Purpose: Decentralized finance (DeFi), enabled by blockchain, could bring about a new financial system, where peers will interact directly, with little or no place for traditional intermediation. However, some crucial tasks cannot be left solely to an algorithm and, consequently, most DeFi applications still require human decisions. The aim of this research is to assess the role of intermediation in the light of DeFi, analysing how humans and algorithms will interact. Design/methodology/approach: The authors based their work on a twofold qualitative methodology, first analysing publicly available secondary data, particularly from white papers and DeFi Pulse (a website providing data on DeFi solutions) and then running two focus group discussions. Findings: DeFi does not eliminate financial intermediation, but enables it to be performed in new ways, where decentralization means that no single entity can hold too much power or monopoly. DeFi has, however, inherited risks from the underlying technologies that unintentionally facilitate illegal behaviour and can hamper the authorities’ supervision. The complex duality algorithm- vs human-based actions will not be solved indisputably in favour of the former, as DeFi solutions can range from requiring algorithms to play a dominant role, to enabling greater human interaction by actively involving more people. Originality/value: This research contributes to the emerging debate between algorithm- and human-based intermediation, especially in relation to the standing literature on financial intermediation, where considerations made in the light of the newest theories on blockchain and DeFi are still scarce.

Do we still need financial intermediation? The case of decentralized finance – DeFi

Grassi L.;Lanfranchi D.;Faes A.;Renga F. M.
2022

Abstract

Purpose: Decentralized finance (DeFi), enabled by blockchain, could bring about a new financial system, where peers will interact directly, with little or no place for traditional intermediation. However, some crucial tasks cannot be left solely to an algorithm and, consequently, most DeFi applications still require human decisions. The aim of this research is to assess the role of intermediation in the light of DeFi, analysing how humans and algorithms will interact. Design/methodology/approach: The authors based their work on a twofold qualitative methodology, first analysing publicly available secondary data, particularly from white papers and DeFi Pulse (a website providing data on DeFi solutions) and then running two focus group discussions. Findings: DeFi does not eliminate financial intermediation, but enables it to be performed in new ways, where decentralization means that no single entity can hold too much power or monopoly. DeFi has, however, inherited risks from the underlying technologies that unintentionally facilitate illegal behaviour and can hamper the authorities’ supervision. The complex duality algorithm- vs human-based actions will not be solved indisputably in favour of the former, as DeFi solutions can range from requiring algorithms to play a dominant role, to enabling greater human interaction by actively involving more people. Originality/value: This research contributes to the emerging debate between algorithm- and human-based intermediation, especially in relation to the standing literature on financial intermediation, where considerations made in the light of the newest theories on blockchain and DeFi are still scarce.
Algorithm
Bitcoin
Blockchain
Cryptocurrency
Decentralized finance
DeFi
Ethereum
Fintech
Human
Information asymmetry
Intermediation
Transaction costs
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/1203667
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