May 7, 2018
Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc. Success Story: Decentralized Derivatives Association Earns Ethereum Foundation Grant
Ethereum, a leader in the burgeoning crypto currency market, awarded Frederick-based start-up Decentralized Derivatives Association (DDA) a $100K grant for research and development. DDA was invited to apply just two months after its establishment in October 2017, based on beta market response to its software’s end-user experience. Only 11 companies worldwide won one of these inaugural Ethereum Foundation grants. Decision makers evaluated scalability, usefulness and security. Ethereum also awarded two “Hackternships” (10-week paid externships). Ethereum started in 2014.
A derivative is defined by Investsopedia as “a financial security with a value that is reliant upon, or derived from, an underlying asset.” The derivative is a contract between two or more parties based upon the asset, most commonly stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates and market indexes.
DDA is a smart contract-creation service for risk management tools and derivatives on public blockchains. The company is revolutionizing the derivatives space and creating a world where risk can be transferred with no intermediaries. DDA uses a token-less, decentralized derivatives network and helps construct open source derivative contracts to serve as the backbone of the new financial system.
“This field is so dynamic. It’s very engaging and exciting,” says Fett, DDA CEO. Fett is a former federal regulator with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). He says the experience gives him a unique perspective on creating solutions that are “transparent, portable and completely decentralized for trading and hedging any risk.” He explains the current model as cumbersome and costly by comparison. In addition to financial support, Fett says feedback and input from Ethereum’s founders is invaluable. The grant allows Fett to research, refine DDA’s software and expand collaborative partnerships.
“Every step of the process can have intermediaries taking their cut and introducing risk. These extra steps increase the chances of another financial crisis or loss of customer funds. Our platform is poised to streamline that model by taking intermediaries out of the process.” Because Fett’s work is open sourced, other companies will be able to build on his products, improving the overall exchange system.
Fett’s office is at the Frederick Innovative Technology Center Inc. (FITCI). He participates with their Strategic Growth and Advisory group. FITCI CEO Kathie Callahan Brady is impressed with DDA’s takeoff speed. Callahan Brady says, “This is unique among start-ups, to be recognized by a major industry leader so early in the business process. It speaks volumes about Nick’s personal drive and experience, as well as his game-changing idea. This is the beginning of a paradigm shift that could affect the very nature of investing.”
Fett explains, “Imagine trading stock or buying a house, even setting up a supply chain management system, without any middlemen. Everything can be automated on a smart contract.”
Fett leads a monthly crypto currency meet-up and happy hour at FITCI that is open to anyone. It includes a presentation and time for questions. Fett shares a note of caution, too, “Even market professionals are still learning and fine-tuning this technology. It will evolve with us.”