George told us how Step Finance team building the first Solana-based DeFi portfolio manager.
Hello! What’s your background, and what are you working on?
Hi, I’m George from Step Finance, a Solana-based DeFi portfolio manager and aggregator. I have been in crypto for a decade now having started as one of the early bitcoin miners and also founded crypto companies along the way in the areas of crypto remittance. I have been very excited to see the growth of DeFi over the last few years. In early 2021 I formed Step Finance with a friend of mine. We set out to provide a central location for people to manage and transact across all protocols emerging on Solana.
What’s Step Finance backstory?
We wanted to build something that was missing in the DeFi ecosystem at the time and set out to create a DCA (Dollar Cost Averaging) platform on Ethereum. In this place, people can load one currency into a contract and then execute trades over a time period buying their token of choice. Unfortunately, it turned out that Ethereum was far too expensive to do this economically, so we tried different contracts on various sidechains, too; however, they lacked liquidity and access to the tokens people actually want to buy.
It was at this stage we saw Solana was holding a hackathon and decided to investigate further. It turns out Solana had all the wrapped versions of Ethereum tokens that people wanted to buy at the time, in addition to plenty of liquidity provided by Alameda (the world’s largest crypto fund). So we set out to enter the hackathon with the DCA idea. The hackathon was a success and learning curve. Still, we saw that perhaps a more pressing need in Solana at the time was a place for people to manage their investments across the ecosystem, and so Step evolved into the direction it is now- a portfolio manager and aggregator. We now have a growing team of 7, having raised money from some of the best in the business. We are continually pushing out new integrations and enhancements to make people’s lives easier when interacting with the DeFi world on Solana.
What went into building Step Finance?
Solana uses a different programming language than most blockchains for building Dapps as it uses Rust. While Rust may be unfamiliar to some, it is similar to C++, one of the most widely used programming languages in the world so the potential developer pool is very deep. It is for this reason that many applications took a while to ramp up on Solana when it was new but now a critical mass of developers are involved in the ecosystem building dapps with hundreds of submissions in the last hackathon and over 10k participants.
Step is very light on Rust contract usage as we see ourselves as a layer on top of existing contracts. We, therefore, started with no custodial services where Step would take control of tokens for users but instead linked to the various Dapps which do. This enables us to be fairly lean and fast when developing new features on Step as we don’t need to get bogged down in the Rust development. However, over time we will be rolling out various Rust contracts for new features we release.
What’s your business model?
Step Finance as an aggregator dashboard provides a number of useful features to the Solana DeFi community. Some of these features like Swaps, Compounding, AMMs, and soon an NFT marketplace are fee-paying services. These fees go back to STEP token stakers by way of Buyback and Distribute, a common model used in other DeFi protocols. This aligns the success of Step with stakers, and our business model relies on Step being able to provide our users with useful products and services they are willing to pay for.
What’s your position on the regulatory landscape today?
Step Finance doesn’t custody user money or take control of user funds and is a decentralized protocol with no company or residence. Therefore, we do not offer regulated services to Step users and provide the data on their wallet positions.
What are your goals for the future?
We want to continue to adapt to the changes in the market with a focus being on the aggregation of liquidity via Step and also expanding our NFT Gallery into an NFT Marketplace for creators. On the aggregation front, we are currently the only place on Solana which aggregates and routes transactions across multiple liquidity pools to ensure users transact at the best price, similar to 1inch on Ethereum. Another key focus area for us is the growing NFT interest across crypto and converting our NFT Gallery into a marketplace which can function like our portfolio manager as an aggregator of all NFTs across Solana and enable creators and collectors to buy and sell their NFTs.
What are your future thoughts on the DeFi market?
The DeFi world will be multi-chain and will continue to attract TVL from the traditional crypto and non-crypto world. Some investors may come for the yields, and some newbies may come for the NFTs. Still, regardless, the development of decentralized financial markets will continue irrespective of real-world roadblocks some governments may create.