How Decentralized Lending Works: A Beginner’s Guide

The traditional financial system can make it difficult for many people globally to access loans and other credit services. Decentralized lending aims to change this by connecting lenders and borrowers directly using blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

Disintermediating Credit With Blockchain

Decentralized lending disintermediates credit by removing central authorities through peer-to-peer transactions on a blockchain. Borrowers can receive loans from individual lenders all over the world, facilitated by smart contracts. This opens access to affordable credit by expanding the pool of capital and lenders.

Platforms like Compound and Aave allow you to lend and borrow crypto assets. You can lend your Ethereum and earn interest paid in more Ethereum. Borrowers leverage their crypto as collateral to take out loans in stablecoins or other assets.

The Benefits of Decentralized Lending

Why choose decentralized lending over traditional finanancial institutions? Some key advantages include:

  • Accessible to anyone globally with an internet connection
  • Transparent interest rates and fees – everything is visible on-chain
  • No credit checks – crypto collateral secures loans instead of credit scores
  • Automated through smart contracts – no manual approvals needed
  • Tap liquidity from a global capital pool, increasing competition which can lower rates

This open model has the potential to offer fairer and cheaper access to loans for more people.

Risks and Drawbacks

However, decentralized lending on blockchain also comes with risks to consider:

  • Smart contract bugs can lead to loss of funds
  • High volatility in crypto collateral value
  • Overcollateralization required – borrowers may need 2x+ collateral
  • Liquidation if collateral ratio falls too low
  • Regulatory uncertainty remains in many jurisdictions

Users should closely manage collateral ratios and be cautious of putting up too much crypto for loans. Platforms need thorough auditing and testing. Oversight is still developing when it comes to decentralized finance.

A Real World Example

To better understand these concepts, let’s walk through a hypothetical peer-to-peer loan on a decentralized lending platform:

Tom wants a $10,000 cash loan but has no credit history. With traditional lenders he would not qualify. But with decentralized lending, Tom can use Ethereum as collateral instead of a credit check. He deposits $25,000 worth of ETH into a smart contract as collateral, and takes out a 1 year, 10% APR loan of 10,000 USDC (a stablecoin).

Jane has $15,000 worth of spare stablecoins earning low interest in a CeFi account. She connects her wallet to the decentralized lending platform, and lends $10,000 USDC to Tom to earn 10% APR instead. The contract transfers her USDC to Tom, collateralized by his ETH.

This allows Tom to access credit without credit checks, and Jane to earn much higher interest on her assets. Other lenders worldwide can also provide capital, improving rates through competition.

Give DeFi Lending a Try

As blockchain technology matures, decentralized lending has the potential to expand access to affordable credit globally. Though risks exist, the transparency, automation, and disintermediation of DeFi lending opens new opportunities for both borrowers and lenders.

Ready to get started? Platforms like Nexo make it easy to begin earning interest on your crypto, or using it as collateral to obtain loans. You can sign up in minutes and experience the next generation of digital asset credit services.

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