Onboarding the First Billion Users to Everyday DeFi by IOV Labs COO.

Nancy Muorah
12 min readJul 12, 2022

The massive global challenge that motivates the team at IOV Labs is the problem that we all face what we call advanced DeFi the third phase of crypto adoption that we believe is a huge opportunity that is available to all of us as it forces us to focus on real world utility.

IOV Labs is

Internet of Value Labs.

…the creator of the Rootstock Blockchain also known as (RSK)

…the developers of the Rootstock Infrastructure Framework also known as (RIF)

Which is all the building blocks that you need to build on top of RSK.

Building blocks for Everyday DeFi.

IOV Labs has two roles

Role 1 : Grow the RSK Ecosystem

Firstly we have been working from day one to build and grow the RSK Ecosystem to allow smart contracts on bitcoin to become a reality.

Role 2 : Build a thriving RIF Economy

Our primary focus going forward is all about RIF Economy

Our vision at IOV Labs is …

A safe and equitable global financial system that enables everyone to participate and prosper.

  • A safe and equitable :

Safety, security, stability, fair, impartial without judgement.

  • Global financial system :

Positively impacting the global financial system. Not local or regional. Global.

  • That vision speaks to everyone :

The 99%. The underbanked. Emerging markets. The global populations.

  • Participate and prosper :

Inclusive, accessible, community-oriented, collectively owned, managed and operated.

Our work …

GROWING THE RSK ECOSYSTEM

What is RSK?

  • RSK is a decentralized layer-1 blockchain
  • Uses novel Bitcoin merged-mining approach to store cryptographic hashes on the Bitcoin blockchain.
  • An Ethereum Virtual Machine -highly compatible and interoperable with other network so it is easy to start taking project that were built initially on Ethereum bring them over to RSK and secure them on the Bitcoin blockchain.
  • Second-most secure blockchain (after Bitcoin)+ cryptographically the most secure smart contract platform in the world (57% Bitcoin Hashrate @9am 10th June ).

Why RSK?

  • SECURE : Merged-mining approach cryptographically superior. It is the most secure blockchain you can build on.
  • NATIVE : Bitcoin is native to RSK via 1:1 peg. You don’t have to wrap it, you basically bring it through the peg and it’s one to one with RBTC.
  • AFFORDABLE : 40x-50x cheaper gas fees than Ethereum.
  • FASTER : 10x faster transaction speeds than Ethereum.
  • SCALABLE : built to scale -zkSync layer-2 live on Testnet and going live on Mainnet.
  • COMPATIBLE : EVM-compatibility -easy to start building.

RSK today

  • 1,619 days mainnet live since 2 January 2018
  • 100 percent network uptime since launch
  • 77,000 monthly transactions (Apr-2022)
  • 3,092 X-Chain Total Value Locked (BTC) on RSK (Apr-2022)
  • 9,959 Native Total Value Locked (BTC) on RSK (Apr-2022)

So we have been live for 1,619 days and we have had 100% uptime ever since the RSK network launched, that is a claim not all blockchain can make and we can. We have got nearly 10,000 Native Total Value Locked on RSK on Bitcoin, so it is early but it’s growing fast.

RSK : an ecosystem building on Bitcoin

Ecosystem of Partners building on Bitcoin with RSK.

Amazing solutions like Sovryn and Tropykus. Uncollateralized lending services for the underbanked like Growr. Stable coins like Money on chain, XUSD by Bablefish we have incredible non-custodial wallet like Edge network. Good coverage in global exchanges Binance, Kucoin etc. Simple on/off ramps like Ramp, Settle and really powerful integrations to make it simple to build on RSK notably from Fireblocks and Covalent. KYC and AML solutions from Coinfirm.

Helping developers

BUILD WITH RIF ON RSK

What is RIF?

  • A service-layer of open decentralised protocols that run on RSK.
  • RIF helps developers build scalable DeFi dApps faster and easier.
  • RIF protocols are accessed and paid for using the RIF ERC-20 Token.

RIF helps developers build really fast secure and stable dApps especially DeFi. You can build anything with RIF it is a whole universal programming layer but it was specifically designed to build DeFi on Bitcoin.

A Little Bit About RIF :

RIF has been in development now for about three years, it has different products that allow you to build DeFi protocols on Bitcoin.

RIF today. RIF tomorrow.

  • RIF PAY : Making Payments faster, cheaper, and easier.
  • RIF WALLET : Bringing DeFi and the RIF Economy to everyday users.
  • RIF IDENTITY : Building and managing on-chain identity.
  • RIF MARKETPLACE : Matching supply and demand in a sharing economy.
  • RIF GOVERN : Enabling community ownership and decision making.
  • RIF I.0 : Feeding protocols with data and information.
  • RIF TOOLS : Providing developers with everything else they need.

And there is more to come …

We are motivated by a …

MASSIVE GLOBAL CHALLENGE

We believe we are in the grip of a global (economic) polycrisis this is something where multiple crises combine to create something entirely unique. It has its root in the 2008 financial crisis but it has been increasing in pace and ferocity since the Covid-19 pandemic.

This economic polycrisis is completely providing unprecedented strain on everyone but it is the poor marginalized in emerging markets that are feeling it the most and most of these people are underbanked.

A social and economic coordination challenge.

  • The underbanked experience the pain and these challenges everyday.
  • People can’t access a safe stable store of value.
  • Transactions are expensive complex or impossible.
  • Institutions don’t understand them or don’t want their business.
  • Financial products are not designed for them.
  • They don’t trust their government.
  • They can’t trust their banks.

And the problem is spreading.

More people falling from the middle-class into economically unprivileged and underbanked categories every day.

why?

  • Price inflation affecting everyone.
  • Sustained possibly encroached cost of living crisis.
  • Declining purchasing power in emerging markets.
  • Interest rates are being raised everywhere.

Crypto solves this! …right?

Not exactly.

We need to talk about …

THE PROBLEM WITH ADVANCED DEFI

Advanced DeFi is too advanced for Everyone.

It is too advanced for our vision at IOV Labs and it is not going to solve the problems of the underbanked that was mentioned earlier.

DeFi today is used by; and designed for:

  • Financially literate.
  • Technologically advanced.
  • Affluent predominantly Western users.
  • Looking for outsized returns.
  • During a unique period in the global economy.

Advanced DeFi is not for everyone example Yield farming strategy on phantom gives an idea on the complexity of some of the returns that you can get access to on advanced DeFi today.

This is not a mass market service it is something complex, designed by and for the same group of people and won’t provide financial empowerment to the underbanked.

source: UX Maturity Models -A collection.

We think usability is a huge barrier to widespread adoption the Nielsen Usability Maturity Model indicates the amount of capital and resources that is being spent on usability within any technology category.

It is our belief that most advanced DeFi probably sits between a dedicated usability budget where the protocol project is actually putting money behind usability; they have someone working in UX or they have a design team and slightly lower down the category where essentially this is a developer centered usability approach.

This means that the products that are being built for advanced DeFi use cases are complicated and there is a huge adoption curve to actually learn how some of this technology actually works.

A quote from an interview with the VP of New product development and innovation. Mastercard-Ashutosh Sharan.

Crypto has to become invisible_ I keep saying that and it sounds like a broken record but it has to disappear in the background for a user who doesn’t care honestly My mom doesn’t care if it’s [Centralised Finance] or DeFi’

it just need to work.

Advanced DeFi is not how you onboard the first billion users into crypto.

Advanced DeFi is not the whole solution. It is an early iteration of what DeFi can actually do.

Our vision for the underbanked demands more.

Our vision at IOV Labs and we believe the vision for any crypto project that wants to gain mass adoption is to focus on the underbanked because they demand more from what we are building.

The chainanalysis 2021 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report indicates…

At the grassroot level emerging market are driving cryptocurrency adoption. with users in this areas turning to the asset class out of necessity either to preserve their savings in the face of currency devaluation or to carry out remittances they wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

There is a unique set of use cases that occur in emerging market which are fundamentally different and not served by advanced DeFi.

Crypto adoption is concentrated in emerging markets.

This snapshot shows the 20 countries around the world where crypto adoption is highest measured through a ranking of On-chain value received and peer-to-peer exchange trade volume.

  • Vietnam… soaring inflation weakened currency.
  • India… the home of demonetisation.
  • Pakistan… price inflation currency depreciation.
  • Ukraine… at war with Russia since 2014.
  • Venezuela… decades of mismanagement.
  • Argentina… 52% inflation in 2021.

And world’s six largest remittance recipients.

What’s particularly interesting is that Crypto adoption it’s not driven in terms of usage by western markets these are large emerging markets with significant populations of underbanked who maybe have financial services available to them, they have bank account but don’t quite have the full suite that is available to us in western markets.

A piece of research from the Americans market intelligence team.

The type of use cases of crypto that is being driven in Latin America in particular is people trying to access a store of value they want to find an inflation hedge and they want to find a means of doing non-bank digital payments. If you look at Argentina what we are seeing here is that out of the population 29% hold a credit or debit card. The credit card system has been in Argentina for decades and it hits 29% penetration within the population only in the last five or six years since crypto has become something that is more commonly used has it reached 12% in Argentina.

So the speed of adoption in these markets are phenomenal and it is being driven by this set of use cases which we are seeing in emerging markets.

Everyday DeFi is…

THE 3RD PHASE OF CRYPTOCURRENCY ADOPTION

We think that this idea of everyday DeFi is the third phase of cryptocurrency adoption

Understanding Adoption curves

Geoffrey Moore identified this five different phases of technology adoption and this phases are split by the infamous chasm where any technology that wants to gain mass adoption has to cross.

Technology Adoption Lifecycle

Crypto Adoption : Phase 1 — OGs

So we have mapped the crypto adoption over the last 10 years against this adoption lifecycle and we think ( 2009-2017) was the innovator phase represented by early cyberpunks, Bitcoin hodlers and maximalists this are people fanatical about the opportunities that Crypto held but they were also extremely tolerant of the enormous challenges it would take to access crypto and use it meaningfully.

Crypto Adoption : Phase 2— Advanced DeFi

This is what we are coming out of at the moment; it is what we call DeFi boom, the emergence of this explosive growth in DeFi market predominantly in western markets like North America and Europe.

A lot of what people were doing was getting hold of cryptocurrencies as a speculative asset to indicate their support for a particular project or gain yield during a period of strange and uneven economic opportunity in the global economy.

Crypto Adoption : Phase 3— Everyday DeFi

We think phase 3 is this everyday DeFi where in order to access this huge mass market opportunity project need to cross the chasm.

Again we think it is dominated by emerging market users who are trying to do pragmatic things with crypto all over the world except for one very significant point they are trying to execute basic retail finance use cases but do it using cryptocurrencies.

Everyday DeFi is the Third Phase of Crypto Adoption

We are entering …

THE ERA OF EVERYDAY DEFI

So How Do We Cross The Chasm?

Here at IOV Labs we think the Era is here and we think it is here to stay and we have a Manifesto for what Everyday DeFi means to us.

  • A new phase of cryptocurrency adoption is beginning.
  • It will be driven by people trapped by weak local currencies with declining purchasing power and a drive to protect their financial interests during a period of extraordinary global turmoil.
  • It will be defined by normal people using blockchain technology to do simple everyday financial task.
  • It will take place mainly in the market of Mumbai Jakarta and Buenos Aires.
  • This phase will not be built by traditional banks but by the long-tail blockchain neo banks of the future.
  • This is the biggest market opportunity that cryptocurrencies have ever seen.
  • This new phase is everything that we have been promised since the beginning of the crypto revolution everything blockchain were designed for all of this will be built with RIF on RSK.

Everyday DeFi is enabled by coalescing technology trends

Everyday DeFi is enabled by a series of coalescing technologies which are becoming mature and going through the hype cycle at a particular point in history so we are now on this slope of enlightenment; about the hype cycle it is an indication of how new technology gain prominence exuberance and then slowly as the promises of that new technology don’t occur the media turns away and then during this period you reach the kind of trough of disillusionment and it is at this unique phase that companies go away and they start building real solutions. So we think that cryptocurrencies the dominance of blockchain wallets and fundamentally stable coins are all reaching a maturity point where we can build really compelling products.

Everyday DeFi is a massive global market opportunity

  • 4.3mn. Advanced DeFi user wallets.
  • 1.8bn. unbanked & underbanked.
  • $540bn. remittance flows.

This is an on-chain data that was pulled recently.

Advanced DeFi even though it is still early it is nowhere near crossing into this massive market.

Everyday DeFi will emerge where…

  • Trust in banks and government is low.
  • People are exploited by predatory intermediaries.
  • Regulation don’t enable innovative neo-banks.
  • Incumbent bank defend their oligopoly through state capture.

Countries like Vietnam, Pakistan, Ukraine, Kenya, Nigeria, Venezuela, Argentina, Columbia, Thailand, China, Brazil, Philippines, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania.

Defining Everyday DeFi

Everyday DeFi is a mass market opportunity.

It is characterized by underbanked or financially excluded users using decentralized technology to fulfill basic everyday need.

Like…

  • Paying bills.
  • Saving with returns.
  • Borrowing at reasonable rates.
  • Sending money to family.

What makes a service Everyday DeFi

  • EASY TO USE simple UX intuitive UI from web 2.0
  • ACCESSIBLE everyone everywhere can use it so it has to be mobile first, simple on-ramps and off-ramps and ideally cash-on-ramps enable those remittance flows.
  • FAST ENOUGH to make on-the-spot payment.
  • CHEAP ENOUGH so cost of using the service isn’t a barrier to entry (low- fees, stable assets).

Services Everyday DeFi users need

  • SAVE in USD with safe low-risk stable-stablecoins offering not algorithmic or unstable.
  • BORROW using uncollateralized community supported loans.
  • SEND remittances anywhere cheaper than the current remittance.
  • PAY utility bills and receive salary in crypto.

This is the kind of services that everyday DEFi users need.

Principles for Everyday DeFi Builders

  • EDUCATE share information to help users make the right decision
  • SAFEGUARD users from making high-risk investments and making big mistakes.
  • SIMPLIFY the product experience with on-ramps and KYC addresses and keys.
  • ADAPT terminology languages interactions to make it indistinguishable from web 2.0. b

At IOV Labs…

WE ARE COMMITTED TO EVERYDAY DEFI

BUILDING open-source protocols on RIF that helps developers create trusted lasting Everyday DeFi services.

PARTNERING with innovative teams serving Everyday DeFi users in emerging markets and building services that they need.

PROMOTING use cases that show the real-world value our Everyday DeFi partners are creating for the underbanked.

INVESTING Capital in Everyday DeFi projects and bringing important capabilities to RSK Ecosystem and the RIF Economy.

In summary we want to make…

EVERYDAY DEFI AN EVERYDAY REALITY

I. We believe Everyday DeFi is how to on-board the First Billion Users into crypto.

II. This means market opportunity for crypto exist today but we must build for it.

III. We think Everyday DeFi builders should :

  • Simplify all aspects of the product experience.
  • Educate users on the risks and opportunities.
  • Safeguard users from predatory actors and big mistakes.

We know all of this can be built with RIF on RSK.

THANK YOU :-) IOVlabs.

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