Speech at Messari Mainnet 2023

The following are my notes for a speech i gave to Messari Mainnet 2023 at the Centrifuge Suits vs Hoodies panel on the keyword #Permissionless.


Today, as a hoodie, I chose the keyword permissionless.

It’s not by chance. Steakhouse Financial mission is to build open and transparent finance.

Open. Permissionless.

Our roots are in the Cypherpunk Manifesto: “We the Cypherpunks are dedicated to building anonymous systems. We are defending our privacy with cryptography”. 

Anonymous, privacy. Permissionless

Bitcoin, Ether and crypto-currencies are built on this bedrock. Permissionless.

Stablecoins, the killer app of crypto, is built on that at least for transfers. Permissionless. Would it be a success if everyone had to be KYC’d on a whitelist?

Working on so called “Real-World Asset”, we are already seen as a lost cause by the decentralization maxis. We are not pure. We are tainted. Yet our goal is just more complex and ambitious. Rebuilding finance from scratch to improve society and access for everybody. 

Everybody. Permissionless.

To me permissionless is a key element. A line in the sand. Yet it is under threat of just recreating the same flaws. In this room, I guess many have used stablecoins. But how many have touched a tokenized t-bill token (note: 3 hands). You are protected from the yield on a risk that you took anyway. The former is permssionless, the latter is permissioned. Even when it is not permissionned, the mention of words like “security” or KYC/AML will instill fear in the most rebellious minds. Would Gary be proud of us? He can influence our actions without saying anything.

In this very room, some people believe that stablecoins will become permissioned. MiCa established that stablecoins can’t provide a yield to avoid stablecoin to become stores of values. This is incumbent protection violating the “same service, same rules” principle.

Stablecoins are the killer product of DeFi. The only reason they are permissionless is because people were willing to take risks to do the right thing instead of reading FATF AML non sense.

We should be pragmatic and gentle with TradFi. But we shouldn’t trade our rebellion for market share in a walled garden. We work for the 100%, not the 1% like they do. The BIS and the ECB are explicitly against permissionless ledgers. But in TradFi, everyone I speak to is for permissionless and public ledgers. Otherwise, it’s a database. But they have to play by the book, they are limited by some compliance department. They need our help. They need our rebellion to ship good products. Permissionless products. It will not be a straight line. We gotta show some flex. Give an and take on both sides. Permissioned to get to permissionless.

Let me give a story I heard recently. Aave launched Aave Arc, a permissioned version of Aave. Sounds all good, DeFi and TradFi mixing blood. Meanwhile a bank was spending already a few months with its regulator to issue a permissionless stablecoin. When the regulator saw that everyone was happy with a permissioned Aave they changed their mind and refused a permissionless stablecoin.

We can’t really lose, ETH and BTC will remain permissionless. But if we want to onboard everyone we need fiat and finance.

Let’s build permissionless!