Smart Contracts: A Future of Frictionless Commerce

Smart Contracts: The future of financial operations - Sarson Funds Cryptocurrency Financial Advisor

Smart Contracts: The future of financial operations - Sarson Funds Cryptocurrency Financial Advisor

Smart Contracts: The Future of Frictionless Commerce

Liam McDonald

As finance becomes more digitized, it is important to consider the different ways our preexisting financial infrastructure can be more decentralized. One of the major shifts in peer to peer, business to business, and global commerce is the movement toward smart contracts as the mediation between transactions. Smart contracts are an application of blockchain technology that automatically facilitate transactions between two parties, removing the need for banks or middle institutions to be the intermediary in a transaction, and record the history of the transaction on the blockchain. The purpose of this blog is to inform the finance community on one of the most lucrative trends in the crypto industry to help them prepare for the changing landscape of fintech innovation.

Removal Of Counterparty Risk

In the current financial framework, interactions between people and businesses have always required some sort of intermediary to approve and execute a transaction. While the traditional system works, it is inefficient. The costs of involving a third party intermediary to approve a transaction are not only steep but unnecessary. Depending on the distance a transaction must travel, these transactions take several days to fully execute, changing hands multiple times and accruing more and more unnecessary costs. As each transaction passes through different banks, the risk of loss and hack grow higher. Smart contracts simplify transactions by removing unnecessary steps, creating a smoother pathway for transactions to occur, removing counter party risk, cost and time inefficiency for both of the involved parties.

Enabling the Future of Commerce

P2P Use Cases

One of the most prominent use cases for smart contracts in the current financial landscape is between individuals engaging with decentralized exchanges like Aave, Compound, and Uniswap where users can lend and borrow crypto for high yields. In these exchanges, users join lending pools where they can lend and borrow crypto with other users at agreed upon interest rates, agreements that are executed by smart contract deployment on the platform. These smart contracts, which are written code on the blockchain, execute these lending and yield agreements automatically to ensure both parties meet their agreed upon contract terms.

B2B and B2C Use Cases

Another critical use of smart contracts are in supply chains. Supply chains are using smart contracts to confirm and track shipments and deliveries as they take place, creating an instantaneous way of payment, transaction validation, and record keeping throughout the processing and delivery of consumer goods. Smart contracts are making supply chains more efficient by digitizing the payment, validation, and record keeping of the processes that goods go through from production to consumer, creating quicker and more cost efficient ways of running a supply chain.

Use cases for financial institutions

While banks are slow to adopt blockchain, the use cases for the finance community will shape the future of financial operations. Banks like JPMorgan are pioneering the future of smart contract deployment in banking as they recently launched their own blockchain, Liink, and stablecoin, the JPM coin. JPMorgan uses the JPM coin with smart contract mediation to perform risky interbank transfers and international payments instantly and without the need for an intermediary, removing the inefficiencies described above from their affairs. JPMorgan is blueprinting a lucrative landscape for other banks to follow suit with blockchain and smart contract deployment.

At Sarson Funds, we believe the financial community must keep a close eye on the development of smart contract capabilities as these automated systems enable greater, frictionless financial freedom. We believe that as the ecosystem develops, smart contracts will become the future of P2P, B2B, and B2C commerce.

Decentralized Exchanges: DeFi Lending Platforms in the Crypto Space

Decentralized Exchanges: DeFi Lending Platforms in the Crypto Space

Abigail Almonte

Lending is an integral part of finance and banking that helps give people a boost in reaching their financial goals. Individuals or institutions lend money to those who need it for a variety of reasons. Whether that be to start their own business, to go to school, to buy a home, etc. Whatever the reason, lending helps facilitate the flow of money in the economy as it is continually borrowed and shared. These sorts of traditional lending practices are also available in the crypto space, as the use of lending platforms has become increasingly popular in crypto today. 

The biggest difference between traditional and Defi lending is that typically getting approved for a loan by a bank or other financial institution can prove to be tedious, requiring lots of documentation. Not to mention, time-consuming as they can take days or weeks to be approved. In contrast, DeFi lending is peer-to-peer (P2P), facilitating a direct relationship between both parties.  Defi lending consists of lending cryptocurrencies in exchange for interest. This is an opportunity for individuals to grow their digital asset portfolios as they continue to see steady growth in the market overall. These trades consist of both the lender and borrower in a transaction backed by collateral in the form of crypto assets. Lenders will utilize smart contracts in order to make their assets available for lending. Lending exchanges can be conducted and implemented through a variety of different DeFi platforms such as Aave, Compound, SushiSwap, Uniswap, and many more. These platforms allow and support various different cryptocurrency pools including Ethereum (ETH),  DAI, USDC, USDT, etc. 


Coming to fruition in 2017, Aave is a secure and audited DeFi lending platform. This liquidity market protocol makes it easy for both borrowers and lenders to use their services. With its open-source contract, decentralized apps and other third parties can access the protocol as well, driving up value. The protocol is currently valued at over $4.8 billion dollars with assets such as DAI and USD coins seeing millions borrowed. Borrowers in AAve receive LEND tokens whereas Lenders will receive aTokens, each providing separate benefits. Lenders will benefit from APY (Annual Percentage Yield) percentages based on borrowers’ interest rates. On the other hand, borrowers will be freed of any transaction fees when using the LEND token. Additionally, if a LEND token is used as collateral, all borrowers will be eligible for a discount. These perks, along with AAve users’ ability to compare and select variable or stable interest rates make it a user-friendly, flexible protocol. 


Compound is a DeFi blockchain-based interest-based protocol that securely allows individuals to borrow and lend crypto without having to deal with the hassle of third parties. As your crypto assets are lent to the Compound wallet, you will gain interest on those assets. In terms of borrowing, Compound makes this feature incredibly accessible to any person, as there is no administered credit score check as traditional banks may have. When lending or borrowing, one will be given ‘C-Tokens’ that can be manipulated in a variety of different decentralized applications. Additionally, the COMP token is governed by users that own 1% or more of the COMP protocol. 


With accessibility at the forefront of their mission SushiSwap’s motto “with sushi, everyone can be a chef” has held true. SushiSwap has become an increasingly popular decentralized exchange protocol, since forking from Uniswap in August 2020. This protocol runs on the Ethereum blockchain and is an automated market maker (AMM) exchange. Many people turned to SushiSwap after the older popular protocol, Uniswap, forked. Unlike Uniswap, Sushi created their own native token in order to increase profits from returns, gaining them an abundance of users. Once you download a crypto wallet, you will be able to see the returns each pool will provide and which ones you may want to add to, or swap other tokens for. Uniswap has since kicked things into high gear, releasing their native token, UNI in September of 2020. Their main differences today include user experience, liquidity rewards, and overall revenue.

While there are many valid debates for which Decentralized Exchange (Dex) is the best, or most functional, Decentralized Exchanges will continue to gain popularity as the user has the complete ability to control their funds, providing a more flexible and open way to lend and borrow money as a whole.

Why Bitcoin? Narratives Driving Past & Present Adoption, Explained.

Nathan Frankovitz

Why Bitcoin? Narratives Driving Past & Present Adoption, Explained.

Looking back on last decade’s best-performing asset.

More than a decade after Bitcoin’s inception, the world’s first cryptocurrency remains poorly understood. No matter your success investing in other asset classes, it can be overwhelming to continually hear news about Bitcoin when conversations between its proponents and skeptics remain veiled in technobabble. Even worse, mainstream coverage gravitates toward sensationalism, rather than allowing proper in-depth analysis of the world’s first cryptocurrency. This article offers an antidote to today’s noisy headlines by instead investigating the fundamental ideas driving Bitcoin’s past and present adoption. Our mission is to bring transparency to crypto education to help you decide for yourself on whether Bitcoin is an opportunity worth pursuing.

First, let’s examine how Bitcoin (BTC) serves as money. 

Simply put, Bitcoin has taken the characteristics of legacy monies and improved upon them: First, it is durable, since each Bitcoin’s record is saved on the blockchain; second, it is mobile, as Bitcoin can be sent anywhere on earth in hours, 24/7; third, it is uniform (no single Bitcoin is more valuable than another); fourth, it is scarce, as there is a hard cap of 21 million Bitcoin that can ever be created; fifth, Bitcoin is divisible up to 8 decimal places, making it scalable; lastly, it is identifiable, as the Bitcoin network automatically verifies each transaction’s legitimacy. While it is clear that each of these properties is essential to Bitcoin’s usefulness as a currency, some may be bigger strengths than others. Accordingly, narratives surrounding Bitcoin’s fit within the global economy have changed over time.

Now, let’s go back to when it all began.

On January 3rd, 2009, Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto mined the “genesis block”, or the first public transaction record on the Bitcoin network blockchain. As Bitcoin’s network rose from the ashes of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, Satoshi etched a timeless commentary in this first block’s code; “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” In congruence with today’s zeitgeist for the decentralization of finance, we interpret Satoshi’s message as a rebuke to central bank monetary manipulation, since Bitcoin’s vision for “A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” could make such actions obsolete over time. As mentioned, however, Bitcoin’s role in the emergent decentralized financial system may not manifest as originally imagined. In 2021, is Bitcoin truly peer-to-peer electronic cash, as asserted in the Bitcoin Whitepaper? If not, then what forces continue to drive Bitcoin’s price upwards, in addition to burgeoning markets for thousands of other cryptocurrencies? 

Think gold, not cash.

From January 2020 to January 2021, the US Federal Reserve increased the dollar’s monetary base from $3.44T to $5.25T (52.5%); in other words, about a third of all circulating US dollars were printed after 2019. In contrast, Bitcoin’s supply increased from 18.19B to 18.61B (2.3%) in the same time frame. By virtue of its supply’s predictable, decentralized, and deflationary production, Bitcoin became a popular safe-haven asset for investors hedging against fiat inflation. Accordingly, Bitcoin outperformed virtually every other asset class in 2020—including the millennia-old incumbent store of value, gold. While it’s true that gold has real-world industrial and cosmetic applications, these account only for a fraction of its market cap. As institutional and retail investors continue to realize Bitcoin’s superior qualities as a store of value, we believe Bitcoin will garner more acceptance as “Gold 2.0.”

But what about peer-to-peer electronic cash?

In 2017, it became clear that Bitcoin’s usefulness as peer-to-peer electronic cash was impractical in its current form. Simply put, Bitcoin was bottle-necked by limitations in its code that capped the network at roughly 7 transactions per second. However, debates about whether to or how to address these concerns were controversial among Bitcoin developers, ultimately leading to the creation of “forks.” These forks, such as Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) are essentially new blockchains independent from Bitcoin’s original network. However, these projects struggle with concerns about network decentralization and security

While transactability is important for utility as peer-to-peer electronic cash, network security is paramount—without it, Bitcoin would have no underlying value. Is the vision for peer-to-peer electronic cash dead, then? Will Bitcoin always be too slow and expensive to transact for coffee? We think not, long-term. At Sarson Funds, we continue to monitor the market for technologies promising scalability for Bitcoin payments without compromising the security of its core network. With institutional players like Visa, Paypal, and Square stepping into the space, payment solutions seem like only a matter of time. In the meantime, however, Bitcoin investors may have to be content with the world’s first cryptocurrency serving only as the ultimate decentralized digital store of value. That’s a pretty good start if you ask me.

Defi Demystified: The Investor Guide to Decentralized Finance

Investor Guide to DeFi: Sarson Funds Cryptocurrency Financial Advisor

Investor Guide to DeFi: Sarson Funds Cryptocurrency Financial Advisor

Defi Demystified: The Investor Guide to Decentralized Finance

Over the past few months, Sarson Funds has focused much of our analyst efforts on exploring the capabilities of decentralized financial protocols, commonly known as DeFi. DeFi has become the hottest trend in crypto over the last year, with new protocols being built every day in an effort to tokenize and decentralize traditional financial services. As of February 23rd, the total value locked in DeFi was $37.5 billion, marking an incredible uptick in investment and innovation since this time last year, when DeFi’s total value locked was under $1 billion.

As the DeFi ecosystem develops, we see it as our fiduciary responsibility to provide our community with the information they need to best understand and harness this emerging frontier of decentralized financial capabilities, so we unveil the highly anticipated Defi Demystified: The Investor Guide to Decentralized Finance.

Crafted by CIO Daniyal Inamullah, CFA and Sr. Blockchain Analyst Jacob Stelter, DeFi Demystified presents an in-depth overview of DeFi, its capabilities, and the future of the ecosystem. Our aim is to provide the financial advising community with a credible source to better understand the power of crypto from both Wall Street and crypto experts.

As news and inquiries about this emerging ecosystem arise, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for the best-in-class DeFi education and investment strategies.

For more on us, please visit, or schedule an appointment with one of our teammates, here.

Sarson Funds’ Crypto & Income Strategy is Best Performing Fund in Q4 2020

Sarson Funds Crypto Strategy Award

Sarson Funds Crypto Strategy Award

Sarson Funds’ Crypto & Income Strategy is Best Performing Fund in Q4 2020

By: Liam McDonald

Key Takeaways:

  • Crypto fund managers saw record performance numbers in 2020, according to CryptoFund Performance.
  • Sarson Funds’ Crypto & Income Strategy received top performance honors for Q4 2020.
  • Financial advisors are seeking new strategies for investors as the blockchain ecosystem grows and regulatory clarity is enhanced.

According to Crypto Fund Research, Sarson Funds’ Crypto & Income Strategy (Ax Momentum, LP) was the best performing crypto fund and best performing crypto quant fund of Q4 2020, recording a 315.9% return for the quarter and a 365.7% return for the year. This award was picked up by Yahoo in a recent release, here.

The Crypto & Income Strategy is the first in the cryptocurrency space to turn one of the biggest complaints about investing in cryptocurrency – volatility – into a useful feature: current income. The strategy does this through a covered call writing program on some of the largest cryptocurrencies trading on established US-based exchanges as well as staking and masternodes. As financial advisors look to fill the void for client yield, the Crypto & Income Strategy has seen a surging amount of interest from investment managers.

“Part of our responsibility is to provide investors with both unbiased education and diverse transparent strategies to compliment the developing cryptocurrency regulatory and market landscape. With this comes new opportunities, and we expect other top performing crypto fund managers to look at expanding digital asset investment options as the asset class continues to mature,” Sarson Funds CEO John Sarson said in a statement.

For more information about us and cryptocurrency investor education, please visit, or schedule an appointment with one of our teammates, here.

How Ethereum is Paving the Way for the Future of NFTs

How Ethereum is Paving the Way for the Future of NFTs

For those of you who find yourself venturing into the world of cryptocurrency, you’ve heard the basics. Bitcoin is the most common cryptocurrency in this industry, and while its capabilities are spectacular, we wanted to redirect readers’ focus to the importance of Ethereum, specifically highlighting how it allows for the growth and development of NFT’s. Now, whether or not you have heard the name, this blockchain has proven to play an integral role in shaping the crypto markets today and is a name you should certainly be aware of. 

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is an open-sourced blockchain that was created in July 2015 to support decentralized applications and smart-contract functionality. It was created to expand upon Bitcoin’s capabilities by introducing the usage of smart contracts. Its system is entirely autonomous as well, encouraging users to create decentralized apps (dApps). Ethereum’s non-fungible token standard, ERC-271, is the blockchain used to power NFTs.

What is an NFT?

You may have heard the term “NFT” passed around from time to time and question what exactly that means. NFTs, also known as ‘Non-fungible tokens, are extremely unique digital assets that can tokenize anything from a collector’s item such as baseball cards to intangible items such as a domain name. Remember those Pokemon cards you used to save as a kid or that Babe Ruth rookie card people only dreamed they could come across? Well, those are what we call Non-fungible items because they can not be interchanged for another of their kind. So, a non-fungible token is a digitized non-fungible item on the blockchain that tracks the changing ownership and value of this digital non-fungible over time. To put it into perspective, an example of a fungible item is the U.S. Dollar bill or an ERC-20 token – their values are both interchangeable in terms of value and usage.

How does Ethereum play a role?

Ownership of these tokens is distributed via the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum allows for the reduction of the middle man as Ethereum addresses allow for direct connections between creator and purchaser. The Ethereum blockchain also allows individuals to trace back to see who the previous owners of the NFT were, and at which price, allowing one to see firsthand how the creator’s work was valued overtime in the progression of their NFT’s value.  This can be thought of in the same way as a record of the first person to own van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or the Beatles’ autographed copy of ‘Abbey Road.’ The Ethereum platform makes these transactions possible by storing the data securely through their blockchain technology and recording the information via smart contracts.

Why is this intriguing?

The uniqueness component of NFT’s is truly what separates them from other tokens, as they provide a possible solution to the issues stemming from the sales of counterfeit goods. These tokens can be easily identified and verified for legitimacy. That being said, the tokens are not tradable on exchanges, as they contain unique data separate from exchange-traded tokens. In particular, the gaming and art industries have found success in the utilization of NFTs.  Popular gaming companies tokenize certain avatars and in-game add-ons to make profits.  For example, a $270,000 digital cat that was sold as an NFT by CryptoKitties’ Dragon. Aside from gaming, the value of certain digital assets such as Twitter handles, domain names, merchandise, art, music, and more propel immense monetary benefits that people often overlook. This is attributed to the scarce quantity of these assets and their inability to be duplicated. This is something that has been lacking in the digital industry as the masses have access to all sorts of information, yet have not been able to own it themselves, whereas now, the select few who are willing to pay, can. 

What does this mean for the future?

Since the first NFT launch in 2017, the market has shown strong and consistent growth. With the current total market spend at about $207 million it has not taken long for people to see the value in these digital assets. With the indication that Ethereum’s‘ layer 2’ scaling will make its debut in the near future, these transactions will be both faster and cheaper. Many creators are beginning to tip the iceberg into exploring the possibilities of NFTs value in the music industry as well. Artists now have the ability to monetize in the digital space, not only their work but their merchandise, tickets, and even more, driving up rightful value and alluding to a new exclusivity factor and status from digital ownership. We are also likely to see music festivals, where your ticket appears in a unique QR code-based NFT, proving the ownership of the ticket and the validity of their purchase upon entry. As more creators realize the capabilities they will gain from tokenizing their work, brands, art, games, and more, the world of NFTs will likely transform into a collector’s digital haven. 

Abigail Almonte

Ethereum: Pioneering the Future of Financial Services

Ethereum: The Future of Financial Services

Ethereum: The Future of Financial Services

Congratulations—you’ve made it down the Bitcoin rabbit hole, and now you’re asking the tougher questions. If Bitcoin is the ultimate digital store of value, then what are all these other cryptocurrencies up to? What is Ethereum, how does it differ from Bitcoin, and why are prominent investors suddenly talking about it? Perhaps you’ve seen Ethereum’s (ETH’s) impressive price appreciation and are curious about future price movement. In this article, we will uncover Ethereum’s present use cases, recent price appreciation, and remaining upside potential.

Native to the Ethereum network, Ether (ETH) is a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. However, Bitcoin’s value is commonly understood as a function of its adoption as a decentralized and deflationary store of value. In contrast, Ether’s value is derived from user demand for smart contract execution on the Ethereum network. In essence, smart contracts execute decentralized applications (dApps) automatically, creating value in part by eliminating the need for central authority. Because Ethereum’s bandwidth is limited, users pay transaction fees with Ether to incentivize miners (network transaction validators) to process smart contract execution. Since anyone can create a dApp, the Ethereum network has become a vibrant and competitive ecosystem for technological innovation. With promising opportunities to decentralize and automate (read: disrupt) some of the world’s most valuable markets in finance, logistics, real estate, and more, exposure to Ethereum and its dApps may be a critical component to the modern investor’s successful portfolio.

So, what dApps exist today that contribute to Ethereum’s soaring values? Lending protocols such as Aave (AAVE) and Compound (COMP) enable users to earn interest or borrow crypto instantly. Synthetix (SNX) enables users to issue and trade synthetic assets that track the price of external assets, such as US dollars or exchange-traded stocks, making derivatives more accessible and liquid. Decentralized exchange (DEX) protocols like Uniswap (UNI) facilitate automated trading of Ethereum tokens through liquidity pools, allowing users to maintain custody of their assets as opposed to being held by centralized exchanges. Though these are only several examples, these rapidly growing dApps demonstrate real adoption and represent a broader wave of change which echoes Bitcoin’s ethos of decentralization: the decentralization of finance, or “DeFi.” Observing this trend begs the question: How much higher can ETH’s valuation go?

At the time of writing, Ethereum’s market cap is hovering around $200B USD; one year ago, today, that figure was $13B. Still, Ethereum accounts for only a miniscule share of wealth when compared to the stock markets. Globally, stock markets have an estimated value approaching $90T. But the financial markets don’t end there. Low-end estimates of global derivatives markets are $560 trillion. High-end estimates reach as high as $1.2 quadrillion. Considering the recent advent of dApps like Synthetix, it seems that Ethereum may just be getting started tapping into these markets.

When faced with Ethereum’s exploding levels of innovation and adoption, it is easy to get carried away with such numbers. In truth, nobody can precisely predict the extent to which Blockchains such as Ethereum will continue to replace legacy financial systems. Nevertheless, it is crucial to understand the enormity of Ethereum’s upside potential and consider the risk of not being exposed to its growth. At Sarson Funds, we believe the trend of decentralization will continue to manifest itself through Ethereum and other blockchain-based technologies like DeFi. For education and news updates on other emerging cryptocurrency sectors like NFTs, DAOs, stablecoins, internet-of-things, data sovereignty, and more, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and check out our newsroom.

Nathan Frankovitz

Long on Bitcoin: Institutional Investment Driving Recent Crypto Bull Run

Institutions Driving Recent Crypto Bull Run

Institutions Driving Recent Crypto Bull Run

This past weekend, Bitcoin’s price reached nearly $50,000. While the end of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 have seen astronomical moves for the prices of most digital assets, the bull run we are experiencing can be credited to the influx of institutional confidence that has been poured into the crypto market by some of the most influential companies in the world.

Incited by PayPal announcing their integration of cryptocurrency payments in October 2020, the institutional acceptance has been exploding. Since then, the largest institutional crypto allocations in history have taken place.

MicroStrategy, originally a business intelligence firm, has become a Bitcoin firm. The firm announced their first bitcoin purchase in August, locking in $250 million in BTC. Since then, the company has purchased Bitcoin more aggressively than any other company in the world, with $3.3 billion in holdings as of Friday – about 71,000 bitcoins. MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor commented in a statement on Bloomberg TV, “In an expansionary, monetary environment, you want scarce assets… The scarcest asset in the world is Bitcoin. It’s digital gold.”

And scarcity is becoming the universal sentiment. Bitcoin is the scarcest asset on the market with a widespread existential dilemma: everyone wants more of it, but there’s not enough left. With MicroStrategy leading the charge for institutional investment, companies worldwide are racing to secure their own Bitcoin. Just last week, Tesla announced an allocation of $1.5 billion towards Bitcoin, the largest single investment in the asset’s history. Tesla’s investment gave the token even more legitimacy, inspiring the recent bull run for Bitcoin and congruent tokens to the new all time highs reached over the past week. 

While notables, MicroStrategy and Tesla are not the pioneers to this allocation. Crypto’s recognition is spreading across industries, from Wall Street to Hollywood celebrities. Guggenheim recently released a statement saying that they are considering a possible allocation of up to 10% of their $5.3 billion Macro Opportunities Fund. Alliance-Bernstein followed suit, saying the cryptocurrencies do have a place in asset allocation. 

Not only are institutions investing, some are really getting in on the fun. JPMorgan recently announced their new digital asset branch, Onyx, as well as their new stablecoin, the JPM Coin, for interbank and worldwide transaction efficiency. Alongside JPMorgan, Fidelity Digital Assets is becoming one of the largest crypto custodying and lending companies in the game, with Goldman Sachs and similar entities following suit in providing digital asset services as well as blockchain development.

Of course, new all time highs are exciting, and they are blinding for any asset and its audience. But what’s different between the current bull run and 2017’s is that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are not experiencing as much volatility. Yes, Bitcoin’s price has the potential to rise and fall significantly everyday, but its value is holding up – its momentum and belief system is solidifying – and this legitimacy is stronger than ever before. These large corporations are giving crypto the validity that it needs to be widely accepted, which raises the question: if these renowned firms are investing, why aren’t you?

For more information on Bitcoin, digital assets, or are curious about how to invest, please visit our website or reach out to one of our team members, here.

Liam McDonald