Meltem Demirors: Trillion Dollar Consumer Credit Business is Branching Out Into Crypto

Meltem Demirors, the chief strategy officer at CoinShares, a leading cryptocurrency treasury management firm, recently posted an informative thread on Twitter in which she noted that consumer credit is a “massive business.”

Demirors, a mathematical economics graduate from the prestigious Rice University, pointed out that “US consumers hold $4 trillion in mortgages, student loans, auto loans, credit card debt, and more.” She added that cryptocurrency-based credit began with companies such as BTCjam, a globally accessible peer-to-peer (P2P) bitcoin lending platform, and RipioApp, another crypto-focused lender.

BlockFi, Compound Finance are Among Top Crypto Lenders

According to Demirors, there was “an explosion in crypto credit products” in 2018 as there are now firms including BlockFi, which lets users take advantage of their digital assets without having to sell them. Companies like BlockFi offer products that are similar to LendingClub, which is America’s most established “online credit marketplace”, Demirors explained. However, BlockFi’s lending services use bitcoin (BTC) as collateral instead of fiat-based assets.

Going on to mention other crypto-related lenders, Demirors noted that the Dharma Protocol has been designed to facilitate decentralized lending, meaning that “users connect without an intermediary to offer crypto (coins) as collateral for credit (a loan).” Other P2P lenders include MakerDAO and Compound Finance, both of which have been developed on Ethereum.

Acknowledging that all these services are “cool”, Demirors asked “who has enough crypto to lock it up for cash?” She argued that “most likely, investors” who’ve made substantial investments in the crypto space would be more inclined towards using digital asset lending markets “as a way to [leverage] existing coin positions to buy exposure to other coins.”

However, Demirors asked “what happens when 5%, 10%, or more of the circulating supply of a coin is locked up?” At present, at least 2% of all ETH has been locked up (most of it in the MakerDAO ecosystem) and about 10% of Augur’s REP token has also been locked in various contracts. According to Demirors, it won’t be “pretty” when users try to access the collateral that has been locked up.

Bitcoin Lending Must Become Trustless In Order To Attract Major Investors

Caitlin Long, a 22-year Wall Street veteran who is now more focused on the crypto and blockchain industry, believes bitcoin lending is not yet “trustless.” In a detailed post on Forbes (published in January 2019), Long argued that cryptoassets “need financialization to succeed.” She explained that “financialization requires the development of markets for lending”, however Bitcoin’s protocol has not been designed to allow effective crypto lending.

“Major fiduciary institutional investors” will only make substantial investments in cryptos if digital asset markets are developed in a trustless manner - which would allow businesses to “borrow money to finance investment in … enterprises," Long noted.

Binance CEO Sues VC Firm Sequoia for Reputational Damages

Francisco Memoria

Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of leading cryptocurrency exchange binance, has reportedly sued well-reputed venture capital firm Sequoia over reputational damages allegedly caused by a lawsuit the VC firm filed against Binance that was dismissed.

According to a filing submitted to the High Court in Hong Kong that was obtained by CoinDesk, Changpeng Zhao, referred to as CZ, claims Sequoia Capital China, a unit of Sequoia, significantly damaged his reputation and is looking for compensation.

This, according to the CEO, prevented him from raising money at a proper valuation for Binance. Sequoia reportedly damaged his reputation through a lawsuit filed in April of last year over a funding deal that went awry.

A hearing for the case is set to take place on June 25 between CZ and SCC Venture VI, a special purpose vehicle of Sequoia Capital China. An inquiry to determine whether Zhao “sustained any and what damages” is being demanded, over an injunction order Sequoia obtained in late 2017 that reportedly prevented CZ from raising funds in March of 2018.

Sequoia’s initial lawsuit was dismissed by the Hong Kong High Court, with the VC firm having to repay Binance the legal fees required for its legal representative.

In the filing, the CEO of Binance stated:

The injunction order has caused loss to me for which I am entitled to reasonable compensation by Sequoia. In particular, I have suffered i) a loss of chance to raise capital through successive rounds of financing at increasing high valuations; and ii) damage to my reputation.

Sequoia is notably seen as one of the most well-reputed venture capital firms focusing on tech startups, and available data shows it operates 22 funds across the globe and raised $15.3 billion so far.

Meanwhile, Binance has been going through a rough few weeks. The exchange was hacked for 7,000 BTC earlier this month, and considered rolling back the Bitcoin blockchain to recover the stolen funds, a move that saw him be heavily criticized on social media.

Binance recently published an extensive blog post recapping the incident that detailed hackers managed to control a number of Binance user accounts and structured large withdrawals from these. More recently, various users complained they lost funds after experiencing lag on the trading platform.