Industry experts interview series. Meet Chris Flint (Maha Advisors)
1- Please introduce yourself and your experience.
I am the Managing Partner of Maha Advisors, LLC a New York based digital asset Decentralized Finance (DeFi) hedge fund. I was a Principal of large Asia-dedicated hedge fund, which we founded in the 2000’s. Previously, I worked for Credit Suisse for many years, and was fortunate enough to be based in Asia for four. I am also an advisor to Otonomi.ai, a parametric insurance solution founded by Yann Barbarroux.
I consider myself a father first, a friend second and a trader third. I live with my family in New York City.
2- What are your thoughts on the current situation of the crypto and DeFi spaces?
This is a very exciting time for both crypto, and especially for Defi. What we are seeing is the convergence of 1) adoption by a much larger community, including both retail investors and institutions, and 2) an explosion in practical use cases for the technology. These two factors in tandem have led to sharp increases in asset prices around crypto as capital has poured into the space, and as a much larger audience has begun to use these protocols and tokens in a meaningful way.
3- What do you think will be the impacts of the new emerging techs (crypto, blockchain, DeFi) on the financial markets and more broadly on the global economy? How do you see the future of investment, lending, insurance, and other industries in the light of this digital revolution?
I don’t think the impact can be understated. In my view, DeFi is going to change everything about the way people interact with the world. There are large productivity gains that are already being established and seen. Blockchain solves the “trust” issue which is involved in every transaction in a very elegant way. That means that transactions happen faster, more cheaply and eliminates or removes the need for many intermediaries who charge excess fees to facilitate these transactions. DeFi Applications built on complex smart contract platforms allow for developers to achieve immediate global scale, owing to the borderless and non-custodial nature of the networks they are built on. The coming few years will see an increase in ease of access, use cases, and efficiency of these applications.
Some of the brightest minds in finance will migrate (and already have) from traditional financial services designed to capture or arbitrage inefficiencies in the market place, and will move to creating services which benefit everyone. This is really important and perhaps the least discussed the implication of crypto.
4- How do you see the future of investment, lending, insurance, and other industries in the light of this digital revolution?
Fundamentally, DeFi is about rebuilding the traditional financial services architecture that we use everyday. Bitcoin, which has been touted as “banking for the unbanked,” a new currency, and a form of payment. The concept is genius, but Bitcoin has effectively become a store of value, driven by scarcity. Subsequent blockchains are cheaper to use, faster, and allow users to access all of these services without relying on traditional services providers. For example, a user can trade crypto currency on a decentralized exchange (dex) without having to open an account at a centralized exchange, or can borrow against collateral much more cheaply and quickly. Trades which can settle instantly, as opposed to the current T+2, or transfers that will happen “on the next business day” begin to look incredibly costly and inefficient once you think through the implications of DeFi. Latency on traditional exchanges is replaced by protocols which can handle much large thoughput and volatility.
Does this mean banks, brokers, insurance companies become obsolete? I don’t think so — but I think that traditional service providers will have to move much more aggressively to embrace the new normal and create products which will improve user’s experience within this news infrastructure. Nimble players who are willing to innovate will benefit tremendously by providing services around the new framework.
5- What major risks do you foresee emerging from too fast of a growth in the digital assets sector?
Crypto and Defi are touted as the democratization of financial services. Unfortunately, I think huge advantages are given to those with access to resources and have the ability to harness and access this emerging technology. I think the gap is widening between stakeholders who have access to technology and education, and those who do not. Imagine the opportunities available to someone with a great Wifi connection, a CPU, and an education. Then think of someone with the same ability, but without these resources. In New York City, where I live and work, almost 10% of children do not have access to devices, and 6% do not have access to high-speed internet: FOIL Survey. This is a major problem in my view, and my passion is finding companies and organizations who look to solve this problem.
6- Finally, where people can find you on social?
I don’t find posting content for ourselves a major source of alpha. But we do use many channels to look for emerging information and to look at what the community is saying (and not saying). But here goes: