraser Edwards, CEO of cheqd, provided their insights.

Why Is Privacy Important?

Fraser believes privacy is essential in Web3 because current practices of putting personal information on ledgers can make it easy for others to trace someone’s behavior on-chain, potentially leading to negative consequences such as theft or loss of privacy. 

Jaya agrees by pointing out the irony in Web3 nowadays. She thinks Web3 aims to solve many problems in Web2, but she argues that there’s an even more urgent need to address the privacy concerns in Web3.

Oskars believes it’s necessary to give users a chance to choose whether to disclose certain information publicly. In his opinion, Web3 should allow users to have control over their data and monetize it, while also preventing unwanted tracking and data exploitation by third parties. 

“Most people want to know what to use and they want to protect their privacy. It’s just about making that information easily available and easily accessible to people.”
– Jaya Brekke, Chief Strategy Officer of NYM Technologies

The 8th European Blockchain Convention discusses privacy and security in Web3.

Balance Privacy and Surveillance

Fraser thinks that emphasizing the importance of privacy doesn’t mean that users are not disclosing any personal data, but having the choice to reveal certain information when necessary. He believes that we should go for the minimum disclosure, facilitated by self-sovereign identity (SSI) or decentralized IDs, and only reveal what is actually needed.

Agreeing with Fraser, Jaya thinks privacy and surveillance are not black and white. It includes a really complex field of actors, so she believes the key is to identify what data is visible to whom under what conditions. 

Zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs, in her point of view, can be an innovative tool to achieve this balance. She is convinced that adding more privacy to the internet will also make it easier and less burdensome for companies. Privacy by default reduces the need to deal with sensitive data and compliance issues.

EBC23 panelists discussing the importance of privacy in Web3.

Simple Access and Education Are Key

Fraser and Oskars discuss the importance of an easy user interface and user experience (UI/UX) in Web3. Oskars mentions the potential use of picture-based encryption for wallet access while Fraser notes that simplicity and ease of implementation are key factors in encouraging the adoption of privacy solutions by developers and users.

Privacy is The Future of Web3

Fraser mentions a significant narrative shift in the Web3 space, where there has been an increased focus on topics like privacy, data ownership, and trust, as opposed to the previous emphasis on non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Jaya also believes that privacy will be a significant theme in the coming years, with increasing awareness of its relationship to security, value, and data leaks. 

Watch the full panel discussion to understand why privacy is the future of the internet!

How To Restore Trust in the Crypto Industry?

Restoring Trust in The Crypto Industry

Resilient systems are essential in the crypto industry just as people would expect banks to have the highest level of security measures to protect their assets. This enlightening panel underscores the significance of security, transparency, and education in the endeavor to restore trust.

Panelists include Léa Narzis, Core Engineer at Parity Technologies, Carlos Fragoso, Principal Subject Matter Expert at Maltego Technologies, Thanos Tsavlis, Co-founder & CEO of Cyberscope, Gabi Urrutia, VP of Security at Halborn, Yasir Qayam, Co-Founder & COO of KwikTrust, and Michael Fasanello, Crypto Compliance Officer at AnChain.AI.

Security is Key

Thanos emphasizes the importance of securing technical systems to prevent smart contract exploits. He suggests that the best defense is a combination of securing smart contracts and education. Only by implementing both measures can mainstream adoption be achieved.

Gabi emphasizes the importance of educating clients about security. He argues that people often overlook the importance of security until a security breach occurs. Security is paramount; he thinks this is the first step to establishing trust.

“While we are here discussing the technology and how we can leverage it, it’s down to us to build the reputation, do the right things, and have a longer-term vision.”
– Yasir Qayam, Co-Founder & COO of KwikTrust

Léa, Carlos, and Thanos discussed the importance of building trust in the crypto space.

Education on Security is Essential to Restore Trust

Yasir envisions a free space without governmental intervention, but he acknowledges that we are currently in a transitional phase (Web2.5) and not yet prepared for full self-custody.  As he explains, “When something goes wrong, we still need someone to be mad at!” 

Carlos states that humans are the ones implementing technology, and it’s the people that can be good or bad. It’s thus crucial to continue building secure tools and providing education. Educating both companies and users is vital to increase awareness and empower users to prioritize security in the crypto space.

“Technology is not the problem, humans are. A system based on trust is trustless. Humans are the weakest part of the chain, unfortunately.”
– Gabi Urrutia, VP of Security at Halborn

Panelist Gabi Urrutia explained how they help clients establish secure systems and why security is key to restoring trust.

Can Regulations Help to Build a Safer Space?

On one hand, Michael acknowledges the role that regulations can play in driving mass adoption as customers may feel more comfortable trusting the crypto system.

However, considering the flip side of the coin, he raises concerns about overreactions and hasty bans by legal entities. He advocates for collaborative efforts to educate governments about the advantages of blockchain technology.

“It’s a whole new ballgame for people. We’re literally seeing the law being built in real time. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a part of something that’s so new and exciting, it’s fascinating!”
– Michael Fasanello, Crypto Compliance Officer at AnChain.AI.

Watch the full panel to learn more about how education, regulations, and security can help restore trust in the crypto industry.