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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While exchanges like Coinbase and FTX are amassing huge success, another crypto industry phenomenon that’s flourishing is “DeFi,” short for “decentralized finance.”

What's happening: A crop of protocols that let participants execute various transactions directly with each other through the networks instead of using intermediaries has been exploding in popularity.

What they're saying: “The system as it exists today is still very inefficient,” said FinTech Collective principal Sean Lippel.

  • “DeFi flips the whole thing on its head and says ‘we don't’ need these intermediaries, let’s use the power of the blockchain to coordinate this,” Lippel added.

The key applications to watch, according to investors:

  • Borrowing and lending
  • Trading assets
  • Synthetics
  • Stablecoins

Yes, but: There’s still some healthy skepticism.

  • “I don’t think that everything is gonna move to DeFi, but I do think that there’s a world in which 10% of it does,” FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, whose company also built a decentralized exchange, told Axios.
  • “I also don’t think it’s automatic that it’s going to happen. … Decentralized systems are only going to take off if they’re really good products," Bankman-Fried said.

Go deeper

Robinhood IPO brings meme stock icon into the Wall Street fold

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Today is the day everyone can begin buying and selling shares in Robinhood, which goes public on the New York Stock Exchange after raising $1.89 billion in its IPO.

Why it matters: Robinhood is considered a proxy for the rise of retail investing, particularly among younger Americans. But it also has drawn regulatory and political scrutiny for a variety of business practices, and found itself in the crosshairs after users drove up the price of GameStop stock earlier this year.

Study: Cost of carbon emissions measured in lives lost is high

Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Adding projected heat-related deaths into cost-benefit analysis of federal rules would tilt policymaking in favor of more aggressive carbon emissions cuts, a new study finds.

Why it matters: The social cost of carbon helps determine the outcome of cost-benefit analyses that underpin federal regulations. Adding in global warming's potential to cause more heat-related fatalities would tilt the policy calculus from supporting a gradual phaseout of emissions starting in 2050, to fully decarbonizing by the same year.

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 6 highlights

An underwater view of swimmers including Team USA's Caeleb Dressel (R) in the final of the Olympic Tokyo Games men's 100m freestyle on July 29. Photo: François-Xavier Marit/AFP via Getty Images

There's been plenty of Olympics drama on day six of the Tokyo Games Thursday — notably China's women's swimming team beating the U.S. and Australia in the record-setting 4x200-meter freestyle relay.

The big picture: Katie Ledecky helped the U.S. win silver, which also beat the previous world record smashed by China's team. Team USA grabbed two more swimming gold medals, when Caeleb Dressel won the men's 100m freestyle and Bobby Finke triumphed in the first men's Olympic 800m freestyle.