The new financial playground is not the equity panacea that the name suggests

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On August 11th, 2020, a new decentralized finance (defi) protocol called Yam Finance had over $500 million locked within its first 24 hours of existence. The price of its governance token (YAM), issued to users of the protocol, quickly jumped to $167.

On August 12th, 2020, an irreconcilable bug was discovered in one of Yam Finance’s smart contracts. Shortly thereafter, the YAM token price crashed to $0.97. The protocol is now defunct, prompting an apology by the CEO and equal measures of derision and support from the defi community.

Yam Finance, and many others like it, are a symptom of something called “yield farming” — a friendly term to describe the relentless pursuit of free money. At its simplest, yield farming is taking the crypto that you own and using it to make more crypto. In Yam’s case, you could lock your crypto into the protocol, earn YAM tokens, and then eventually convert those YAM tokens into fiat currency. …

Characters, storytelling, and the self-confidence roller coaster.

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I’ve self-published two fiction novels, both travel thrillers centred around an industrial espionage agency and one of its apologetic agents. The first is set in Mongolia and China, the second in India.

After 200,000 words and months of planning and editing, I’ve come to realize a few things about the process that are now making my life easier as I work on my third novel.

Writing and storytelling are not the same thing

It took me a long time to figure this out at a practical level. It’s easy to conflate the two, after all. Writing is part of storytelling, but there is so much more to it.

Storytelling encapsulates all of the thinking that goes into a novel. Identifying a plot, creating characters, building a setting. …

It’s already fierce. Wait until Goliath shows up.

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Walk down the street in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, or Singapore and you can’t help but notice the number of e-wallet service stickers on display at coffee shops, convenience stores, and any other merchants you happen to pass. It’s a curious phenomenon, and indicative of the desire for tech companies to eventually become a bank.

The surge in apps has reached inundation levels for both consumers and merchants. In Malaysia alone, 43 such licences have been issued — a mind-blowing number in a market already well served by bank cards.

Competition, in turn, is fierce. Local startups vs. global players vs. crypto companies vs. lifestyle apps, with little differentiation between them in terms of service offering. But there is one additional contestant that it is about to enter the ring, and perhaps change the game entirely: the Goliath commonly known as Facebook. …

Searching for answers in a sea of blocks and chains

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Having spent the past year working in the crypto and blockchain space, I can’t help but look back and marvel at the speed with which the perception of decentralization, and the technology that supports it, went from an idea that promised to revolutionize the very fabric of the world we know to being written off as a fad.

Like many others, I was seduced by the notion of what decentralization makes possible without spending enough time figuring out whether any of it was realistic. I wasn’t asking whether we needed decentralization or whether it would even work. …

Data breaches are frequent and costly, yet little is being done to improve employee cybersecurity habits.

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Ne’er a week goes by without news of a major data breach: 60 million USPS users; 40 million credit cards used at Target stores; 500 million Marriott users. Gigabytes upon gigabytes of data dumped onto the internet for all to see. And these are just the ones you hear about.

The scale is rather astounding. A study by the Identity Theft Resource Center and Cyberscout published a report in which the number of data breaches in the U.S. alone reached 791 in the first half of this year. That’s more than 4 per day. …

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Last week’s Digital Media Asia 2018 conference in Hong Kong, organized by WAN-IFRA, brought together journalists from around the world. Unlike in years past, blockchain and crypto held a prominent role in this year’s edition, with speakers from Coindesk, Zilliqa, The Signal, Kenetic Capital, Binance Labs, know your token, ZPX, REDHILL, Taureon Capital, and

In talking to journalists, a common refrain was that blockchain and crypto projects were too technical to cover properly. …

Buy now at

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Intikam wants another chance. But does Furtive Khan want to give it to him?

Mongolia was a disaster. Not only did Intikam fail to deliver the evidence he was sent there to get, he left a trail of carnage in his wake. It was not what Furtive Khan had envisioned, and someone needs to be held accountable. Intikam has no doubt who that someone is.

Fearing the worst, he returns to a chilly reception at the Furtive Khan office in Istanbul. The Tyrants waste no time beating him with the proverbial stick. A stinging rebuke, if ever there was one. And just when he thinks his career is over, they dangle the carrot: a second chance, this time in India. …

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Chapter 18

Manav was manhandled from the jeep and into the red-brick police station. Khaki-clad constables puttered around trying to deal with the morass of complainants. He couldn’t understand everything, but the most common utterance was an accusation of theft against a “jealous” neighbour. Others begged the police to find their daughter or son who had invariably run off with an unacceptable lover. The constables cared little. They listened with fake empathy and told most people do go solve the problem on their own.

“What’s the point of having the police, then?” one woman cried out.

“We’re not here to solve your domestic squabbles,” the constable replied. …

France is the culinary gift that keeps on giving

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You can do better than baguette

The best-kept secret in France is that baguettes aren’t actually the best type of bread that comes in the form of a baton. And it’s not really close. The uninitiated walk into a boulangerie, ask for a baguette because it’s the only style of French bread they know, and then walk out blissfully unaware of what they missed out on.

The thing about the baguette is that it’s often made using “modern” flour and techniques. North African baguette, especially, is made with bleached white flour. Fibre be damned!

What you really need to know is that tradition is the correct choice. Traditional flour, traditional techniques. It’s hearty, delicious, and the perfect vehicle for the myriad “toppings” the French have created specifically for chunks of torn bread. …

We were sitting in a restaurant in Ubud, Bali. A friend of mine, in from Belgium, had just finished telling me the story of how his girlfriend had been denied boarding at the airport because her passport had less than 6 months remaining validity.

Like a lot of countries, Indonesia has a 6-month passport validity requirement. And the airlines take this seriously. They don’t want to be on the hook for a person who gets denied entry and has to be flown back whence they came.

I had to feel for her. She couldn’t get a new passport for 3 days, half of her vacation disappeared in the blink of an eye, and she had to buy a new ticket. The airlines won’t hesitate to tell you that it’s your fault for not knowing the entry requirements of the country you are visiting. …


Kent Babin

Technology consultant. Crypto enthusiast. Travel thriller writer (

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