This year more than one-fifth of American adults have traded or used cryptocurrency, an astronomical increase since 2009 when Bitcoin burst onto the scene. This trend has also introduced millions of people to a new version of finance, accelerating and popularizing new technologies that make global financial services more fair and accessible than ever before.

Decentralized finance (DeFi) is rapidly expanding access to a range of financial services, including interest rate swaps (IRS), a derivative instrument for swapping fixed and floating interest rates, which represent more than US$1 quadrillion in traded value per year in traditional finance.

Just as the rise of smartphones and cloud computing forever changed banking and finance, DeFi is the next leap forward in global finance, reinventing a range of financial products for today’s investors.

This leap means that the corporate incumbents’ centralized gatekeepers of financial products and services are being replaced by decentralized, open, and permissionless protocols. Interest rate swaps in DeFi serve as a spearhead aimed at disrupting TradFi’s dominance in global financial markets.

Interest rate swaps in global finance

Interest rate swaps are essential to the global financial system, helping governments, corporations and investors exchange a fixed payment for a variable payment, or vice versa. These swaps are usually tied to a specific interest rate like Average of the overnight index in sterling (SONIA) or Overnight Guaranteed Funding Rate (SOFR).

An interest rate swap can help businesses operating in a global economy take advantage of better interest rates in different countries and help businesses hedge against interest rate exposure by reviewing or revising their terms indebtedness to reflect changing economic realities. Interest rate swaps are an essential tool for speculation, risk management and the creation of structured investment products, as well as for investment products aimed at individuals, such as mortgages and savings accounts. fixed rate savings.

The quadrillion dollars in notional value traded each year demonstrates the importance of this derivative instrument. However, interest rate swap products have only made limited inroads among DeFi platforms as technological challenges and fundamental requirements have, to date, limited the ability of platforms to offer this service at scale. .

Bringing interest rate swaps to DeFi

Automated Market Makers (AMMs) are one of the most fundamental aspects of the cryptocurrency ecosystem and DeFi platforms, allowing users to trade tokens and tokenized assets without locating a counterparty.

These autonomous protocols powered by smart contracts have allowed decentralized exchanges (DEXs) to thrive, cutting out middlemen and unlocking new investment methodologies for DeFi users.

Unfortunately, efforts to leverage MAs to facilitate interest rate swaps have generally failed. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that most DeFi rates, including lending-borrowing protocols or staking rates of a specific blockchain ecosystem, are variable. In addition, the lending and borrowing rates of DeFi protocols can be very volatile, ranging from 0.03% to 10%and this uncertainty about potential returns or borrowing costs significantly hampers wider market adoption.

Other challenges include capital inefficiency and a lack of flexibility in the design of the MA, which would prevent traders from entering and exiting positions. It’s easy to see why DeFi platforms have too often been blocked from realizing the opportunities associated with interest rate swaps for their users.

Synthetic interest rate swaps can help address these challenges, allowing DeFi platforms to break down silos between fixed and floating rate products and improve potential trading leverage for certain assets.

AMM protocols that accept both fixed and floating rate products can more efficiently enable interest rate swaps in DeFi ecosystems. Additionally, DeFi platforms can take advantage of concentrated liquidity structures that significantly increase the capital efficiency and autonomy of liquidity providers.

Ultimately, when technical capacity, accessibility, and incentives align, there will be a tipping point in interest rate swap volume away from TradFi structures and into DeFi platforms. Institutions and individual traders will realize the benefits of a range of new financial products and trading strategies, ushering in a new era of global finance.

The next frontier

Consumers, businesses and governments are increasingly embracing digital assets, decentralized ecosystems and distributed platforms. For many, they represent the best ways to protect their privacy, enhance functionality, and navigate the digital-first present and future.

Many DeFi projects are ready for the moment, harnessing clear vision, incredible talent, and investor resources to create the best platforms for their users. The success of these projects hinges on their ability to effectively attract critical mass away from existing centralized institutions and into DeFi platforms and services.

This new frontier demands that financial products be accessible, easy to use and offer real benefits to users. DeFi interest rate swap products have the added challenge of educating users about a derivative that was previously inaccessible to them. Yet the massive volume of trading and the functionality of interest rate swaps make them an essential part of the DeFi revolution.

For DeFi to become the world’s global financial system, the Great Interest Rate Swap Flippening must take place. Interest rate swap traders, platform builders and institutions working towards this goal are laying the groundwork for this historic and deeply disruptive event.