Back when the Bitcoin protocol was invented, the idea was to build a simple global payment system that wasn’t (and couldn’t be) controlled by any central broker.
In other words, you wouldn’t need to apply to a private company for a credit card, or to get permission from a regulator to send cash abroad, or to risk having incoming payments confiscated by a corrupt bank or central government, or to negotiate a series of complex exchange rates determined by other people, or to wait for the companies at each end of the transaction to decide that it was time to let it go through.
You could simply and directly trade online with someone else who decided that the bicoinage you were offering was somehow worth what they were giving you in return.
For better or worse, however, cryptocurrency networks such as Bitcoin have largely devolved into investment schemes instead of payment systems.
People tend to trade in Bitcoin, as they might in stocks and shares, rather than trading with it, as they would with cash, a credit card, or (in the olden days) a chequebook.
De-Fi to the rescue
So, a new wave of cryptocurrency systems dubbed De-Fi, short for decentralised finance, has arisen to fill that transactional void.
De-Fi systems don’t just aim to provide an algorithmic basis for digital currency, but instead to provide a fully-fleged alternative to the old-school, tightly regulated world of commercial banking.
Instead of depositing your funds with a licensed and regulated bank, and then trading with those funds by choosing from a carefully curated list of transaction types, De-Fi systems let you invest your money with them, in return for access to a “smart contract” system that allows you trade automatically with other users of the system in a way to suit yourself.
In very simple terms: you write your financial contracts as a chunk of computer code, and the De-Fi system processes it to handle and disburse your income as you choose.
If you wanted, for example, you could code a…
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