An irreverent lock back at DAS:London 22

Two days of mingling with institutions and digital asset service providers at the beautiful Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. (Seriously, stunning 1970s architecture, balustrades, and chandeliers, you’d expect Roger More and Pussy Galore walking down the central staircase any time.)

  1. Well organized, hats off to #Blockworks. The blue B of the logo on blue wavey background is a slight eyesore. The catering absolutely delicious. 10 points
  2. All the important institutional players there, service providers like Gemini, Bequant, fireblocks, Elliptic, Merkle Science you name it, with their own little unobtrusive booths, nicely done, 10 points
  3. Panels dominated by the Ethereum crowd layer this layer that, as if institutional finance itself was another layer on the Ethereum cake. One would expect more variety at an event like this. 7 points
  4. Every poster, every video screen, every brochure featuring the keywords Trust, compliant, reliable, with the occasional “KYC” and “AML” for good measure. We now live in Reguland. (was it Crypto Legoland before?)
  5. Every outfit out there slapping the word “Institutional” at the end doth not a professional offering make. But hey, it’s marketing.
  6. Banks building their own stuff for their own clients was a surprise: Standard Chartered with Zodia, HSBC, BNP Paribas: they use whitelabel solutions from proper CEX providers, presumably
  7. It is expensive to run your own blockchain. Duh, tell me about it. Institutions more likely to make use of qualified, regulated DeFi offerings to save on engineering and maintenance costs. Make TradFi more like DeFi and DeFi more like TradFi. This brings us back to my 2018 invention “CeDeFi”. Yes, it was me who first used that word which sounds like seedify. Is that a thing?
  8. Seed indeed: planted. Everyone and their dog is now aware of “digital assets”. No mention of “cryptocurrency” anywhere.
  9. Tons of investment bankers turned crypto bros. Traditional investment banking is the ever shrinking pie, highly competitive, stressful, too much cocaine, and you have to wear a tie. Post-COVID crypto work environment, plus you can watch your kids grow up working from home.
  10. Did see one guy in a tie. One guy. Sartorial revolution: wondering how Saville Row is doing these days. Must be only lawyers left. Ah yes, lawyers, too, turned to crypto. The space once dominated by autistic developers now brimming with pinstripe chaps reinventing themselves in sneakers and hoodies. Reminds me: ask HR for new Uphold gear.
  11. General consensus: central banks will lose their nerve and start printing money again. Regulators are acting swiftly and surprisingly well-informed. Europe + UK (can we undo Brexit so we can just say “Europe” again. Hey, Liz, how about that?) are the trailblazers. MiCA round 4 is expected to bring clear definitions to financial instruments. Across the pond, USA, quo vadis? We are confused
  12. The big question: how do we build in a regulatory vacuum? The answer: move slow and don’t break things. Be nimble. Be water (purloined from the Hong Kong protests that phrase is).
  13. Prime Brokerage is the business model that will satisfy institutions. Anyone who is not an individual is an institution, by the way. Don’t just think banks and corporations; think teams, agencies, government entities, NGOs, and anyone with a collective need for payment rails and digital asset solutions.
  14. We are still children in a sandbox, God bless. The crypto market is tiny tiny tiny. Systemic risk my arse. TradFi, try as they may, cannot keep up with DeFi — proper, regulated, based OG DeFi, not the undoxxed crypto bro kerfuffle that brought us Luna & Co. (He’s wanted in 195 countries, can you believe it)
  15. OTC to the rescue: while we are building the right venues with the right liquidity (it’s not easy being a market maker people actually can rely on), we need OTC. Omid Zadeh says: “centralized exchanges, all-to-all trading” perfect for retail (thanks a bunch for mentioning Uphold there, but institutional needs OTC execution done right. Hey bro, were are on it. Uphold Securities OTC is best in class, trust me.
  16. Credit where credit is due: DeFi lending is nice, earns you a fixed income and was desirable before inflation went off the carts. Now not worth the risk, methinks, TradFi rates are back again. What’s really missing is a DeFi credit market. Hashtag interest rate swaps.
  17. All those financial products shouldn’t be built on dumb tokens. We need algorithmic contracts, hashtag Actus, hashtag cashflow, hashtag smart tokens. We will organize a panel at Eurofinance in a month and I’ll be inviting Sandner and Casper & Co.
  18. Why are we putting up with VASP without a license? Not mentioning Binance here — conspicuously absent from this high-brow bash. It will come back to haunt them.
  19. This is not a crypto winter; this is a blockchain spring. Everyone is busy building, and no one gives a rat’s arse about the price of milk right now.
  20. Afterparty: didn’t go, too busy giving press interviews and writing this. Liver needs a rest at any rate. I hear it was less boozy anyway, unlike TradFi. DeFi is the sober TradFi?

Published by Dr Martin Hiesboeck

Futurist and Policy Advisor for Companies, governments and NGOs on digital future, blockchain and digitization Head of Research at Uphold and CEO of Alpine Blockchain Consultants

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