Builder Spotlight: Arkadiko
by Claire Topalian on November 2, 2022

Phillip De Smedt is the co-founder of Arkadiko, a decentralized, non-custodial liquidity protocol where users can collaterize their STX tokens and borrow a stablecoin called USDA.

In our discussion below, we learn more about how Phillip became a builder in the Stacks ecosystem, his belief in "building in the open," what Arkadiko unlocks for users, and more.
"The whole Arkadiko concept resonated with the community: why do I need permission, gatekeepers, to tell me what I can or can’t do for leverage against my own money?"
- Phillip De Smedt, Arkadiko
Claire:
For those who aren’t familiar, can you share what Arkadiko is all about - and your vision?
Phillip:
I met my 2 co-founders when I was 19. We hadn’t talked in a while - I was co-founder and CTO at a company that I sold back in 2019. I was tired of the corporate environment. In 2013, I bought Bitcoin for the first time. I've been a Bitcoiner since. I didn't follow the space that closely, but 2 years ago, when I sold my company, I knew I wanted to do something in crypto. I knew it was hard to borrow against crypto by going to banks.

Arkadiko is a decentralized, non-custodial liquidity protocol where users can collateralize their STX tokens and borrow a stablecoin called USDA.

This enables you to gain increased liquidity in the form of a soft-pegged US Dollar stablecoin, while maintaining original asset exposure. Your STX tokens generate a yield, which pays back the USDA loan automatically over time. At current yields, it takes about 3 years to pay back your loan completely. No need to worry about monthly payments.

Arkadiko is a first of its kind initiative to bootstrap a flourishing Stacks DeFi ecosystem.
Our primary objectives are:
  1. Increase utility and efficiency of assets on the Stacks blockchain
  2. Establish USDA as the decentralized, asset-backed stablecoin of Stacks.
  3. Kickstart Decentralized Finance on Stacks by providing an essential DeFi building block.
Claire:
What problem are you tackling with your project? What inspired you to address this problem?
Phillip:
I would go to my bank and ask for a loan, but it was only available for a home, borrowing against stocks, etc. Never through crypto. So if a bank doesn't want to loan me money against crypto, then I need to start solving for this myself. I knew it was possible.

I think everything should be more open, transparent. That’s why I started building in DeFi. You can own a fund but you don’t know what happens behind the scenes though. On a Blockchain, everything is transparent.
Claire:
What functionality does your work unlock for Stacks entrepreneurs, devs, or other stakeholders?
Phillip:
With Arkadiko, you put some crypto token (STX or xBTC and soon ATALEX) in as collateral and start borrowing against that. That unlocks a whole new type of utility, especially for newer tokens like ATALEX.

You might not want to sell your BTC, but if you need $10K, you can borrow against your own holdings for a while - for whatever reason.

Arkadiko offers you liquidity through a stablecoin. USDA is the stablecoin - not to be confused with the US Dept. of Agriculture.
Claire:
What made you want to build in the Stacks ecosystem?
Phillip:
So naturally, Stacks was culturally a fit for me. The promise of being able to use native BTC was big. I wanted to build a lending/borrowing product and started building really early. When Stacks Mainnet launched in January of 2021, I participated in a hackathon shortly after - and I ended up winning. I was still at my other job and was building this in my free time.

It really caught on then. The whole Arkadiko concept resonated with the community: why do I need permission, gatekeepers, to tell me what I can or can’t do for leverage against my own money?
Claire:
Can you share more about your experience working on your project? Any learnings or noteworthy pivots?
Phillip:
After the hackathon, I picked up the pace working on it and then applied for a grant through the Foundation. At the time, there were a handful of builders on Stacks. I was able to get a big grant for this project. That was a big milestone, both for the project and for the Stacks Foundation.

We did a Testnet over the Summer of 2021 and launched in October 2021 on Mainnet.
Our big thing was having fun. We have investors, we are working hard, but if I’m not having fun doing this then why am I doing it? You need to learn, make money, and have fun. You don’t have all three there at all times, but they are all important.

My two co-founders and I are really good friends, and we’ve known each other since we were 19. We still have fun together and spend a lot of time together. We can also scream at each other and it’s nothing personal.
Claire:
Are there any updates/announcements coming up that readers can look for?
Phillip:
We announced a new product recently - the Keeper’s Network. It’s a developer product, allows developers to offer the execution of smart contracts. You have recurring events that you might want to automate - it’s like a scheduler, kind of like “If This Then That.” We’re focused on the technical end, developers need to off-chain schedule things that happen on-chain: https://keepers.arkadiko.finance/.

We’re also partnering with DLC.Link to build a lending/borrowing product. This is very early-stage right now, but the idea is that you lock up your BTC natively (not wrapped) in a discreet log contract with DLC, then you can borrow to create liquidity.
Claire:
Anything you would share with someone new to the ecosystem? 
Phillip:
I would invite anyone who is thinking of building to try it out. Getting more builders in the space is important, and I’m always willing to help however I can. Anyone can DM me on Twitter to get in touch. A Rising Tides Lift All Boats – the community, the group feel is good. We should strive for composability. If one platform does everything in crypto, it’s kind of lame. It’s a network effort.
Claire:
Where can we send readers to learn more about Arkadiko?
Phillip:
  • Go to https://app.arkadiko.finance and enjoy the ride!
  • Join our community on Discord and chat with us. The Arkadiko core team is online all the time, happy to help you out with any question!

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