Shouldn’t we rethink debt? What DeFi can learn from susu’s and immigrant lending clubs
With hundreds of millions collateralized in products like Compound Finance and Maker, the Ethereum community is rightfully rallying around #DeFi. Yet, one could easily draw portentous parallels to the systemic risks of financial innovations in the early 2000s: credit default swaps, hybrid securities, and so on.
In this lightning talk I will implore our community to look toward another concept of lending used around the world: the susu. The susu (tanda in Latin America, hui in Asia, or a “rotating savings and credit association: ROSCA), is a type of short-term no-interest loan among members of a small community. Each person in the susu makes the same contribution to the pool of money, and on a rotating basis, one person receives the total amount added to the pool. I first encountered this concept when visiting my partner’s family in Trinidad and Tobago, and am studying how communities in NYC rely on these informal lending clubs to pay for a flight, a home down-payment, or just for fun. If Ethereum will bring greater financial access, we should focus less on imitating the sophisticated financial products of Wall Street and instead look to the ways that communities without financial access already get by.