Will it be a game-changer to the existing financial system?
What is DeFi
As an alternative to traditional banking, DeFi provides the same financial services without any traditional central authority or intermediaries.
This brand-new financial ecosystem is built upon the use of blockchains, which stores digital information within an immutable, trusted and distributed network, as well as cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts. Without a central authority, DeFi allows everyone in the world to engage with a spectrum of financial services, like payments, lending, borrowing, investing, and manage their wealth portfolio with high autonomy and less barriers.
Developers can create DeFi applications (DApps) on blockchain for the purpose of minting, storing, and managing crypto assets. Smart contracts bind the irreversible agreements between two sides without the need for a middleman, making the whole financial system becomes resilient and transparent.
The growth of DeFi
The total market cap of DeFi is ever growing along with the surge of DeFi protocols. The total value locked in DeFi’s applications has proliferated immensely throughout these two years. According to DAppTotal, the total value locked worth as of Sep 12, 2019 is over USD1.22 billion, which is a big leap from only USD180 million a year ago. The total ETH and EOS locked in DApp circulations is 3.11% and 10.02% respectively. The figures clearly demonstrate the significant growth of DeFi apps and are also positive signs for future DeFi development.
Out of the many sectors in DeFi, the most fast-growing and promising one is borrowing and lending.
With this kind of peer-to-peer and trustless lending platform, getting a loan would be straightforward and timesaving. Individuals can access to a much wider pool of lenders and get a loan without complicated steps. At the same time, lenders can make passive income, or at least not making any lose, because most crypto lending so far is over-collateralized.
Thus, this open, secure, and transparent nature of blockchain allows DeFi to incubate more and more lending products and platforms, in which EOS REX and Maker are dominating the market, accounting for 32% and 24% of the total value locked in DeFi respectively.
EOS REX — Grow your holdings simply by staking
EOS REX, a resource exchange system, has surged to become the largest decentralized finance platform, with roughly USD 361.15M locked up in its platform since its launch in April 2019. According to DAppTotal. It has replaced the leading position of MakerDAO (USD 262M) which used to top the market.
EOS REX stands a very niche position in the market because while almost every DApp is built on Ethereum, it is one of the few Dapps building on EOS.
App developers need three essential resources, namely RAM, CPU, and NET, to build their own DApps. These resources are all held by EOS holders. However, a majority of them just stake EOS to simply keep the resources without utilizing them, and thus scarcity happens.
Given that the demand for resources is high, and the cost of purchasing them is high, too, EOS REX provides a resource rental option for developers to save much cost.
As the largest EOS decentralized financial platform, EOS REX allows EOS holders to stake their tokens and lend their resources to gain rewards. Borrowers pay EOS as a fee in exchange of the resources. In the end, when lenders unstake their EOS, they earn rewards in a passive and risk-free way.
Source: DAppTotal (https://www.dapptotal.com/defi)
OKEx Pool is another trending staking protocol. It offers one-stop mining and trading services for users. Currently, the platform supports the mining of a plethora of PoW, PoS, and PoS-variant assets.
Its recently launched IOST staking service offers 4 staking period options and up to 9.88% estimated annualized yield. In addition to providing a promising way to earn rewards and diversify one’s portfolio, it is expected to support more tokens on the platform soon.
Similarly, Savings, provided by OKEx, is a value-added service tied to the platform’s margin lending service. Not only does it allow users to deposit and withdraw crypto assets anytime, users can also earn daily interest reward — just by simply putting their spare crypto assets in their accounts. No minimum deposit requirement. At the same time, the Savings guarantees high assets security with its sophisticated risk management system.
MakerDAO is a decentralized application that runs entirely on the Ethereum blockchain and automated smart contracts. In essence, it allows users lock Ethereum (ETH) into smart contract as collateral to secure loans in its unique stablecoin called DAI.
For each DAI, there is $1.5 of ETH locked into the MakerDAO smart contract as collateral. If the amount of collateral falls below 150%, then the smart contract is auto-liquidated with a 13% forced-liquidation fee plus the annual stability fee (annual interest rate for the loan).
Part of its charm is that DAI’s value is pegged to the U.S. dollar, and it always stays around $1, thanks to its dual coin system, Maker (MKR) and Dai (DAI), which brings price stability to crypto assets.
What is more, it provides liquidity to ETH holders. While retaining ownership of ETH, holders have access to a liquid and non-volatile fund (DAI) for trading cryptocurrency with leverage, or other purposes. If the price of ETH increases during the loan period, their collateral will increase in value as well, thus earn more when they pay off the debt.
Despite the consistent increase in MakerDAO’s annual stability fees over the past few months, the fee is drastically reduced from 18.5% to 12.5%. It was once being criticized for being too fluctuating and setting too high.
Benefits of DeFi
Easy access with untapped resources
The unbanked population can gain access to financial services such as savings, payments, loans, mortgages and insurance services. With access to the internet and a few clicks to create a crypto account, DeFi opens up unparalleled opportunities for people to control their assets, invest and trade, with minimum to zero barriers. They can even put their cryptocurrency in the wallet and earn interests and borrow money without any credit history but only with crypto as collateral, which would be easy for start-ups to grow.
It provides more options when taking out loans or lending crypto. For example, after taking out a DAI loan from MakerDAO, user can convert it to other cryptocurrencies to gain leverage, creating different possibilities to further invest.
Cheaper, efficient and convenient
As everything is built on blockchain, financial services will never be the same. We can enjoy high efficiency brought by the system and save cost as the charges we pay for bank services does not exist anymore. You can imagine cross-border assets transfer can be quickly done with zero transaction fees. Also, in political or economic unstable countries, where inflation is serious, and loans are difficult. DeFi provides an option for residents to exchange their deposit into cryptocurrency, which could serve the purpose of store of value.
More resilient and transparent
DApps rely on smart contracts, which are open-source and interoperable. This helps developers to understand more about different products and create and contribute more different valuable projects to the whole DeFi space.
Downsides of DeFi
Fiat on/off difficulty for crypto
There are not quite many platforms provide services to convert fiat money to crypto. At the same time, it is generally hard to redeem crypto loans for fiat currencies. As a result, it might be difficult to utilize of the borrowed funds in the real economy.
Investors hesitate to explore DeFi possibilities as the public is in general lack of knowledge about DeFi. They are unfamiliar with smart contracts and could easily lose money just by inputting an incorrect wallet address, although it can be easily solved, it still stands as a barrier for a wider DeFi adoption.
What to expect for DeFi’s future?
In the coming future, it is expected that a larger variety of cryptocurrencies, even assets such as property and collectables would be accepted as collateral, making the lending services more accessible and thus foster the development of DeFi.
At the same time, the services platforms will be more prevalent when more platforms allow people to convert fiat to crypto currency. By then, people must acquire relevant financial knowledge to cope with that.
With the way developments in the DeFi are unfolding, it may be still early to predict its coming trend, yet we should be paying attention to how the dynamics of this brand-new financial ecology shifts and get prepared as always.