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Gregory Keough of DeFi Money Market (DMM): “Everything is going to take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think”

DeFi can address the hurdles to financial inclusion that currently inhibit millions of people from fully participating in the global economy. You don’t need to have a bank account to earn interest. All you need is to deposit digital assets in the DMME and you can start generating yield. This capability directly confronts the scarcity […]

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DeFi can address the hurdles to financial inclusion that currently inhibit millions of people from fully participating in the global economy. You don’t need to have a bank account to earn interest. All you need is to deposit digital assets in the DMME and you can start generating yield. This capability directly confronts the scarcity of earned interest in today’s global monetary systems and gives anyone the ability to earn passive income from their assets.


As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gregory Keough, Founder of the DMM Foundation, the organization behind the DeFi Money Market (DMM).

Keough is a seasoned global executive and entrepreneur with 25+ years global experience in the Banking, Lending, Payments, mobile financial services, DeFi, Blockchain, and Crypto arenas in the US and internationally. He also boasts an impressive track record of digital innovation in both large enterprises (MasterCard, Telefonica, and others) as well as startups. Prior to founding the DMM Foundation, Keough served as the Founder and Chairman for the Institute for Blockchain Innovation, a think tank composed of global pioneers in the Digital Securities and Blockchain Payments space. He also founded Blockchain Credit Partners in 2019. Keough is one of the few living recipients of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA’s) Intelligence Star Medal for extraordinary courage in the line of duty.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve been a fintech entrepreneur for about 30 years. I had one of the earliest online financial portals, which was sold to Citigroup. After that, I built a company that created the first online interface for mortgages with Freddie Mac, which was then acquired by realtor.com. I was also the CEO of a joint venture between Mastercard and Telefónica that involved using phones to bring people into the global financial system. So, I’ve been interested in financial inclusion for a long time and have come to believe there is a big disconnect between opportunities available to people and the way our current financial system is structured. The way I see it, there are two major flaws:

1). Constant fiat debasement, meaning governments printing more and more money.

2). Even if you earn this money, you can’t gain any interest on that value.

Both of these trends have led to the creation of a negative societal dynamic. DeFi, or decentralized finance, is a path to try to correct this.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

If we look back on the 2008 Financial Crisis, we can see that the underlying cause was a lot of debt that was not properly rated and did not have adequate validation behind it (assets that were AAA rated were actually junk, and some assets that were securitized had no documents to back them up). This problem grew to a scale of such giant proportions that it almost brought down the entire financial system. If the structures forming the DeFi Money Market (DMM) existed during 2008, the financial crisis would not have happened. First, DMM introduces complete transparency into the assets used to generate yield. Secondly, because the yield generated and the assets used to generate it are overcollateralized, users can often recover more value than what they owe in the event things go wrong. DMM is an example of recognizing a flaw in our current system that hurt the average person and using DeFi to fix that flaw.

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

As the Founder of the DMM Foundation, the organization behind the DeFi Money Market, I recognized that the greatest flaws in our financial system stemmed from a lack of transparency and user empowerment. Using blockchain technology and decentralized protocols, we are able to create an ecosystem that empowers regular people with control over their own money and governance. Anyone around the globe can deposit digital assets into the DMME to earn passive income in the form of interest generated by the real-world assets in the DMM Ecosystem (DMME). These real-world assets are determined by members of the DMM Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). This is completely decentralized and lets anyone participate in the decision-making process, which exists in stark contrast to legacy financial systems that are run by centralized institutions whose power brokers operate behind “black curtains” without transparency or accountability.

How do you think this might change the world?

DeFi can address the hurdles to financial inclusion that currently inhibit millions of people from fully participating in the global economy. You don’t need to have a bank account to earn interest. All you need is to deposit digital assets in the DMME and you can start generating yield. This capability directly confronts the scarcity of earned interest in today’s global monetary systems and gives anyone the ability to earn passive income from their assets.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

The drawback isn’t the technology, but rather if we fail to leverage this technology, we will fall into a dystopian future wherein centralized entities retain complete control over global financial systems with no accountability or transparency. Blockchain technology can save us from such a future.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

I’ve often thought about what I would use to store value and earn interest for myself as well as for my children and future generations. This question inspired the creation of DeFi Money Market, because I recognized that the then-current options were not sufficient when it came to options for earning interest. All fiat currencies (i.e. USD, EUR, GBP, YEN) suffer from inflation, as do all fiat-based financial instruments, including bonds, loans, stocks, and funds. DMM is the solution to that problem.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

We need to continue to improve usability and promote education. DeFi systems are way too complicated for the everyday person right now. Apple didn’t invent the concept of a phone; they just made it incredibly intuitive for the average person. We need applications that do that for DeFi. Very soon, a host of platforms will be interfacing with the DMM protocol allowing anyone to buy mTokens, which allow users to generate interest with fiat currencies. This will make using the DMME much simpler for the non-crypto-savvy person. I’m confident we will see mass adoption of DeFi protocols sooner rather than later because the choice is clear between legacy financial systems that generate zero interest versus DMM’s ecosystem that enables users to generate positive interest each year.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

Our first audience is the cryptocurrency community who understands the technology best. Once we have captured their interest, we will expand to the mainstream. Right now we are participating in AMAs, doing virtual panels, and connecting with our community across social and community channels to spread the word about how DMM is bringing earned interest back into the global monetary system. Every month, we add new capabilities and announce new partnerships that advance our mission of closing financial inclusion gaps.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When I transitioned out of working for the government to the private sector, I didn’t have a lot of experience or money to my name. I was connected to Tom Pownell, who was CEO of Martin Marietta, which is now Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest defense contractors in the world. He was a navy veteran, so we had some common experience. I told him I wanted to start a company and he helped me by providing financing and guidance. He was an amazing leader, and I often think about what he would have done when I’m faced with tough business decisions.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am very interested in financial inclusion, which I believe is one of the biggest factors keeping millions of people from participating in the global economy and having a decent quality of life. I see a basic quality of life as being able to generate income and save for future needs and growth, including health, home, and education. Unfortunately, there are billions of dollars being poured into financial inclusion initiatives that are not helping to solve the core problem of a scarcity of earned interest. That’s what we’re working to solve at DMM.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Here are three business lessons I’ve learned:

1. Whenever you start a new venture, there is going to be a ton of work, whether you’re starting a restaurant or an internet platform where you can buy anything (i.e. Amazon). The difference is the potential to scale. The local restaurant is limited in terms of the number of customers it can attract. Amazon is limited by the size of the global population with internet access.

2. Everything is going to take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think. I remember my first business plan, and all those numbers on paper are aspirational.

3. Everyone tells you that people are the most important element in an enterprise, which is true. What I learned is that the right people can come from any background or experience. Just because they graduated from Harvard or had a prestigious internship doesn’t mean they are the best fit for the job. It’s more about team chemistry, work ethic, and perseverance. The most important question is, does the person fit the task?

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In a perfect world, everyone should be able to make enough money to have a decent quality of life, and I believe we can achieve that vision by leveraging DeFi systems to help bring earned interest back into the global economy.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” I very much ascribe to the view that it takes a tremendous amount of work to achieve anything that really makes a difference in the world.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Fiat currencies are constantly depreciating in value. At the same time, even when an individual is able to save, it is nearly impossible to earn interest, as the vast majority of the world’s currencies (in digital or traditional form) are earning little, zero, or even negative interest. The combination of currency debasement and the difficulty of earning interest creates an enormous hurdle to participation in the global economy and exacerbates financial inclusion issues. DeFi Money Market (DMM) is a novel digital currency ecosystem that solves the dual problems of currency debasement and the near-impossibility of earning interest with its DeFi protocol that empowers anyone to earn a positive yield (interest) on digital assets.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

The best way to stay up-to-date on DeFi Money Market’s developments is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DmmDAO

And here is my Twitter as well: https://twitter.com/gregorykeough

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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