CryptoSlate recently had the opportunity to chat with Steven Becker, the President and COO of MakerDAO. MakerDAO is a unique dApp that generates Dai, the world’s first decentralized stablecoin that facilitates economic growth on the blockchain and economic empowerment with the blockchain.
MakerDAO was recently in the news for the successful launch of multi-collateral Dai (MCD). MCD brings with it the much-anticipated Dai Savings Rate (DSR) mechanism. This allows Dai holders to lock up their tokens in a smart contract and earn additional Dai in the meantime.
In the interview, we discussed how Becker got started in crypto, the benefits of decentralized finance, the successful launch of multi-collateral Dai, advantages of using the Dai savings rate, his crypto predictions for 2020 and more.
What is your professional background and how/when did you get into crypto?
Steven Becker (SB): Before entering crypto I was involved in the traditional finance space. I have been involved with a wide spectrum of businesses, ranging from interest rate derivatives trading, running an equity fund all the way through to corporate finance and private equity. At the center of all of this has been risk management. So you can say that my profession is risk management.
I was aware of Bitcoin and Ether since 2016 but never really thought much of it. I was more interested in the underlying blockchain technology then the tokens. But it was MakerDAO that really got me into the crypto space in April of 2018.
Tell us why MakerDAO was created.
SB: Rune Christensen started MakerDAO to create a decentralized stable store of value that would help grow the blockchain economy.
Where is your team located and why did you choose that jurisdiction?
SB: The Maker Foundation has a team that is distributed in twenty-two countries across the world. The MakerDAO project attracted the top talent from around the world, so to a certain extent, the team and locations grew organically.
How has the rollout of multi-collateral Dai gone? Any notable statistics?
SB: MCD rollout so far has been a success. In the first three days around fourteen million Dai have been created in the new system. This is much better than expected considering the migration to the new system was dependent on whether you held a vault (previously called CDP) or how you came to hold Sai (previously called Dai). Likewise, the protocol has around three hundred organizations integrated with it, so getting them all to migrate will require a little direction and therefore take a bit of time.
What are some of MakerDAO’s other notable achievements or milestones?
SB: To be clear the Maker Foundation is the entity that houses the team. The purpose of the Foundation is to help bootstrap the Maker protocol. MakerDAO, the project, is the combination of the Maker protocol, the community, and stakeholders that support and use the protocol.
As mentioned above, the Maker Protocol has integrated with approximately three hundred organizations.
Prior to the move to MCD, the system reached an all-time high of one hundred and two million Dai.
The stakeholders to the system have grown remarkably. There are four stakeholders to the protocol:
- Maker governance, who are the folks that hold MKR and control the protocol. As of this writing, there are approximately sixteen thousand one hundred addresses holding the MKR token.
- Dai Users are the second stakeholders and before migration, there were approximately two hundred thousand addresses holding Dai.
- Dai generators, the third stakeholder, are the folks that use vaults (previously CDPs) to generate Dai. There are about fifteen thousand five hundred addresses holding vaults.
What are the advantages of utilizing the Dai Savings Rate as opposed to other crypto interest-earning platforms?
SB: Using the Dai Savings Rate (DSR) helps keep the protocol robust and Dai stable. Where the Stability Fee is the lever for supply, the DSR is the lever for demand. So now MKR governance has two levers to help manage the protocol’s supply and demand.
Transferring Dai into the DSR is nothing more than transferring Dai into a smart contract, and that is it. The Dai is not rehypothecated nor is credit generated against it, meaning that it is not exposed to any counterparty risk. Other crypto interest-earning platforms, have two layers of counterparty risk. The first is the crypto platform itself, and it is dependent on how well it manages the second layer. The second layer is the portfolio of borrowers underlying the crypto platform. Therefore the advantage is that a user will be exposed to the risk of a decentralized protocol as opposed to a central party organizing loans on the blockchain.
The DSR is owned by the user, and other than gas fees to effect the transfer there are no other fees. The DSR is open source and is free to use by any Dai holder with no minimum requirement.
The DSR provides a stable store of value AND protects against inflation.
Exchanges and wallets are starting to integrate it for themselves and their users. Therefore being accessible almost everywhere.
What can you tell us about the MakerDAO product roadmap? What upcoming features are you most excited about rolling out?
SB: That is up to governance to decide, and what they are talking about is really interesting.
Tokenized real-world assets are a big topic of conversation. Real-world assets will help the protocol scale and diversify the collateral portfolio. So look out for the DeFi space creating tokenized real-world assets and governance voting those assets as collateral types.
Tokenizing the DSR is another interesting topic of conversation. The ability to generate Dai with DSR already embedded is already something the community is starting to develop.
What are the biggest challenges of building a decentralized stablecoin for crypto users?
SB: The biggest challenge is reminding crypto users that Dai is just digital cash.
Everyone is very familiar with fiat currencies like the USD or Euro. Yet there are only a few that really know how fiat currencies work because they ‘just work’ and everyone implicitly trusts fiat currencies – but it is becoming evident that even that is changing.
Similarly, MakerDAO is such an exciting project, all the initial crypto users want to know how it works, which is fantastic. The downside is that the Maker protocol just takes a little time to understand. If you don’t have that time then you may think it complicated in relation to the simple acceptance you have for the USD. But if you consider that it is just digital cash that uses the speed of execution, settlement and arguably more security than traditional payment systems – it is just as simple as the USD to use, and in some ways better.
How important is the price of the Maker (MKR) token to the MakerDAO ecosystem?
SB: The liquidity of Maker (MKR) is primarily important. More important than price. Traditionally, there has been a positive correlation between liquidity and price. It is not a perfect correlation but it is positive.
The MKR price is INDIRECTLY very important to the MakerDAO ecosystem as the increase in the liquidity of MKR is reflected in the price.
Liquidity is primarily important as it serves as a proxy for how robust governance is.
The more distributed the holding of MKR the more use cases governance will have for holding the MKR. Therefore creating a more robust governance structure. A robust governance structure will continuously tackle the issues of the protocol which will be reflected in the trading activity and thus contribute to liquidity.
What other projects and/or blockchain developments are you most excited about?
SB: First, I am looking forward to Ethereum 2.0. I believe that will synergize a lot of the DeFi space with the traditional world.
Do you have any blockchain and/or crypto predictions for 2020 and beyond?
SB: A lot of developing economies will showcase how blockchain will create a positive impact, massive value and improve the living standards and thus lives of its people. They may do so way before their developed economy counterparts.
What are the biggest obstacles for the mainstream adoption of crypto?
SB: Time is the biggest obstacle. A year or so ago people in the traditional world were asking “why would anyone use the blockchain?”, those same people are now asking “should I use the blockchain, and if so what is the best way?”.
When more people start finding answers to those questions, so will institutions and finally, the traditional economy will have dovetailed with the blockchain economy.
What is your most controversial opinion relating to blockchain and/or cryptocurrency?
SB: That the true potential of crypto is at the intersection of the traditional and blockchain world. Traditional needs blockchain to release new potential and blockchain needs traditional to scale.
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