Are funds SAFU? Mitigating DeFi risk with Aave founder Stani Kulechov

Episode 23 of Season 4 of The Scoop was recorded remotely with The Block’s Frank Chaparro and Stani Kulechov, founder and CEO of Aave.

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With nearly $13 billion in total value locked, Aave is certainly one of the dominant players in the DeFi lending space. However, as the protocol grows, so too does its risk factor.

In this episode of The Scoop, founder and CEO of Aave Stani Kulechov discusses the innovation brought on by the recent Aave V3 upgrade, and shares what is being done to mitigate risk.

As Stani explained during the interview,

“For me what has been very fascinating is that within the Aave community, and in general in DeFi, all of these communities are a bunch of nerds coming together with different backgrounds and arguing about parameters, and how well these systems have been resilient to different kinds of market fluctuations and have been working well.”

While parameter adjustments through community governance may be sufficient to adjust a DeFi protocol’s risk curve during times of fluctuating market conditions, there are deeper, systematic risks that can still lead to devastating losses.

For example, a fork of the Aave protocol on the Gnosis blockchain named Agave recently had its smart contracts exploited by a malicious attacker, draining $8 million from the protocol.

At the moment, one of the only ways to mitigate smart contract risk at the protocol level is to submit the smart contracts to a third party for security audits. Not only does this leave potential security vulnerabilities if an attack vector is overlooked, but also given the sheer number of new protocols and their underlying smart contracts, security scaling has become a major bottleneck for the industry.

As Stani explained, “More and more smart contracts are deployed into the internet of smart contracts, and the challenge here is we need to somehow figure out a scalable way of applying security.”

Aave V3 has implemented certain design features such as “isolation mode” which mitigates risk by isolating newly listed tokens from the rest of the protocol’s liquidity.

“We understand that the stakes are getting higher and higher,” Stani said, “so we have to become more risk averse.”

During this episode, Stani and Chaparro also discuss:

  • Improved capital efficiency in Aave V3
  • Institutional interest in DeFi
  • Increasing DeFi’s accessibility

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