DeFi, or decentralized finance, is disrupting the FinTech industry as we know it. As of writing, the total value locked in US dollars on DeFi platforms is at $55.47 billion–a 2,058 percent year-on-year growth from $2.57 billion in July 2020, according to DeFi Pulse. This figure actually peaked in March this year at around $88.77 billion.

While that may be just a drop in the bucket in the overall picture of the finance industry, the significant growth is indicative that we may have yet to see more from what DeFi platforms and companies can offer. DeFi can certainly level the playing field in finance by opening up access to the unbanked and underbanked, as well as providing investors or lenders a way to leverage their assets–it also enhances liquidity in markets wherein traditional finance or FinTech solutions might prove to be unviable.

One challenge with DeFi, however, is the user experience. In this interview with Mike Ting, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Flurry Finance, we learn how user experience affects the accessibility and thus mass adoption of DeFi solutions. He advocates frictionless user experiences, in which users “do not have to worry about the tedious process of depositing/unlocking their funds on different Defi products and switching in and out of different platforms to look for the best yield/interest.”

Ting was formerly an equity derivatives trader with Daiwa Capital Markets HK, SGCIB, and JP Morgan, as well as Chief Strategy Officer at C-Trade before co-founding Flurry Finance. He has 10 years of experience in trading futures, options & exotic structures in Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore stocks.

Here are edited highlights of the interview.

Tell us about your background. How did Flurry come about?

Mike Ting, Co-Founder & CEO, Flurry Finance
Mike Ting, Co-Founder & CEO, Flurry Finance

I graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and from Stanford University with a Master’s Degree in Management Science and Engineering. I spent most of my career in equity derivatives trading and worked for banks such as JP Morgan and Societe Generale.

Throughout my career, I had a growing fascination with how much digital freedom decentralized technologies–particularly blockchain–could offer. I entered this industry in 2018, wherein I applied my experience to trading crypto derivatives through C-Trade, a platform I co-founded at the end of 2019.

At the beginning of 2021, however, I felt that–beyond trading–DeFi had established bigger and better use cases for blockchain technology. I thus aimed to recreate existing traditional financial services in a decentralized way using blockchain and co-founded Flurry as a DeFi product focusing on yield generation for stablecoin owners.

What challenges are you solving, and how are you addressing these uniquely?

I think the biggest pain point in the DeFi industry is not with the yield level but with the user experience. Users, such as stablecoin owners, turn away from platforms that offer decentralized finance solutions. We are addressing this by improving the usability of DeFi products. In terms of the existing user experience, we found that the DeFi space has a lot of room for growth and development. These challenges can be addressed through the following: helping users in understanding the product, ensuring an enhanced user experience, and improving transparency in DeFi solutions.

What are the top use cases for your platform or technology?

Flurry Finance is a platform for earning interest without bothering with the tedious processes in the back-end. We take care of everything for the platform’s users–all they have to do is to hold the rhoTokens.

How different is Flurry Finance from similar projects?

Cross-chain. Our token applications are not limited to one single source. We will leverage all the DeFi products out there to generate the best yield. Other yield aggregators may do the same but they are currently limited to one single chain, whereas we are aiming for cross-chain functionality.

Medium of exchange. The deposit tokens that users get back from other yield aggregators are not immediately usable because the value of these tokens is not stable compared with the accrued interest. Thus, users still have to unlock them before being able to use the funds–there is a cost involved in the form of gas fees.

In contrast, rhoTokens are pegged 1:1 to the stablecoin and thus can act as a medium of exchange. There is no locking/unlocking required when it comes to the yield that users get from rhoToken, and they can spend these tokens directly without any additional fees.

Where do you see your project heading in the next five years?

There are a few things we want to achieve in the long run.

First, we want to encourage higher DeFi adoption through our easy and convenient user experience. This means bringing in non-DeFi users to utilize our solutions. We want to add value to the whole ecosystem by increasing the total value locked (TVL) in different DeFi products. Thus, it is not a zero-sum game. Everyone in this industry will benefit from having Flurry.

Second, we want to bring rhoTokens toward mass adoption. The old way of yield generation is not efficient and convenient. For one, a user has to mint the deposit token, earn interest, redeem the deposit token, get back the stablecoin, and finally send it to another user. Then another user has to repeat the whole process again.

However, with Flurry, the entire process is simplified: A user mints rhoTokens, earns interest, and transfers rhoTokens to another user–and that is it. The other user receives interest automatically when he receives the rhoTokens. So the first user saves cost on minting, while the second user saves cost on redemption. Most importantly, with Flurry, the stablecoin is never idle without earning interest. This is just so much more efficient and convenient than the old way. That is why we call Flurry “The Future of Yield Farming.”

Third, Flurry provides ease of asset management. Apart from improved usability and better user experience, users who hold rhoTokens no longer need to keep monitoring the DeFi market and chase the highest return on lending pools. Our protocol will follow the money, no matter which blockchain it lives on in the future. By having yield generators running on each chain, we can manage users’ funds at one global pool of monies and intelligently deploy funds to DeFi protocols to the yield farm. The generated returns are distributed by means of issuing more rhoTokens, and the user balance simply grows with the best return within their wallet, without doing anything. This means users no longer need to figure out which wallets they need to use, how to move stablecoins between different chains, or pay gas to deposit/redeem their coins.

Once rhoToken is widely accepted as an interest-bearing stablecoin, other uses of the token will emerge. For example, this can benefit e-commerce platforms, sellers, and users.

To illustrate, traders on e-commerce platforms such as eBay, Amazon, and Shopify currently use fiat to settle. They have to pay the payment platform a fee of 3-5 percent. They may have to pay a foreign exchange fee, too–say up to 10 percent to convert from one fiat currency to another for settlement. Fiat settlement takes time to settle–it could take days or even weeks before the merchant actually receives their money from their clients.

Stablecoins are now starting to be accepted by traditional institutions like VISA and MasterCard. It will not be long until it is accepted as a viable settlement method across a wide variety of businesses and institutions. When that happens, anybody who is willing to accept USDC should accept rhoUSDC as well, as rhoToken is only a decentralized wrapper on the underlying USDC.

Imagine you are selling something on eBay, and as soon as the item is sold you receive the payment immediately. Not only that–you can start earning the best interest return from DeFi the moment you receive those funds.

What’s something interesting you would like the DeFi community to know?

Why do we call our project Flurry? The main rationale when we were branding was to come up with a name that captures the essence of our product. It is about generating interest for users’ funds, and users should see their wallet balance growing slowly every day. It is like coins falling from the sky into their wallets. It is not heavy rain or snowstorm, but light rainfall or snow flurry. We ended up choosing “Flurry” because a large amount of snow turns into a snowball, which is like the snowball effect on investment. And that is exactly what our product is about–helping our users grow their money and create a snowball effect on their wealth.

Yield farming and DeFi are still complicated for the average user. How is Flurry tackling this challenge as DeFi continues to evolve?

We have created rhoTokens, a cross-chain token that is backed by stablecoins at a 1:1 ratio. It runs on the Flurry protocol, where interest will grow automatically in users’ digital wallets. Once users hold their deposit in rhoToken, they do not have to worry about the tedious process of depositing/unlocking their funds on different DeFi products and switching in and out of different platforms to look for the best yield/interest. Flurry does it for them automatically and continuously.

Can you explain how cross-chain is being utilized by Flurry? What impact will this have on users of the platform?

Our solution is not based on Ethereum alone. For each connected DeFi protocol, we have smart contracts deployed on the same network to manage that investment. The pool of money is managed globally across different chains as one single pool, and the interest generated will be distributed in the form of more rhoTokens issued. Since the rhoToken itself is cross-chain, users can choose to hold rhoToken on any chain of their choice, whilst earning interest from any of the other chains in DeFi. This is a truly cross-chain solution, which means users are not required to pick a blockchain.

This way the users don’t have to worry about setting up a new wallet or moving their funds across different chains–we take care of that for you. As an example, users can hold the rhoToken on Ethereum and they could be earning interest from BSC, Matic, or even non-EVM-based chains like Solana!

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