#DeFi For Wall Street – (Chris Coney & Kenny Polcari) WCSS:013
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Hi there, guys, and welcome to the latest edition of the Weiss Crypto Sunday Special with me, your host, Chris Coney. Today, I’m joined by Kenny Pulcari for his first Sunday Special. Kenny, welcome to the Sunday Special, mate.
Thanks for having me, Chris. I look forward to this.
I sought you out specifically because I want to call this one “DeFi for Wall Street.” So, first question is, is it fair to consider you a Wall Street guy?
Yes, it is.
So, why is that?
Because I spent 40 years on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), right at the heart of the institutional game. So, yeah. You could consider me Wall Street.
Because you could say that someone’s a Wall Street guy, but they might work on Wall Street, not necessarily bang on the floor of the stock exchange, which is the true definition of the term, if you ask me.
So, that’s why I want you on. I was talking to Martin Weiss the other day and he said he’s done some informal surveys around people in traditional finance. Just to test people, I can say to them, "Do you know what decentralized finance (DeFi) is?" And all of them are like, "Hmm. Is that blockchain?” And Martin is like, "Chris, you don’t realize how little awareness there is about this. Why don’t you use Kenny as a proxy and then basically go do a back to basics DeFi," because everyone’s talking about it.
Sometimes you can have that kind of medium-to-high-level understanding without saying, "Yeah. It’s the hot thing and it’s the thing to invest in. It’s the future." But have you ever started with the ABCs and built it up from there? No one’s ever took a formal training in it.
So, the first thing I wanted to ask you was before I start flapping my gums is what do you know about DeFi and where did you learn it, if anything?
I know very little about DeFi. That’s why this was so exciting to me because — other than hearing the word being tossed around and how they use it now to talk about fintech and about payment systems and about Bitcoin and Ethereum and decentralized finance — it’s an unknown. So, quite honestly, I’m actually looking forward to this. It’s going to go past 15 minutes if you want my opinion, because there’s going to be a lot to talk about.
But I think you should take it from the top. First of all, why it’s even called DeFi? Certainly, it’s a shortened version of decentralized finance, but so define that term.
Okay. Sure. So, in your world, is this just like a word salad; “blockchain,” “cryptocurrency,” “DeFi?” Is it all without real discernment between what’s what? Is it all like that in your head?
Well, that’s what it feels like. I’m sure that’s wrong, but that’s what it feels like.
Okay. Sure. This is what I’m getting at — that no one’s ever filled it in and made clear the distinctions. Because “Bitcoin” is distinct to “cryptocurrency” is distinct to “blockchain” is distinct to “DeFi,” and while they all have a relationship with each other, they are all different things. That’s what I always say.
So, okay. Let’s start at the top then. So, DeFi. Why is it called DeFi? So, this is how I understand it. This is how I teach it to my students.
So, decentralized finance. So, the first word: "Decentralized.” What’s that mean?
Because decentralized is the negative of the word centralized, I’ll define that in a first. So, what’s centralized? It means there’s a central point somewhere. And that is not necessarily a location in space as in Washington DC. You can say the government is centralized in Washington D.C. You can say that, but in finance, you can say that the stock market is centralized in New York, but it’s not even like that, is it? It’s not like a location because you’ve got CME Group Inc. and you’ve got the stock market. It’s kind of spread out, right?
Well, it’s interesting you say that because prior to 9/11, you would have said that the stock market was very much, for lists and such, was the New York Stock Exchange.
That was the center.
That was the center of it.
Today, you could say that it’s decentralized because the New York Stock Exchange no longer plays that significant pivotal role the way it did just because of all the other exchanges that now exist and the technology that connects them and the trading that takes place across 70 different venues vs. at just the New York Stock Exchange, right?