These crypto lending & borrowing services found early traction. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market?submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]
This is the third part of Crypto Banking Wars — a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become the bank of the future. Who is best positioned to reach mainstream adoption in consumer finance?
While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this very powerful technology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe a crypto-native company will ultimately become the bank of the future. We’re confident Genesis Block will have a seat at that table, but we aren’t the only game in town.
In the first post of this series, we did an analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. In our second episode, we looked at the world of non-custodial wallets.
Today we’re analyzing crypto lending & borrowing services. The Earn and Borrow use-case covers a lot of what traditional banks deliver today. This category of companies is a threat worth analyzing. As we look at this market, we’ll mostly be focused on custodial, centralized products like BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius.
Many of these companies found early traction among crypto users. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market? Let’s find out.
Institutional BorrowersBecause speculation and trading remains one of the most popular use-cases of crypto, a new crypto sub-industry around credit has emerged. Much of the borrowing demand has been driven by institutional needs.
For example, a Bitcoin mining company might need to borrow fiat to pay for operational costs (salaries, electricity). Or a crypto company might need to borrow USD to pay for engineering salaries. Or a crypto hedge fund needs to borrow for leverage or to take a specific market position. While all of these companies have sufficient crypto to cover the costs, they might not want to sell it — either for tax or speculative reasons (they may believe these crypto assets will appreciate, as with most in the industry).
Instead of selling their crypto, these companies can use their crypto as collateral for loans. For example, they can provide $1.5M in Bitcoin as collateral, and borrow $1M. Given the collateralization happening, the underwriting process becomes straightforward. Companies all around the world can participate — language and cultural barriers are removed.
The leader (and one of our partners) in this space is Genesis Capital. While they are always the counterparty for both lenders and borrowers, they are effectively a broker. They are at the center of the institutional crypto lending & borrowing markets. Their total active loans as of March 2020 was $649M. That number shot up to $1.42B in active loans as of June 2020. The growth of this entire market segment is impressive and it’s what is driving this opportunity for consumers downstream.
Consumer ProductsWhile most of the borrowing demand comes from institutional players, there is a growing desire from consumers to participate on the lend/supply side of the market. Crypto consumers would love to be able to deposit their assets with a service and watch it grow. Why let crypto assets sit on an exchange or in cold storage when it can be earning interest?
A number of consumer-facing products have emerged in the last few years to make this happen. While they also allow users to borrow (always with collateral), most of the consumer attraction is around growing their crypto, even while they sleep. Earning interest. These products usually partner with institutional players like Genesis Capital to match the deposits with borrowing demand. And it’s exactly part of our strategy as well, beyond leveraging DeFi (decentralized finance protocols).
A few of the most popular consumer services in this category include BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius.
BlockFiBlockFi (Crunchbase) is the leader in this category (at least in the West). They are well-capitalized. In August 2019, they raised $18.3M in their Series A. In Feb 2020, they raised $30M in their Series B. In that same time period, they went from $250M in assets under management to $650M. In a recent blog post, they announced that they saw a 100% revenue increase in Q2 and that they were on track to do $50M in revenue this year. Their growth is impressive.
BlockFi did not do an ICO, unlike Celsius, Nexo, Salt, and Cred. BlockFi has a lot of institutional backing so it is perceived as the most reputable in the space. BlockFi started with borrowing — allowing users to leverage their crypto as collateral and taking out a loan against it. They later got into Earning — allowing users to deposit assets and earn interest on it. They recently expanded their service to “exchange” functionality and say they are coming out with a credit card later this year.
It’s incredible that BlockFi has been able to see such strong growth despite their numerous product and security woes. A few months ago, their systems were compromised. A hacker was able to access confidential data, such as names, dates of birth, postal addresses, and activity histories. While no funds were lost, this was a massive embarrassment and caused reputational damage.
Unrelated to that massive security breach and earlier in the year, a user discovered a major bug that allowed him to send the same funds to himself over and over again, ultimately accumulating more than a million dollars in his BlockFi account. BlockFi fortunately caught him just before withdrawal.
Poor Product Execution
Beyond their poor security — which they are now trying to get serious about — their products are notoriously buggy and hard-to-use. I borrowed from them a year ago and used their interest account product until very recently. I have first-hand experience of how painful it is. But don’t take my word for it… here are just a few tweets from customers just recently.
For a while, their interest-earning product had a completely different authentication system than their loan product (users had two sets of usernames/passwords). Many people have had issues with withdrawals. The app is constantly logging people out, blank screens, ugly error messages. Emails with verification codes are sometimes delayed by hours (or days). I do wonder if their entire app has been outsourced. The sloppiness shines through.
Not only is their product buggy and UX confusing, but their branding & design is quite weak. To the left is a t-shirt they once sent me. It looks like they just found a bunch of quirky fonts, added their name, and slapped it on a t-shirt.
To the innocent bystander, many of these issues seem totally fixable. They could hire an amazing design agency to completely revamp their product or brand. They could hire a mercenary group of engineers to fix their bugs, etc. While it could stop the bleeding for a time, it may not solve the underlying issues. Years of sloppy product execution represents something much more destructive. It represents a top-down mentality that shipping anything other than excellence is okay: product experience doesn’t matter; design doesn’t matter; craftsmanship doesn’t matter; strong execution doesn’t matter; precision doesn’t matter. That’s very different from our culture at Genesis Block.
This cancerous mentality rarely stays contained within product & engineering — this leaks to all parts of the organization. No design agency or consulting firm will fix some of the pernicious values of a company’s soul. These are deeper issues that only leadership can course-correct.
If BlockFi’s sloppiness were due to constant experimentation, iteration, shipping, or some “move fast and break things” hacker culture… like Binance… I would probably cut them more slack. But there is zero evidence of that. “Move fast and break things” is always scary when dealing with financial products. But in BlockFi’s case, when it’s more like “move slow and break things,” they are really playing with fire. Next time a massive security breach occurs, like what happened earlier this year, they may not be so lucky.
Based on who is on their team, their poor product execution shouldn’t be a surprise. Their team comes mostly from Wall Street, not the blockchain community (where our roots are). Most of BlockFi’s blockchain/crypto integration is very superficial. They take crypto assets as deposits, but they aren’t leveraging any of the exciting, low-level DeFi protocols like we are.
While their Wall Street heritage isn’t doing them any favors on the product/tech side, it’s served them very well on winning institutional clients. This is perhaps their greatest strength. BlockFi has a strong institutional business. They recently brought on Three Arrows Capital as a strategic investor — a crypto hedge fund who does a lot of borrowing. In that announcement, BlockFi’s founder said that bringing them on “aligns well with our focus on international expansion of our institutional services offering.” They also recently brought someone on who will lead business development in Asia among institutional clients.
BlockFi Wrap Up
There are certainly BlockFi features that overlap with Genesis Block’s offering. It’s possible that they are angling to become the bank of the future. However, they simply have not proven they are capable of designing, building, and launching world-class consumer products. They’ve constantly had issues around security and poor product execution. Their company account and their founder’s account seem to only tweet about Bitcoin. I don’t think they understand, appreciate, or value the power of DeFi. It’s unlikely they’ll be leveraging it any time soon. All of these reasons are why I don’t see them as a serious threat to Genesis Block.
However, because of their strong institutional offering, I hope that Genesis Block will ultimately have a very collaborative and productive partnership with them. Assuming they figure out their security woes, we could park some of our funds with BlockFi (just as we will with Genesis Capital and others). I think what’s likely to happen is that we’ll corner the consumer market and we’ll work closely with BlockFi on the institutional side.
I’ve been hard on BlockFi because I care. I think they have a great opportunity at helping elevate the entire industry in a positive way. But they have a lot of issues they need to work through. I really don’t want to see users lose millions of dollars in a security breach. It could set back the entire industry. But if they do things well… a rising tide lifts all boats.
Honorable MentionsCelsius (ICO Drops) raised $50M in an ICO, and is led by serial entrepreneur Alex Mashinsky. I’ve met him, he’s a nice guy. Similar to Binance, their biggest Achilles heel could be their own token. There are also a lot of unanswered questions about where their deposits go. They don’t have a record of great transparency. They recently did a public crowdraise which is a little odd given their large ICO as well as their supposed $1B in deposits. Are they running out of money, as some suggest? Unclear. One of their biggest blindspots right now is that Mashinsky does not understand the power of DeFi. He is frequently openly criticizing it.
Nexo (ICO Drops) is another similar service. They are European-based, trying to launch their own card (though they’ve been saying this forever and they still haven’t shipped it), and have a history in the payments/fintech space. Because they haven’t penetrated the US — which is a much harder regulatory nut to crack — they are unlikely to be as competitive as BlockFi. There were also allegations that Nexo was spreading FUD about Chainlink while simultaneously partnering with them. Did Nexo take out a short position and start spreading rumors? Never a dull moment in crypto.
Other players in the lending & borrowing space include Unchained Capital, Cred (ICO Drops), and Salt (ICO Drops).
Wrap UpWhile many companies in this category seem to be slowly adding more financial services, I don’t believe any of them are focused on the broader consumer market like we are. To use services like BlockFi, Nexo, or Celsius, users need to be onboarded and educated on how crypto works. At Genesis Block, we don’t believe that’s the winning approach. We think blockchain complexity should be abstracted away from the end-user. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto.
For many of these services, there is additional friction due to ICO tokens that are forcefully integrated into the product (see NEXO token or CEL Token). None of these services have true banking functionality or integration with traditional finance —for example, easy offramp or spending methods like debit cards. None of them are taking DeFi seriously — they are leveraging crypto for only the asset class, not the underlying technology around financial protocols.
So are these companies potential competitors to Genesis Block? For the crypto crowd, yes. For the mass market, no. None of these companies are capable of reaching the billions of people around the world that we hope to reach at Genesis Block.
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Crypto Briefs is your daily bite-sized digest of cryptocurrency and blockchain-related news – keeping you up-to-date with under the radar crypto news from around the world.submitted by CryptoHamstereu to u/CryptoHamstereu [link] [comments]
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Asset Manager Stone Ridge Files SEC Prospectus For Bitcoin Futures Fund Another Bitcoin futures product is booting up, according to a Stone Ridge Asset Management filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company filed a prospectus for a cash-settled Bitcoin futures fund — dubbed the NYDIG Bitcoin Strategy Fund — with the regulator on Wednesday, Oct 2. Based in New York City, Stone Ridge has some $15 billion in assets under management, serving clientele in both the United States and China. Founded in 2012, the firm offers portfolio management and advisory services.
Bithumb Looking To Build A Regulated Bitcoin Exchange In India Bithumb Global is looking to build a regulated Bitcoin exchange in India, the South Korea-based cryptocurrency exchange said. Bithumb Global will engage with Indian regulators to build the exchange, it said, even as the Supreme Court is hearing a case where Bitcoin operators have questioned a move by the Reserve Bank of India to restrict banking channels for virtual currency transactions. A government panel has also recommended a ban on cryptocurrency trade in the country. The company is looking to expand in India by partnering with local cryptocurrency exchanges, fund Indian cryptocurrency startups, and introduce new initiatives for Indian traders, said co-founder and managing director Javier Sim.
US State Of Ohio Suspends Service For Paying Taxes With Bitcoin Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague announced the immediate suspension of the OhioCrypto.com website that allows businesses to pay taxes with Bitcoin (BTC). In an Oct. 2 press release, Sprague announced that according to an internal review, approval by the Board of Deposit was required before Ohio launched the website that allowed businesses to pay taxes with digital currencies. Furthermore, the State Board of Deposit has asked Attorney General Dave Yost to further research the legalities of how the crypto portal was set up and whether BitPay, the third-party processor that powered the service, constituted a “financial transaction device.”
Libra Association Publishes Roadmap; Expects 100 Partners To Run Libra Nodes The Libra Association has published its first roadmap detailing the milestones the Calibra team plans to meet prior to the mainnet launch of Libra network. For the first milestone, the Libra Association expects to bring on five partners deploying full nodes on the network. By the launch of the Libra mainnet at milestone four,, the Libra Association expects 100 partners to run Libra nodes. According to the Libra Association, “one method we use for tracking the project’s success is how many of the deployed nodes are managed by different partners.” The Libra Association notes that each Libra node will “run on a mixture of on-premises and cloud hosted infrastructure” adding that “wider diversity of infrastructure will provide more resiliency to the Libra network.”
Encrypted project calendar（October 03, 2019）
ETC/Ethereum Classic: The 2019 Ether Classic (ETC) Summit will be held in Vancouver on October 3–4 ANT/Aragon: Aragon (ANT) is the AGP for the new mandatory community review period, with a deadline of October 3.
Encrypted project calendar（October 04, 2019）
KNC/Kyber Network: Kyber Network (KNC) will update the maxGasPrice parameter in the Kyber Network contract from 100 gwei to 50 gwei within 2 weeks after October 4.
Encrypted project calendar（October 05, 2019）
Ontology (ONT): Ony Ji will attend the blockchain event in Japan on October 5th and explain the practical application based on the ontology network. BNB/Binance Coin: The Binance Coin (BNB) Oasis Game Hackathon will be held on October 5th in Bangalore, India, and will be hosted by Binance Labs, Matic Network, Cocos-BCX, Celer Network, Marlin Protocol.
Encrypted project calendar（October 06, 2019）
SPND/ Spendcoin: Spendcoin (SPND) will be online on October 6th
Encrypted project calendar（October 07, 2019）
GNO/Gnosis: Gnosis (GNO) will discuss the topic “Decentralized Trading Agreement Based on Ethereum” will be held in Osaka, Japan on October 7th. Kyber and Uniswap, Gnosis and Loopring will attend and give speeches.
Encrypted project calendar（October 08, 2019）
BTC/Bitcoin: The 2nd Global Digital Mining Summit will be held in Frankfurt, Germany from October 8th to 10th.
Encrypted project calendar（October 09, 2019）
CENNZ/Centrality: Centrality (CENNZ) will meet in InsurTechNZ Connect — Insurance and Blockchain on October 9th in Auckland.
Encrypted project calendar（October 10, 2019）
INB/Insight Chain: The Insight Chain (INB) INB public blockchain main network will be launched on October 10. VET/Vechain: VeChain (VET) will attend the BLOCKWALKS Blockchain Europe Conference on October 10. CAPP/Cappasity: Cappasity (CAPP) Cappasity will be present at the Osaka Global Innovation Forum in Osaka (October 10–11).
Encrypted project calendar（October 11, 2019）
OKB/OKB: OKB (OKB) OKEx series of talks will be held in Istanbul on October 11th to discuss “the rise of the Turkish blockchain.”
Encrypted project calendar（October 12, 2019）
BTC/Bitcoin: The 2019 Global Mining Leaders Summit will be held in Chengdu, China from October 12th to 14th.
Encrypted project calendar（October 14, 2019）
BCH/Bitcoin Cash: The ChainPoint 19 conference will be held in Armenia from October 14th to 15th.
Encrypted project calendar（October 15, 2019）
RUFF/RUFF Token: Ruff will end the three-month early bird program on October 15th KAT/Kambria: Kambria (KAT) exchanges ERC20 KAT for a 10% bonus on BEP2 KAT-7BB, and the token exchange reward will end on October 15. BTC/Bitcoin: The Blockchain Technology Investment Summit (CIS) will be held in Los Angeles from October 15th to 16th.
Encrypted project calendar（October 16, 2019）
BTC/Bitcoin: The 2019 Blockchain Life Summit will be held in Moscow, Russia from October 16th to 17th. MIOTA/IOTA: IOTA (MIOTA) IOTA will host a community event on the theme of “Technology Problem Solving and Testing IoT Devices” at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on October 16. ETH/Ethereum: Ethereum launches Istanbul (Istanbul) main network upgrade, this main network upgrade involves 6 code upgrades. QTUM/Qtum: Qtum (QTUM) Qtum main network hard fork is scheduled for October 16.
Encrypted project calendar（October 18, 2019）
BTC/Bitcoin: The SEC will give a pass on the VanEck/SolidX ETF on October 18th and make a final decision HB/HeartBout: HeartBout (HB) will officially release the Android version of the HeartBout app on October 18.
Encrypted project calendar（October 19, 2019）
PI/PCHAIN Network: The PCHAIN (PI) backbone (Phase 5, 82 nodes, 164, 023, 802 $ PI, 7 candidates) will begin on October 19. LINK/ChainLink: Diffusion 2019 will be held in Berlin, Germany from October 19th to 20th
Encrypted project calendar（October 21, 2019）
KNC/Kyber Network: The official online hackathon of the Kyber Network (KNC) project will end on October 21st, with more than $42,000 in prize money.
After bitcoin failed near the $8,500 resistance, there was a downside correction against the US Dollar. The BTC/USD traded below the $8,400 and $8,300 levels. Moreover, there was a break below the $8,200 level. However, the 100 hourly simple moving average acted as a support and a low was formed near $8,175. Recently, the price started a fresh increase and traded above the $8,300 level.
There was a break above the 50% Fib retracement level of the last decline from the $8,536 high to $8,175 low. The price climbed above the $8,350 level and tested the $8,400 resistance. It seems like the 61.8% Fib retracement level of the last decline from the $8,536 high to $8,175 low is currently acting as a resistance. If there is an upside break above $8,400, the price is likely to retest $8,500.
If the bulls manage to surpass the $8,500 barrier, there are chances of more upsides. The next stop for them could be near the $8,800 level. The next key resistance area is near the $9,000 level. On the downside, there is a decent support forming near the $8,250 and $8,200 levels. Moreover, there is a new connecting bullish trend line forming with support near $8,300 on the hourly chart of the BTC/USD pair.
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