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‘Market Battleship’: Why It’s Rigged and How DeFi Can Help



Patrick McConlogue

You’ve probably heard there’s a war on Wall Street right now between hedge funds and retail investors over GameStop ($GME) stock and a few others such as AMC Theaters ($AMC) and Nokia ($NOK). This new category of stocks, whose value climbed as a result of the power of social media, are being called “meme stocks.”

This David and Goliath saga has already come close to bankrupting one hedge fund and caused others to lose billions overnight. Just as a brigade of Reddit-influenced investors was about to fly a victory flag, Wall Street peeked over the Battleship board and changed the rules, in real time, to give themselves an unfair advantage.

Patrick McConlogue left the hedge fund Citadel to co-found a decentralized interoperability protocol

The game is not fair and it never has been. Individual investors, even when operating in a swarm, are destined to lose.

How do I know? I helped design the game.

A few years back, I worked at the massive hedge fund Citadel. The multi-billion dollar fund was caught up in this recent scandal for bailing out hedge fund Melvin Capital after everyday traders on Robinhood appeared close to liquidating the fund through mass buying of the GameStop stock $GME.

My role at Citadel was as a data scientist in Long Term Quantitative Strategies. The entire department, filled with programmers and compliance officers, is dedicated to something called “alpha” which determines the buying strategy of the fund. I was responsible for innovative proprietary technology that capitalizes on public data faster than any other hedge fund. It’s a classic situation of machines against humans. I respect many of my colleagues, the problem isn’t the people; it’s the rules of the game which heavily favor the funds.

See also: State of Crypto: How Will the Government React to GameStop?

With this in mind, let’s return to what happened on the markets recently.

A group of traders on the r/WallStreetBets Reddit thread, now consisting of over 8.8 million members, noticed that someone had overly “shorted” the GameStop $GME stock. They decided it was the perfect time to buy. It was only around $18 per share and easily affordable for the common investor who kept buying, driving up the price of the stock.

As the buying frenzy continued, the hedge funds who had taken the opposite position started to hemorrhage money… BIG money.

The small investors celebrated their success online as news broke that the hedge fund Melvin Capital Management had lost so much on the $GME short position that they had to be bailed out by bigger hedge funds. While the markets were closed, Melvin Capital’s sinking battleship received an emergency infusion of $2.75 billion from Citadel and Point72.

DeFi is not just a new kind of technology. It’s a movement to make trading more transparent.

Robinhood Can’t Democratize Finance Using Old Tools

On trading apps and platforms like Robinhood, the stock you think you own is not actually yours. More accurately, on Wall Street, those “stocks” on trading platforms are called “derivatives”. Effectively they are a promise from Robinhood that the stock they claim to sell you is a stock they actually have access to in what is referred to as a “clearing house”. 

As the small investors bought $GME stock on their platform, Robinhood ran out of the capital required to purchase the actual stock from clearing houses that they were selling to investors as derivatives. Essentially, Robinhood sold more than it had and, when they ran out, they simply froze the ability to buy the stock and only allowed users to place sell orders. 

This is where things went from bad to worse. Remember, when the stock price goes down, the people who hold the “shorts” make money. Hedge funds (like Citadel) own supercomputers and have direct access to stock markets. They don’t deal with clearing houses. So, while small investors’ stocks (derivatives) were frozen, the hedge funds traded massive positions and quickly earned back the billions in losses they had sustained during the previous few days. This was never a fair fight, as the two entities, institutional and retail investors, were never playing the same game. 

See also: Jill Carlson – GameStop and the Real Market Manipulators

Robinhood users, when signing up for the popular trading app that offered “free trading” were likely unaware of their role in the hedge funds’ ability to reap huge profits. More importantly, the small investors in Robinhood had no transparency into the products they thought they were buying. The opaque chain of ownership of assets has even spread beyond the stock market as companies like Tesla, who decided to move their reserves into Bitcoin to the tune of $1.5 billion. 

The system is broken. Big companies and small investors know it. There is a financial technology that’s been poised to solve this long standing inequity epidemic and has been waiting in the wings to calm the waters and empower small investors.

The solution is decentralized finance or “DeFi”. And traders are flocking to it in droves.

DeFi is not just a new kind of technology. It’s a movement to make trading more transparent. It circumvents centralized control in exchanges like Robinhood and even crypto exchanges like Coinbase to ensure your trades can never be frozen. DeFi defies prioritization of one trader over another because there is no middleman who can change the rules or make any decisions. DeFi is an open source market where middlemen do not exist.

When you press the “Buy” button on Robinhood or other trading apps, literally hundreds of middlemen stand between you and the end stock purchase. There are market makers like Citadel, clearing houses, brokerages, dark pools, and simple technological limitations. Any one of those middlemen complicates the trade to the disadvantage of small investors.

I left Citadel to the DeFi ecosystem to build – a transparent exchange technology without middlemen tamper proof and un-freezable. Beyond this, the entire space has significantly matured over the last three years. So much so that billions of dollars from regular investors flow through it every day. Blockchain technology has demonstrated banks are not necessary, and DeFi shows the world you can trade without exchanges.

GameStop got it right with their tagline, “power to the players.” The last month has proved that the people hold the real power in the market, not the hedge funds, and DeFi levels the playing field once and for all.

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NBA Top Shot Records $1.05M with New Release




Dapper Lab’s NBA Top Shot is on its way to be the lead in the whole digital collectible ecosystem.

Dapper Labs’ surging project NBA Top Shot, has just let out its complete and most expected NFT. According to the release, the complete NFT gives out 10,631 video packs. Top Shot’s release packs contain basketball videos pin to the Flow blockchain for an income record of over 1 million dollars.

Head of Dapper Labs, Roham Gharegozlou, per reports stated that the website has in the last month received about 50 million dollars in trades with some instances that see several top players resold for quite a considerable amount. As a result, the new Top Shot pack “moment” has been surprisingly huge.

The Top shot project established just a few months ago but has made tremendous success, thus skyrocketing as the project gets hype from major NBA league stars and the trades’ massive involvement. The website is also gradually becoming a further step for the blockchain space.

Generally, the income of the project’s latest video pack has soared to a whopping 7.38 million dollars, and as per a sourced data, we will see more income as demands grow high. According to data, NBA Top Shot’s most giant sales come in by the recently release pack that’s at its best has more than 200k optimistic collectors in a queue for packs of coded NBA videos.

CEO Roham Gharegozlou added that there might be small challenges, yet they are on the right path to becoming the fastest soaring market. The platform has faced significant challenges in keeping up with high demands. The company’s recently released pack was at least twice delayed, with new sign-ins taking off they try to have a grip on the extensive work and cause the beta platform on a comparatively smooth rollout.

Many league top players and owners have shown much excitement in the project. The Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban finds this new release incredible, saying, Top Shot’s “moment” is the next big thing.

NFT distribution shows no indication of cooling down anytime from now. Developing on Dapper’s in-house Flow blockchain, the project has bloomed in mainstream sports culture.

Dapper Lab’s NBA Top Shot is on its way to be the lead in the whole digital collectible ecosystem. The new released Top Shot “moments” have, in particular, made its raid statement with Flow gardens and moving to the OpenSea space amidst ETH-based NFTs.

In conclusion, it’s worth mentioning that the project is all about basketball and not about cryptocurrency in any way.

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Experienced Writer with a demonstrated history of working in the financial services and the technology industry.

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DeFi Alliance Announces New Investment Fund to Fuel Growth in DeFi Space




The newly launched DeFi Alliance Fund aims to help early-stage DeFi startups by offering them financial and regulatory guidance as well as helping them connect with institutional players to fuel growth.

The crypto DeFi market has seen explosive growth this year in 2021 surging more than 350% year-to-date. As the DeFi projects continue to gain strength, big players are coming together to take the industry further. To fuel the growth of DeFi space further, investors and DeFi experts have announced a proactive collaboration thereby announcing the first DeFi Alliance Fund. The DeFi Alliance came into existence with some of the big industry players joining hands. Popular personalities from the DeFi space like Aave‘s Stani Kulechov and Compound Finance’s Robert Lashner are part of the alliance.

The DeFi Alliance has more than 60 member companies and over 28 DeFi projects including dYdX, 0x, Kyber Network, IDEX, Synthetix, and much more. The newly announced DeFi Alliance Fund I has been seeded by Alliance members, its founding members, as well as popular investors like Mark Cuban. These players have raised an initial corpus of $15 million.

The official announcement further notes:

“The fund is designed to be collaborative and distribute capital broadly across the DeFi startup ecosystem and adjacent industries (such as NFTs). We will invest in several dozen early stage startups each year, which will allow the DeFi Alliance to formalize and fuel our accelerator program. We will distribute capital across the DeFi and adjacent industries (such as NFTs) investing in several dozen startups each year.”

DeFi Alliance Fund: Growth Plans for 2025

The DeFi Alliance has set some major goals and targets itself for the next five years. The Alliance plans to have over one billion users globally directly associated with the DeFi developments.

The latest funding introduced will help the alliance members to further formalize and fuel its accelerator program. This will thus provide necessary resources to DeFi startups to build, deploy, and grow their platforms. Besides, the alliance also plans to offer DeFi-focused ‘tracks’ in addition to the existing ones.

This will provide startups additional assistance with regulations, institutional liquidity, recruiting, and growth. These new ‘tracks’ will be specifically for Asian DeFi startups, NFTs, and other institutional educational platforms. Synthetix founder Kain Warwick has acknowledged this new financial support for DeFi startups. He wrote:

“Being part of the first cohort had such a huge impact for us, helping for several key strategic partnerships that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. The impact they have on early stage projects is even larger. Excited to see all the new projects they fund”.

Other news of the crypto-related world can be found here.

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Bhushan is a FinTech enthusiast and holds a good flair in understanding financial markets. His interest in economics and finance draw his attention towards the new emerging Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency markets. He is continuously in a learning process and keeps himself motivated by sharing his acquired knowledge. In free time he reads thriller fictions novels and sometimes explore his culinary skills.

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‘Shift 1% of Portfolio into Bitcoin’, JPMorgan Advises Investors as Bull Run Cools Off




Analysts of JPMorgan highlighted the evaporating liquid supply as multi-billion dollar institutions and corporations are buying substantial quantities at a fast rate.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) strategists have suggested that investors should consider moving 1% of their portfolio into Bitcoin to serve as a hedge against fluctuations in traditional asset classes including stocks, bonds, and commodities.

Many people over the years including the majority of Wall Street saw Bitcoin as a commodity without any strong backing, hence doubting its ability to perform and stay in the financial scene. It seems the narrative about the biggest digital coin is gradually changing which is evident in the new wave of institutional influx in the crypto market. 

The latest endorsement from the US multinational investment bank, JPMorgan has boosted the already existing notion which has seen many experts tout Bitcoin as a hedge against inflation. The bank has told its investors that they can shift 1% of their portfolio into Bitcoin only if those investors have just a small interest in Bitcoin.

Analysts from the bank highlighted the evaporating liquid supply as multi-billion dollar institutions and corporations are buying substantial quantities at a fast rate. “The demand for bitcoin is significantly higher than the actual supply and investors could put 1% of their portfolio in BTC,” JPMorgan advised. 

Bitcoin’s last halving which happened in May last year, saw the production rate of new Bitcoins slashed into two. The increasing demand that followed the halving, coupled with its decreasing liquid supply drove the price of the coin up as it has gained over 50% value since January 1.

The latest interest from institutions has further fueled the decreasing liquid supply as MicroStrategy Inc (NASDAQ: MSTR) now owns over 90,000 Bitcoin, with Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) allocating $1.5 billion in the asset while Grayscale is purchasing new coins at record levels. 

JPM strategists Joyce Chang and Amy Ho in a note to clients stated that “in a multi-asset portfolio, investors can likely add up to 1% of their allocation to cryptocurrencies in order to achieve any efficiency gain in the overall risk-adjusted returns of the portfolio.”

Bitcoin’s insane bull run looks to have hit a wall as its value has seen a 20% decline since its all-time high of over $58,000 on February 21. JP Morgan’s latest comments have been met with criticisms as it contradicts earlier statements made by other strategists from the bank, which stated that “crypto assets should be treated as investment vehicles and not funding currencies such as USD or JPY.”

The bank also claimed that “crypto assets continue to rank as the poorest hedge for major drawdowns in equities,” but looks to have circled back on its words. 

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