Satoshi Nakamoto developed the blockchain to establish a distributed ledger system where banks no longer had a role to play and enable transactions through a currency that could exist outside government decree. Despite being in its nascent stage, decentralized finance (DeFi) has exhibited the extraordinary potential to improve the financial health of unbanked people who couldn’t dream of accessing advanced financial products due to the bureaucracy surrounding it.
Cryptocurrency did what fiat money and governments couldn’t — drive the economic upliftment of populations by making financial products accessible to all. In countries like Nigeria or Kenya, people prefer receiving remittances in cryptocurrency, rather than their native fiat currencies. Blockchain technology facilitates the real-time transfer of money — inexpensively and securely — helping people of these nations sidestep costly banking systems and remittance corridors. Accompanied with CICO Agent networks supporting cryptocurrency-facing solutions, even the unbanked can avail better financial services.
Last year, a blockchain-based, play-to-earn (P2E) game called Axie Infinity became the sole source of income for many households in the pandemic-hit Philippines. Even for people in Venezuela, the country with the highest annual inflation rate, Axie Infinity is considered a better career path than traditional jobs. With startups like Block Esports and Yield Guild Games loaning out expensive Axies, characters necessary to playing the game, to underprivileged players, many have started new careers in play-to-earn gaming.
While play-to-earn gaming has shed new light on the usage of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, the world has only seen the beginnings of its real-life applications. Below, we detail how the blockchain, with or without cryptocurrency at its helm, can improve and optimize operations in several domains.
Loyalty Rewards Systems
The blockchain can help transform the retail experience by becoming the go-to for loyalty rewards: through non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that come attached with their intrinsic uniqueness. Imagine a retail store that awards loyalty tokens to its customers in the form of NFTs: customers will get to enjoy an immutable claim to ownership, and also have the ability to resell these NFTs on an NFT marketplace for a profit.
In a 2020 report by the World Economic Forum, more than 1 billion people around the globe do not have a national identity — a major roadblock to availing basic governmental and financial services. The traditional identification system is fragmented and inaccessible for many in emerging markets. Blockchain technology is proving to be a viable alternative for managing identities. Governments can promote the development of self-sovereign identification portals where users only need to enter personal details on their mobile devices and generate the private keys and the public keys to attest the information provided. The public key associated with the distributed identifications, including additional data, can be anchored on-chain, thus helping governments consolidate identities cost-effectively, securely, and within a tamper-proof infrastructure.
In November, a cryptocurrency and open-source distributed ledger called IOTA introduced a beta version of its Data Marketplace, explaining that blockchain could be used as a marketplace to share or sell unused data connected to billions of devices and networks. Most of this data remains available to the big players in internet services, but small companies lose out on getting access to these. A distributed marketplace supported by blockchain the IOTA is leveraging can act as a mediator to store, move and recycle data and enhance its applications.
Royalty and Copyright Protection
Copyright and royalty laws on music and other content have grown claggy in a world of unregulated internet access. Blockchain technology can be applied to safeguard those copyrights for digital content downloads, ensuring that the content creator gets their fair share. The protection of royalty and copyright through the blockchain is already seeing its application through NFTs. Artists, both established and up-and coming, are tokenizing their artworks: giving them the opportunity to get a fixed percentage of royalties for every resale of their content. Artists from India have seen their digital artworks sell for 3.9 Ethereum, opening them up to a broader audience and a new way of valuing and protecting their pieces.
Blockchain can improve digital voting because whatever is recorded on the chain remains immutable. So, if a bad actor tries to alter something on the network, the complexity of blockchain technology makes it practically impossible to do so.
Transfer of Real Estate, Land, and Auto Titles
Through traditional routes, if an individual sells land or buys a house or a car, they need to transfer or receive a physical title, through their local government offices. This is a system that has not been changed for decades, resulting in aged, damaged, or possibly, lost titles. Instead of managing the details related to the transfer of ownership on paper, blockchain can help store titles on-chain, enabling a transparent view of this transfer and exhibiting a crystal-clear picture of legal ownership.
Creating Scope for Financial Participation Through Asset Tokenization
Blockchain technology makes real-estate and private company assets that are large or illiquid easily accessible to small investors. These assets can be tokenized on-chain so that potential investors can buy them in fractions, therefore reducing the entry barrier.
One of the primary goals of blockchain technology and DeFi is to drive financial inclusion for the people who don’t have access to a bank account. For a majority of the population in emerging markets, maintaining a bank account is too expensive, and hardly competitive in terms of savings account interest rates, or in a lot of municipalities, impossible, due to the physical absence of a financial institution. DeFi protocols, like AAVE and Compound, on the other hand, have created a decentralized financial system that people can access even without a traditional bank account. These DeFi protocols are referred to as money legos owing to the cascading earning opportunities they create through composability, unlike a bank. Therefore, it is not surprising to witness the growing interest in DeFi, especially in developing countries. But how much of this world is really accessible? Is there a direct connection between the DeFi and the real world?
Interests earned on a decentralized lending service still cannot be directly used to pay to real-world merchants, despite early promises of adoption from major merchants. However, individuals from emerging markets often use cryptocurrencies, usually earned from play-to-earn gaming, to pay for real world utilities. To do that, they follow a roundabout path of converting cryptocurrencies to cash before they can use them in real life, with conversions sometimes failing. In a bid to alleviate this sore spot, XLD Finance is creating the necessary bridge between DeFi and CeFi to drive home true financial inclusion. XLD Finance’s ultimate vision is to integrate DeFi with on-ground financial rails in developing nations. The process kick-started with xSpend: a platform where individuals can use in-game tokens, like SLP, and stablecoin to buy mobile prepaid credits or pay utility bills.
Stepping Into A Brighter Future With Blockchain
Blockchain technology continues to show a wide array of real-life applications: spanning retail, identification, government services, and real estate, among others. A major hindrance from true mass adoption are institutions that have become set in their ways — but many new players have come out of the woodwork, implementing solutions to bridge the gap between DeFi and the real world.
XLD Finance is leveraging blockchain technology to bring about financial inclusion in emerging markets through its ecosystem of products and services, enabling the free, convenient, and safe movement of assets between DeFi and CeFi, reinforcing its goal in building a strong and inclusive financial infrastructure for the DeFi space and its adopters, especially in emerging markets.