Three Blockchain Projects I'm Watching in 2021

Here are three projects I’m looking at in 2021. They are all using blockchain technology (typically Ethereum) in interesting ways. as a scaling solution for distributed finance.

Ethereum layer two distributed exchange that uses zkRollups to eliminate (well, drastically reduce) gas fees for trades and transfers. Distributed Finance (aka DeFi, to the cool kids) had some shine towards the end of 2020. I expect that there is going to be even more eyes on the space in 2021, and Loopring is a first-mover in the layer 2 scaling solutions for the Ethereum blockchain.

Buycoins Africa as a path towards retail adoption on the world’s second most populous continent.

YCombinator backed Nigerian startup that lets users buy cryptocurrency with Nigerian fiat rails. The most interesting part of this project is that they have a Naira stablecoin, which serves as part of their fiat on-ramp. I can trot out my typical Africa macro thesis (tech-savy youthful demographic tailwinds) here to support the growth story. The user experience of Africans with finance only adds to the simple appeal of their application. So let’s add the huge unbanked population, uncertain fiat currency situation and Nigeria’s growing fin-tech scene to the list of reasons to keep an eye on this one. The key here is that users can trade in to other stablecoins, effectively letting individuals hold reserve assets of other fiat.

Yearn Finance as a innovative blend between traditional and distributed finance.

The Yearn Finance group is something of a robo-advisor type deal that is quickly expanding in to the more experimental financing aspects of the DeFi scene. They’ve taken up partnerships and mergers (acquisitions?) from other interesting protocols to build a suite of distributed tools to manage assets. A lot of interesting new features and products are lined up for release soon. Iron Bank is protocol-level lending and analogous to business capital markets for DeFi. They have some interesting projects around hedging impermanent loss. And of course their overall yield-farming strategies with the idea of open available strats from any source on the horizon.