DeFi - Find Out What's Happening in Macau on This Exciting Topic
Macau is an awesome place to host a conference. Often dubbed the Las Vegas of China, this tiny strip of land is a buzzing ecosystem resplendent with golden hotels, temples, and resorts. Returned to China since 1999, its Portuguese inheritance is very strong with Portuguese blue-framed houses sitting cheek and jowl beside Chinese temples. The people are friendly and the temperatures warm when we arrive for the 6th Finwise conference in the region – this time theme is DeFi or decentralized finance.
The summit was co-hosted by Mike Costache (Co-Chairman & CEO of FinWise Global and Managing Partner of TaaS Capital), Eric Gu (Co-founder & CEO of DualChain Network Architecture and founder & CEO of Metaverse Foundation, the first Chinese ICO back in Aug 2016) and Hao Zeng, Co-founder & CEO of Ant Node Alliance, a leading blockchain marketing company in China.
Flying into Hong Kong is also without trouble – no protestors airside. Returning home is the same as the ferry between Hong Kong and Macau is all airside: handy to know in these interesting times.
DeFi is a growing meme in the blockchain world. The term emerged some eight months ago but it is still very nascent in this industry. A nascent meme in a nascent industry.
DeFi has a number of primary features. It is permissionless and anyone can access it with a smartphone and an internet connection, thereby removing traditional barriers to finance: notably wealth, geography and location inhibitors. It is decentralized and less prone to hacking. It is censor resistant: transactions in a Defi world cannot be changed, reversed or stopped. This is crucial when living in countries where either inflation has gone through the roof or government governance is compromised.
It is transparent and private allowing users to fully control their own money and transact freely. It is also programmable resulting in low-cost financial services.
The conference was hosted by Brad Pitt film Double, the charming Rob O’Malley along with his Chinese colleague Emma Lee. The conference was also bilingual with simultaneous AI translations of the presenters into both languages; sometimes with unintended comic results.
Hosted by Mike Costache, the DeFi conference was certainly ahead of its time. Notable speakers included local hero Eric Gu, Alex Lightman, Eddy Travia, Franklin Urteaga, Rossco Paddison, Oliver Yates, Paul Murphy, Hans Lombardo, Dan Schatt, Ruslan Gavilyuk, Alexi Lane and Alexander Alexandrov.
There were live video link-ups with Brock Pierce and Tone Vays. Technology being technology these were glitchy. Perhaps the next time it might be better to pre-record a short video and have a live Q&A afterward.
There were plenty of selfie opportunities as the largely Chinese audience were keen to be snapped with any caucasian subject. As events go, I did feel pretty important by the end as queues of people waited patiently to have their picture taken with me.
The venue was the JW Marriot in the Galaxy Mall. Think end to end designer shops wrapped around a casino. The auditorium was laid out in classroom seating and held upwards of 1000 people. The audience was very vocal during talks, often prompting loud grunts of positive assertions.
I moderated one panel with the interesting topic of Crypto Banking as a service – Will DeFi prevent the next financial crisis? I was joined by a lively bunch of debaters – and got off to a heated start with Alexi Lane declaring he would not put his money in a bank at all. Dan Schatt went on the offensive to say that we were on a continuum and that traditional finance would merge into DeFi over time. Vadim Pushkarev, as befits the token Russian on the panel, spoke up of revolution and said that we were in the middle of one. Ruslan Gavrilyuk spoke of institutional investors driving the services forward – or sideways depending on your viewpoint, while David Wang opted for regulation in line with current best practices.
The 30 minutes were over in a flash but we all reckoned there was still a new financial crash happening despite the best efforts of DeFi.
However, the best takeaway comment of the conference has to be from Rossco’s panel when he compared the current market as akin to the period after the dot com crash. He pointed out that there is an inflection point that happens – which we forget time and again – where we hit a topping point and what is only imaged now becomes reality.
Welcome to the world of Defi.
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