One of China’s largest decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms has raised fresh capital for expanding its product lineup.
Announced Tuesday, the dForce Foundation has completed a $1.5 million seed round led by Multicoin Capital and joined by Huobi Capital and CMB International (CMBI). The foundation plans on earmarking the funds for staffing and new DeFi product launches in 2020, according to a statement.
The foundation maintains two protocols, lending platform Lendf and synthetic fiat stablecoin USDx.
dForce founder Mindao Yang told CoinDesk the firm, which launched in 2019, will use the funds to continue stepping outside the stablecoin game and into the larger DeFi movement. Part of that vision includes Lendf, the lending platform dForce launched in September 2019.
Yang said Lendf has become the largest protocol in China for lending fiat-backed stablecoins, such as USDC or USDT, regardless of its smaller share of the DeFi market. DeFi Pulse lists dForce as the seventh-largest DeFi market by value locked.
Indeed, the lending protocol currently has more fiat-backed stablecoins out for borrow than both Compound and Aave – ranked third and fourth in terms of market share – with some $8.5 million in loans compared to $5 million and $7 million, respectively.
Big in China
Yang said most DeFi protocols have been built in Western markets for Western customers, giving the dForce protocol elbow room in China. The new capital will help the firm build on this lead in the DeFi sector, Yang said.
“It’s quite a full stack that we can service in China,” Yang said. “This market is very different than the Western markets where the majority of the DeFi protocols are targeted.”
The slight edge may also have ties to what assets are being lent on Lendf, particularly USDT. Tether is by far the largest stablecoin by market cap with some $7 billion assets on-chain as of press time, according to Messari.
Compound does not offer lending for USDT while Aave only added the token last month. USDC remaining the predominant stablecoin lent on both networks. Meanwhile, USDT makes up almost 80 percent of lent assets on Lendf. There’s only a total of $2.7 million USDx assets currently in circulation, according to Etherscan.
It’s the second dForce round for CMBI, the investment arm of the fifth-largest bank in China, after solely leading the startup’s prior round. CMBI also recently participated in a $5.7 million token sale for the Nervos Network.
dForce’s Yang said the foundation has fostered a long-term relationship with the bank, which is known to invest in the emerging tech sector.
Yang said the investment was notable in that CMBI was “probably one of the only [Chinese] banking groups that invested publicly” in a DeFi application to date.
UPDATE (April 12, 14:45 UTC): A previous version of this article said Aave did not list USDT. The token was listed in March.