XLD Finance: Creating Avenues for Financial Security in Emerging Markets
Play-to-earn (P2E) gaming is continuously growing as a viable opportunity for many to supplement their existing salaries or even become a new career path for many in emerging markets. But despite the growth of this segment in the decentralized finance (DeFI) space, there is still a great lack in financial services that can help the P2E gaming community to fully maximize their earnings. They’re hindered by the lengthy and complicated cash out processes along with the high fees plus the risk of unsuccessful transactions.
XLD Finance aspires to alleviate this specific pain point through working towards empowering a largely unbanked population by giving them access to real-world financial services. With the company’s mission in mind, XLD Finance’s roster of upcoming products works to serve as a gateway to the underserved, while helping guide and make the transitions safe and convenient for everyman who wishes to move between DeFi and real-world finance. The company’s launch product, xSpend, helps alleviate a highly specific and prevalent problem in this area.
Playing To Earn More
Despite the difficulty, play-to-earn games, such as Axie Infinity, offer an incredibly compelling argument for minimum wage earners in emerging markets: an additional USD$8 to USD$40 a day to supplement their already low average minimum wage of around USD$200 a month, particularly in Southeast Asia. This could also come from the fact that a lot of adopters of the play-to-earn movement come from economic brackets traditionally shunned by centralized financial (CeFi) institutions and rural municipalities, as seen in the 2021 documentary Play-to-Earn: NFT Gaming in the Philippines. This was also validated in a study done by Sky Mavis, creator of Axie Infinity, when they found that over 25% of their 2.6 Million daily active users are unbanked.
The lack of traditional bureaucracy and red tape of CeFi contributes to the allure of decentralized finance (DeFi). It allows them full control over their finances and removes the need for identification. This is particularly enticing for users from rural municipalities where unified identification systems are a luxury because the nearest government offices that can supply identification are townships away. The DeFi space allows these users to exist and transact with just their mobile phone and working internet connection; allowing them to be at par even with the savviest and more experienced crypto natives.
In this current paradigm shift, audiences seeking alternative financial structures are ready to take the leap despite the uncertainty. These new entrants are navigating an industry that is still gaining their bearings on how to fully serve these communities, so they are met with enormous transaction fees, puzzling onramp and offramping procedures, and lack of safeguards for price slippages.
Filling the Gap
This is where XLD Finance comes in: a stablecoin-based ecosystem that connects the uncharted territory of decentralized finance to real-world services and institutions. It’s an ecosystem based on a hybrid Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 architecture, with protocol providing both liquidity and an integration layer to access the financial services rails in emerging markets, bridging CeFi and DeFi. Delivering services similar to those within a traditional bank, such as accounts (crypto wallet), payments (stablecoin), savings (staking & yield farming), lending, and others, that can be used by projects within the ecosystem.
At its core, the XLD Finance protocol is a blockchain integration layer and aggregator, inspired by Terra. The integration layer acts as a translation between unified XLD APIs and on-ground financial infrastructures allowing crypto projects to reach users across entire countries through a single set of APIs.
Direct offramping is not usually seen as an option by users in emerging markets — with one-to-multiple day delays being the current norm. So these users turn to peer-to-peer (P2P) services that are complicated and have a high risk of encountering fraudulent transactions. Also, through the creation of a stablecoin-based liquidity pool, with a fiat liquidity sub-pool for fiat settlement, the protocol enables real-time transactions between crypto and fiat.
Payment-checkers validate transactions and confirm receipt of tokens of the protocol’s wallet when users initiate transactions in an XLD Finance project. When confirmed, the protocol advances the payment from the fiat sub-pool and initiates the settlement on the local CeFi structure. For non-stable coin tokens like Axie Infinity’s SLP, these are swapped for stablecoin to replenish the liquidity pool through market makers. This protocol structure allows users to experience transaction times in minutes on XLD Finance projects, instead of the usual multiple day delays.
Connecting to Real World Finance
To bridge the gap between CeFi and DeFi, projects and partners of XLD Finance still need to participate in the regulated and centralized formal financial system. XLD Finance has set up local entities to hold appropriate licenses to ensure regulatory compliance and business continuity, in the form of mobile wallets, payment gateways, and even credit card companies.
This model is inspired by the mobile wallets of Web 2.0, some of which allow users to withdraw Bitcoin, Ethereum, and a selected number of tokens in local fiat. Though currently growing in popularity are Web 3.0 protocols and other EVM chains like Polygon and Solana. The approach of XLD Finance begins with a non-custodial wallet with optional traditional finance (TradFi) features in Web 3.0 that will be unlocked through appropriate KYC levels, as required by regulations.
This hybrid nature of the XLD Finance protocol allows users to enjoy the benefits of Web 2.0 and 3.0. The compatibility with Solana is still underway, but it is currently compatible with EVM and non-EVM chains such as ERC, BSC, and Polygon. Web 3.0 tokens, on the other hand, can easily be swapped on XLD Finance projects since it is backed by partner market makers. XLD Finance allows its users to swap for native tokens without having to pay for gas since it takes care of native token gas settlement. They can also conveniently switch tokens between chains and move them to and from GameFi wallets. Financial services will be catered to guilds and guild members, such as early salary advances, bridge loans, NFT leasing, and so much more.
Spending with xSpend
xSpend, XLD Finance ecosystem’s premiere product, is targeted to the play-to-earn user in an emerging market that remains underserved. The platform grounds the idea of a GameFi token by letting it solve the very necessary and prevalent need of paying monthly utility bills.
Instead of having to go through a long, complicated, and at times unsuccessful, process of using a P2P service to offramp their tokens to cash, xSpend lets users use their GameFi tokens or stablecoins to pay for prepaid mobile credits and utilities like water, electricity, internet, and phone bills immediately. Popular wallets associated with play-to-earn games, along with other Web3.0 applications including Metamask and Ronin are directly integrated into the platform — potentially helping them from losing both money and time. The process of payment is as easy as connecting to the users’ preferred wallet, choosing the token they would like to spend, selecting the biller they would like to pay, and completing their account details. xSpend can be used on selection of over 300 utilities companies and mobile networks across Southeast Asia like Globe Telecom (Philippines), PLDT (Philippines), Airtel (Bangladesh), Indosat (Indonesia) and AirAsia (Philippines). Users can transact with these billers using USD Tether (USDT), USD Coin (USDC), DAI, Smooth Love Potion (SLP), Axie Infinity Shards (AXS), and Matic. The ability to pay for prepaid mobile credits are currently available to Bangladeshi, Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Filipino mobile networks. While paying for utility bills is first made available to Filipino merchants.
The xSpend platform is available for use anywhere in the world provided that they are paying for bills in any of the listed countries above. This feature allows an overseas contract worker who earns from play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity to augment their income and pay for their family’s utility bill in the Philippines directly or even remit funds through the XLD Finance ecosystem.
The Future of the XLD Finance Ecosystem
This is merely the first project under the XLD Finance Ecosystem and there is much more to come. Plans for the development of both Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 financial solutions are in the pipeline, including its own stable coin, a non-custodial DeFi wallet, and early wage access.
Set to be available in Q1 2022 is xMoney, a non-custodial waller that features a unique Learn-to-Earn system that uses viewing educational content on crypto fundamentals and passing quizzes as a way for users to earn tokens. It simplifies the offramping of GameFi tokens from a crypto wallet to mobile wallets, bank accounts, and even allows for cash pickups. xMoney’s in-wallet functionalities include staking, sending tokens, cross chain bridging, borrowing, and payments. It will be replacing xLoad, the existing mobile app in the ecosystem, which has over 2 million total users.
pUSD, a stablecoin by the protocol, is another project in the pipeline. This will open the ecosystem to new markets like Latin America and Africa and will see in-country operations for Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa by the end of 2022.