Is Ethereum the New iOS? Exploring the Platform Economy of Decentralized Finance

11 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2021

See all articles by Benedikt C. Eikmanns

Benedikt C. Eikmanns

Technische Universität München (TUM) - TUM School of Management

Pascal Mehrwald

Technische Universität München

Isabell M. Welpe

Technische Universität München (TUM) - School of Management

Philipp G. Sandner

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management

Date Written: December 23, 2021

Abstract

Similar to mobile operating systems, public blockchain infrastructures, such as Ethereum, represent a platform for the development of software applications. Since 2020, we observe the emergence of a rapidly evolving ecosystem of blockchain-based applications called Decentralized Finance (DeFi), which aspires to challenge traditional finance and associated business models. To explore the economic structures that constitute DeFi, we follow an interdisciplinary approach, supplementing information systems (IS) research with strategic management literature. We apply the theoretical lens of strategic groups to identify platform-specific dimensions and conceptualize DeFi as a hierarchical structured platform economy consisting of four strategic groups, namely 1) Token Management Applications, 2) Protocol Platforms, 3) Aggregation Platforms, and 4) Decentralized Financial Services Solutions. Further, we give a market overview of DeFi applications and discover archetypal attributes of the respective groups. Lastly, we present an integrated framework for the analysis of software-based platform ecosystems and derive areas for future research.

Keywords: Decentralized Finance, blockchain, platform economy, strategic groups

JEL Classification: O30; M21; G23

Suggested Citation

Eikmanns, Benedikt Christian and Mehrwald, Pascal and Welpe, Isabell M. and Sandner, Philipp, Is Ethereum the New iOS? Exploring the Platform Economy of Decentralized Finance (December 23, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3992625 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3992625

Benedikt Christian Eikmanns (Contact Author)

Technische Universität München (TUM) - TUM School of Management ( email )

Munich
Germany

Pascal Mehrwald

Technische Universität München ( email )

Arcisstrasse 21
Munich, DE 80333
Germany

Isabell M. Welpe

Technische Universität München (TUM) - School of Management ( email )

Leopoldstrasse 139
Munich, 80804
Germany
++49/89/289-24800 (Phone)
++49/89/289-24805 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.strategie.wi.tum.de

Philipp Sandner

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management ( email )

Adickesallee 32-34
Frankfurt am Main, 60322
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.philipp-sandner.de

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