Earlier this month, Shopify chief executive Tobi Lütke tweeted about his interest in DeFi, or decentralized finance, a form of blockchain-powered software that offers decentralized bank-like services. He’d been “dabbling” with a form of software used by DeFi applications, he said, and asked what role people in the community would like his company to play.
It was just the latest sign of a growing interest in DeFi from Canada’s tech and finance mainstream. Roham Gharegozlou, chief executive of Vancouver-based NBA Top Shot maker Dapper Labs, invested in a startup in late February that allows people to put up their non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, as collateral for loans. And Diagram, a “venture builder” whose anchor investor is early-stage fintech VC Portag3 Ventures, which has links to Power Financial Corporation, has job postings up for co-founders and chief executives of two DeFi-related businesses it would like to launch, and another one for a partner “with blockchain/cryptocurrency/DeFi expertise.”
DeFi has been described as either the future of finance or a permissionless casino for degenerates, depending on who you ask. But its champions believe the opportunities for big companies that get in early are huge—as are the risks if they get left behind.