Fail-Proof Guide to Make DeFi Go Viral by @DeFi_Dad

Hello Defiers! If you frequent DeFi twitter at all, then you already know about the popular account of @DeFi_Dad. He’s a heavy user of decentralized finance and is on a mission to get everyone around him to try these apps, frequently posting step-by-step tutorials and videos of his experience. Today, he argues everyone should do the same.

As early users of this new financial system, it’s on us to explain to our friends and family why it’s so much better than the old one, and to guide them through what seems baffling to an outsider, but is really so simple for those who just try it out. Even better, DeFi Dad —who asked to protect his real name— has written out a fail-proof guide for newcomers who want to start testing things out, and for those who already use DeFi but want to help others get started. I hope you enjoy and start taking his advice!

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DeFi Needs to Become More Viral

by “DeFi Dad,” for The Defiant

A few years ago as I was getting into Ethereum, I asked a friend who knew someone working in the crypto space about how I could get involved as a non-developer. His buddy had relayed something along the lines of “the only thing this space needs right now is developers and developers who are founders.” At that time, Augur hadn't even launched to mainnet and most of the DeFi apps I use today were still in development.

Thankfully, those days are long gone and the reality is we have products (dApps) that we can now use ourselves and evangelize to others, without the need to be a developer. In decentralized finance we have dozens of applications, which at one point this year boasted an aggregate total of $1 billion of total value deposited in smart contracts. Even if you disdain this most meme-able bragging right of DeFi, we're still left with DeFi doing 3 things fundamentally better than legacy finance.

  1. DeFi saves time

  2. DeFi saves money (which comes back to us as DeFi investors)

  3. DeFi enables more access

Tell Your Friends

The problem is that many are not aware of how DeFi can help them. For me, all that matters in the long term is mass adoption of DeFi. That's where my focus is. I DGAF about DAUs. I only care about finding ways to get you and everyone else to try a new DeFi app. It's a very simple goal, but for lack of a better word during a global pandemic, DeFi needs to become more viral.

We need to show our friends, our families, and our community (when not social distancing) how DeFi can help put your money to work. If everyone can simply show a friend how they're gaining value using a DeFi app, then those newly awakened DeFi users can potentially show others, and so on.

That's why my story from a few years ago is so relevant today. If you like to teach others about new concepts by showing, now is your time to shine.

It doesn’t require the mental gymnastics so common in crypto, to show how to:

The list goes on and on. Try a new DeFi app yourself today. Then find one app you'd be comfortable showing off to others. It's that simple. 

All that matters is that you identify one DeFi app that works for you. Something you can easily explain and demonstrate in the context of your personal finance. Listen to how your friends think about their personal finance and then connect the dots as to why and how this might improve upon their situation.

Repeat, Repeat Again

Here's why I arrived at this simple hypothesis:Adoption happens when you have value to show off. No one wants to hear you ramble about “the blockchain.” Just show them the value it provides. Show them how you deposited fiat into your Dharma wallet and instantly started earning interest with DAI like I did here. (just make sure it's not on a day when DAI lending is under 1%.)

Adoption comes with repeating ideas until they stick. I assume no one ever listens to me. So I repeat myself over and over and over again. It's because I'm empathetic to others being busy and having short attentions spans. If you follow me and have ever taken action trying a DeFi app because of a post I made, that's likely because I have posted over and over about many of these DeFi concepts and apps. Adoption comes with clear communication and listening.

Ask Questions

If you have the chance to speak to someone 1-on-1, try to ask lots of questions about how they think about their money and personal finance. They should be the one talking for most (say, three fourths) of the conversation. You'll be amazed at how much you learn.

When online, I try to meet as many people as possible and learn about their DeFi questions. While many people DM me questions about DeFi, the secret is I love answering them because it helps me to better understand the concepts that are holding us back from mass adoption.

Be the Example

Adoption comes from copying the habits of those you trust. I don't need to share all the glossy stats but we all know that people listen to people they trust and they copy their habits. That's why Yelp and social media and Rotten Tomatoes, and every other review format exists. If others see you are actually using DeFi and you can show how you're earning interest or playing the no-loss lottery, they're gonna want to learn more.

If you follow my logic, it's clear the most important thing you can do for the future of Ethereum and DeFi is to try a new DeFi app today! Then find one app you'd be comfortable showing off to others. It's that simple. [Did he just repeat himself? Oh snap he's using his own DeFi Dad voodoo on me right now!]

Start With These

Let's help you narrow down your choices to what I think are a few DeFi apps that are easy to explain the value behind and show off to a friend.

Smart Contract Wallets: Argent and Dharma

  • Why: We all have to start out with a wallet. Thankfully, these 2 among many have a stupidly easy set-up and easy fiat on-ramps. The magic of Argent is the 1-click gasless options like saving DAI to the DSR. The magic of Dharma is going from $1 in your bank to DAI in Dharma earning interest in less than 30 seconds.

Earning Interest: The DSR or Compound

  • Why: I named these two because they're incorporated into Argent and Dharma. Having all this DeFi power in one wallet makes onboarding that much easier. For newbies, it's easier to keep track of.

No-Loss Lottery: PoolTogether

  • Why: Anyone who hears about “a lottery where you return the tickets for a full refund when done playing” has to pause for a moment and consider what the heck they just heard. It sounds too good to be true but it's just the reality of a no-loss savings game built on Ethereum. This is my favorite app to show people my parents' age, commonly known as Boomers. They love to play the lottery despite a lifetime of losing. PoolTogether blows their mind for the simple fact that they never lose their money! 

Yield Bouncers; Idle.financeStaked RAYiearn.finance

  • Why: Anyone who gets intrigued by the idea of earning interest, might also be drawn into the idea that while there are many lending options for your digital assets, you can maximize your interest letting an app push your money to the highest interest rate. When times are good with high stablecoin rates, I have found yield bouncers were very exciting to show off to friends and strangers who were just discovering DeFi.

DeFi Insurance or Options: Nexus MutualOpynHegic

  • Why: This is getting to a more sophisticated conversation. The simplest of which starts with “there's a way to insure your DeFi assets against smart contract bugs with Nexus or more unforeseen risks with Opyn.” I normally liken this idea of insurance to FDIC insurance. It's not the same--but it's a great parallel to people to connect the dots. If they're really savvy, I might even show them how radical buying on-chain ETH options with Opyn or Hegic is.

DeFi Bundling Tool: DeFiZap

Lastly, I always keep DeFiZap as a handy onboarding tool to show someone how easy it is to take advantage of powerful DeFi applications (ie marketing making on Uniswap). To become an LP in one of the Uniswap pools, it would take 3-5 transactions as well as time, gas, and patience. With a DeFiZap, it's 1 link to Zap In and 1 link to Zap Out. DeFiZap is just one quick and easy way to show how far the UX has come along with these shareable links that do all the heavy lifting for you.

So remember, your key takeaway is the most important thing you can do for the future of Ethereum and DeFi is try a new DeFi app today! Then, find one app you'd be comfortable showing off to others. It's that simple. 

If you do that, others will see just how powerful and easy it is to use DeFi. To get you started, here's a list of common DeFi apps I like to show off to others, ranked from easiest to most challenging to demonstrate and explain to newbies. I would recommend focusing on the apps near the top half of the list that are more visual to easily demo for others.

  1. Argent (smart wallet + interest + loans)

  2. Dharma (smart wallet + interest)

  3. Compound/Aave (lending interest)

  4. Maker DSR + CHAI (savings interest)

  5. Maker Vaults (loans without KYC in a few clicks)

  6. PoolTogether (no-loss lottery)

  7. rDAI (no-loss charity donation)

  8. rTrees (no-loss donations to grow trees)

  9. Torus (email REAL money)

  10. IdleStaked RAYiearn.finance (yield bouncers)
    DEX.AG1inchParaswap (DEX aggregators = Expedia for trading)

  11. Nexus Mutual (insurance)

  12. Opyn (insurance)

  13. Curve (stablecoin pool market making)

  14. TokenSets (trading strategies)

  15. Sablier (real-time paychecks)

  16. StablePay (Venmo-like transfer request)

  17. Zerion (DeFi portfolio dashboard and tracker)

  18. Mintbase (minting limited digital art and assets)

  19. Hegic (ETH put options)

  20. RealT (real estate investment with real time rental payments)

  21. dYdXDDEXNuo (margin trade)

  22. Synthetix (DeFi derivatives trading)


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About the author: I’m Camila Russo, a financial journalist writing a book on Ethereum with Harper Collins. (Pre-order The Infinite Machine here). I was previously at Bloomberg News in New York, Madrid and Buenos Aires covering markets. I’ve extensively covered crypto and finance, and now I’m diving into DeFi, the intersection of the two.