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Trends in DeFi – Interview with Camila Russo

Trends in DeFi – Interview with Camila Russo

Between finishing the first draft of her book about Ethereum and the launch of a daily DeFi newsletter, June was a productive month for Camila Russo. Camila Russo is a financial journalist who recently became an independent writer to focus on her new book about the history of Ethereum.

In her career as a financial journalist, Camila has written about a variety of asset markets across several continents. For nearly half of her eight years at Bloomberg, she covered the Argentine financial markets based out of Buenos Aires. Also, she wrote about European stocks while based in Madrid and emerging markets for Bloomberg New York. Needless to say, Camila has seen a thing or two over her years following traditional markets as well as the rise of cryptocurrency.

And aside from her book, she spends her time continuing to track market trends in decentralized finance in The Defiant. This daily newsletter has been praised for its quality by many in the Ethereum community.

We recently had the opportunity to chat with Camila Russo about her work. And here’s her take on the growth of the Ethereum ecosystem over time and current trends in DeFi.

Which section of your book covering the history of Ethereum did you enjoy writing the most and why?

“Ethereum is made up of a large community of really colorful and interesting characters who don’t make front page news and are little known outside very knowledgeable circles. Interviewing them and weaving their incredible, crazy stories throughout the book has been the best part of the process.”

Given your research into the history of early Ethereum, what aspect of the Ethereum community or ecosystem do you think has changed the most since its inception?

“The main things I can think of might be obvious but so important: The amount of funding for Ethereum projects and the amount of people working on them is what’s changed the most. In the very early days it was just a handful of (mostly) guys working for free. They had the expectation Ethereum would grow into something big and they’d get repaid then, but they still dropped everything and were putting in blood, sweat and tears for no salary. There was no foundation, no ETH, and even if there were outside investors willing to take the risk, Ethereum wasn’t taking venture capital. 

Five years later, there are thousands of developers and some of the world’s biggest companies working on Ethereum, while Ethereum Foundation grants and now different DAOs are there to make sure everyone who’s doing good work gets compensated, and many of these projects are being funded by some of the most prestigious VCs. Most will argue this explosive growth in the ecosystem is what makes Ethereum the leading smart contracts platform.”

What project or use case of Ethereum do you think deserves more recognition?

“If we’re talking about what Ethereum use case deserves more recognition in the broader, non-crypto world, then decentralized finance without a doubt. 

Yes, there’s a lot of buzz about DeFi within the Ethereum community, but when you’re in the crypto bubble –working in crypto things and talking to crypto people all day– it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that 99 percent of the population has no idea what Ethereum is, much less that there’s an entirely new financial system being built from scratch on top of it, that completely ditches old structures and puts power back in the hands of the individual. 

I think the work being done in DeFi is extremely powerful and out of all the blockchain use cases has the potential to make the biggest impact in the near term, but very few know about it yet.

Also, projects working on blockchain-based identity and the solutions they will come up with will really enable the next phase of adoption. Just taking the example of DeFi, once there’s a robust, decentralized identity system platforms will be able to start offering uncollateralized loans. That will open up blockchain technology to a much bigger market.”

You must keep up to date with the DeFi ecosystem in order to write your newsletter The Defiant, what do you see as the next trend on the horizon for DeFi?

“Interoperability will continue to be a big trend, so we’ll continue to see projects including features from other platforms. I think it’s incredibly cool that open source enables this kind of ecosystem where each piece is a Lego block that can be easily stacked on top of something else.

Lending has been the biggest use case for DeFi so far and it will continue to evolve, with better UX/UI, and more options, for example, longer term loans, different rate structures, or as I mentioned before, decreasing collateral as identity systems improve. 

Issuance might be underexplored right now, as ICOs have become such a bad word, but I do think it might come back in a modified, less hyped-up way, where individuals and companies can issue tokenized debt or equity, or even something that resembles utility tokens.”

DAI has historically been traded and lent at a premium compared to other stablecoins in DeFi. Do you think this trend will continue with the introduction of Facebook’s Libra? How do you think it will affect the wider DeFi community?

“I think DAI will continue to trade at a slight premium to other stable coins as long as it’s the most liquid base currency for decentralized finance. I think Libra will be used for online purchases and to transfer money, but I don’t think it will be used to back peer-to-peer loans, margin trade or to issue complex derivatives in decentralized platforms, how Dai is being used right now. It’s not a permissionless, decentralized currency, so I don’t think it has a chance at dominating permissionless, decentralized systems. 

I think Libra’s effect on the wider DeFi community will be the same as the impact it will have on the broader crypto community, which is, it will increase liquidity and demand for cryptocurrencies as Libra holders will likely be able to switch over to crypto.”

You recently mentioned in an episode of the Ethtrader Community Series that you believe regulation is one of the biggest hindrances to mass adoption. How do you think Libra will affect the regulatory landscape for digital currencies?

“For Facebook to move forward with its plans, it will need to get regulators on board. In that process, Facebook and possibly the rest of Libra’s validators can serve as a powerful lobbying group for the entire crypto space. They’ll have to work with authorities to possibly define new rules for digital assets and clarify how old rules apply. Increasing regulatory clarity might be the biggest impact Libra can make in the crypto space.”

Thank you for reading and thanks to Camila for taking the time to chat with us. You can read more from Camila in her newsletter The Defiant and on Twitter at @CamiRusso.


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