The Financial Inclusion Summit Series: Issue no. 21

Interview with MakerDAO

 

Maker aims to transform the world economy by creating a frictionless, stable and decentralized currency that will allow individuals and businesses to realize the future of money

Maker is unlocking the power of the blockchain for everyone by creating an inclusive platform for economic empowerment allowing equal access to the global financial marketplace. Maker is a decentralized organization dedicated to bringing stability to the crypto economy.

Maker issues Dai, the world’s first decentralized stablecoin on the Ethereum blockchain. Dai eliminates volatility through an autonomous system of smart contracts, specifically designed to respond to market dynamics. Launched in 2017, Dai has successfully maintained a soft peg to the US Dollar. With a presence on numerous cryptocurrency exchanges, multiple partnerships with global supply chain companies, and agreements with organizations serving non-government agencies, Maker is unlocking the power of the blockchain to deliver on the promise of economic empowerment today.

Dai lives completely on the blockchain; unlike other stablecoin options, Dai’s stability is unmediated by any locality, and its solvency does not rely on any trusted counterparties. All Dai are backed by a surplus of collateral that has been escrowed into audited and publicly viewable Ethereum smart contracts. Once generated, Dai can be used in the same manner as any other cryptocurrency: it can be freely sent to others, used as payments for goods and services, or held as long term savings.

Every Dai is backed by some kind of valuable asset. This is achieved via an open smart contract platform (formed by Collaretized Debt Positions = CDPs) that allows anyone in the world to lock up their assets as collateral and issue Dai against them. To retrieve their collateral, holders simply return the Dai they were issued plus a fee based on how long it was outstanding. No one can alter these core mechanics of Dai, making it a safe and predictable form of money.

Currently, we have the beta version live – SCD (Single Collateral Dai) has been the first decentralized stablecoin launched on the Ethereum blockchain (December 18, 2017). SCD uses ETH as the collateral type and although ETH has lost approx 90% of its value over the last year, Dai has managed to maintain the peg.

Our main product, to be launched this year, is MCD (Multi Collateral Dai). MCD will support more assets as collateral, each having a specific set of risk profile and these parameters that will be set and governed by the MKR token holder community. The code for the MCD is the first formally verified major dapp, and it is available for anyone to view at the Kovan testnet. Here are the specifics regarding the main product launch.

 

 

What problem or issue does MakerDAO address?

First, let’s share a quality write-up explaining why stablecoins matter.

With the Dai stablecoin, Maker is delivering on the promise of cryptocurrencies as money — something that BTC and ETH failed to deliver due to their volatile nature (hence thought of as a speculative asset). Dai stablecoin combines best of the 2 worlds: medium of exchange, store of value, and unit of account with the fixed price (characteristic for the fiat currencies); whilst being decentralized and friction-less — thanks to using the peer-to-peer network, it’s being immune to corruption and failures from the central authorities (advantages of the blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies).

Besides driving the adoption of the cryptocurrencies amongst individuals, Maker fuels the dapp (decentralized application) ecosystem with a native and reliably stable form of money, much needed for many projects using smart contracts. Dai has been built on the Ethereum blockchain and since it’s beta version deployment in December 2017, many refer to Maker and Dai as the killer dapp for the entire ecosystem (Dai becoming the money standard; while CDP smart contracts serve as the backbone for the emerging decentralized finance space).

Beyond the blockchain dapp ecosystem, Maker is forming partnerships with fintech and other traditional businesses to help them leverage power of the blockchain technology in order to address issues specific to their industries (e.g. trade finance: Tradeshift partnership to give SMEs access to liquidity via tokenizing outstanding invoices). Our current partnership count is at 280+.

 

What challenges have hindered the resolution of this issue previously?

Various stablecoin projects have been launched in order to deliver this holy grail of digital currency, Maker is one of the earliest projects that is already delivering results.

First, it is important to note that stablecoin projects employ different models:

  • Model1 – IOU models like Tether when the stablecoin is backed by the counter value in fiat in a bank account – where you have to trust the central authority this being true
  • Model 2 – stablecoins using seigniorage shares model, which are extremely complex and are algorithmically-backed with expansion and reduction of coin supply mathematically determined — NO collateral backing issuance. Ironically, central banks typically maintain the stability and supply of their fiat currencies through similar mechanics.

MakerDAO’s Dai employs crypto collateralized model. MakerDAO’s Dai stablecoin is backed by crypto assets. This first decentralized stablecoin issued on the Ethereum blockchain relies on trustless issuance (on-chain issuance) and maintains 1:1 peg against assets via over-collateralization, incentives, and other methods. Read more here.

 

How did it all start?

It started with a general interest in and the need for a decentralized financial system, which will benefit the end-users and spread the decision making power along with the profits.

With a strong focus on financial inclusion and sustainability, the permissionless protocol of MakerDAO empowers and enables finances where it previously was close to impossible. We are working with several strong partners that help us to bridge the blockchain sphere with the real world. This enables companies and individuals to use the benefits of our decentralized stablecoin with an easy exchange to local FIAT.

Potential use cases of Dai stablecoin and MakerDAO’s decentralized loan system, in the spectrum of financial inclusion, include:

  • Bringing a decentralized (uncensorable) loan platform to unbanked (making financial services more accessible);
  • Improving international remittance (more affordable remittance solution for gasterbeiters)
  • Rapid cash aid disbursement (disaster relief – social unrests, environmental disasters)
  • Decentralized pension and loans (poverty elevation)
  • Bringing stability to economies suffering from high inflation rates (African, Latin America, etc.)

MakerDAO as #1 dapp showed in the context of the emerging decentralized finance space (source DeFi Pulse url )

MakerDAO ecosystem overview url by Foreground Capital – 85% of the projects have been added in the past 9 months!

 

Cooperation & Partnerships

View some of our 280+ partnerships in this overview or read about some of the most important partnership in our blog.

 

Financial Inclusion Focus

Since the advent of Bitcoin in 2008, social innovators have striven to leverage cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies to develop faster, cheaper remittances, new solutions in micro-finance, and a whole host of Cash Transfer Programming solutions. Furthermore, companies are being built solely on the Maker protocol with the purpose of development aid.

We are currently engaged and present in Latina America – thanks to the efforts of our team members in Argentina. To list the most noteworthy milestone in the financial development of the region, it’s the partnership with Ripio. Dai listing on Ripio exchange lets the users in South America–for the first time– buy and sell Dai through Ripio trading platform, as well as its app.

Previously, we had a lot of talks and initial opportunities in the African region, but it was difficult for us to act upon without the bridge to the traditional financial system (see the featured partnerships below). With this crypto-to-fiat bridge in place, we are in talks with several companies in the region to provide our technology to their solutions.

We have also been in discussion with large international organizations in regards to the subject. Furthermore, we will be presenting at the yearly gathering of ADB early May to showcase our technology to the central banks of the APEC region.

 

Partnership highlights

  1. CoinDirect (fiat & crypto on & off-ramp)

Recently, we have entered a partnership with CoinDirect (view their Dai stablecoin profile) who is providing us with a bridge to the traditional financial system via an off-ramp. They currently support:

  • Fiat to Crypto & Crypto to Fiat;
  • Europe/UK via SEPA & 3 African countries via Mobile Money (Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana);
  • Scaling up to 20+ within 2 years;
  • Global with Credit Cards;
  • Bank Transfers in most African Markets.

= You can buy Dai with ZAR if you have a South African bank account, you can also buy Dai with Euros if you have a SEPA bank account or you can buy Dai using other cryptocurrencies on Coindirect.com.

 

  1. Akropolis (savings & cashflow financing)

Akropolis is a project within decentralized finance space that help people from outside the formal economy to save, grow and scale. Some of the products offered include community savings circle or a mutual, alternative identity and credit scoring, alternative savings and lending infrastructure.

MakerDAO has chosen to partner with the Akropolis team due to their focus on the product-market fit on the African continent for their financial protocol. The team has demonstrated their committment to thorough deep customer research and technical expertise, as demonstrated by their recent 0x hackathon win and a new financial primitive using DAI.

Akropolis intends to use DAI and multi-collateral-DAI by MakerDAO to test new savings instruments and is looking forward to actively contributing to the regional stablecoin development initiatives of Maker.

 

  1. Project Bïfrost (cash transfer programming)

Bïfrost is a loose collaboration among several blockchain startups focused on social impact in order to improve cash transfer programming (CTP) together.

Within several cases developed within the project, MakerDAO’s main contribution is offering Dai stablecoin as a stable and decentralized means of transferring funds from the affluent donor countries cheaply, expediently, and directly to the affected developing areas that often lack the necessary financial infrastructure or suffer from corrupt/unstable governments & economies.

To name a few projects: Dai has been introduced as an easy way to donate crypto during Hurricane Florence disaster releif campaign, and incentivized environmentally friendly behavior through Bounties for Basura project during the World Ocean Day 2018.

 

The Financial Inclusion Summit takes place in Oslo, Norway, on 28 March 2019. To find out more or request an invitation, visit: https://financial-inclusion.com/#register

Follow us on @FinIncSummit #fintechforall

 

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