DeFi should complement TradFi, not attack it: Ava Labs CEO | Davos 2023


18 January 2023 11:58, UTC


Reading time: ~3 m

Decentralized finance (DeFi) is on its way from becoming a small niche within the financial industry to something traditional finance (TradFi) is trying to incorporate.

In an interview with Cointelegraph at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Emin Gun Sirer, the co-founder and CEO of Ava Labs, spoke on DeFi’s role in TradFi ecosystems and what users can expect in a future where both are on center stage.

Sirer stressed that the purpose of DeFi is not to attack or be an enemy to TradFi, but rather complement it, at least initially.

“I don’t think DeFi is meant to attack TradFi. DeFi is supposed to complement TradFi, at least initially,” argues @avalabsofficial’s @el33th4xor when asked by Cointelegraph’s reporter @gazza_jenks at the @wef in Davos.

Do you agree about his thoughts on DeFi’s purpose? #CTWEF23

— Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) January 17, 2023

The Ava Labs co-founder highlighted that DeFi could offer services to people that TradFi doesn’t, especially when it comes to democratized access to financial services and platforms.

Sirer believes that the two will come together. However, this is a developing mindset in the DeFi space, as first-generation DeFi systems presented an alternative to TradFi.

According to Sirer, this is because these two financial worlds initially had different values, which are now merging.

“Now TradFi is understanding that, yes, [DeFi] has the transparency that we clamor, [they] can do safety tests on their systems because of the audit-ability of the systems they built, that we cannot do.”

A recent statement from an executive at Ripple also revealed an expectant attitude toward more TradFi adoption in 2023. This is also something industry insiders are looking at in terms of acquisitions of crypto companies by larger, legacy companies in the TradFi space.

From the DeFi side, Sirer says that those who will come out as visionaries are going to be the chains that absorb this growth.

Related: Trouble brewing for the US: Two-thirds of TradFi expects a 2023 recession

Despite the rosy forecast for a DeFi-TradFi merger, the space has seen a turbulent year. DeFi projects saw the highest number of attacks and exploits in 2022, with more projected in 2023.

After the FTX scandal, many outside the industry grew increasingly skeptical of what decentralized financial technologies could offer.

Sirer says that post-FTX, everyone needs to be reminded that this industry is here to stay, as well as this new asset class.

“There are many of us who dedicated our careers to scientific development in the blockchain space. We undertook all of the steps necessary to solve the scalability problems to solve the governance problems, the compliance problems that the space faced.”

DeFi is even being reimagined through an institutional lens to benefit larger corporations in mainstream industries, including TradFi banks.

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