Crypto lending might be the hot new product in the cryptocurrency space, but before you dive in be sure to first understand what it entails. The concept grew great traction with the rise of the decentralized finance (DeFi) movement, with platforms offering users high yields for borrowing crypto assets.
Let’s get started with what crypto lending is, and then explore how the product works.
What is crypto lending?
Crypto lending is a traditional banking service curated to the crypto world. With the DeFi space remains largely unregulated, many crypto exchanges and other platforms have started offering these services, with added security.
Crypto lending involves a user lending crypto assets to a platform in return for interest, which allows other users to then borrow said crypto assets, paying interest on the amount borrowed. The platform will then take a small percentage of the interest paid.
Depending on the platform and other factors, crypto lending platforms may be centralized or decentralized and offer exceptionally high-interest rates, with annual percentage yields (APYs) of 15% or more. With the interest rates being higher than traditional bank accounts, lenders gain access to much greater yields, increasing their returns.
Another advantage to crypto lending is that users are still exposed to price gains in the market. Meaning that if you deposit your Bitcoin when it's worth $20,000 and the price rises in value to $50,000, you are still able to realize these returns and earn interest for the duration of the loan.
Note that interest rates might fluctuate with market conditions on some platforms, increasing when the prices increase and decreasing when markets are down.
How does crypto lending work?
Cryptocurrency lending platforms function as middlemen connecting lenders to borrowers. Lenders deposit their digital currency into high-interest lending accounts, and borrowers utilize the lending platform to acquire loans. These systems then lend money utilizing the crypto that investors have provided them.
The platform controls its net interest margins by establishing the interest rates for both lending and borrowing.
Rates on platforms differ from cryptocurrency to cryptocurrency, some platforms might offer higher interest rates to lenders willing to commit to a certain time frame. There is no standard interest rate for cryptocurrencies, as each platform has its own set of rules.
Centralized crypto lending means putting your money in the hands of a corporation or other entity to manage and make the process easier. Accounts are created for borrowers and lenders, and loans may be requested by applicants.
Lenders and borrowers may connect their cryptocurrency wallets to a decentralized crypto lending protocol, which uses smart contracts to automate the lender-borrower relationship. Smart contracts are automated digital agreements that execute once certain criteria is met.
The advantages of crypto lending
There are several benefits to crypto lending when comparing it to a regular bank account.
Borrowers have access to these financial services without having to pass a credit check, making it more financially inclusive than traditional banking services. They are also exposed to lower interest rates than regular banking loans.
Lenders that give loans in the form of cryptocurrencies can make a lot more money from their crypto assets than savings accounts. It may also be a more adaptable choice to crypto staking, which requires users to lock up their cryptocurrency and submit it to a blockchain security method. Depending on the platform, lending usually gives users access to their funds.
The downside to crypto lending
The agreement with crypto loan companies is generally made on individual terms by institution borrowers. As interest rates vary across platforms and cryptocurrencies, each company is different.
There have been several cases where lending platforms have been hit by severe liquidity crisis, notably Celsius, Voyager Digital, and BlockFi. Glenn Huybrecht, COO of Cake DeFi, said, “Some lending providers have been very generous with low collateral requirements, which then puts them in hot water when one of their customer's defaults.”
Due to the ongoing regulation battles, these crypto services are also not backed by government safety nets, like the traditional banks are. However, some platforms do hold insurance and the necessary regulatory accreditations so be sure to seek one that has all of the above.
Crypto lending platforms differ greatly from one another so be sure to check each platform, their interest rates for all the various currencies supported, and if there are any lock-up periods or fees payable.