DeFi and the Future of Finance is a set of four courses that focus on decentralized finance. In the first course in the series, DeFi Infrastructure, we begin by exploring the origins of DeFi and take a broad historical view from the earliest barter economies to present day. Indeed, barter was the first example of peer-to-peer exchange. The course also looks at historical examples of money having value even though it is not officially backed. We then focus on the key infrastructure components: blockchain, cryptocurrency, smart contracts, oracles, stablecoins and decentralized applications (or dApps). This includes discussion of the mechanics of the Ethereum and Bitcoin blockchains including cryptographic hashing. Next, we focus on the specific problems that DeFi is designed to solve: inefficiency (costly, slow, and insecure today), limited access (1.7 billion are unbanked), opacity (we need to trust regulators to monitor banks and the regulators have mixed records), centralized control (financial system is oligopolistic imposing higher fees than we would have in a competitive market) and lack of interoperability (it is difficult to move funds from one financial institution to another today). The course closes by exploring many of the myths about the crypto space.
Campbell R. Harvey is Professor of Finance at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He served as President of the American Finance Association in 2016 and as Editor of the Journal of Finance from 2006-2012. Over the past seven years, Professor Harvey has taught Innovation and Cryptoventures which focuses on decentralized finance and blockchain technology. His book DeFi and the Future of Finance was published in 2021 by John Wiley and Sons. He just launched on BitDegree a four-course learning experience under the same name.