Below, brief descriptions of each lender that contributed in some way to this report.
Aave has completely rebuilt their UI and now feels like it belongs on the playground with the rest of the DeFi project. They have shifted away from ETHLend’s P2P model in favor of a pool-based protocol. Liquidity is created by lending assets supplied by their users.
Aave offers users a choice of fixed or variable interest rates.
Their use of flash loans has created an interesting phenomenon where savvy investors can perform a number of actions before having to pay back the original loan.
Bankera Loans is one of the most accessible loan platforms on the market. Loans start from as low as 25 EUR/USD (which is currently the lowest minimum on the market) and go as high as 1M EUR/USD. The platform also offers a high LTV option of 75%, which currently surpasses the 50% industry standard.
BlockFi was an early mover in the crypto lending space, elegantly straddling the traditional vs. crypto finance divide. BlockFi is showing that one possible route to disruption follows regulations meticulously and learns from traditional products.
BlockFi announced the development of BlockFi Institutional Services in October.
The introduction of the IBA account has seen consumer deposits skyrocket over 300%. This gives the firm a much larger pool of assets from which to build their loan book, which in turn gives them a large war chest for institutional lending.
bZx is an open finance protocol designed to support financial applications on Ethereum. bZx enables a large spectrum of lending applications. This is demonstrated by Fulcrum and Torque, developed by the same people who developed the bZx protocol. Fulcrum enables margin lending and trading while Torque provides indefinite, fixed interest rate loans.
Fulcrum launched in June of 2019 with the borrow protocol. Torque was introduced in Q4. We are happy to see the emergence of more DeFi building blocks so that developers can start moving their focus from plumbing to users.
Back in the Middle Ages (mid-2018) Celsius launched IBAs. This was long-before IBAs became popular in the space. The stability and steady returns provided by this product have earned Celsius an enthusiastic fan base. To date, Celsius has distributed over $10 million of interest to its depositors.
Holders of Celsius’ CEL token get better interest rates. This explains why CEL has been one of the best-performing tokens on the market.
Celsius provides liquidity to over 200 institutions.
Compound provides market liquidity by allowing people (businesses or other contracts) to deposit tokens into a pool from which others can borrow.
Compound’s contracts are continuously audited. Audit results are public. This creates a level of trust that helps explain the rush of services and applications being built on top of the protocol. For example, legacy protocols such as Dharma and new players like Constant are currently using Compound as the underlying contracts for their services. IBA services Linen, Gossamer, Outlet have all adopted Compound’s protocol to provide returns for users seeking to stake their stablecoins. Popular DeFi management tools Instadapp, Zerion and Argent use these pools as well.
We love the positive side-effects of composability and expect to see a lot more in the future.
Launching earlier this year, Constant has grown very quickly.
Constant has a wide variety of products tailored toward users’ different needs. These include peer-to-peer loans in which lenders can choose their own terms, or allow Constant to decide for them for a guaranteed rate. Additionally, they have a wide variety of assets (over 50!) they accept as collateral.
Constant runs a Medium blog with articles explaining the basics and some advanced DeFi concepts.
Cred offers a variety of interest rates on several different tokens. Additionally, possession of Cred’s LBA tokens allow users to earn better interest rates on loans. Cred offers lines of credit that have LTV calculations based on current utilization of credit instead of on the originated loan amount.
Cred has a well-deserved reputation as an innovator in the space.
DrawBridge Lending is an institutional lender delivering returns to its clients around 8-12% while offering borrow rates as low as 1% against crypto collateral. So far, so normal, but what really sets DrawBridge apart from the crowd is their use of fancy financial engineering to make sure their borrowers never have to suffer margin calls.
They do this by using options to protect their downside in case the value of the collateral falls through the floor. They pay for these options by capping client upside, which they clearly explain in their literature. For their clientele, this is a great way of earning money from their crypto without having to worry about its volatility.
Another important aspect of DrawBridge’s strategy is that they don’t rehypothecate collateral (i.e., they don’t lend it out), so clients don’t have to worry about downstream systemic risk.
DrawBridge is the only lender with a license to sell BTC derivatives, which makes them a unique player in the institutional lending space.
The folks at dYdX are an ambitious lot, and they ship product, fast
The dYdX platform, a DEX (Decentralized Exchange) for margin trading, has become popular among traders who seek tools that emulate legacy finance.
Last quarter we said we had a feeling we were going to see a lot more interesting stuff from dYdX. So far, we haven’t been wrong. The impending launch of the BTC Perpetual Contract Market promises to be disruptive.
Genesis is a big player in the institutional crypto lending space. Thanks to their traditional roots*, Genesis has had the insight to solve fundamental problems for the lending and trading industries.
Through affiliate relationships, Genesis is able to provide sophisticated hedging instruments to their clients. The one-stop-shop is appealing to counterparties who aren’t interested in dealing with too many moving parts to execute a particular strategy. This has contributed to Genesis’ impressive growth since its founding.
* Genesis Global Capital (sometimes shortened to “Genesis Capital” or even “Genesis”) borrows and lends digital currencies with institutional counterparties. Genesis Global Capital is an affiliate of Genesis Global Trading, a traditional OTC desk for digital currencies.
Genesis Global Trading was founded in 2005. Genesis Global Capital was founded in late 2017.
Helio Lending is a fully-regulated cryptocurrency lender, based in Australia.
Helio allows borrowers to use cryptocurrency as collateral against fiat or stablecoin loans. They offer 3, 6 and 12 month loans on a 70% LTV basis, with a minimum loan size of $2,000 and a maximum of $5,000,000.
Helio offers several unusual loan options including:
- no monthly payment, and
- no margin calls.
In addition, Helio offers a white label solution.
Ledn builds financial products with a mission to help more people save in digital assets. Ledn’s suite of products consists of Borrow – A bitcoin-backed loan which allows customers to access dollars without selling their bitcoin, B2X – Allowing clients to instantly double their bitcoin holdings through the use of a Ledn loan and Save – A bitcoin and USDC savings account that pays interest on bitcoin or USDC with no minimums. For more information visit ledn.io.
Lendingblock is an institutional lending exchange serving hedge funds, lenders, market makers, custodians, traders and other institutional participants. Regulated by the Gibraltar FSC, Lendingblock’s exchange brings clarity and transparency to the institutional lending market, allowing market participants to place orders, view rates and have the entire loan lifecycle managed, including services such as settlement and collateral management.
They reported significant AUM for Q4 which was their first active quarter. With a massive pipeline of counterparties, we expect them to make big moves in 2020.
Q4 saw the maturation of Multi-Collateral DAI (MCD) as user began converting their SAI via Maker’s conversions smart contract as well as opening new MCD Vaults (formerly known as CDP’s) via Makers Oasis app as well as other 3rd party platforms, most notably InstaDapp.
The DSR (DAI Saving Rate) account proved to be exceptionally effective as it has become the industry standard interest rate for DAI.
Maker continues to make use of its distributed governance by adding new forms of collateral at a high rate. WBTC and USDC were made legitimate forms of collateral along with BAT and ETH.
Nexo offers a comprehensive crypto banking account to customers in over 200 jurisdictions. The company has attracted a user base of over 550,000 thanks to its fully automated platform, its seamless mobile app, and a $100M insurance policy on custodial assets provided through Nexo’s partnership with the leading custodian BitGo.
Nexo’s primary product provides instant crypto credit lines that allow Nexo’s customers to always have access to credit in more than 40 fiat currencies and stablecoins. In March 2019, Nexo launched its second product, an IBA that allows its user base to earn up to 8% annually in daily compounding interest on stablecoins, USD, EUR, and GBP.
The upcoming Nexo Card will allow crypto holders to utilize Nexo’s instant crypto credit line for instant ATM withdrawals as well as small and large purchases all over the world.
The NEXO Tokens are dividend-paying and asset-backed tokens. The company shares 30% of its profits in the form of dividends with token holders. Until now close to $3.5M have been distributed to NEXO token holders.
nüo followed the trends seen in other DeFi protocols as borrow-side demand continues to fall in favor of margin lending and exchange activity.
nüo plans to launch NuoScan in early 2020 in order to provide transparency in their system. Along with that, they will be launching the Nuo Exchange which will give the best swap rates across DEXes.
As funds shift towards exchanges and interest bearing liquidity pools, activity on nüo will be interesting to follow.
SALT, the pioneer of crypto-backed lending, launched in 2017 after the company’s founders realized crypto holders needed a way to make their crypto assets more liquid. With SALT, individuals and businesses can use their crypto assets as collateral to secure a fiat or stablecoin loan without having to worry about credit checks.
SALT offers flexible loan terms and accepts multiple crypto assets as collateral including cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, and tokenized gold. SALT offers competitive interest rates and does not charge origination or prepayment fees. When you take out a loan with SALT, your assets are held in deep cold storage segregated accounts and are protected by a robust multi-signature process.
As cryptocurrency becomes more widely adopted and additional real-world assets become tokenized, SALT’s mission is to offer solutions that make it possible for people to securely hold and borrow against their crypto assets.
The Synthetix platform enables the creation of on-chain synthetic assets representing “real world” assets. This allows users to mint stablecoins that are pegged to the price of fiat currencies or create proxies for commodities and equities.
Synthetic assets allow exposure to the price of the underlying asset. In Q1, they launched a loan product but this was put on hold when a bug was discovered in late March
Trinito is a Korean lending protocol that stands out for its transparency. A quick look at the website shows exactly the volumes of supply and borrows broken down by asset.
They are the world’s first non-custodial crypto-to-crypto deposit/borrow service supporting four different mainnets BTC/ETH/XRP/Columbus (Terra). They also have some of the lowest borrow rates anywhere in the world.
Unchained Capital, another pioneer of the crypto lending space, is based in pioneer country: Texas.
Unchained has been steadily growing their lending practice since late 2017, but they’ve clearly been restless. Their Collaborative Custody product (multi-party, multi-sig cold storage) boasts some of the best security practices in the crypto space. This custody solution can be adapted to specific users needs.
When crypto-Twitter insists that third-party custody is anathema it’s easy to forget that asset custody is, in fact, a problem that needs solving, no matter your philosophical bent. A lot of people are comfortable keeping a few hundred dollars of cash in their home, but a few hundred thousand tends to give people nightmares. We think Unchained is on the right track.
Uniswap is an Ethereum-based protocol that is designed to facilitate automatic digital asset exchange between ETH and ERC20 tokens. Uniswap is completely on-chain, and individuals can make use of the protocol as long as they have MetaMask installed.
Most traditional exchanges maintain an order book and use that to match buyers and sellers of a given asset. Uniswap on the other hand, utilizes liquidity reserves to facilitate the exchange of digital assets on its protocol.
Incorporated in Switzerland, with an office in Cyprus, and staff throughout Europe, YouHodler is, literally, all over the place. Although crypto is global, people’s relationship to crypto is most definitely local. Having feet on the ground in various places is a definite advantage, and YouHodler knows that.
YouHodler provides cash loans backed by crypto at the highest LTV in the industry (90%). They are very borrower-focused, offering one of the lowest minimum-loan amounts in the industry, in addition to several savings accounts products. They accept over 12 options for crypto collateral.
YouHodler sells a unique product called Turbo Loans.