Some of crypto’s leading venture capitalists are placing a $10.3 million bet on decentralized finance (DeFi) burgeoning on the NEAR blockchain, according to an announcement Thursday.
The seed funding round in DeFi infrastructure firm Flux Protocol, which is built on the NEAR blockchain, was led by Distributed Global and included Coinbase Ventures, CoinFund, Uncorrelated Ventures, Figment Capital and others.
The relatively weighty early round highlights how VCs are looking for fresh pastures after DeFi on Ethereum has swelled to a $67 billion concern and as high transaction fees have priced out small investors, pushing them to Binance Smart Chain and other networks. Backers of the speedy NEAR blockchain hope the network can bring DeFi to the mainstream.
Getting the data right and trusting the source of the data are critical in the high-stakes world of open finance, especially during a week marked by sell-off-induced liquidations.
“You can’t have $100 million liquidations because an oracle delivered the wrong data,” Flux CEO Peter Mitchell said in an interview. In crypto, oracles are third parties that provide exteranal information to blockchain-based smart contracts.
Mitchell said the credibility of many oracle DeFi projects depends on their reputation.
Flux’s model adds some economic guarantees to the mix. Validators stake tokens as a form of collateral. If their resolution data is accurate, the tokens stay put. But inaccurate reporting could lead to arbitration, and validators found in the wrong could see their tokens slashed, Mitchell said.
“We are creating a more secure foundational layer to allow DeFi to really scale to the mainstream,” he said.
The validators receive fees for providing accurate data to Flux, he said. They could be professional firms or even just token holders.
The model attracted one of the larger seed funding rounds by a crypto startup in recent memory. A flush of early-stage oracle hopefuls last year didn’t raise half as much in their rounds of seed funding as Flux did. Indeed, few teams raise 10-figure seed deals.
“With this new infusion of capital, we plan to aggressively push across the DeFi stack to become the default oracle for high-value protocols and data,” Mitchell said. “We have a small relentless team of executors, which we plan to expand to bring on more amazing talent.”