Here is an Interview Investorsking Had With Paul Mak, CEO of Bonded.Finance
There is hardly any other fintech industry that is growing as fast as the field of decentralized finance (DeFi). While many investors and fintech enthusiasts had never heard of DeFi at the beginning of the year, it now dominates the blockchain sector, with some projects reaching valuations north of $3 billion.
According to DefiPulse, a real-time data platform for DeFi investments, more than $10 billion is currently locked in various DeFi protocols.Some of the most popular DeFi use cases to date include decentralized borrowing and lending, derivatives, and yield farming. Today we spoke with an aspiring DeFi entrepreneur who wants to go one step further. With his project Bonded.Finance, Paul Mak wants to leverage a dormant, unused value of 50 billion dollars.
Here is what Mak has to say about his project and the future of decentralized finance.
What is Bonded.Finance and how does it fit into the Decentralized Finance space?
Bonded finance is a new lending protocol, innovating in the DeFi space by enhancing the versatility of smart contracts and how they manage and utilise digital assets. We construct and deploy experimental new instruments that enable us to harvest non-performing capital out of almost any digital asset and then put that capital to work in a lending environment. Once deployed these products operate autonomously free from central party authority.
Why is there a need for Bonded right now and what kind of people should be interested in it?
The crypto market is a paradox because it’s nascent and highly active with millions of micro-investors in a market that runs 24/7. To some degree this fosters innovation but the combination of immaturity and frenetic activity creates inefficiencies. Two inefficiencies are illiquidity and the breadth of distribution. Capital is spread across 700 exchanges and there are some 7000 projects vying for attention. With capital continually redistributing, start-ups are not garnering the support they need. Remember, in traditional markets early stage investments are not market-traded assets as young companies find their footing. This has been an ongoing problem and we see great projects lose value unfairly and get eviscerated by angry, abandoning communities. Bonded has identified some $50b in dormant capital sitting in altcoins, and by that I mean, the collective market cap of active projects with tokens that have earning potential. Our smart instruments enable us to harvest and repurpose that unused capital to offer benefits to longer-term investors, teams and even to reignite interest in projects that may have fallen off the radar. As for who should be interested in it—we think everyone in crypto frankly. Coin issuers have an easy way to enhance utility and we may have found a way to make HODLing sexy again. It is our hope that altcoin investors the world over will rejoice but we’ll settle for an active, fee generating network that provides stability and value to help offset the growing pains of our industry. For those with boots on the ground, this is great fit for farmers hunting returns as well as less savvy, plug and play investors seeking the highest sustainable yields in the space.
What is the current status of the platform’s development? Can you share a brief timeline of what’s ahead?
Sure thing. Our interface, which is the launchpad, is built and our first lending instruments are almost ready for testing. We anticipate the debut product due for release shortly after our public raise this month. DeFi moves so fast and as innovators, we will be pushing the envelope to rapidly evolve and deploy products that cater to the fast-moving demands of today’s users. Therefore, we plan on an aggressive rollout of products following our sale without sacrificing security. Tech aside, we have some fantastic partnerships to announce in the coming weeks, a large exchange listing and of course our IDO and liquidity event.
Our website is live and gives a rough estimate of anticipated development milestones.
Can you tell us more about your personal background and why you decided to launch Bonded?
I’m a seasoned investor/operator with over 15 years in the game. Precious metals, equities, property, angel investing and start-up capital; I’ve sort of done it all prior to crypto. Personally, I’m a Dad of two boys, still on the right side of 40 with an ailing back that keeps me honest. My work life has me predominantly between south east asia, (primarily Singapore and Indonesia) Australia and NZ.
As for why I launched Bonded, I like to think of it as the perfect storm. I’ve been operating a small family fund for 7 years, typically allocating capital to early stage companies. In 2017, I was exposed in crypto with a rather diverse portfolio. In 2018, the bear market really took hold and we started taking on water. Illiquidity was a glaring problem and we ended up holding a basket of assets that couldn’t be sold down at a reasonable price. I started considering alternative ways to accomplish this. The losses didn’t deter me but I was frustrated because I felt, even in the bear market, many teams navigated poorly and made avoidable mistakes. Since then, I’ve been eager to run my own ship in this space or at least invest with a stronger grip on the steering wheel. One of the projects we invested in was a DeFi solution, looking to change the way debt and credit is managed and monetised. I was fascinated by some of their ideas, particularly the concept of programmable debt instruments. The blockchain democratizes a number of industries but decentralizing finance is really mind-blowing to me. I’ve always loved the tech and ethos behind bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. The longer you’re in it and the more you learn, the deeper your convictions become and I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines as a passive investor any longer. I wanted to contribute something to the space that is sustainable and I think Bonded can accomplish that.
Many investors are comparing the current DeFi hype to the altcoin craze of 2017. What is your opinion on that?
There are definitely some shared elements but it is entirely different. Sure there’s irrational hype, scams and disregard for protocol but the similarities end there. DeFi isn’t exactly new. It is basically the original promise of bitcoin/crypto finally coming to fruition in a meaningful economic way. Sure, it’s volatile as true innovation, pre-internet took about twenty years on average. Here we have market cycles in microwaves, community creations and the internet itself promoting it. Things happen fast with incredibly short half-lives but the underlying principles of Defi are lasting and effectuating a change that’s been a couple hundred years in the making. The banks should have never owned us; we always should have owned the banks. ICOs were about the promise of a new world order for everything, a transposition of all things; some of which is fine, some of which is not ready. Defi is needed, has measurable value and current utility. Total value locked hit a billion in June I think and it took nearly two years to get there and despite a lot of hiccups, four months later, we’re at 10 billion. That’s not market caps with zero depth; that’s actual locked value.
Where do you see the DeFi space heading in the next 12 months?
Wall Street. Where else? Crypto is finally speaking the same language. The economics are simple to grasp, all we need now is 12 months of verifiable data and better accessibility. I will warn you that I’m an optimist so maybe it’s longer but that’s how I see it. The feedback loop is lightning fast in this space and the amount of capital and the velocity of that capital means we get huge amounts of data in such short time spans. 12 months of yield-generating investment vehicles, improved security and proven sustainability of the economic models and the yields become far too attractive to ignore. The better question may be: Assuming stability, at what stage would it become negligence for a fund to not have an allocation in this asset class?
Is there anything else you would like to add? Any closing thoughts?
Yes, definitely. First of all, thanks for having me and to everyone reading; Do not sleep on decentralised finance. Use it and learn it. Don’t let the volatility, rapidly cycling narratives or anything talk you out of this because this is, without doubt, the next decade of finance. Those armed with experience and knowledge will be at a significant advantage as investors, entrepreneurs and employees. Once you get under the hood, this stuff is genuinely fascinating and can pay dividends if you’ll pardon the pun. Also, any altcoin project looking to add some financial tools to help your community grow and invest with more conviction and flexibility, give us a call. In this turbulent marketplace, our solutions could really be the difference between success and failure.
Ten Things You Should Know Before Buying Your First Cryptocurrency
If you just started paying attention to cryptocurrency and are wondering whether to invest, here are 10 things you need to know before buying anything.
Even if you’re an old pro, you probably know someone who’s curious because they heard on TV or at the bar that the price of some coin is surging and they can get rich quickly trading it. Please share this post with him or her.
1. Don’t put in more than you can afford to lose
Crypto is riskier than many other investments. Nothing is guaranteed other than volatility. What’s more, it’s unregulated in most cases. There is no FDIC insurance for this stuff, nor is there a buyer of last resort. The prices of crypto coins swing wildly from minute to minute. While the market is basking in the glow of bull run, it has endured painful and protracted corrections and almost certainly will again.
Danger varies in degree. Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency, has been around for more than a decade and it’s significantly less likely to disappear than most other coins. But it’s not free of risk either.
Hence, don’t bet the proverbial farm, or your life savings, on any coin.
2. Research thoroughly
Before you invest a significant amount of money in any digital currency, spend hours upon hours researching the technology so you understand the value proposition and the risks. (“Someone else will buy it from you for a higher price” is not a value proposition.)
Read everything you can find on the topic. (CoinDesk’s Learn section is a fine place to start, and our Research Hub can be your next stop.) Lurk on community forums and developer mailing lists. Listen to podcasts. Borrow books from the library, not only about digital currency but related fields like cryptography, game theory and economics. Read CoinDesk and even some of our competitors.
Go to local meetups, if your area is no longer on COVID-19 lockdown. Ask lots of questions. If you don’t understand what you’re hearing, don’t be afraid to ask someone to explain. If it is still not making sense, don’t assume that’s on you; people could just be talking gobbledygook. The sincere ones will take the time to help, but even then be wary of people “talking their book” (telling you to buy what they own so the price goes up).
And even if you’re convinced, seek out skeptics (there is no shortage of them) and consider their arguments as well. Remember John Stuart Mill: “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.”
Once you think you’ve researched everything there is to know, do even more work. You’re probably not done yet.
3. Resist “fear of missing out”
If the only reason you’re investing in something is to avoid missing out, the only thing you won’t miss out on is losing everything.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a sure way to destroy whatever wealth you may have accumulated over the years. The problem is that it’s a gut reaction to something that should be researched first. Trading based on your gut will quickly lead to an upset stomach.
Know what you’re buying. Really know it. Going on a trading app and seeing a currency is up 30% or so over the past 24 hours isn’t research. It could be you’re the unlucky sap being sold a falling cryptocurrency.
Every coin has pumpers (shameless promoters), even bitcoin. Don’t succumb to peer pressure. This isn’t high school. Think for yourself and evaluate the case for an investment on the merits.
Research. Then research again.
4. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Much like Wall Street, the U.S. Congress or the American Bar Association, crypto is rife with charlatans. There are more than enough people promising their project will be the one to overtake bitcoin. But is it? There’s only one way to find out: Research.
Buyer beware, but also borrower beware. Some crypto exchanges offer more than 100x leverage, meaning you can borrow up to 99% of the cost of an investment. This will juice your profits if a coin goes up in value, but if it goes the other way you could quickly be wiped out.
5. Don’t trust, verify
Scammers abound in this market. Just this past weekend, some rascals on Twitter took advantage of Elon Musk’s appearance on television’s “Saturday Night Live” to defraud people out of $100,000 worth of various cryptos with a bogus “giveaway.” Impersonating the comedy show’s Twitter account, the miscreants instructed their victims to send small amounts of crypto to verify their addresses. If they did so they would get 10 times the amount back.
6. Beware of ‘unit bias’
Just because a coin is trading around $1 does not mean it’s “cheaper” than bitcoin at $58,000. Not all coins are created equal.
There are literally thousands of cryptocurrencies, some of which seek to emulate bitcoin and some of which try to solve other issues. They all have varying levels of developer support and decentralization.
Determining the value of a coin means asking how and why was the coin created. What is its supposed utility? Who is working on it? How big is the developer community? How active is the repository on GitHub, where updates to the open-source software are usually logged? Like a building, a codebase requires maintenance, and neglect can leave a structure unsound.
Crucially, what is the coin’s security model – proof-of-work, proof-of-stake or something else? If it’s the former, how does the hashrate compare to other PoW coins? If you don’t know what these terms mean, you’re not ready to invest.
7. Not your keys, not your coins
Cryptocurrency is a bearer asset like cash or jewelry, meaning the holder is presumed to be the rightful owner. Once it’s lost or stolen it’s gone.
That is why advanced users will advise you not to entrust the cryptographic keys to a digital currency wallet to a third party, such as an exchange, because these firms are largely unregulated in many places and may be subject to hacks or exit scams (absconding with clients’ money).
Decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms have fallen prey to numerous high-profile exploits over the past 10 months, and centralized platforms like Binance have been subject to their fair share as well.
However, safeguarding keys yourself, on a hardware device or even a piece of paper with the string of numbers and letters written on it, can be a nerve-racking business, and it’s easy to mess up. This is why even some experienced investors prefer to use third-party custodians.
Crypto is all about trade-offs. Do you trust yourself not to lose that piece of paper or forget the “seed phrase” (a password for a key that unlocks your crypto)? If not, you have to be comfortable with someone else storing your digital valuables, and history gives you every reason not to.
(To mitigate the risks, there is something called a multi-signature wallet. These can be configured so that, for example, both Bob and Alice must sign off on a transaction to release funds from a wallet, or either Bob or Alice can do so, or three of Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, and so on. But yes, it’s complicated.)
Aside from exploits, exchanges may block you from withdrawing your funds at any time for a variety of reasons ranging from solvency issues to legal trouble. Even beyond that, some exchanges just don’t have the infrastructure necessary to remain up at all times – Coinbase and Robinhood, for example, often go down during periods of market volatility. If you aren’t running your own wallet, you can’t guarantee you have control over your coins.
That said, there are various reasons why you might want to use an exchange, so it’s important to check the user agreements and make sure you’re protected against different eventualities.
8. You can buy a fraction of a bitcoin (and most other cryptos)
You don’t need to buy a whole coin. Bitcoin, for example, is divisible to the eighth decimal. So if you’re curious about how this stuff works, you can purchase as little as $10 worth and just play around with it.
As billionaire Mark Cuban recently said on television of buying small amounts of dogecoin, “it’s a whole lot better than a lottery ticket.” Unfortunately, he also encouraged viewers to spend doge on merchandise without mentioning the tax implications (see below).
9. Understand the tax consequences
This is especially important in the U.S., for several reasons. First, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers crypto property, not currency, for tax purposes. The upshot is if you buy a coin for $1 and it doubles in value and you spend that extra dollar to buy so much as a pack of chewing gum, you are required to report that capital gain and pay tax on it. There is no “de minimis exemption,” despite the crypto industry’s lobbying efforts.
Also, centralized exchanges regularly send account information to the IRS. Sure, crypto isn’t as regulated as stocks or banks. However, the federal government is running a massive deficit and it won’t think twice about sending in folks with mirrored aviator glasses to visit you to ask about your crypto trades.
10. Buy using dollar cost averaging and don’t obsess about price
Go outside. Get some fresh air, exercise and sunshine. Spend time with your family. You can do all that AND invest in crypto.
The markets will fluctuate from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute, but any crypto worth a damn, any investment of any kind worth a damn, is a long-term bet. If you want a dopamine hit, go for a run or watch an action movie.
If you have a long-term view, you’re not going to be pressured to sell or up your position based on short-term movements if you use DCA.
ETH Surged Above $4K With Over $477B Market cap.
The Ethereum price surged and crossed the $4,000 milestone. ETH is trading at $4,132 (as at the time of publishing), bringing its total market cap to more than $477 billion.
Ether, the second biggest cryptocurrency, has grown over 2,000 percent in the last year.
On May 10, 2020, one Ether token was worth $180. a year later, the crypto coin hits over $4,000 for the first time, a rise of over 2,100 percent. Though Dogecoin is sucking up most of the world’s cryptocurrency attention, it’s been a huge May for Ethereum already, as this new milestone comes just a week since the cryptocurrency coin hit $3,000 for the first time.
Ether is a cryptocurrency minted on the Ethereum blockchain. Bitcoin, the most known currency, is built on its own, separate blockchain. But while Bitcoin is more like gold, principally used as a speculative asset, Ether is used by cryptocurrency traders to buy and sell “altcoins”, such as Dogecoin. NFTs, tokens that authenticate ownership of a digital product, are notably bought and sold using Ether, not Bitcoin.
The Ethereum blockchain was founded in 2013 by Canadian-Russian programmer Vitalik Buterin when he was just 19 years old. Buterin has over 333,000 Ether tokens — it’s possible to see other traders’ portfolios if you have their wallet address — which at the current price values his holdings at over $1.36 billion.
The cryptocurrency has been growing rapidly over the past year, mostly over anticipation for its relaunch as Ether 2.0, but this latest rally is tied to the news last week that the European Investment Bank issued $120 million in bonds using Ethereum blockchain.
Ripple Sees Another Victory As Court Orders SEC to Give Ripple Internal Documents on XRP, Bitcoin, Ether
Ripple scores another in legal wrangling over SEC lawsuit as SEC now must disclose its confidential internal communications over XRP, Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The SEC must produce communications with third parties, including external agencies and market participants, subject to a privilege assertion, according to Netburn’s five-paragraph ruling.
“Intra-agency memoranda or formal position papers discussing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and XRP must be searched for and produced subject to a privilege assertion,” said the judge, adding that “Examples of such documents include Division reports, final reports of internal working groups, or formal position papers submitted to the Commissioners.”
However, she added, informal intra-agency communications such as emails would not need to be produced.
The judge also ruled that although such information may ultimately be privileged — meaning exempt from disclosure — associated information such as meeting dates and names of participants could be relevant and is discoverable. Any documents withheld on the basis of privilege must be identified on a privilege log, according to the ruling. The order also directed Ripple and the SEC to continue to meet and confer on the remaining issues in their letters.
“The Judge tried to bridge the gap by giving slightly more detail into the types of memoranda and position papers that need to be disclosed,” Jesse Hynes, general counsel at Gala Games
“It’s clear she still wants Ripple and the SEC to figure it out amongst themselves, which hasn’t had great success to date. I wouldn’t be surprised if this comes before the court again. This order, however, is definitely a win for Ripple.” Hynes added.
Why the ruling is significant
Last December, the SEC filed a lawsuit against Ripple alleging that its sale of XRP was an unregistered securities offering worth over $1.38 billion. The SEC also named Ripple’s executive chairman Chris Larsen and CEO Brad Garlinghouse as co-defendants for allegedly aiding and abetting Ripple’s violations.
At the heart of the lawsuit is whether transactions involving XRP constitute “investment contracts” and therefore securities subject to registration under Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933.
Access to the SEC’s internal communications has been one of the most heated areas of contention between Ripple and the SEC in the litigation. Judge Netburn had, at an earlier discovery conference on April 6, ruled to grant “in large part” Ripple’s motion to compel the SEC to produce documents reflecting SEC’s prior statements and communications with third parties as well as internal documents discussing whether XRP, Bitcoin or Ether are considered securities.
However, Ripple and the SEC have been unable to agree on the documents to be disclosed under the order, with the SEC arguing that Ripple’s requests for internal documents were improper and irrelevant.
But the judge is now disagreeing with the SEC’s position.
“The discovery related to Bitcoin and Ether is relevant,” said Netburn at the April 6 hearing. “I think it is relevant to the Court’s eventual analysis with respect to the Howey factors, but I also think it is relevant as to the objective review of defendants’ understanding in thinking about the aiding and abetting charge or aiding and abetting count. I also think it is relevant to the fair notice defense that Ripple is raising.”
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