Decentralized finance, also known as DeFi, uses cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to manage financial transactions. DeFi aims to democratize finance by replacing legacy, centralized institutions with peer-to-peer relationships that can provide a full spectrum of financial services, from everyday banking, loans and mortgages, to complicated contractual relationships and asset trading.
Centralized Finance Today
Today, almost every aspect of banking, lending and trading is managed by centralized systems, operated by governing bodies and gatekeepers. Regular consumers need to deal with a raft of financial middlemen to get access to everything from auto loans and mortgages to trading stocks and bonds.
In the U.S., regulatory bodies like the Federal Reserve and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) set the rules for the world of centralized financial institutions and brokerages, and Congress amends the rules over time.
As a result, there are few paths for consumers to access capital and financial services directly. They cannot bypass middlemen like banks, exchanges and lenders, who earn a percentage of every financial and banking transaction as profit. We all have to pay to play.
The New Way: Decentralized Finance
DeFi challenges this centralized financial system by disempowering middlemen and gatekeepers, and empowering everyday people via peer-to-peer exchanges.
“Decentralized finance is an unbundling of traditional finance,” says Rafael Cosman, CEO and co-founder of TrustToken. “DeFi takes the key elements of the work done by banks, exchanges and insurers today—like lending, borrowing and trading—and puts it in the hands of regular people.”
Here’s how that might play out. Today, you might put your savings in