Friday, Aug 6th 2021

Everyone has their own crypto “aha” moment


These days it seems like in every circle, there’s that one friend who’s obsessed with Bitcoin. You know the one. The person who always finds a way to insert the blockchain into every topic of conversation, insisting with a feverish look in their eyes that “it’s the future, man.”

For me, that person was a principal consultant who happened to be an ex-rocket scientist. I’ll call him Bob. Bob and I worked together on a project to improve a major airline’s network strategy, way back in 2016. Bob talked incessantly about Bitcoin and crypto, and as a naturally hyper-curious person, I had a million questions before I even started. These ranged from “Is Bitcoin a pyramid scheme?” to “Couldn’t you just counterfeit a Bitcoin?”, from “What is blockchain?” to “How does Bitcoin incentivize everyone to cooperate?”

My mind raced with follow-ups upon follow-ups. I set out to read everything I could get my hands on, eager to better understand the world of Bitcoin and blockchain. The more I read, the more questions I had, the more jargon and terms I didn’t understand. Each new question led to even more articles and papers, until I found myself at the center of an ever-expanding web of knowledge.

My first “aha” moment: This is going to change things

My questions grew more technical as I progressed through my research, building layer upon layer. Finally, my first crypto “aha” moment arrived when the scattered pieces of information I’d encountered across this massive web of knowledge joined together in my mind.

I also used Bitcoin for the first time, sending money to my friend across the continent late on a Friday night. She received the money virtually immediately: no need to wait for the bank to open, no high fees to pay, no documentation to provide.

I remember the distinct feeling of certainty when it hit me: “Yep, this technology is going to change things.”

My second “aha” moment: The freedom of DeFi

My second “aha” moment came when I decided to take a loan from Maker, a Decentralized Finance lending and borrowing app, and one of the first and largest DeFi projects to date. Borrowing was so simple: within minutes I received the DAI tokens, compared to the painful experience of applying for a loan or even a credit card through a bank. Traditional institutions required access to my credit rating, my tax returns, my future plans, and tons of miscellaneous paperwork.

But with DeFi, there were no questions asked; I got my loans within minutes. All the rules and parameters were clearly specified in smart contracts. Everything was transparent. And I did this from the comfort of my MetaMask wallet on my web browser. And, unlike with traditional loans, I could use this loan to do anything I want.

Within the span of a few months, apps like InstaDApp, dYdX, and Synthetix came into being, making it easy and straightforward for users to perform borrowing, lending, margin trading, synth trading, and so on. Then, DeFi started to get reflexive. Entrepreneurs were creating products that could only exist in DeFi, taking advantage of its unusual qualities such as on-chain transparency, programmatic finance via smart contracts, and the distribution of useful new tokens to drive loyalty. I knew right away that the potential for DeFi was -- and remains -- absolutely massive.

My third “aha” moment: Building like Lego blocks

My third and final “aha” moment came when Compound instigated what would be known in retrospect as the “DeFi Summer” of 2020. Compound distributed COMP tokens to users based on their activity on the platform. This kicked off the yield farming craze: a new mechanism for luring assets onto crypto platforms.

That summer kicked off an unprecedented pace of software development and innovation. Everything is open-source, permissionless, and composable, with applications being built on top of each other like Lego blocks: something simply not possible in the traditional finance world.

Those were my “aha” moments. As we launch Titan Crypto, I’m looking forward to hearing yours.

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