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See detailAgent-based Model of Initial Token Allocations: Evaluating Wealth Concentration in Fair Launches
Delgado Fernandez, Joaquin UL; Barbereau, Tom Josua UL; Papageorgiou, Orestis UL

E-print/Working paper (2022)

With advancements in distributed ledger technologies and smart contracts, tokenized voting rights gained prominence within Decentralized Finance (DeFi). Voting rights tokens (aka. governance tokens) are ... [more ▼]

With advancements in distributed ledger technologies and smart contracts, tokenized voting rights gained prominence within Decentralized Finance (DeFi). Voting rights tokens (aka. governance tokens) are fungible tokens that grant individual holders the right to vote upon the fate of a project. The motivation behind these tokens is to achieve decentral control. Because the initial allocations of these tokens is often un-democratic, the DeFi project Yearn Finance experimented with a fair launch allocation where no tokens are pre-mined and all participants have an equal opportunity to receive them. Regardless, research on voting rights tokens highlights the formation of oligarchies over time. The hypothesis is that the tokens' tradability is the cause of concentration. To examine this proposition, this paper uses an Agent-based Model to simulate and analyze the concentration of voting rights tokens post fair launch under different trading modalities. It serves to examine three distinct token allocation scenarios considered as fair. The results show that regardless of the allocation, concentration persistently occurs. It confirms the hypothesis that the disease is endogenous: the cause of concentration is the tokens tradablility. The findings inform theoretical understandings and practical implications for on-chain governance mediated by tokens. [less ▲]

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See detailDeFi, Not So Decentralized: The Measured Distribution of Voting Rights
Barbereau, Tom Josua UL; Smethurst, Reilly UL; Papageorgiou, Orestis UL et al

in Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 2022 (2022, January)

Bitcoin and Ethereum are frequently promoted as decentralized, but developers and academics question their actual decentralization. This motivates further experiments with public permissionless ... [more ▼]

Bitcoin and Ethereum are frequently promoted as decentralized, but developers and academics question their actual decentralization. This motivates further experiments with public permissionless blockchains to achieve decentralization along technical, economic, and political lines. The distribution of tokenized voting rights aims for political decentralization. Tokenized voting rights achieved notoriety within the nascent field of decentralized finance (DeFi) in 2020. As an alternative to centralized crypto-asset exchanges and lending platforms (owned by companies like Coinbase and Celsius), DeFi developers typically create non-custodial projects that are not majority-owned or managed by legal entities. Holders of tokenized voting rights can instead govern DeFi projects. To scrutinize DeFi’s distributed governance strategies, we conducted a multiple-case study of non-custodial, Ethereum-based DeFi projects: Uniswap, Maker, SushiSwap, Yearn Finance, and UMA. Our findings are novel and surprising: quantitative evaluations of DeFi’s distributed governance strategies reveal a failure to achieve political decentralization. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Social Construction of Self-Sovereign Identity: An Extended Model of Interpretive Flexibility
Weigl, Linda UL; Barbereau, Tom Josua UL; Rieger, Alexander UL et al

in Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 2022 (2022, January)

User-centric identity management systems are gaining momentum as concerns about Big Tech and Big Government rise. Many of these systems are framed as offering Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI). Yet, competing ... [more ▼]

User-centric identity management systems are gaining momentum as concerns about Big Tech and Big Government rise. Many of these systems are framed as offering Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI). Yet, competing appropriation and the social embedding of SSI have resulted in diverging interpretations. These vague and value-laden interpretations can damage the public discourse and risk misrepresenting values and affordances that technology offers to users. To unpack the various social and technical understandings of SSI, we adopt an ‘interpretive flexibility’ lens. Based on a qualitative inductive interview study, we find that SSI’s interpretation is strongly mediated by surrounding institutional properties. Our study helps to better navigate these different perceptions and highlights the need for a multidimensional framework that can improve the understanding of complex socio-technical systems for digital government practitioners, researchers, and policy-makers. [less ▲]

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See detailChapter 8: Tokenization and Regulatory Compliance for Art and Collectible Markets: From Regulators' Demands for Transparency to Investors' Demands for Privacy
Barbereau, Tom Josua UL; Smethurst, Reilly UL; Sedlmeir, Johannes et al

in Lacity, Mary; Treiblmaier, Horst (Eds.) Blockchains and the Token Economy: Studies in Theory and Practice (2022)

Art and collectibles markets tend to involve lower liquidity and higher fees than public equity markets. Distributed ledger technology can tokenize artworks and collectibles, so that claims to these ... [more ▼]

Art and collectibles markets tend to involve lower liquidity and higher fees than public equity markets. Distributed ledger technology can tokenize artworks and collectibles, so that claims to these assets can be exchanged digitally without intermediaries. Tokenization offers investors access to a global market plus a digitized paper trail, as well as new options for the fractional ownership of artworks, art-collateralized loans, and yield-bearing art assets. The main challenge for tokenization researchers and platform developers is to simultaneously satisfy regulators’ demands for transparency and auditability as well as art investors’ demands for privacy. New technological solutions are required that enable market participants to disclose the absolute minimum amount of information that is required by regulators. We explore new concepts from distributed ledger technology, cryptography, and digital identity management that can help address this challenge. [less ▲]

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