Ruminations Following the Crypto Tel Aviv Conference

Elan Neiger
4 min readJun 20, 2021

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The crypto industry is exploding. But is Israel leading the pack? Certainly, in terms of crypto based start-ups and companies, Israel is living up to its namesake as a technology hub. But in terms of general knowledge, acceptance, and regulation? Not yet.

But ser, this is Startup Nation! Oasis of technology, chutzpah, and elbow grease! Yes, Israel is fertile ground for crypto and blockchain companies, as evidenced by the numerous founders, speakers and insiders building the financial ecosystem of tomorrow from ‘Silicon Wadi’, many of whom gathered at the inaugural Crypto Tel Aviv Conference in downtown Tel Aviv this summer.

Crypto Tel Aviv Conference

The Crypto Tel Aviv conference took place on June 17–18, 2021. The keynote speaker, Alex Mashinsky, CEO of Celsius and famously the inventor of the VOIP protocol (Voice Over Internet Protocol), shared his take on the coming revolution: the concept of MOIP, or Money Over Internet Protocol. Celsius is just one of dozens of Crypto companies on a hiring spree, in a foretelling of the next wave of employment as the industry seeks talent and technologists who crave the cutting edge.

Some of the more notable conference participants included representatives from Algorand, a leading layer 1 blockchain, Celsius, the aforementioned crypto borrowing and lending platform with $16B+ under management, keyTango, a platform whose goal is to simplify and streamline the DeFi ecosystem for new investors, and Bancor, one of the oldest and most established crypto platforms whose vast liquidity pools are a key building block in the DeFi ecosystem.

So, what is stopping crypto from being a new powerhouse in Israeli technological know-how? And why was the event relatively small, when crypto is upending the foundational basis upon which this world spins, namely money and value?

In 3 words: knowledge, adoption, and excitement. Inside the ZOA House there was electricity in the air. The consensus was that this industry will change the world. That we are on the cusp of this sea change, and nobody outside the community is paying much attention. Not yet anyway. But don’t close your eyes. The Crypto wave is coming. From the first ripples on the Tel Aviv shoreline, to the tsunami of money, interest, and attention around the bend, crypto and blockchain are here to stay and growing exponentially.

The Tel Aviv crypto conference was hosted and emceed by Lior Messika of Eden Block, a crypto-focused VC behind some of the companies laying the industry’s groundwork. Over the course of two days, a wide range of speeches, panels and fireside chats took place that provided participants an in-depth glimpse into the thinking and challenges facing the players in this nascent industry.

CEO Dan Danay of keyTango participated in a panel discussing DeFi. keyTango can be thought of as the Robinhood of crypto. Its platform provides those interested in crypto who don’t know where to begin with a guide to understanding general and personalized investments, advice, and opportunities based on the DeFi ecosystem.

Getting Started in DeFi

So what’s the big deal? Why is crypto known to insiders as the Next Big Thing? A major reason could be that crypto solves the worldwide crisis of verifiable trust. At the forefront of the crypto industry is the subsect known as DeFi, the broad term for companies and platforms who have taken traditional financial instruments such as borrowing and lending and replaced the middlemen with programmed “smart contracts”. DeFi is the fastest growing industry in the world. In one year, the ecosystem went from $1.5B in value locked to nearly $55B, an astonishing increase of 3567%. (DeFiPulse.com)

Depending on who is doing the explaining, DeFi is an abbreviation for Decentralized Finance or Distributed Finance. The burgeoning DeFi industry is rapidly consuming the legacy financial system and making a bid to replace it, a fact largely unknown to industry outsiders.

The massive influx of money and attention has come largely from retail investors, though institutional investment is not far off. Well-known crypto ‘whales’, have poured millions into Bitcoin and Defi. Famous entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban, Singer-philanthropist Akon, billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones as well as family-owned investment offices and banks such as JP Morgan and Wells Fargo are getting into the DeFi space. Those people and organizations whose goal is to increase wealth have become early adopters, investors, and evangelists of DeFi.

So how does keyTango differentiate itself and fit into this equation? The company recognizes some basic truths that will become much more visible in the next few years as DeFi continues to grow. For one, that 75% of the world is not connected to the existing financial system and are therefore unable to grow their wealth in meaningful ways. As more people are onboarded, they will naturally look for ways to understand and simplify the growing, sprawling ecosystem.

The learning and education aspect of DeFi is largely a solo operation, akin to drinking water out of a firehose. It is enough to push off trepidatious investors who are not familiar with the ecosystem, despite its high promise. A platform like keyTango recognizes the difficulty, and helps newbies take their first steps in DeFi.

But why should I care?

Crypto is the foundation upon which a new paradigm is emerging — one that is more open, free, and available to all. DeFi demolishes the middlemen in the financial industry. It enables regular people, investors, and market makers to directly interface with the same global markets as the banks, Wall Street insiders and other privileged participants– but these markets are open 24/7, available to all in a trustless, decentralized manner.

The current financial system is a closed garden to all but the largest and most well-connected players.

But where to begin? And whom to trust with this newfound power? As Louis Brandeis, the famous early 20th century Jewish Supreme Court Justice put it, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”. By pulling back the covers on the global financial system, Crypto and DeFi have begun putting power back into the common man’s hands. It is only a tremor now, but the world is shifting, and the earthquake of change powered by crypto is nearly upon us.

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Elan Neiger

A crypto and blockchain addict and nearly full time podcast listener