Former ‘Bitcoin maximalist’ Dan Held sees a future in DeFi for the digital asset

As the crypto markets continue to tumble, a major industry player’s beliefs are also taking a turn as he shifts from being a “Bitcoin maximalist” to what he calls a “Bitcoin rationalist.” The reason for this change seems to be that he sees a future for the coin in decentralized finance (DeFi).

Long-time Bitcoin backer Dan Held exclusively told TechCrunch he has stepped down from his role as director of growth at crypto exchange Kraken. He will be taking an active role building DeFi products on top of Bitcoin, starting with a marketing partner role at Bitcoin-focused ecosystem and platform, Trust Machines. A source familiar with the matter also said Held is expected to take on a brand ambassador role at Kraken.

“Bitcoin is what I care about. Nothing changed there,” said Held, who has been in the space for over ten years. In his view, the stakes are rising for Bitcoin as the narrative in the crypto industry shifts towards decentralized finance (DeFi) from centralized finance (CeFi), and as market participants “find more meaning building on top of DeFi.”

The crypto industry, and Bitcoin, is at an inflection point, he said. “I think there’s going to be this renaissance in the Bitcoin DeFi world. Right now, DeFi is not synonymous with Bitcoin, and most people think those two words don’t really go together.”

I don’t think it’s going to be a single chain world. It’s going to be a multi-chain world. Dan Held, marketing partner, Trust Machines

DeFi has long been the playground for alternatives to Bitcoin that maximalists have largely written off, like Ethereum. Bringing DeFi concepts to Bitcoin may be viewed by some as heresy, although there may be a needle to thread to bring the popular area of crypto development back to its original chain.

If Bitcoin is to succeed in the long term as the ur-chain, it will need as much developer attention as possible, which makes bringing DeFi, and its legions of programmers, a way to bolster the blockchain’s market position.

Popular (former and current) Bitcoin maximalists like Nic Carter, Pete Rizzo and Alex Gladstein have also adopted more moderate stances to open up discussion of other use cases across the crypto industry, whether that be building Ethereum infrastructure, finding utility in stablecoins, or something else. (Rizzo objected to our calling him a former bitcoin maximalist on Twitter after publication.)

“This has been brewing for a while,” Held said. “A large group in the Bitcoin [maximalist] space is moderate leaning.”