DeFi Still Needs a Silk Road Moment

Monday 26 October 2020, 2:57 AM AEST - 1 month ago

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Mainstream criminal adoption would prove that decentralized finance (DeFi) is building tools with real utility, because if theres any one group that is both underserved in its access to sophisticated financial products and willing to pay huge premiums to acquire them, its criminals.

The Silk Road was launched in February of 2011 and quickly became the first example of Bitcoins product-market fit. While some proponents of cryptocurrencies argue that today criminal activities are a small percentage of all cryptocurrency transactions, censorship resistance is one of the key features of all decentralized technologies and criminals have played a part in cryptos wider adoption.

Boaz Sobrado works in tech, bringing the opportunities of the internet to those who need them most.

Bitcoins ability to make payments the man doesnt want you to make is what makes the cumbersome tech worth it. This can include criminal activity such as ransomware and darknet markets (DNMs), but also funding Sci-Hub (a rogue academic publisher) and opposition leaders in oppressive regimes.

Adoption by criminal enterprises is evidence of the product/market fit of censorship-resistant technologies and an indicator of whether innovation will see usage in the non-criminal world. It would have not been possible to create the Silk Road without a truly effective censorship resistant payments method. The fact that Silk Road and other criminal enterprises are able to use bitcoin effectively is evidence cryptocurrencies are a useful and censorship resistant tool. As of now criminal activity online is mostly based on bitcoin, although other cryptocurrencies, such as monero, also play a part.

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