Michael is one of the hardest workers I know. A true hustler with the kindest of heart and strength of character. I may be biased, but it does make him a great COO to his growing global team at Stakewith.us.
Growing up, Michael's money diaries journals difficult times to make ends meet. He has owned his past with positivity that shaped his perspective on money and spending habits - of necessity and careful budgeting. He spends only what he needs and saves up the rest of his earnings for "a rainy day."
"Money might not solve everything, but it's always easier to solve problems when you have it."
Those early experiences marked the cornerstone of his hunger for yields. His first paycheck (and savings) was when he was 15. He worked his way through school waiting tables at F&B and Hotel establishments. He made his first stock investment trading when he was 21. Out of University, he parked 50% of his monthly salary earnings, as a Financial Analyst at an international bank, towards growing his portfolios.
Crypto & DeFi
Then came the crypto boom. Michael was 26 when he tasted the yield rush on his first crypto investment. Wide-eyed at blockchain's innovations with a bagful of crypto on his first Ledger, he deployed capital across multiple projects, along with many like-minded folks locally in Singapore who wanted to contribute more to the industry. It was then he met his Co-Founder and our CEO, Mervyn Chng.
It was his discovery of Compound - a DeFi (Decentralized Finance) lending platform that first got him interested in DeFi. He supplied his first loan on Compound in the later part of the 2019 crypto bear market, when he was looking for opportunities to put his Stablecoins to work. It was the feeling of seeing his money grow nearly every second that was the psychological pull that drew him (and many others) deep into DeFi yields.
"Watching the balance grow every block due to interest being paid out in real-time is pretty unreal, considering how you only see traditional banks paying interest every month."
There's always a learning curve for anyone first starting to trade and utilizing financial platforms. To Michael, that difficulty in getting started with fiat or crypto is roughly the same. One still requires time to understand how certain features on any financial platforms work. With DeFi, though, the upside is no restriction in trading hours, and anyone can have access to a variety of investment products. "DeFi simply provides better accessibility to financial services in an indiscriminate manner."
But that's not to say DeFi is without barriers.
So much of what DeFi is circulates within the inner walls of passionate developers and affluent speculators. There are issues about usability, user experience, high costs of (gas) transaction fees, critical exploits… etc. Even the simple process of acquiring Stablecoins to yield is far from efficient in countries where onramp support is limited with high fees. DeFi is a bubble that anyone new can easily get lost in.
And that's why Michael and Mervyn decided to build Unagii.com. They're making it their mission to eliminate existing obstacles - to bring the benefits of DeFi to all by making the digital asset yield experience smarter, simpler, educational, and fun.
They're here for the long haul, and Michael sees tremendous potential in the next generation in valuing DeFi products. Because kids today are already very accustomed to spending and receiving money in its digital form via an online banking account, this behavior will lower future barriers for them to explore alternative finance and investing options as they grow older.
Today, Michael is too excited about the progress on blockchain networks' permissionless nature and the ability to stack multiple money legos on various investments and lending products. He believes that this is a key driver that will push more stakeholders to support DeFi products.
"Why would they (next-gen) choose to go through tedious paperwork for a 2.99% p.a fixed deposit scheme, over a gamified product that they instantly have access to 24/7? It'll allow them to lend money and provide liquidity for higher fees all at the same time."
Now with over $10B in Total Value Locked (TVL) across DeFi protocols and applications, we're all very hopeful for the future of DeFi and its endless potential. It's worth noting that Compound's rise is still pretty monumental, having kickstarted the zero to one moment for DeFi. And Michael has a special shoutout to Curve Finance for their innovative stables-stables swaps too.
Michael truly believes that lives can better when we take control of our money. The first step is understanding how to "Yield Smarter." - knowing where to get access to DeFi products that make the money you have and earn work hard(er) for you. Then learning how to yield smarter on those products.
And he wants to bring those benefits of DeFi to all with Unagii.com.