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IOVlabs COO Explains why it’s Time for Crypto to Deliver on its Promise

5 mins
Updated by Shilpa Lama
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Fly me to the Moon‘ is something of an unofficial anthem for many of us amongst the crypto faithful, capturing the free-spirited optimism of the movement and our unshakable belief that we are building a brave new world.

But instead of reshaping the current global order, we have too often been guilty of sharing ideas solely in the crypto echo chamber. In order to change the planet, we need to change this behavior. And the way to do that is Everyday DeFi.

Since crossing over fully into the mainstream cultural consciousness in late 2020, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’d already ‘won.’ As governments around the world shut their citizens indoors and rich nations sent out stimmy checks, we minted a whole new generation of Degens.

NFTs gave a graspable entry into our world, combining technology, culture, and social capital. It was a liberating prospect when during the pandemic, many couldn’t even go to the grocery store without a signed affidavit.

Soon, the profits of flipping jpegs were being plowed into ever more exotic instruments, and it seemed like the whole world was aping in.

The reality, of course, was very different, and the hype distracted many of us from the real mission to reshape tomorrow. At the start of this year, the number of unique DeFi user wallets across all major DeFi protocols was a little over 4.3 million.

That’s a few hundred thousand more than the population of the Chinese city of Suzhou or roughly the same as the populations of Panama or Mauritania. By contrast, there are an estimated 1.8bn unbanked or underbanked globally.

Of course, the speculation, the protocols, the frothy profits, and salacious ruggings made the whole thing seem bigger and brighter than it was. And Advanced DeFi is an exciting place to be. It just bears no relation to the world we thought we would build.

We are at an inflection point. We have created technologies that are interesting but not yet useful. For these crypto economies to cross the chasm and change the real world, we must focus on real-world applications and real-world users.

But while a bunch of bored, young, and mostly white western men (and it was mostly young men) captured the popular imagination, winning big on the shitcoin lottery, another story was emerging away from the hype.

A story that is closer to the tale we told ourselves at the start of all this about changing the world. Something different was emerging in the less examined corners of the Advanced DeFi economy.

From the villas of Buenos Aires to the markets of Saigon, people were finding workarounds to real problems in their financial systems using these existing Advanced DeFi tools. 

The Chainalysis Crypto Adoption report published at the end of 2021 captured this phenomenon. The number one country? Vietnam, with India, Pakistan, Ukraine, and Kenya rounding out the top five. This is the crypto that will change the world, and this is the world we need to build technology for.

Seamless payments without punitive charges for small businesses; savings that allow people to inflation-proof and protect what they already have; remittances that allow the ninety-nine percent to move capital as easily as the one; and loans that give access to finance for grassroots economic growth.

All are denominated in stablecoins beyond the reach of negligent governments and available through the seamless smartphone interfaces of Web2 today.

This is every day DeFi.

And the time is now. The silver lining of the current crypto downturn is that it forces all of us to focus on real-world utility. Many are already doing so, far away from the talking heads and the infinite hype machine.

As early as 2019, the World Bank was predicting that crypto “offers the possibility of re-engineering economic models and enabling the creation of markets and products that were previously unavailable and unprofitable across emerging markets,” and though overdue, we already have many examples where this is happening in a number of ecosystems.

Away from the clickbait headlines, it’s already begun to happen. Goldfinch is offering crypto loans to real businesses, solving a genuine issue of access to credit lines.

The Celo ecosystem is taking off, grounded by a goal of accessing DeFi easily on mobile devices. And neither project needed to hide behind a memecoin to achieve adoption.

The RSK blockchain was designed for Everyday DeFi. Built on Bitcoin by IOVlabs and now community-run, RSK was founded in Argentina by a team who lived through some of the world’s worst financial crises: multiple periods of hyperinflation, banking and debt crises, and long-running capital controls.

These are some of crypto’s true pioneers who viscerally understand the necessity of Everyday DeFi because they’ve felt the true consequences of financial mismanagement and experienced the real potential of Bitcoin’s promise.

But why build on Bitcoin? Bitcoin is the purest example of what a decentralized system should look like. It’s unstoppable, permissionless, and peer to peer.

Just as Everyday DeFi must be. RSK is the only network using merged mining technology to leverage the security of Bitcoin while enabling EVM compatible smart contracts to build DeFi applications.

But the ability to build on Bitcoin isn’t enough. At IOVlabs, we’ve been thinking a lot about how to deliver on the promise of Everyday DeFi. That’s why we built RIF.

The Rootstock Infrastructure Framework is a service layer built on top of RSK, where we are creating the building blocks to make Everyday DeFi a reality. RIF allows teams building Everyday DeFi services to build mass-market crypto products faster and easier; RIF makes wallet addresses human-readable with Name Service.

RIF makes accessing crypto quicker with Login. RIF makes saving, borrowing, and lending possible in a safe, responsible way with Wallet. And RIF makes payments faster and cheaper with our recent implementation of zkSync into Pay.

RIF is the building blocks for Everyday DeFi, and while it’s compatible with every blockchain, RSK is its home. 

So while others wrestle Zuckerberg for the Metaverse, those who want to change the world need to deliver on crypto’s original promise by building something meaningful, something real, and something that will last for the people who need it the most.

We’re doing it on Bitcoin, but we’re not the only ones making Everyday DeFi a reality. This isn’t a zero-sum game – this is a real opportunity to change the world by onboarding DeFi’s first billion users. 

Interested in building to last on RSK? Leave your details here to get in touch with the IOVLabs team.

Or even better, meet the team in Austin, Texas during Consensus. Register for the RSK Networking Brunch on Saturday 11th June.

— Daniel Fogg (COO, IOVlabs)

(Connect with Daniel Fogg on LinkedIn and Twitter.)

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