Counterparty risk bitcoin

New platforms are allowing users to lend and borrow cryptocurrencies for profit — and threatening to make traditional financial intermediaries obsolete. Of all of the disruptive possible uses of blockchain, decentralized finance or DeFi might be the one most likely to bring this technology to a wide audience — and challenge the established finance industry in the process. By using self-executing contracts on newly formed marketplaces, DeFi allows users to stand in place of large institutions to loan and borrow money to each other, and to earn interest and fees by doing so. There is significant risk inherent these crypto markets, but DeFi offers a less volatile and more accessible point of entry than other markets — and may just have enough appeal to bring blockchain into the mainstream. In the tradition of disruptive innovations — as Clayton Christensen envisioned them — DeFi can be the evolution of blockchain technology that might launch it into mainstream.



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WATCH RELATED VIDEO: Counterparty Risk – How To Protect Your Bitcoin

Counterparty Risk


A notable success in the space has been the rise of decentralized finance, or DeFi — a novel, rapidly growing component of the crypto and financial ecosystems. As real fixed-income yields have remained persistently low, many investors have looked to crypto in the hunt for yield, with offerings for staking, participation, and funding greatly exceeding offerings in the traditional financial sector.

Although the purported returns are attractive, how do we measure risk in this new and rapidly changing environment? However, DeFi is rapidly evolving with insufficient transparency, a lack of shared awareness about its risks, and methods to measure and mitigate those risks.

Blockchains are the core infrastructure of cryptocurrencies, acting as a digital, immutable transaction ledger stored on a distributed network. A network of validating servers continually adds each new block to the chain via consensus, eliminating the need for institutional middlemen and associated prerequisites, such as business hours, settlement and clearing. Smart contracts are not contracts in the legal sense that we are accustomed to in traditional finance.

Rather, they are computer programs deployed and stored on blockchains designed to self-execute when certain conditions are met. Since they exist on the blockchain rather than on a specific server, their code, execution logs and function are distributed, fully transparent, and irreversible. The smart contract paradigm allows conditional transactions — akin to real-world contracts and escrow services — to be conducted without central controlling or clearing mechanisms.

This represents a significant evolution in decentralizing financial transactions, paving the road for the creation of DeFi. DeFi is a catch-all term referring to the range of financial services that exist on public blockchains that mirror the kinds of services that exist in the traditional financial system: borrowing, lending, asset creation, and more.

It uses smart contracts to eliminate the need for a trusted intermediary to facilitate transactions, allowing anyone to transact on these protocols, which in this jargon, refer to the ecosystem centered around decentralized applications like smart contracts or a grouping of them that mirror traditional financial functions. Some current prominent examples include automated market making, lending protocols, and option exchanges.

Despite the rapid expected growth, the regulatory uncertainty and difficulty so far in properly modeling risk has left many potential market participants waiting on the sidelines. In many ways, the latter remains a paramount task.

As the worlds of DeFi and traditional finance continue to converge, how do we understand risk in this new paradigm? Quantifying risk is essential to assess whether institutions are following risk best practices, and at a macroeconomic level we cannot properly understand the risks that the crypto ecosystem may pose to the larger financial markets without a risk assessment framework.

As DeFi has gained the attention of traditional financial institutions globally, it is likely we will see continued convergence due to the high complementarity between traditional financial services and DeFi. The low friction and transactional atomicity provided by decentralized applications may be a boon for certain financial service segments and may replace others.

Whether we are seeing a true paradigm shift or just the emergence of a new technology, the first step is certain — we must be able to properly evaluate the benefits and risks of decentralized finance. Typical DeFi platforms can be subdivided into layers, representing its core attributes:. Composability is a novel and enticing aspect of DeFi. As smart contracts are largely open source and by nature publicly visible, developers can easily access and connect to different applications like financial APIs.

In traditional finance, many of these compositions may be all but impossible. For example, suppose that one wanted to borrow cash against an equity portfolio at the New York Stock Exchange to short a futures contract on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. This can be done via a broker who must place collateral on both exchanges and take the risk that the transaction fails. This allows the same process to be atomic — borrowing from one and trading on the other can be done in one transaction, which must succeed or fail — removing the risk, and fees incurred, that would otherwise be held by the broker.

For example, is the balance of a user sufficient to continue with an ecommerce purchase? While there are certain operations where the wrapper service holds risk, in general, most risk is still borne by intermediaries and issuers.

Furthermore, while technology and artificial intelligence have greatly assisted certain capabilities like lending, the end process tends to be far from automated. In DeFi, this automation is integral to the system — volatile operations like trading, lending and derivatives are executed completely without human involvement and oversight.

Even with these technological innovations, lending in DeFi currently takes a slightly different shape than its non-crypto-based counterpart. We tend to view lending as a relationship in traditional finance between a lender and a borrower: the lender provides the capital for the loan, and the borrower may provide either some collateral or none at all uncollateralized.

We can further divide lending into loans with recourse, where the lender can pursue additional compensation past the value of the collateral, and those that cannot. Recourse largely depends on the idea of cohesive identity, or some representation of the borrower that can easily be verified but is difficult to create. The blockchain is open, permissionless and anonymous. Recourse is not an option in crypto; in nearly all cases, it is simple and costless to create a new address. This could be solved with full collateralization, or a one-to-one loan-to-value ratio, by itself.

However, cryptocurrencies historically demonstrate high volatility in exchange rates from leveraged speculation and other uncertainties, both between cryptocurrencies and with fiat currencies, or fiat-pegged cryptocurrencies, called stablecoins. While this may seem punitive, the overcollateralized loan market sees high demand in crypto due to demand for short-term liquidity, leverage and tax optimization.

Firms like Gauntlet help DeFi protocols optimize collateralization requirements to match market conditions, in relation to currency volatility, allowing laxer, and more attractive, requirements in stabler times. We can view the current lending relationship in DeFi as between a collateralized borrower and the platform itself.

Platforms tend to provide two types of associated cryptocurrencies: a promissory token, which represents the loan value, and a governance token, which allows the holder to influence platform decisions and often receive some fraction of platform fees. In exchange, the platform provides a promissory token that can be exchanged for the collateral supplied along with interest.

These tokens, which are often pegged at a fixed rate to a fiat or cryptocurrency, can be transferred between parties, but only the original party can redeem for the associated collateral. There are many attractive characteristics to DeFi, the most important being true transparency and the ability to independently validate ownership and settlement.

This transparency makes certain fraudulent actions, like tricking multiple lenders via rehypothecation of already leveraged assets, all but impossible. But while this reduces certain types of risk, it does not entirely remove risk.

That leaves us with our fundamental questions: Why is there risk, what constitutes risk in DeFi, and who bears it? We usually view risk in traditional lending relationships separately for the borrower and the lender. For both parties, we can observe three major types of risk: 1 valuation risk, or changes in the valuation of the loaned capital and the loan amount, including interest; 2 opportunity risk, or the likelihood of a better offer being available in the future; and 3 counterparty risk.

While valuation and opportunity risk are important, both tend to be equally knowable, or unknowable, by the lender and borrower in competitive, liquid marketplaces. Counterparty risk, by nature, occurs from informational asymmetry: the borrower and lender have better knowledge of their own side of the bargain than the other.

This gap shows up principally in two ways: adverse selection and principal-agent problems. In traditional transactions, there is usually an element of adverse selection. A company issuing a new bond, for instance, has better insight into its financial and strategic positioning than those buying the bond. The informational asymmetry between lender and borrower naturally creates lender demand for a trusted third party with material insight into borrowers who can simplify multidimensional, complex risk quantification into a metric that can be compared across borrowers.

As a neutral party holding privileged information on the borrower, whether an obligor for a bond issue or a consumer taking a personal loan, this helps to reduce adverse selection encountered by lenders. On the borrowing side, adverse selection is reined in by regulation and free market competition; lenders must compete with each other and must comply with regulations. Adverse selection in the decentralized financial world looks similar, but not identical.

On the borrower side, interest rates are public, open source and verifiable — as lending code exists immutably on the blockchain, there is no question the rates methodology presented maps to the final output exactly. On the lending side, the current state of DeFi means only overcollateralized loans are possible; adverse selection largely becomes a function of proper collateral valuation, which is less of a concern with sufficiently liquid collateral.

The transparency of the blockchain all but eliminates borrower adverse selection as lending standards are fully transparent. However, the platform itself bears increased risk. In liquidity crunches and drawdowns where collateral value may diminish rapidly or many collateralized borrowers may withdraw simultaneously, the protocol may not dynamically adjust rates quickly enough to compensate for incurred losses.

Similarly, while the trustless nature of crypto makes it ultimately nondiscriminatory, since protocols underwrite loans based solely on on-blockchain activity, DeFi lending currently does not factor in historical borrower behavioral patterns and may fall susceptible to bad actors. Many traditional financial intermediaries exist because of the inherent conflict issues that arise when agents can reap asymmetric rewards from risk borne by the principal, either an individual or an entity they represent.

In a salient example, the compensation given to fund managers tends to be performance-based — compensation increases as reward for higher returns. However, on the downside, losses are capped due to limited liability. By distilling complex, idiosyncratic information into comparable, rigorous risk assessments, this reduces the information gap and helps the principal rein in her agents. In DeFi, the principal-agent conflict arises through the mismatch in incentives between those who invest in the platform, like liquidity providers or lenders, and those who govern the platform.

While many platforms pass through risk fully to end users, such as providing an avenue for swapping tokens but not acting as a counterparty, others may assume certain risk to promote platform health. This directly impacts the price of MKR, often to the detriment of investors. While this reduces risk to the platform and the DAI-USD peg in normal times by providing a direct mechanism to influence supply and demand, this can increase tail risk when supply and demand become severely imbalanced.

Unlike traditional U. This is not free. Much like traditional market-making rebates offered by some U. If the protocol incentivizes arbitrageurs too much, liquidity providers will disappear, leaving the protocol unable to properly function. Exacerbating the problem, as governance tokens trade freely on exchanges, short-term speculators or activist investors can disrupt proper platform governance, reducing stability and jeopardizing long-term health. However, in practice, this tends to be a limited issue, given the largest holders look to create governance token value through long-term platform growth and stability.

After a borrower receives the loaned capital, at any point in time until full repayment, the borrower can either willingly or unwillingly choose to default, leaving the lender with some amount of loss. Given the scale of traditional credit markets, there exists significant incentive for both parties to try to achieve the best deal, which comes from properly measuring this risk.

This risk can be reflected on the obligor level, which would apply to all debt issuances by the same obligor, or impact issuances asymmetrically; for instance, solvency risk may be more of a concern for issuances with long maturity dates. We commonly assess risk along two dimensions: probability of default and loss given default. At the obligor level, we can estimate default risk by comparing yield versus the risk-free rate.

However, since most debt trades infrequently, using the last traded price may not reflect up-to-date risk information. Alternatively, we can model risk using borrower financial and behavioral information for unlisted firms. In the current overcollateralized DeFi lending paradigm, we can better understand lending as between an overcollateralized borrower and the platform itself. For the collateralized borrower, counterparty risk tends to be primarily related to the platform properly functioning.

In the absence of improper collateral liquidation, such as a platform error or a hack, the borrower can return the promissory tokens received plus accrued interest to retrieve the collateral provided, regardless of the market price of the promissory token. However, even in the case of improper liquidation of certain collateral, the usual first bearer of risk tends to be the protocol itself via its governance token holders.

In many cases, governance tokens serve as a backstop mechanism for shortfalls when DeFi protocols incur losses, including from improper liquidation. Often, protocols will reward governance holders with the burning, destruction or otherwise invalidation of governance tokens by open-market purchase, similar to equity buybacks, when the platform is profitable. In exchange for assuming risk, most platforms additionally reward governance holders with regular dividends from platform-charged fees.

When the platform experiences significant losses or solvency issues, governance tokens can be created, diluting value but infusing the platform with emergency capital. This ensures alignment between the governance token holders and the platform itself — good governance should be profitable for holders, while bad governance should be penalized.

However, this also implies a mechanism to gauge risk. More interestingly, this risk must reflect in the promissory asset as well.



Counterparty Credit Risk on the Blockchain ISAK STARLANDER

Bitcoin futures exchange-traded funds ETFs have arrived in the U. Think of a pile of gold in a vault somewhere, against which shares are issued and sold on the open market. Owning the shares correlates to claims on the assets in custody. In spot ETFs you can even redeem your shares for the assets they represent. This is also possible in cryptocurrency ETFs and closed-end funds. You can redeem your shares for the underlying bitcoin, or ethereum or whatever the vehicle is invested in.

Lenders assume counterparty risk when they trust a borrower to make payments in the future. Additionally, contracts and derivatives may lose value if.

The perils of custodial trading and the promise of non-custodial trading

The BIS hosts nine international organisations engaged in standard setting and the pursuit of financial stability through the Basel Process. Decentralised finance DeFi is touted as a new form of intermediation in crypto markets. The key elements of this ecosystem are novel automated protocols on blockchains — to support trading, lending and investment of cryptoassets — and stablecoins that facilitate fund transfers. There is a "decentralisation illusion" in DeFi since the need for governance makes some level of centralisation inevitable and structural aspects of the system lead to a concentration of power. If DeFi were to become widespread, its vulnerabilities might undermine financial stability. These can be severe because of high leverage, liquidity mismatches, built-in interconnectedness and the lack of shock absorbers such as banks. Existing governance mechanisms in DeFi would provide natural reference points for authorities in addressing issues related to financial stability, investor protection and illicit activities.


Cryptocurrencies and Digital Assets: Market Structure, Risks, and Opportunities

counterparty risk bitcoin

We have seen development of many new products and service offerings to facilitate institutional investment in digital assets over the past year. With the recent announcement of the first bitcoin-exchange traded fund, this week, we expect continued and expansive growth in this area. This article aims to serve as an introductory guide to digital asset investing for institutional investors by describing at a high level the available service offerings and potential avenues for investment managers to gain exposure to the digital assets space. We will first describe service offerings related to digital asset futures and over-the-counter OTC derivatives.

We see a future where all banks support digital assets and offer meaningful API capabilities to tech-savvy customers.

Crypto start-ups reap rewards from Wall Street's FOMO

Is this true? Does it matter to you? How will your organization be impacted by this technology? Most people use banks and financial intermediaries to make money transactions. The origin of the blockchain is rooted in the need to allow consumers and suppliers to connect directly , removing the requirement for a third party to exchange virtual currencies such as bitcoin. Blockchains can serve uses other than money transactions.


The rise of using cryptocurrency in business

Skip to search form Skip to main content Skip to account menu You are currently offline. Some features of the site may not work correctly. This master thesis investigates the up and coming technology blockchain and how it could be used to mitigate counterparty credit risk. The study intends to cover essentials of the mathematical model expected loss, along with an introduction to the blockchain technology. After modelling a simple smart contract and using historical financial data, it was evident that there is a possible opportunity to reduce counterparty… Expand. Save to Library Save. Create Alert Alert.

These risks include counterparty risk and liquidity risk. The performance of bitcoin futures contracts and bitcoin may differ and may not be.

An atomic swap is an exchange of cryptocurrencies from separate blockchains. The swap is conducted between two entities without a third party's involvement. The idea is to remove centralized intermediaries like regulated exchanges and give token owners total control.


Jeff Dorman. To earn a return, one must take risks. Those risks include counterparty risk in the event of a U. In traditional markets, the yield one can potentially earn is typically commensurate with the risk taken — the greater the risk, the greater the potential return and potential loss. So why do high yields exist in digital assets, and how are they generated?

In light of the recent Bitfinex hack I thought it would be appropriate to write another article about reducing counterparty risk.

The use cases for bitcoin BTC have come a long way since the inception of the virtual currency. Moreover, bitcoin is available for trading round the clock globally and can be transferred across the world at almost no cost. This number is based on estimations of collateral held in the derivatives market, in relation to bitcoin collateralized lending and tokenized bitcoin in Decentralized Finance DeFi. DeFi is essentially referred to multiple financial applications built on blockchain such as smart contracts, borrowing and lending, decentralized marketplaces, and more. Within lending markets, as per the data from the Singapore-based crypto credit data company Credmark, around 4.

This follows the success of its eleven other institutional grade crypto exchange-traded products and further cements its status as the specialist firm having the most expansive regulated product suite of crypto assets in the financial industry. SBTC is an innovative financial instrument that allows investors to gain exposure to the negative price movement of Bitcoin. This structure gives investors several benefits when it comes to inverse exposure.


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  1. Dhruv

    Bravo, your thought is very good