The Defiant

Synthetix Founder Takes Aim At Centralized Exchanges With Infinex

Kain Warwick Looks To Emulate Binance’s User Experience With New Perpetuals Exchange

By: Owen Fernau Loading...

Synthetix Founder Takes Aim At Centralized Exchanges With Infinex

Web3 entrepreneurs are starting to focus more on the user experience, rather than infrastructure, to push DeFi forward.

Kain Warwick, the founder of the Synthetix derivatives protocol, has unveiled Infinex, a new decentralized perpetuals exchange.

With the new venture, Warwick told The Defiant that he is shooting to compete with centralized exchanges like Binance, which processes billions in daily volume.

“I've been having this conversation with a lot of people for a long time – ‘When are you going to be able to take on centralized exchanges?’,” he said. “And the answer in my mind is now.”

Prioritizing the User Experience

To compete with the likes of Binance, Infinex is making a key change to the typical DeFi user experience — it’s eliminating the need to use a crypto wallet to sign transactions. Instead, Infinex will greet users with the near-ubiquitous flow of creating a username and password.

The exchange will store the private key, which is still used under the hood to sign transactions, in users’ browsers. Crucially, the private key won’t be able to withdraw deposited funds, said Warwick.

Infinex is part of a growing shift among developers of blockchain projects — who are realizing that the space needs to focus on the user experience to onboard the next wave of users and grow the sector.

Oku, another exchange built with the help of a grant from the Uniswap Foundation, also launched this week. GFX Labs, which developed Oku, emphasized that the user experience was at the center of its design.

Mature Infrastructure

To Warwick, crypto’s infrastructure is mature enough to take on exchanges like Binance. Through scaling with Layer 2s, the backend is strong enough to compete with players using centralized solutions, according to Synthetix’s founder.

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“We've got a ton of really powerful stuff,” Warwick added. “It's just about building now.”

Warwick was an early proponent of Layer 2s, scaling solutions for Ethereum, with Synthetix being one of the first major DeFi projects to migrate to Optimism.

To be sure, a launch is one thing and acquiring users is another. Infinex will need to thread the needle between a handful of different priorities — for one, the user experience needs to compete with centralized exchanges.

But, Infinex also needs to be designed in a way that it can still be legitimately called decentralized. And some security-conscious users are likely to take issue with storing private keys in the browser.

Regulatory Uncertainty

In the meantime, Infinex needs to dodge the regulatory bullets that the SEC and other organizations have been peppering crypto projects with throughout 2023.

To this end, Warwick explained, the team behind Infinex designed the exchange to minimize proprietary components. This cuts to the heart of the debate around how to regulate crypto projects, which, at least in theory, are decentralized, altering the concept of liability. “We're taking an open-source approach, he said. “So it can't be argued that it's a proprietary thing.”

On the governance side, Warwick said that Infinex won’t have a token of its own, but will be governed by Synthetix’s SNX token. Because crypto systems are generally permissionless, there’s nothing SNX holders can do about their newfound responsibility.

SNX is up over 25% in the past month.

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SNX + ETH Prices

“We could just as easily say it's gonna be governed by the MKR token,” Warwick said. MKR is the token of MakerDAO, a lending platform and one of DeFi’s largest protocols by total value locked ( TVL).

Stablecoin Deposit Options

To get started with Infinex, users will need to seed their accounts with either USDT or USDC, which are dollar-pegged stablecoins. They can do this either via a centralized exchange like Coinbase or Binance, or through a native transfer using a non-custodial wallet like Metamask.

Infinex will collect trading fees, integration fees from a rewards program, and fees from staking SNX. The fees from staking SNX come from commissions on trades between Synthetix’s derivatives. A representative from Infinex told The Defiant that the exchange’s team hadn’t yet established where the SNX would come from.

Under the hood, Infinex will use the deposited stablecoins as margin and lend users sUSD, Synthetix’s stablecoin, to trade.

Infinex is initially targeting existing crypto traders. “I think that there's something like a 10 to 20x addressable market in terms of volume and users, still in the ecosystem, but operating on centralized exchanges,” Warwick said.

“If you make it possible for those people to move to a decentralized exchange that feels like a centralized exchange, there's a decent chance of capturing some of that.”

A waiting list for beta testing is now live at infinex.io.

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