Decentralized Finance is one of the most exciting developments to come out of the blockchain sector. Over the past year, DeFi has expanded to a $10 billion movement powered by big ideas, smart platforms, and the most-used cryptocurrency in the space, the Dai stablecoin.
All over the world, blockchain and crypto enthusiasts recognize DeFi’s potential and are eager to learn as much as they can. In Japan, people have been especially receptive to DeFi thanks in large part to Yasashi (Easy) DeFi, a friendly educational series of meetups focused on educating the Japanese community on the financial opportunities and services DeFi provides.
Yasashi DeFi, founded by Taisuke Horitsugi from Kyber Network Japan and Kathleen Chu, the Maker Foundation’s Community Lead in Japan, celebrates its first anniversary this month, making now a great time to look at how far DeFi understanding has come in the region.
Taisuke and Katheen met in October 2019 at Devcon5 in Osaka, Japan, shortly before Rune Christensen, CEO of the Maker Foundation, gave a talk about the promise of DeFi and announced the release date of Multi-Collateral Dai. At the time, few people in Japan were aware of DeFi, so the two discussed the idea of a monthly meetup aimed at creating a space where people could comfortably share knowledge, ask questions, and learn how to use DeFi in their personal lives and for business innovation. The first Yasashi DeFi, held in Tokyo a month later, welcomed around 60 people and was a great success.
Every month, a top trend in the fast-moving world of DeFi is discussed and experts, such as Rune, are invited to share their DeFi experiences and insights. All are welcome to the sessions, no knowledge of DeFi is needed, and audience engagement with speakers is encouraged.
While the meetups began as in-person events, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the discussions online early this year. The virtual platform allows those who live in and outside of Tokyo to participate, extending the Yashashi DeFi reach. Sharing the events in popular regional DeFi communications channels, allowed community members from all over to be instrumental in making Yasashi DeFi an online success story.
One of the most memorable meetups took place on July 30, Ethereum’s 5th birthday. To celebrate, Yasashi founders invited two other blockchain communities, d14b and PoL, to the session that focused on the history of Ethereum. The event included “say-it-in-Japanese” contests, in which participants re-named well-known protocols and put a Japanese spin on DeFi terms to win prizes. Additionally, Yudai Suzuki from Money Partners Group and the Japan Cryptoasset Business Association, created a historical transaction to mark the event, and shared it on Twitter!
In the year since Yasashi DeFi’s humble beginnings, the meetups have attracted and inspired over 1,000 participants, from students and developers to security experts and entrepreneurs. Some have even progressed from learning about DeFi to building their own dapps.
Taisuke Mino, Yasashi DeFi participant and volunteer, created goyemon, a mobile crypto wallet that enables users to lock Dai in different DeFi protocols to earn passive income. Naoto Sato, who was a high school student when he joined Yasashi DeFi, built a dapp that combines multiple DeFi protocols behind one interface, enabling users to convert ETH to Dai using Uniswap, and then lock it directly in Compound.
Naoto says that the community has allowed him to share his passion with others. “The meetings were a great way to participate in open and lively discussions, and I was one of the beneficiaries of that,” he says. “I was able to connect with experts and developers for the first time, and share knowledge with them.”
Kathleen Chu remembers the day Naoto demonstrated his dapp to the community. “The moment was incredibly rewarding, because I realized just how far a person can go when they’re part of a community where knowledge is freely shared,” she says.
Thanks to Yasashi DeFi, interest in decentralized finance has surged in Japan. The meetups have helped build the Japanese DeFi scene from a small group into a thriving community of learners, enthusiasts, and developers.
In addition to an increase in individual engagement, well-known Japanese crypto and blockchain organizations, such as the Fintech Association of Japan, Japan Cryptoasset Business Association, and Japan Blockchain Association, have expanded their own understanding of DeFi.
To learn all about DeFi in Japan, join the Yasashi DeFi meetups and watch videos of past events, participate in the DeFi Japan Telegram community, and read the Japanese language Maker blog. If your understanding of DeFi is more advanced, discover Yasashikunai (Not-so-easy) DeFi! Finally, for a list of global Maker meetups and events, head to the MakerDAO Events page.