Oct 18, 2020
Fernando Martinelli is the founder and CEO of Balancer, an automated asset management platform for programmable liquidity. Balancer allows anyone to create public or private liquidity pools for up to 8 assets with customizable weighting.
Balancer began as a research project in 2018. By exploring multidimensional invariant surfaces, Fernando and his team came up with a powerful mathematical framework that enables continuous portfolio rebalancing while also generating fees. Fernando says “the formula itself is quite simple and easy to express mathematically. The way it works and the way it proves self-balancing in liquidity pools is the trickier part. It’s a function of mathematical expression whose value cannot change when trades are done. The same way Uniswap relies on X x Y = K, we have something similar but slightly more complex. And if you think of each of the balances as a dimension and then if you have a pool with three balances, then you have a 3-dimensional surface, which is actually in the fourth dimension because the surface itself is the energy value of this function that has three inputs and one output.”
Balancer is similar to Uniswap. However Fernando says that one of the main differences is that “our main focus is on the asset management side of things where Uniswap’s focus is more on the decentralized exchange. So our focus is to make sure we meet the needs of liquidity providers so they will come to Balancer to put their crypto to work, and rebalance their portfolios. We want to be a flexible primitive where people can be as creative as they want.”
Asked about one of the key Defi themes in 2020, Fernando said, “Liquidity mining is a mechanism to get a platform to a decentralized stage. Balancer started with investors, advisors, founders, and this was at a time when there wasn’t really an idea of a fair launch. It’s just the way it worked out. There are pros and cons but ultimately you need capital to bootstrap but we don’t want to be a VC coin we want to be decentralized and that’s our goal.”
Balancer is a financial primitive that serves as a fundamental building block in decentralized finance. However, it is also an asset management platform, and it is an automated market maker (AMM) providing programmable liquidity. This in turn makes other features such as decentralized asset exchange, automated portfolio management, DAO-governed treasuries, and fair token distributions possible. Fernando says this is an important point, and that as a permissionless platform, Balancer allows any developer to leverage its infrastructure to build financial products and services.
“Balancer wouldn’t work if there wasn’t the other side of the market. So you have the liquidity providers who want to have their index funds rebalanced, and make some money with fees. And that’s up to them to decide. And the other side of the equation is the DEX. So all the pools on Balancer allow anyone to trade in any direction on any pair that that pool contains. The fact that we have a two sided market means we need both actors for the system to work.”
Balancer Smart Pools are private pools controlled by a smart contract. These pools can be made of two to eight token constants, and customized with configurable weights that represent the desired ratio of each token in a pool. The smart contract acts as a controller for the liquidity in that pool. Fernando describes smart pools as “Uber for liquidity pools, whereas what we’ve had to date has been taxis. It’s about matching demand to supply.”
For example, the RealT smart pool – essentially a real estate index fund building on all their tokenized real-estate – where the smart pool ERC20 tokens represent ownership of the whole index.
Finally Fernando says “DeFi is a revolution that is just getting started. It will have cycles and some serious ups and downs but it is going to keep growing I believe.”
If you enjoyed the show please subscribe to the Crypto Conversation and give us a 5-star rating and a positive review in whatever podcast app you are using.