Out of $7 bn locked in the whole DeFi niche, crypto lending dApps account for a half of this amount. To put this in perspective, DEXes aggregate only $2 billion. So, what are crypto lending platforms and how can you use them?
What is traditional lending?
Lending in traditional markets is a fundamental concept originated many years ago together with a definition of debt, but in crypto everything has just begun. Summer 2020 saw an influx of daily active users on top of such projects as MakerDAO, Compound and Aave – the platforms enabling their clients to lend and borrow a diverse range of cryptocurrencies.
Let’s take a deeper look at how these platforms work, but before we do so, here is how the concept of lending functions in traditional markets.
A lender is a financial institution that makes funds available to you, a borrower, with the expectation that you will repay the funds with an interest or fees after some time. While borrowing from a bank, you will be assessed based on your credit history and a pledged collateral.
Collateral may take the form of real estate or other kinds of assets that the lender will accept as security for a loan. Once you default on your loan payments, the lender can seize your collateral to recoup some or all of the losses.
What is crypto lending?
Why was the concept of traditional lending important to explain? Because it’s almost the same with the crypto markets, except… it’s not quite the same!
First of all, all of crypto lending services are based on blockchain, mostly on the Ethereum blockchain, although not necessary, which means no traditional banks or custodians.
In addition to that, market players manipulate with quite different assets and have to know where and how to purchase them.
And last but not least, the volatility in the crypto market is huge, so be prepared for your loans to be generally more than 100% collateralized.
This is what an ecosystem of the crypto-lending niche looks like:
Crypto lenders are not banks, they might be centralized entities, such as Genesis Capital, Unchained Capital, BlockFi, OTC desks or exchanges that use margin lending and trading, or decentralized ones.
The latter are protocols that rely on smart contracts to automate the distribution of loans and interest payments. These are the ones we will be talking about in this article: Maker, Compound and ETHLend.
Crypto borrowers normally wish to trade and can pledge collateral in the form of cash or crypto
Crypto lending platforms, interestingly, play the role of a middleman or a matchmaker in this game.
Although there are centralized crypto lending services, we’re going to talk about these platforms in DeFi since it’s a hot topic these days.
Top crypto lending platforms in DeFi
According to DappRadar, top three crypto lending platforms in DeFi, as of writing, are Aave, MakerDAO and Compound.
There are many more crypto lending services out there, of course, which you can see for yourself if you go to DappRadar. But for educational purposes, it will be enough to get familiar with at least top three of them in terms of total value locked.
Aave ($1,54 bn of total value locked)
As their website states, Aave (from the Finnish word for “ghost”) is an open-source and non-custodial protocol enabling decentralized lending and borrowing. Lenders provide liquidity to the market, to earn a passive income, while borrowers are able to borrow in an overcollateralized or undercollateralized fashion.
Lenders earn on ERC20-compliant aTokens at a 1:1 ratio to supplied assets. Meaning, while lending 36 Dai, they receive 36 aTokens (36 aDai).
Interest rates adjust algorithmically based on supply and demand, but Aave lets borrowers opt in to and out of (at any time) a stable rate that changes less often. From borrowers, a 0.00001% of the loan amount is collected on loan origination and 0.09% from Flash Loans, a developers oriented feature that allows to borrow any available amount of assets without collateral.
Compound ($621,2 mln of total value locked)
Compound is an algorithmic money-market protocol on Ethereum that allows you to borrow or lend funds and earn interest for providing liquidity. Rates adjust automatically based on supply and demand.
Just like in the Aave case, supplied asset balances are represented by ERC20-minted tokens, but on top of Compound, they’re called cTokens. Now, imagine you’ve accelerated a certain amount of cTokens on your account after lending funds, now you can borrow up to 50-75% of their cTokens’ value, depending on the quality of the underlying asset
The Compound protocol sets aside 10% of interest paid as reserves; the rest goes to suppliers.
C.R.E.A.M. Finance ($250.6 mln of total value locked)
C.R.E.A.M. Finance stands for Crypto Rules Everything Around Me. It is a peer-to-peer lending platform focused on providing lending, exchange, payment, and asset tokenization services.
The main feature of this platform is bringing liquidity to the underserved assets, such as stablecoins (USDT, USDC, BUSD, yCRV, etc), governance tokens (COMP, BAL, YFI, LEND, CRV, CREAM, MTA, SUSHI) and others such as ETH, LINK, and renBTC.
Since 1st September 2020, CREAM has made the switch from Ethereum to Binance Smart Chain (BSC).
Yield farmers who create and deposit assets into liquidity pools on Cream Swap’s platform receive Cream Pool Tokens (CRPT).
Summer 2020 saw an influx of daily active users on top of such projects as MakerDAO, Compound and Aave – the platforms enabling their clients to lend and borrow a diverse range of cryptocurrencies.
Out of $7 bn locked in the whole DeFi niche, crypto lending platforms account for a half of this amount.
Crypto lending services are based on blockchain, mostly on the Ethereum blockchain, although not necessary, which means no traditional banks or custodians.
DeFi crypto lending platforms have experienced a hype this summer attracting around $10 billion into their smart contracts.
Based on these numbers we might conclude that migration of banking to blockchain seems like a natural next step for the whole crypto niche and will only evolve.
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