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A weekly reality check on sensible investing and financial decision-making for Canadians. Hosted by Benjamin Felix and Cameron Passmore.

Jun 10, 2022

Understanding the complexity surrounding cryptocurrencies is essential in making the correct decisions regarding investing in DeFi technology. To help us understand the basics, we talked to Dr. Igor Makarov who is an expert on cryptocurrency and Bitcoin, particularly Bitcoin and the associated mining processes. He is based at the London School of Economics, where he serves as an Associate Professor of Finance. Dr. Makarov is also the author of several papers focusing on DeFi and crypto markets in general and has provided new insights surrounding governance and mining processes. In today’s show, we learn about the basics of cryptocurrencies, mining and the future of DeFi. In particular, we talk about the role of intermediaries, what drives the prices of Bitcoin, how concentrated mining processes are, the role DeFi in increasing governance, the upsides and downsides of cryptocurrencies, and much more. Tune in to make sure you don’t miss out on advice from a respected figure in the industry, Dr. Igor Makarov!


Key Points From This Episode:


  • A brief outline of Dr. Makarov’s professional background and experience. [0:00:39]
  • What role do intermediaries play in the traditional financial system. [0:02:36]
  • Find out if economic rents that intermediaries collect are unwarranted. [0:03:36]
  • Makarov explains the complexities of cryptocurrencies and the elimination of fees. [0:06:06]
  • How rents are different on cryptocurrency exchanges. [0:09:44]
  • Systemic risks associated with the traditional banking system. [0:11:24]
  • Whether Bitcoin and DeFi can improve banking by reducing systemic risk. [0:13:22]
  • Learn if blockchain or DeFi ecosystems can exist without human intervention. [0:15:06]
  • Why it is unlikely decentralized autonomous organizations will improve governance. [0:17:06]
  • Breakdown of the potential problems that concentration of ownership could have on governance. [0:19:53]
  • Opportunities where cryptocurrencies and DeFi can improve the traditional financial system. [0:21:44]
  • Some of the potential benefits of a permissioned distributed ledger system. [0:24:39]
  • Why is it important to understand the Bitcoin ecosystem. [0:26:22]
  • What are the limitations of understanding the Bitcoin ecosystem. [0:27:12]
  • How Bitcoin addresses are associated with with real-world entities. [0:29:36]
  • Ways to differentiate between addresses belonging to individual investors and those belonging to intermediaries. [0:31:42]
  • What happens when you send Bitcoins to an exchange. [0:32:49]
  • Details on how Dr. Makarov calculated the concentration of Bitcoins. [0:33:25]
  • How did Dr. Makarov gain an understanding of what Bitcoin is used for. [0:37:14]
  • The role exchanges play in influencing the total volume of Bitcoin transactions. [0:39:00]
  • Why exchanges are essential to the overall network. [0:41:06]
  • The challenges in enforcing KYC and AML rules for the crypto ecosystem. [0:41:56]
  • How fungibility could effect the use of cryptocurrencies in the marketplace. [0:45:19]
  • Whether most important cryptocurrency exchanges are generally decentralized. [0:46:36]
  • What portion of Bitcoin transactions does Dr. Makarov consider to be economically meaningful. [0:47:06]
  • Why most Bitcoin transactions comprise of irrelevant transactions. [0:48:08]
  • What the meaningful Bitcoin transactions are being used for. [0:50:06]
  • Why the estimates of illegal activities by Dr. Makarov differs from other studies. [0:52:56]
  • A more in-depth explanation of what is driving the price of Bitcoin. [0:55:54]
  • How Dr. Makarov was able to identify individual Bitcoin miners for his paper. [01:01:57]
  • Makarov explains why the original vision of DeFi has not been realized. [01:05:52]
  • Reasons for the concentration of miners in the Bitcoin space. [01:06:42]
  • What are the risks are for the Bitcoin ecosystem when mining concentration is high. [01:08:24]
  • How Dr. Makarov determined the geographic locations of mining operations. [01:10:52]
  • What the function of a mining pool is. [01:13:36]
  • How the concentration in mining power affects the security of smaller proof of work blockchains [01:16:20]
  • How concentrated the ownership of Bitcoin in the hands of individual investors is. [01:22:40]
  • We find out if cryptocurrencies are democratizing financial services. [01:25:03]