The XLD Finance Ecosystem: The Gateway Between DeFi and Real World Financial Institutions
Many in emerging markets are recognizing play-to-earn (P2E) gaming as an opportunity to supplement existing salaries or even to pursue a new career path. While this new segment grows within the decentralized finance (DeFi) space, financial services remain lacking. Lengthy and convoluted processes to cash out hinder the P2E gaming community from fully maximizing their earnings — with high fees and a risk of unsuccessful transactions awaiting them on the other side.
XLD Finance seeks to alleviate this sore spot: by driving the financial inclusion of a largely unbanked population through real-world financial services. Their roster of upcoming products demonstrates the company’s mission: to serve as a gateway to the underserved, while guiding the everyman as they oscillate between DeFi and real-world finance, making those transitions safe and convenient. xSpend, the company’s opening salvo, helps to alleviate a highly specific, but prevalent problem.
The New Minimum (Wage)
In emerging markets, particularly in Southeast Asia, the minimum wage hovers around US$200 per month. Play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity, while difficult for the uninitiated, offer an incredibly compelling argument: an additional US$8 to US$40 per day to supplement an already low average minimum wage made even more challenging by a global pandemic. The 2021 documentary Play-to-Earn: NFT Gaming in the Philippines, reveals another layer to this story: that a lot of the adopters of the play-to-earn movement come from rural municipalities and are from economic brackets traditionally shunned by centralized financial (CeFi) institutions. Research done by Axie Infinity creator, Sky Mavis, validates this as they shared that over 25% of its 2.6 Million daily active users are unbanked.
The allure of decentralized finance is that the traditional bureaucracy and red tape of CeFi are gone. This not only gives them full control over finances, but also does away with the need for identification.Unified identification systems remain a luxury for rural municipalities where the nearest government offices are a few townships away. In the DeFi space, all users need to exist are access to a mobile phone and a working internet connection. With these in hand, they are at par with the savviest crypto native, no matter how many years their senior.
We are in the midst of a paradigm shift. with Audiences are seeking alternative financial infrastructures, unsure, yet, ready to make the leap. On the other side, is an industry still finding its way to fully serve its new entrants. New entrants are met with high transaction fees, complicated onramp and offramping procedures, and no safeguards for price slippages.
Bridging the Gap
Enter XLD Finance: in simpler terms, it’s a stablecoin-based ecosystem that bridges the gap between the seemingly mysterious world of decentralized finance and real-world services and institutions. Acting as a bridge between CeFi and DeFi, the ecosystem is based on a hybrid Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 architecture, with the protocol providing both liquidity and an integration layer to access the financial services rails in emerging markets. This is used by projects within the ecosystem to deliver services to users similar to those within a traditional bank: account (crypto wallet), payments (stablecoin), savings (staking & yield farming), lending, and others.
Inspired by Terra, at its core, the XLD protocol is a blockchain integration layer and aggregator.
The integration layer allows crypto projects to reach users across entire countries through a single set of APIs: acting as a translation later between unified XLD APIs and on-ground financial infrastructure.
A one-to-multiple day delay for offramping from exchanges is the current norm, even in developed markets. Emerging markets do not usually see direct offramping as an option, turning to P2P services that require multiple steps and are at the risk of fraudulent transactions.The second purpose of the protocol enables real-time transactions between crypto and fiat through the creation of a stablecoin-based liquidity pool, with a fiat liquidity sub-pool used for fiat settlement.
As users initiate transactions in an XLD project, payment-checkers validate transactions and confirm the receipt of tokens on the protocol’s wallet. Once confirmed, the protocol initiates the settlement on the local CeFi structure, advancing payment from the fiat sub-pool. If the tokens used are not stablecoin, like Axie Infinity’s SLP, the non-stablecoin tokens are swapped for stablecoin to replenish the liquidity pool through market makers. Having the protocol built and structured in such a way allows users on XLD projects to experience transaction times in minutes, instead of days.
Bridging Real-World Financial Services
Because XLD Finance aims to bridge the gap between CeFi and DeFi, projects and partners will still need to participate in the regulated and centralized formal financial system. Local entities are set up by XLD Finance, holding the appropriate licenses to ensure regulatory compliance and business continuity. These entities will take the form of mobile wallets, payment gateways, and even credit card companies.
Web 2.0 mobile wallets served as the inspiration for this model. Some digital wallets allow users to withdraw Bitcoin, Ethereum, and a selected number of tokens in local fiatHowever, Web 3.0 protocols and other EVM chains, like Polygon and Solana, have seen growing adoption and popularity. XLD Finance’s approach starts with a Web 3.0 non-custodial wallet with optional TradFi features that will be unlocked through appropriate KYC levels, as required by regulations.
The hybrid nature of the XLD Finance Protocol allows users to enjoy the benefits of both Web 2.0 and 3.0. XLD Finance is currently compatible with EVM and non-EVM chains like ERC, BSC, and Polygon — with the Solana compatibility under development. Web 3.0 tokens can easily be swapped on XLD Finance projects, backed by partner market makers. Users are allowed to conveniently switch tokens between chains and move them to and from GameFi wallets. XLD Finance takes care of native token gas settlement, allowing users to swap for native tokens without needing to pay for gas. Guilds and guild members will have financial services catered to them like early salary advances, bridge loans, NFT leasing, and more.
Expend Through xSpend
The XLD Finance Ecosystem’s premiere product is xSpend: a platform that allows users to immediately use their GameFi tokens or stablecoins to pay for prepaid mobile credits and utilities like water, electricity, internet, and phone bills. Targeted to the play-to-earn user in an underserved emerging market, the platform grounds the idea of the GameFi token and ties it to a very necessary and very prevalent need: utility bills that need to be paid monthly.
Instead of going through the lengthy, convoluted, and sometimes unsuccessful, process of turning to a P2P service to offramp their tokens to cash, and then having to pay their bills, users can now go onto the xSpend platform, pick their biller, and pay directly via their tokens — potentially saving them lost money and time. The platform is directly integrated with popular wallets associated with play-to-earn games and other Web 3.0 applications, including Metamask and Ronin. All the user has to do is connect their preferred wallet, choose which token they would like to spend, select the biller for the transaction, and input their account details. Users can transact with USD Tether (USDT), USD Coin (USDC), DAI and Smooth Love Potion (SLP), with a selection of over 300 utilities companies and mobile networks including Globe Telecom (Philippines), PLDT (Philippines), Airtel (Bangladesh), Indosat (Indonesia), and AirAsia (Philippines). Launching on 15 December, the ability to pay for prepaid mobile credits will be available to Bangladeshi, Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Filipino mobile networks, and the ability to pay utilities bills will first be available to Filipino merchants.
Users from all over the world can use the platform, provided they’re paying for services in the aforementioned countries. This means an overseas contract worker who plays Axie Infinity to augment their income can now remit funds to their relatives in the Philippines through the XLD Finance ecosystem or pay for their family’s power bill directly.
What Lies Ahead
xSpend is merely the first project under the XLD Finance ecosystem. The ecosystem roadmap sees the development of both Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 financial solutions including its own stablecoin, a non-custodial DeFi wallet, and early wage access.
The next project on its slate is xMoney, set to be available sometime in Q1 2022. xMoney will be a non-custodial wallet that features a unique Learn-to Earn system that rewards users with tokens for viewing educational content on crypto fundamentals and passing quizzes. It will simplify the offramping of GameFi tokens from a crypto wallet to mobile wallets, bank accounts, and even cash pickups — with in-wallet functionalities like staking, sending tokens, cross chain bridging, borrowing, and payments. xMoney will be replacing the ecosystem’s existing mobile app, xLoad, which has over 2 million total users.
The roadmap also sees pUSD, a stablecoin by the protocol, opening the ecosystem to new markets like Latin America and Africa, and in-country operations for Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa by the end of 2022.