This Week in Blockchain Research Issue #113

Issue #113


Issue #113

Paper of the Week:

Paper Title: DeFi Protocol Risks: the Paradox of DeFi.


  1. Decentralized Finance (or “DeFi”) is growing in volume and in importance. DeFi promises cheaper and more open access to financial services by reducing the costs and risks of using centralized intermediaries. 

  2. DeFi also holds the promise of interoperability across blockchains that could help tear down financial sector silos, greatly promoting innovation and building vibrant financial ecosystems.

  3. However, DeFi is not without its challenges, which are understudied. This article does not seek to provide a comprehensive list of DeFi but to help readers conceptually understand the drivers behind the risks inherent in DeFi.

  4. Many of the risks described above stem from the decentralized nature of blockchains. The goal of automating the delivery of financial services and reducing human dependencies also has the congruent effect of reducing oversight and control.

  5. Disintermediating traditional intermediaries reduces high fees and entry friction, but also creates new opportunities for new types of intermediaries.

  6. This article discusses some of the new types of risks introduced by DeFi that are inherent to blockchain systems along with traditional types of financial risks in DeFi that manifest in new ways: (i) interconnections with the traditional financial system, (ii) operational risks stemming from underlying blockchains, (iii) smart contract-based vulnerabilities, (iv) other governance and regulatory risks, and (v) scalability challenges.

  7. In an effort to remove humans and automate as much as possible through smart contracts, DeFi has introduced or amplified these risks. The growth of DeFi will depend on its ability to navigate and build compatibility with traditional finance and on how laws and regulations respond.

  8. Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is that the DeFi ecosystem continues to grow while its underlying base layer (public infrastructure such as Bitcoin or Ethereum) faces growing pains.

  9. As DeFi grows in importance and becomes more mainstream, policymakers and industry representatives need to better understand the economic and policy consequences of these new types of risks in order to build regulatory approaches and risk management practices that can support and facilitate a healthy and robust DeFi ecosystem and, ultimately, the financial stability of the greater financial system and real economy.

AuthorsNic Carter* and Linda Jeng

Affiliations: * Castle Island VC and † Georgetown University.


1. Paper Title: On the deployment of FlyClient as a velvet fork: chain-sewing attacks and countermeasures.

Summary: A naive velvet fork implementation exposes FlyClient to chain-sewing attacks, a novel type of attack, concurrently observed in similar superlight clients.

Authors: Tristan Nemoz*†‡ and Alexei Zamyatin*

Affiliations* Imperial College London, † Telecom Paris, and ‡ EURECOM.


No papers.


1. Paper Title: Don’t Count on One to Carry the Ball Scaling BFT without Sacrifing Efficiency.

Summary: This paper focuses on the scalability of BFT protocols and identifies a major bottleneck to leader-based BFT protocols due to the excessive workload of the leader at large scales.

Authors: Kexin Hu*, Kaiwen Guo*, Qiang Tang†, Zhenfeng Zhang*, Hao Cheng*, and Zhiyang Zhao*,

Affiliations* University of Chinese Academy of Sciences and † The University of Sydney.


1. Paper Title: SNARGs for P from LWE.

Summary: SNARGs for all polynomial-time deterministic computations based on the hardness of LWE against polynomial time adversaries.

Authors: Arka Rai Choudhuri*, Abhishek Jain*, and Zhengzhong Jin*,

Affiliations* Johns Hopkins University.


1. Paper Title: Practical Settlement Bounds for Proof-of-Work Blockchains.

Summary: A rigorous framework for analyzing consistency that yields an efficient computational method for computing explicit bounds on settlement time as a function of honest and adversarial computational power and a bound on network delays.

AuthorsPeter Gaži*, Ling Ren†, and Alexander Russell*,

Affiliations: * IOHK Research and † University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

2. Paper Title: Efficient Asynchronous Byzantine Agreement without Private Setups.

Summary: Close the remaining efficiency gap between the communication complexity and the message complexity of private-setup free asynchronous Byzantine agreements, i.e., reducing their communication cost to only O(λn3) bits on average.

Authors: Yingzi Gao*‡, Yuan Lu*, Zhenliang Lu, Qiang Tang†, Jing Xu*, and Zhenfeng Zhang*,

Affiliations* Institute of Software Chinese Academy of Sciences, † The University of Sydney, and ‡ University of Chinese Academy of Sciences.


1. Paper Title: Security Tokens.

Summary: This chapter synthesizes the economics, law, and technology of security tokens and Security Token Offerings (STOs).

AuthorsPaul P. Momtaz*

Affiliations: * UCLA.

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