We need a DeFi subnet

Thanks everybody here on this topic for sharing your concerns regarding DeFi.
I can add some context to questions and comments on this thread:

Why is there not much DeFi on the IC so far?

One main reason for this is that it has not been possible for a long time after launch that canisters can transfer ICP tokens. The reason has been that we wanted to get certain security mechanisms in place before enabling this feature.
Currently there are multiple DeFi projects being actively worked on, e.g., InfinitySwap and Sonic.

The lack of a token standard

This is critique that we definitely need to consider. We consider the way that our ICP ledger handles tokens a way well aligned with how the IC works. It’s sort of an implicit standard. However, there is indeed no explicit token standard and others have come up with standards that are closer to ERC-20. Those standards are motivated by the similarity to what people know from the EVM universe, but have their own issues.
We are currently also thinking of how to make our ledger support an ERC-20-like interface in addition.
Overall, I agree that we should consider defining an explicit token standard to avoid further fragmentation of the market and give people a clear starting point when launching their own tokens. To my knowledge, a working group for a token standard will be formed.
In a later release (Carbon), as also mentioned in a post above, we plan to enable atomic swaps to better enable DeFi.

Asynchronous programming model

That’s how the Internet Computer works, and it is the only way to get a scalable blockchain. Chains that follow the synchronous programming paradigm have essentially inherent limits on how far they can scale. The Internet Computer, thanks to its multi-subnet approach and resulting asynchronous programming model, has solved those scalability problems.
Granted, programming in the asynchronous model is quite different than programming in the synchronous model. Developers would need to learn how to write secure smart contracts in the asynchronous programming model, and cope with the added complexity. Here, I think, it is also very valid, that we do not yet have good enough material to explain this to the developer community. This is probably something we should work on. We will have a sample dApp (a DEX) coming out shortly that showcases how one can build DeFi on the IC.

Getting to a synchronous programming model would be possible only by enabling one or a few specific DeFi subnets (maybe in the form of an EVM subnet) as proposed in a post, but of course at the cost of giving up other properties of the IC in those subnets.

Subnet with transaction history and atomicity

Actually, I am currently working with a small team on the question of how we can enable EVM support on the IC. Current thinking gravitates around one EVM-enabled subnet where people can run their EVM smart contracts with all the guarantees the EVM provides (synchronicity, transaction history etc.). This would allow for running existing EVM smart contracts on the IC or write your new ones in Solidity if you wanted to. More information on this feature will be provided on the forum.

At a high level, the reasons for DeFi not being strong yet on the IC are a combination of the following:

  • Defi has only recently been enabled on the IC
  • Defi is very early and has not taken off
  • Some of the friction points for DeFi listed in the comments of this topic are already being addressed
  • We are not sure some of the friction points for DeFi listed in socials should be addressed by the Foundation (maybe better via community)
  • Some of the friction points for DeFi listed in socials are already addressed but clearly sample dapps and docs are not good enough yet

Does this help address some of the concerns? Do you think the lack of synchronicity is an inherent problem in that it makes writing secure smart contracts impossible or just too hard (and error prone) for the typical smart contract developer? Maybe the latter is really also mainly caused by a lack of documentation, best practices, and examples.

How important is a record of all transactions, not just ledger transactions, for DeFi applications? Posts here imply very much. We would like to get more insight into the thinking of the community here. Also, it is clear that it is just not possible to keep such record for all of the IC, this can again be something that is only provided for a specific DeFi subnet, however this will materialize.

We are looking forward to continue this discussion with you with the goal of addressing your concerns and possibly getting further input on which work we need to prioritize!

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