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What Does “Permissionless” Mean and Why Does it Matter?

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When you use a DeFi application, there’s no sign-up with your email and name, there’s no ID required, and in most cases, there’s no restriction on your geographical location. All one has to do is click a few buttons and that’s it!

Similar to a roundabout, you can enter or exit (deposit or withdraw your money) as you please –barring any hardcoded yield farming-like programs requiring a lockup to earn rewards. 

The point is in DeFi we’ve moved beyond exposing the same personal data over and over again–your name, your email, and your ID just to gain access to a bank account or crypto exchange. All you need is a compatible wallet and the courage to click Connect.

As a warning, legacy crypto vendors, namely exchanges, will toss around the term DeFi in new product offerings. If you must deposit your assets into an exchange that takes control of your assets, it’s not permissionless and hence not DeFi. 

So the key takeaway today is that permissionlessness isn’t just a feature of DeFi, it’s what qualifies an application as being DeFi. You can come and go as you please in DeFi as long as you’ve got a compatible wallet. If you can recognize the difference between what’s permissionless and what’s not, you’ll hopefully avoid bad actors as DeFi continues to grow in the coming years.

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