- Today’s main news: Affirm debuts shopping app. Zopa profits tick upward. RateSetter recovering from loan scandal. PPDAI stock rises 7% with lift in institutional-funded loans. Oportun ends Nasdaq debut with 8% gain. Australia: RBA cuts interest rates, online lenders follow.
- Today’s main analysis: The Future of Finance: Marcus, Neobank, and fintech. (A MUST-READ)
- Today’s thought-provoking articles: Peter Renton’s quarterly marketplace lending results. Loans for sneakers. Lessons learned from LendIt Fintech Europe. What’s happening in fintech worldwide.
- Affirm debuts new app for shoppers. The app allows consumers to shop and check out with “virtually any retailer.” This Business Insider article highlights Affirm’s need to step up its game in order to compete with Amazon, 66 percent of whose customers begin their search for new product at Amazon. Affirm will have to offer better deals for consumers and make it easy to purchase things. With Affirm’s relationship with Walmart, that shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. However, it will be a challenge.
- Affirm app allows for bill splitting.
- Interview with Max Levchin, founder and CEO of Affirm.
- OnDeck survey indicates small businesses are concerned about economy. Old news, still interesting.
- Marcus, jobs, the economy, housing prices, and Oportun. From PeerIQ, well worth the read.
- Peter Renton’s quarterly MPL results. For Q2 2019. Always interesting to read how Renton’s investments have been doing. With lots of charts.
- The rose of “loans for sneakers” as a business. The focus is on Afterpay, an Affirm competitor, but this is a good read because it tackles POS lending from a consumer’s perspective. Insightful and interesting.
- What happened to Borro?
- Auto, home equity are soft spots in consumer lending.
- Maker offers multi-collateral DAI lending.
- A $40 billion pile of leveraged loans battered by huge losses.
- CFPB ruling shorts debt collectors.
- The SEC is hiring a data chief.
- Voyager selects Celsius Network for asset management.
- Zopa’s profits tick upward.
- Zopa says 9 out of 10 shoppers are confused by car finance options.
- RateSetter recovering from loan scandal.
- Wonga customers average 118 GBP payout.
- Savvy secures 20 million GBP funding facility.
- Interview with founder of Blend Network.
- Crowdfunding options for startups explained.
- Lessons learned from LendIt Fintech Europe.
- Linked Finance launches ‘Beyond Brexit’ business loans.
- ID Finance to double revenues within two years.
- Binance launches next phase of crypto lending program.
- What’s happening in the fintech revolution worldwide. A great read with interesting charts.
- Marcus, Neobank, and fintech developments. This is today’s must-read. Very detailed with lots of charts, but the focus is mostly on digital banking. Still, a very good read.
- Blockchain: The future of finance.
- China: PPDAI stock soars 7% on institutional-funding lending increase.
- Australia: RBA cuts rates. Online lenders do too.
- Australia: loans.com.au cuts rates.
- Bahrain: Beehive funds first SME.
- Malaysia: The risks and rewards of SPV 2030.
- Australia: OnDeck appoints national broker chief.
- Canada: BFS Capital opens data science and engineering hub in Toronto.
- United States
- OnDeck Survey: Economy is Top Concern for Small Businesses Ahead of 2020 Election (New Kerala), Rated: AAA
- Affirm debuted a new app encouraging customers to start their shopping journeys with it (Business Insider), Rated: AAA
- Affirm ships new shopping and bill splitting app (Finextra), Rated: A
- Max Levchin On The Future-Present Of Everywhere POS Lending (PYMNTS), Rated: A
- Latest Macro; latest from Marcus; Oportun goes IPO (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA
- My Quarterly Marketplace Lending Results – Q2 2019 (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA
- The Maybe-Dubious Rise of the Loans-for-Sneaker Business (GQ), Rated: AAA
- What Happened to Borro? (deBanked), Rated: A
- Auto, home equity are soft spots in consumer lending (American Banker), Rated: A
- Finally! Maker Offers Multi-Collateral DAI Lending (Cryptovest), Rated: A
- A $ 40 Billion Pile of Leveraged Loans Is Battered by Big Losses (Bloomberg), Rated: A
- Ruling cuts short debt collectors’ victory lap over CFPB proposal (American Banker), Rated: B
- The SEC is hiring a chief data officer (Business Insider), Rated: B
- Voyager Selects Celsius Network to Manage Certain Assets (AP News), Rated: B
- United Kingdom
- Zopa’s P2P profits tick up but group losses widen due to heavy investment in bank (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA
- Zopa: nine in 10 shoppers confused by car finance options (Verdict), Rated: A
- Ratesetter recovering from loan scandal (The Times), Rated: AAA
- Wonga customers’ average compensation payout may be just £118 (The Guardian), Rated: A
- Payday loan alternative Savvy secures £20 million funding facility (Finextra), Rated: A
- MEET THE FRENCHMAN WHO WANTS TO SOLVE THE UK’S HOUSING CRISIS (Business Leader), Rated: A
- Crowdfunding a start up options explained for businesses and investors (What Investment), Rated: A
- Landlords wary of tax changes (Money International), Rated: A
- PPDAI Stock Soars 7% on Increase in Institutionally-Funded Loans (Capital Watch), Rated: AAA
- European Union
- What we learned at this year’s LendIt Fintech Europe (Business Insider), Rated: AAA
- Linked Finance launches ‘Beyond Brexit’ business loans (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: A
- ID on track to double revenues as it eyes €300m+ of revenue within 2 years (Fintech Finance), Rated: A
- Binance Launches New Lending Program Phase (CoinCodex), Rated: A
- A Guide to What’s Happening in the Fintech Revolution (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA
- Goldman’s $ 1.3B Marcus burn, Neobank £200MM loss; plus 14 short takes on top developments (Lex), Rated: AAA
- Blockchain: the future of finance (Financier Worldwide), Rated: A
- Hot home loan rates starting with a 2 (mozo), Rated: AAA
- loans.com.au jumps on October RBA home loan rate cut party (mozo), Rated: AAA
- OnDeck appoints Robbie Fidler as new national broker chief (IT Wire), Rated: B
- SPV 2030: Sharing of risks and reward (The Malaysian Reserve), Rated: A
- Beehive funds first SME in Bahrain (Arabian Business), Rated: AAA
- BFS Capital Opens New Data Science and Engineering Hub in Toronto (Financial Post), Rated: B
OnDeck Survey: Economy is Top Concern for Small Businesses Ahead of 2020 Election (New Kerala), Rated: AAA
OnDeck today announced the results of a national survey of U.S. small business owners that finds economic issues are the most important factors in determining their choice for president in 2020.
- Economic concerns arise in several dimensions, including tax policy, job growth, support for small businesses, government spending and the overall economic climate. These issues were cited as the top concerns of more than 33% of those surveyed;
- Immigration was an issue of interest for 11.3% of small business owners surveyed, ranking second behind the economy as a concern.
- 57% of small businesses surveyed said they were either Very Optimistic or Somewhat Optimistic about the economic outlook for their businesses;
- 93% of those surveyed said they plan to vote in the 2020 election.
- 60% of small business owners surveyed said they already know who they plan to vote for in the 2020 presidential election.
Affirm debuted a new app encouraging customers to start their shopping journeys with it (Business Insider), Rated: AAA
The point-of-sale (POS) financing provider
Affirm ships new shopping and bill splitting app (Finextra), Rated: A
Affirm’s app also allows consumers to pay at any brick-and-mortar store that accepts Apple Pay or Google Pay, which is increasingly important as 24% of consumers want the flexibility to look online and shop in-store.
Those with Apple Pay or Google Pay enabled have also seen up to 14% of transactions driven in-store, making the Affirm app a rare omnichannel solution for customer acquisition.
Max Levchin On The Future-Present Of Everywhere POS Lending (PYMNTS), Rated: A
Since Affirm’s launch, the landscape in the POS space is radically different than it was when Affirm entered. It is, first and foremost, a much bigger and more populated space than it once was. Other startups have come to the field — Afterpay, Uplift and Sezzle for example — but also bigger and more established names in financial services. In the last 12 months alone Square, Mastercard, PayPal and Chase have all rolled out POS installment lending products or enhancements as the market continues to pick up popularity among consumers, particularly younger ones.
Latest Macro; latest from Marcus; Oportun goes IPO (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA
Q4 is off to a brisk start. The jobs report released this past Friday shows 114K in net new jobs (vs expectations of 120K), generally flat wages, and a drop in the unemployment rate to 3.5%.
On the one hand, the US economy is near ‘stall speed’ – around 1 to 1.5% growth rate.
House prices are expected to rise 5.8% over the next year due to low mortgage rates.
Two major financing announcements this week. FinTech lender, Oportun, led by CEO Raul Vazquez, ends its Nasdaq debut with an 8% gain. The debut is notable as it represents a positive shift in the sentiment to the reception of lenders to the IPO market.
My Quarterly Marketplace Lending Results – Q2 2019 (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA
The upward trend in my returns continued in Q2, making it the fifth quarter in a row with increasing returns. My preliminary return for the 12 months ending June 30, 2019 is 6.20% (one investment is still not final), the best I have achieved since Q3 2017.
The Maybe-Dubious Rise of the Loans-for-Sneaker Business (GQ), Rated: AAA
Afterpay is one of a number of platforms that have sprouted up over the past couple years that are willing to float customers a couple hundred or thousand dollars to shop. In addition to it, there are Affirm, Sezzle, Klarna, and Quadpay. They are positioned as a more consumer-friendly option than credit cards, a whole host of services bent on—because this is 2019—disrupting the powers that be.
Globally, Afterpay, which launched in Australia, has over 4.6 million customers and 35,000 retail partners. In the U.S., where Afterpay only launched in May of last year, it has two million customers and is available at 6,500 retailers. Over three million people use Affirm, while another 500,000 have shopped with Sezzle.
Silicon Valley promises aside, Afterpay is, at best, a platform that allows you to take out what amounts to a small loan on an item. After an approval process—Afterpay does not check a credit score; others like Affirm do—the customer pays a fourth of the price upfront and the rest is paid off in three equal installments every two weeks.
Also new is the $1,500 limit, up from $500, that Afterpay raised after Hyde-McCormick proved himself a responsible shopper and the $87.50 payments currently due every two weeks.
What Happened to Borro? (deBanked), Rated: A
In 2013, Borro, an innovative online lending company that was poised to disrupt pawn shop lending forever, invited me to their stylish offices at 767 Third Avenue in Manhattan.
Borro made $50 million worth of such loans in 2013 and doubled that number in 2014.
Auto, home equity are soft spots in consumer lending (American Banker), Rated: A
In its quarterly report that tracks consumer delinquency trends, the American Bankers Association said that 30-day past-due rates ticked up in eight of 11 categories in the second quarter when compared with the first quarter, but stressed that delinquencies remain well below historic norms.
Finally! Maker Offers Multi-Collateral DAI Lending (Cryptovest), Rated: A
Maker DAO, the most active decentralized finance app on the Ethereum network, has announced a date for its long-awaited multi-collateral DAI generation. According to observers, November 18 may be the date MKR starts accepting other assets as collateral.
Multi-collateral DAI creation has the potential to be riskier in comparison to ETH-based models. Currently, Maker is deliberately over-collateralized at above 300%, with the minimum at 150%, due to the high volatility of crypto assets.
A $ 40 Billion Pile of Leveraged Loans Is Battered by Big Losses (Bloomberg), Rated: A
Loans tied to more than 50 companies have lost at least 10 percentage points of face value in just three months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Some have dropped a lot more, with lenders lucky to get back just two-thirds of their investment if they tried to sell.
Energy is the hardest-hit sector on the list, with more than $12 billion of loans falling more than 10 cents on the dollar. Consumer and health care follow, comprising around $8 billion and $5 billion of loans outstanding, respectively.
The SEC is hiring a chief data officer (Business Insider), Rated: B
The Securities and Exchange Commission is hiring its first chief data officer, according to a job posting for the role.
Voyager Selects Celsius Network to Manage Certain Assets (AP News), Rated: B
Voyager Digital, LLC, a subsidiary of publicly-traded Voyager Digital (Canada) Ltd (Ticker VYGR.CN), an industry-leading best execution crypto asset broker, today announced a partnership with Celsius Network, in which Celsius will manage a portion of Voyager’s digital assets.
Zopa’s P2P profits tick up but group losses widen due to heavy investment in bank (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA
Zopa Group – which incorporates the P2P platform and upcoming digital bank – reported a pre-tax loss of £18.295m for the year ended 31 December 2018, compared to a pre-tax loss of £5.536m the previous year.
Zopa: nine in 10 shoppers confused by car finance options (Verdict), Rated: A
In a survey of 2,000 consumers, 47% of people who had recently bought a car with finance are unable to identify which type of finance deal they signed up for. Zopa estimates that the average car buyer could save up to £11,000 over the course of their lifetime by working out the best finance deal available.
Wonga customers’ average compensation payout may be just £118 (The Guardian), Rated: A
Customers who were mis-sold loans by the collapsed payday lender Wonga are expected to receive less than 10% of what they are owed in compensation after administrators revealed that only £41m will be put aside for claimants.
Payday loan alternative Savvy secures £20 million funding facility (Finextra), Rated: A
Stockport and Wilmslow based fintech company Savvy.co.uk is to create 25 jobs after securing a £20 million investment.
MEET THE FRENCHMAN WHO WANTS TO SOLVE THE UK’S HOUSING CRISIS (Business Leader), Rated: A
WHY DID YOU START BLEND NETWORK?
I started working in the financial industry as an FX trader before moving to trading gold and copper, both much more inefficient markets than FX. I realised that the UK property market was a hugely inefficient market in the sense that lenders and borrowers are not meeting. On the one hand, you have very experienced property developers across the country who are trying to access funds to build homes but traditional lenders are no longer active in providing development finance.
Instead, we lend in places such as Coventry, East Anglia, Doncaster, Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is a very good example of our strategic approach to lending. Last year, we did around 80-85% of our business in Northern Ireland.
Crowdfunding a start up options explained for businesses and investors (What Investment), Rated: A
Crowdfunding a start up brings to mind the statement ‘Nothing worth having comes easy’, never truer than in the case of launching a start-up. Getting a new business off the ground will often require capital. Something which a lot of people don’t know how to go about getting.
- Reward based crowdfunding;
- Equity based crowdfunding;
- Debt based crowdfunding, and
- Donation based crowdfunding.
Landlords wary of tax changes (Money International), Rated: A
Half of the 200 landlords approached agreed tax changes and tougher mortgage borrowing criteria have thwarted their plans to buy more properties, while 15% admitted they had been put off buying homes to rent.
A third who still wanted to invest are considering a switch from buy to let to peer-to-peer lending secured against property, while 8% have already done so.
PPDAI Stock Soars 7% on Increase in Institutionally-Funded Loans (Capital Watch), Rated: AAA
The stock in PPDAI Group Inc (NYSE: PPDF) closed 7% higher on Wednesday, at $2.83 per American depositary share, after it announced a positive trend in funding of loans by its institutional partners and increased loan origination volume.
For the third quarter, the Shanghai-based company, which operates an online consumer finance marketplace, said in a statement on Wednesday that the volume of loans facilitated by its institutional funding partners jumped to $2.64 billion, up 91% from the second quarter. Total loan origination volume was above PPDAI’s guidance, it said, as it reached $3.51 billion, up 14% from the previous quarter.
What we learned at this year’s LendIt Fintech Europe (Business Insider), Rated: AAA
At the conference, Business Insider Intelligence identified four emerging themes that we expect to set the tone for the space for the next year: further proliferation of partnerships between banks and fintechs, increased focus on digital banks’ sustainability, accelerated innovation and disruption from small- and medium-sized business (SMB) lenders, and more challenges ahead for the UK’s P2P lenders.
- CYBG bank and price comparison site GoCompare recently partnered to offer an energy compare and switch service for all of CYBG’s B customers.
- Barclays bank partnered with SMB finance fintech MarketInvoice last year to give Barclays’ SMB clients access to MarkeInvoice’s solutions.
- French Banking-as-a-Service platform Treezor was acquired by Société Générale last year, as the bank looked to enhance its ability to innovate and decrease time to market.
Linked Finance launches ‘Beyond Brexit’ business loans (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: A
The new 18-month loan period will allow borrowers to access working capital facilities of up to €300,000 (approximately £265,194) in just 24 hours.
ID on track to double revenues as it eyes €300m+ of revenue within 2 years (Fintech Finance), Rated: A
ID Finance, the fintech operating in Europe and Latin America, saw revenue growth of over 100% in the first 9 months of 2019 and is on track to double its revenues to €90m revenue this year. The data science, credit scoring and digital finance company is now planning its first equity crowdfunding round via Crowdcube as it targets €300m+ of revenue within 2 years.
Binance Launches New Lending Program Phase (CoinCodex), Rated: A
The Binance cryptocurrency exchange has launched the latest phase of its relatively new lending program. For the program’s eighth installment, Binance is sticking with the model of short-term loans, as users only have to commit their crypto for 14 days.
A Guide to What’s Happening in the Fintech Revolution (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA
These underbanked markets, led by countries in Asia and Africa, have inspired fintech innovation that’s leapfrogging the technology available in the developed world. Ant Financial Services Group’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings’ WeChat Pay in China, Paytm in India, and Safaricom’s M-Pesa in Kenya are some well-known examples.
Take Facebook Inc.’s plan to launch a digital currency called Libra in 2020. The social network’s gigantic reach—more than 2.4 billion active monthly users—could draw a much wider audience to Libra than has used previous cryptocurrencies. For instance, global remittances by migrants reached a record $689 billion last year, according to the World Bank.
San Francisco-based 500 Startups staked 43 such companies in the 12 months ended June 30.
Goldman’s $ 1.3B Marcus burn, Neobank £200MM loss; plus 14 short takes on top developments (Lex), Rated: AAA
Goldman is losing $1.3 billion on Marcus, trying to build a Fintech leader. Etrade is going to lose $75 million from cutting trading fees to $0 to keep up with Robinhood. Revolut is losing £35 million on £60 million in revenue, with another £140 million burned by Atom, Monzo, Tandem, and the rest.
Generally speaking, from a deposit point of view, these are still all small businesses at £1 billion in assets (e.g., Betterment manages $20 billion).
The first is that the Robinhoods and Monzos of the world are 10x overpriced relative to the payments apps. I can sort of buy this — though money in motion is way easier to capture than money at rest. The second is that venture investors think a finance user is worth $1,500 in a digital bank.
Blockchain: the future of finance (Financier Worldwide), Rated: A
Recent examples of blockchain’s impact on financial markets go well beyond these initial applications or P2P lending or crowdfunding.
The first wave of applications in finance and banking is being driven by easily achievable gains in actively traded assets.
MasterCard incorporated a blockchain payment system providing vendors real time, lower cost settlements on cross-border transactions. Representing a consortium of more than 40 of the world’s largest banks, fintech firm R3 launched a payment system built on DLT platform Corda, to expedite intra-bank transfers.
St. Regis Aspen, a Colorado resort, is a partnership formed with a crowdfunding site, Indiegogo, that in lieu of a traditional IPO completed a private placement via DLT financing real estate. This sale of ‘tokens’ – fractional interests in the underlying property – raised $18m, compliant with securities laws.
Hot home loan rates starting with a 2 (mozo), Rated: AAA
The RBA has cut official interest rates for the third time this year, and already a handful of lenders have responded by slashing rates across their range of variable rate home loans. Right now, if your home loan doesn’t have a ‘2’ in front of it, you’re missing out.
OnDeck appoints Robbie Fidler as new national broker chief (IT Wire), Rated: B
Online SME lender OnDeck Australia has appointed experienced commercial lending operator Robbie Fidler as its national broker channel manager.
SPV 2030: Sharing of risks and reward (The Malaysian Reserve), Rated: A
BFS Capital Opens New Data Science and Engineering Hub in Toronto (Financial Post), Rated: B
BFS Capital, a leader in small business lending, has officially launched a data science and engineering hub in Toronto as the company accelerates its plans to develop best-in-class digital financial products for small businesses across the globe.
Internet 1.0 is HTML websites. Internet 2.0 is a social network and user-created content. How is Internet 3.0 coming along? What is Internet 3.0? Are you familiar with Napster, Kazaa, and BitTorrent? Today, Bittorent has met Bitcoin and given birth to the following startups, networks, or organizations: Decentralized computing power. Golem, among others, is a […]
The post A Discussion About Internet 3.0 , Decentralized Everything appeared first on Lending Times.
Internet 1.0 is HTML websites.
Internet 2.0 is a social network and user-created content.
How is Internet 3.0 coming along?
What is Internet 3.0?
Are you familiar with Napster, Kazaa, and BitTorrent? Today, Bittorent has met Bitcoin and given birth to the following startups, networks, or organizations:
- Decentralized computing power. Golem, among others, is a peer-to-peer market for putting your computer’s excess CPU power to use for other people. It works because there is no easy way to pay anybody on the planet fractions of a dollar for having used their CPU for 1 minute. This is, however, possible via blockchain.
- Decentralized exchanges. Ether Delta, among others, is a cryptocurrency exchange which operates in a decentralized way (i.e., without a central counterparty). Decentralized exchanges allow peer-to-peer trading, which means that when a trade is executed the items are exchanged directly between the traders without touching any third party, and without the traders being able to stop the exchange. This approach eliminates counter-party risk entirely. On the other side, it also allows people to trade completely anonymously.
- Decentralized protocol approval. Tezos, among others, is an open-source platform for assets and applications and allows the participants to vote to change its rules and protocols. Participants can choose to change the fee structure, rules, the protocol APIs, nearly everything. This protocol change-mechanism is built within the network rules, and nobody has the right of veto or override. Imagine if eBay merchants could vote to reduce the eBay fees without the eBay management being able to stop it. Of course, this opens the doors to politics, and also to oligarchies as having more Tezos coins obviously gives you more power to influence the votes.
Other similar companies include but are not limited to:
- Decentralized file storage (Filecoin)
- Decentralized domain naming (Namecoin)
- Decentralized cloud storage (Storj)
- Decentralized databases (BigchainDB, IPFS)
- Decentralized internet address allocation (JACS)
- Decentralized Video Encoding and Streaming (Livepeer).
- Decentralize financial services (Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc.) and more.
Centralized online marketplaces , like Amazon, Uber, E-Bay or Lending Club, typically earn roughly 10%-35% of the value exchanges through the platform.
Other online platforms like Facebook or Google don’t share any of the ad revenue earned from the personal-data exchanged through the platform. They keep 100%.
In addition, all centralized marketplaces and platforms exert full control over who can advertise, who and what can be sold, to whom, where, etc.
Their full control, when the company is young or fragile, is not being exercised much. They want to attract users and customers. However, as the company grows, and pressure from investors and the financial markets increases, the platform position of the de facto monopoly in their sector is usually leveraged to increase fees and to control who and what can be transacted on the platform. For example, Google has a history of banning certain ad categories on its platform. Most people agree that the bans, so far, have been legitimate and are targeting harmful or mostly fraudulent industries from selling their products and services. However, Google’s power of life-or-death over entire industries is troublesome.
In comparison, decentralized networks and organizations have so far mostly tried a few different business models.
Financing and crypto coins
Traditional , centralized, startups sell their equity to investors. Equity is scarce by definition, to 100%. And once sold, investors typically have a contractual right preventing startups from creating more shares and diluting them without their approval.
Equity is a problem in a decentralized project. Equity to what? What does an equity holder control?
Most decentralized organizations mentioned above have created their own crypto coins in order to finance their creation. Their usual business model is to make the coin, artificially or legitimately, a required part of each transaction on their network. As the number of transactions grows and the coin inventory is limited, the coins become more valuable. And the network itself uses its own inventory of coins to finance its expenses. In addition, some decentralized networks also take a percentage of the value exchanged on their platforms.
However, the token approach has, so far, failed to work for most networks.
The most successful tokens today have thousands of active daily addresses.
This is not surprising. All these decentralized organizations are new startups. It takes time for startups to build traction. A handful of them will have millions of users after 3-5 years. Most startups may still be viable businesses even though they only have hundreds of daily active users, but their tokens will not have any real value due to over-inventory. Therefore, maybe relying on token activity and scarcity to finance all decentralized projects may not be a viable way to finance these projects.
I believe an alternative token model is needed for most of these projects. A model that will have significant return to investors even if the network only achieves modest success of 100s of transactions per day. However, this may require an increase in network fees.
The X Open questions of decentralized entities
As I think of decentralization, many questions are on my mind:
- What are these entities? Are they businesses, networks, organizations, protocols, or something else? The concept of Decentralized Autonomous Organization, or DAO, has been used in the past. But to my knowledge, no actively operating entity using a real DAO model is live and generating revenue today. All entities have executives, employees, bank accounts, offices, etc. Or is it? The Bitcoin network itself, with all the developers in various organizations who are trying to contribute to it, is fairly decentralized.
- Governance: Leaders in centralized entities are required. Often, leaders aren’t any good at taking decisions, but making some decision is often better than not being able to make any decision. Many an organization has died because nothing at all was done. Are decentralized organizations able to make decisions fast and efficiently over 5 to 10 years while they grow?
- Are decentralized networks cheaper to run, and do they have a disruptor advantage over centralized networks? It is not clear. Lending Club, one of the first P2P lending startups, argued that their cost structure was cheaper than banks’. However, it turns out the cost of capital lending and cost of customer acquisition were under-estimated and banks have cheaper capital and cheaper customer acquisition. Lending Club’s profit margins are not impressive. Neither is Uber’s. Nor are Amazon’s. I believe there is no single answer to this question, but assuming that a decentralized entity is more cost effective than a centralized entity is not obvious. In human history, disciplined centralized organizations (armies, empires, …) have clearly been more successful than federations, communes, etc.
- Is there value built, and where is it? The startup/VC model has worked since the Dot Com boom because it was a profitable model for everybody involved. VCs made money, and successful entrepreneurs attracted more smart wannabe entrepreneurs. It is very important to see the founders and investors in these decentralized organizations be successful or there will be no second generation decentralized entities.
What is the innovation here?
I believe that an exchange that can work without counterparty risk is a real innovation.
I believe that a method to pay fractions of a dollars efficiently to anybody on the planet is a real innovation.
I believe one day we will see the Netflix of Internet 3.0 bankrupt the Blockbuster of Internet 0, 1.0, or 2.0.
However, questions remain. Is decentralization in business similar to communism in politics? Does this model really work? In 1990, in Moscow, everything was rationed, bread was extremely scarce. When a communist leader asked the London mayor who is in charge of the bread supply to London so they can learn their secrets, the mayor, confused, answered “Nobody!” Our modern food supply is a decentralized market, and fewer and fewer people are going hungry.
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