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The first product of the Bitcoin-focused TBD will be tbDEX. A decentralized exchange that they deem “A Liquidity Protocol” in the recently released whitepaper. The Bitcoin network is permissionless, anyone with an Internet connection can jump in at any time. However, the Fiat world we live in is not. The banking system has endless requirements for participation, and those leave a high percentage of the population bankless and vulnerable. “We believe that the economy should be inclusive. We need to build on-ramps to this future where everyone can access and participate in the economy,” says TBD in the post that announces tbDEX.
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A subsidiary of Jack Dorsey’s Square, they created TBD “with the sole goal of making it easy to create non-custodial, permissionless, and decentralized financial services” for Bitcoin. And now, they have a plan.
What Is TBD ‘s Value Proposition?
The tbDEX aims “to build bridges between the fiat and cryptocurrency worlds,” that much is clear. We still live in a Fiat world and, if Bitcoin is going to succeed, we need new, simpler, and cheaper ways to interact with said world. “There are serious challenges to realizing this vision. Fiat rails are regulated, and no interface with either the traditional monetary system or “real world” can be completely trustless.”
So, what solution does TBD proposes? The tbDEX will allow participants to interact and transact with each other like Bisq and similar projects. However, TBD will also let users “mutually and voluntarily rely on trusted third-parties to vouch for the counterparty.” In the whitepaper itself, TBD contemplates that Participating Financial Institutions or PFIs will be part of the network.
“PFIs can be, but are not limited to, fintech companies, regional banks, large institutional banks, or other financial institutions; PFIs have access to fiat payment systems and the ability to facilitate fiat payments in exchange for tokenized cryptocurrency assets or vice versa.”
The tbDEX will provide financial institutions with tools for KYC and AML procedures:
“The protocol will also carry the required regulatory-clearing information required by PFIs to conduct their AML and KYC checks before they provision liquidity to the wallet owner. However, the necessary information may vary based on the jurisdiction.”
Wait a minute… a decentralized exchange that requires KYC? What would be the point of that? Well, the protocol doesn’t require KYC procedures, but some institutions might. The good news is, participants don’t have to deal with those institutions if they don’t want to. They can just interact with each other and establish trust in other ways.
BTC price chart for 11/20/2021 on FX | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com
The Cost Of Anonymity
This is where it gets interesting. According to the whitepaper:
“The tbDEX protocol facilitates decentralized networks of exchange between assets by providing a framework for establishing social trust, utilizing decentralized identity (DID) and verifiable credentials (VCs) to establish the provenance of identity in the real world.”
It’s important to notice that “the protocol itself neither collects nor records any personally identifiable information.” However, if a participant wants anonymity it’s his or her responsibility to optimize for it. Once again, the whitepaper:
“Our goal is not to maintain anonymity of transactions at all costs. Nor is it to undermine an individual’s ability to optimize for anonymity. Nothing in principle precludes anonymous transactions for financial privacy on the tbDEX network. A PFI could, in principle, require no VCs, but such transactions would represent a high degree of risk to the counterparties.”
To assume that risk costs money. It’s as simple as that. The announcement post puts it nicely.
“Transaction costs are ultimately driven by risk. At maximum anonymity, transaction costs will necessarily be higher; at maximum disclosure, they should be lower. This approach to price discovery allows the marketplace to find the right balance.”
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If You Have A Suggestion, Send It To TBD
The whitepaper is a rough outline of that tbDEX will eventually be.
“This initial draft of the whitepaper is meant to establish a conceptual understanding of the high-level design of the proposed tbDEX protocol. It should not be considered complete or final. It represents a proposed design for public comment.”
If you have any suggestions, contact TBD via Twitter or send them a pull request on GitHub.
Featured Image: tbDEX diagram from the whitepaper | Charts by TradingView