PayPal accepts Bitcoin. Guggenheim could drop more than $500 million on it. With every announcement cryptocurrency becomes a bit more mainstream.
But for the most part the technology isn’t keeping place with investor interest. That’s fine for now as most are only focused on big returns and are willing to put up with friction, but it won’t last forever.
Atif Yaqub wants to deliver that supreme infrastructure and has a long-term roadmap to deliver it. Mr. Yaqub is the founder of YOP, a yield optimization platform for decentralized finance with the goal of delivering easy access to DeFi along with a comprehensive product suite to manage their investments.
In early December YOP, which stands for both yield optimization platform and yield optimization protocol, announced a strategic investment from Pires Investments, a firm listed on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol $PIRI. They join Magnus Capital, which has been involved with YOP since its early days.
Mr. Yaqub has invested in cryptocurrency for five years and once he saw the combination of the finite supplies and the underlying technology he was intrigued and began to seek out projects. Many of his friends were also participating but one common complaint was the underlying infrastructure left them wanting more. Complicated interfaces and generally poor UX deterred many from entering and thereby growing the space. Nobody was building it so Mr. Yaqub decided to do it instead.
Like its dual name suggests, YOP offers both a platform and a protocol with five core products, including access to the DeFi marketplace so investors can investigate where they can earn yields. Next are swap deck tokens and a wallet which eliminates the step of going off-site to sign transactions. Detailed market data and a dashboard with chat capability and market and portfolio updates round out the list.
“Most DeFi protocols only offer one service,” Mr. Yaqub said. “They don’t really have the full suite of offerings.
“We are quite far behind on the crypto space. We have cutting edge technology on one side but we don’t have the infrastructure on the other side.”
How does it feel to finally take the plunge into crypto only to experience crashed sites and questionable security?
“This is something that is not acceptable on an international standard in terms of a financial product,” Mr. Yaqub said.
YOP has a three-year plan to address these issues, and it begins with mobile capability, which is where a majority of crypto investors will operate, Mr. Yaqub explained. Get the mobile experience right and migrate outward to different settings instead of starting there and moving into mobile later – it’s a deterrent.
Once complete, YOP will leverage artificial intelligence under a proprietary system called Smart Market Analysis. That will be a key driver of what he believes could be a unicorn within three years.
“The projects or individuals who master this (data management optimization) in the right way will really create a lot of value out of this,” Mr. Yaqub said.
Mr. Yaqub said the funding will help YOP grow its core community before it seeks to leverage his team’s relationships in the traditional financial services space. The timing is good, he explained.
“I think there’s appetite with financial institutions that have tons of users who are now looking for different mechanisms for depositing their funds.”
YOP launched in the early days of the pandemic and the setting definitely influenced its design, he acknowledged. There is no central office and the team is set up across the globe in the United Kingdom, Germany, Ukraine, India, New York and the Philippines.
“It works fantastic,” Mr. Yaqub said. “Everyone works at their own pace and dials in when necessary.”
I asked Mr. Yaqub about the clash between crypto’s libertarian beginnings and how it clashes with the safeguards needed in mainstream finance. He says a degree of oversight is inevitable but believes it should be limited to the areas that touch KYC and AML requirements. Beyond that a light touch will allow the space to maximize its potential.
“These are open networks like the Internet was and there’s not going to be one single person who controls the Internet,” Mr. Yaqub said.