Decentralized finance (DeFi) could soon boast a real-world use case.
MakerDAO, the organization behind the dollar-pegged stablecoin known as DAI, is in the process of voting on whether to further diversify the collateral it accepts for loans beyond cryptocurrency and tokens to include real-world assets (RWAs).
Specifically, Maker would also allow supply chain invoices and musicians’ future royalty streams as security when it lends out DAI. These assets would be represented on the Ethereum blockchain by non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the innovation that spawned CryptoKitties. Small businesses and artists could take the borrowed DAI, which usually trades 1-for-1 with the U.S. dollar, to crypto exchanges like Coinbase and convert it to cash.
If approved, the proposals would pave the way for the first application of DeFi to solving a tangible business problem outside the rarefied realm of crypto. The current crisis, like the 2008 financial meltdown, has seen big firms apply the brakes across supply chains, to the point where innovative ways of freeing up working capital for suppliers awaiting payment could be a lifesaver.
“The average crypto user that bought bitcoin when it was a few hundred dollars and is using DeFi to trade and manage their wealth is a very different user from a business that is actually quite cash-strapped,” said Lucas Vogelsang, CEO of Centrifuge, a startup focused on bringing real world assets to DeFi.
“These businesses are looking to DeFi as a way to get money quicker and get it on their own terms, without having to go to a bank,” said Vogelsang, whose firm has pilot-tested the financing of freight forward invoices with DeFi loans. “They don’t have crypto to get their DAI loans, so they need to be able to use their invoices or their inventory.”
Centuries-old conventional trade finance works by allowing banks to become third parties to supply…