Call for Students - Master Thesis on Decentralized Finance: Analyzing Digital Financial Instruments on Ethereum


ITSA offers support for a master thesis together with the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. The emergence of cryptographic tokens created a new academic field. ITSA developed a token classification framework to clearly capture the differences between tokens. Based on these classifications, distinct and specific research of token economies, the use and acceptance of tokens, and others are exciting opportunities. This thesis is dedicated to DeFi and analyzing digital financial instruments on Ethereum.

Authors: Maximilian Bruckner, Constantin Ketz, Christian Viehof, Philipp Sandner


Project description

Cryptographic tokens running on DLT systems will soon form an integral part of various major economic sectors (e.g. financial markets, information and media, manufacturing and trade). As such they are going to provide utility and value in many different forms to business and society as a whole. Moreover, cryptographic tokens are also on the verge of representing a recognized institutional asset class. Yet, the current token markets still lack a tangible and holistic framework for the identification, classification, and analysis of different token types, which leads to economic, technological as well as regulatory uncertainty and a lack of transparency for all players involved. With the objective of addressing these shortcomings, the International Token Standardization Association (ITSA) e.V. aims at implementing comprehensive market standards for the global token economy.

The ITSA offers this cooperation together with the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.


Goal of the thesis

The aim of this thesis is to examine decentralized finance (DeFi) in the use case Ethereum. It has to be shown where the advantages and disadvantages are in a decentralized financial system and what relevance DeFi has accordning to the current state of affairs. Finally, a profound discussion of current use cases and the analysis of these will be the basic building block of this thesis.



For this thesis we are looking for:

  • A highly motivated student with strong analytical skills and advanced skills in working with databases (e.g. SQL, VBA Excel).
  • The student should also be interested in working in a team within a dynamic international environment.
  • Knowledge of German is welcome, but not a must.


Support will be provided by:

  • Prof. Dr. Andranik Tumasjan
  • Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner


If you are interested in the topic and think you are the right person to get involved, contact Christian Viehof, Executive Director at ITSA (


Collaborate with ITSA!

As we are well aware of the subjectivity of each framework and its existing biases, we would also like to invite all readers to provide their feedback on our approach and/or to join the ITC Working Group to develop the next ITC update together with us. Just like all other standardization projects of the International Token Standardization Association (ITSA) e.V., the International Token Classification (ITC) framework will be updated and developed further regularly. Therefore, we would highly appreciate external feedback or suggestions on new Dimensions to be added or new ecosystem trends to be incorporated. Finally, we are always looking for partners that are interested to classify new sets of tokens together with us, either as part of a research project, an academic thesis, or any other viable cooperative setting. You can find contact details in the remarks section of this article.



If you like this article, we would be happy if you forward it to your colleagues or share it on social networks. More information about the International Token Standardization Association can be found on the Internet, on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner is head of the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC) at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. In 2018, he was ranked as one of the “Top 30” economists by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a major newspaper in Germany. Further, he belongs to the “Top 40 under 40” — a ranking by the German business magazine Capital. The expertise of Prof. Sandner in particular includes blockchain technology, crypto assets, distributed ledger technology (DLT), Euro-on-Ledger, initial coin offerings (ICOs), security tokens (STOs), digital transformation, and entrepreneurship. You can contact him via mail, via LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter

Maximilian Bruckner is Executive Director at the International Token Standardization Association (ITSA) e.V., working to create the world’s largest token database including a classification framework and unique token identifiers and locators. He has a strong international background with significant time spent in Spain, South Africa, and Canada. Currently pursuing studies at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, you can contact him via and connect on LinkedIn if you would like to further discuss ITSA or have any other open questions.

Christian Viehof is an Executive Director at the International Token Standardization Association (ITSA) e.V., working to create the world’s largest token database including a classification framework and unique token identifiers and locators. He completed his Bachelor in Economics at the University of Bonn, the Hong Kong University, and the London School of Economics and Political Science with a focus on Behavioral Economics and Finance. Currently pursuing his Master of Finance at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, you can contact him via and connect with him on Linkedin, if you would like to further discuss ITSA e.V. or have any open questions.


About ITSA

ITSA e.V. aims at promoting the development and implementation of comprehensive market standards for blockchain- and DLT-based cryptographic tokens. To increase transparency and safety on global token markets, ITSA e.V. assigns a unique and fork-resilient identifier (the ITIN) to each token and classifies the token according to our International Token Classification Framework (ITC). This data is then entered into the TOKENBASE. It is our vision to create the world’s largest DLT token database and see our market standards be implemented across the world. Our working groups are actively driving the development and progress of both the ITIN and the ITC.

  • The International Token Identification Number (ITIN) is a 9-digit alphanumeric technical identifier for both fungible and non-fungible DLT-based tokens. Thanks to its underlying Uniform Token Locator (UTL), ITIN presents a unique and fork-resilient identification of tokens. The ITIN also allows for the connecting and matching of other media and data to the token, such as legal contracts or price data, and increases safety and operational transparency when handling these tokens.
  • The International Token Classification (ITC) is a multi-dimensional, expandable framework for the classification of tokens. Current dimensions include technological, economic, legal, and regulatory dimensions with multiple sub-dimensions. By mid-2021, there will be at least two new dimensions added, including a tax dimension. So far, our classification framework has been applied to 99% of the token market according to the market capitalization of classified tokens.
  • ITSA’s Tokenbase currently holds data on over 4000 tokens. Tokenbase is a holistic database for the analysis of tokens and combines our identification and classification data with market and blockchain data from external providers.