Cryptocurrency lending takes many forms, but the core principles are intuitively understandable to anyone familiar with traditional bank loans. A lender provides a specific amount of crypto based on the borrower’s collateral, and the customer repays the principal and interest at a predetermined rate. They are free to use the funds received in any way they like.
There are many uses for crypto loans. For example, one may buy goods or services, refinance existing debt, invest in business development, or purchase other cryptocurrencies expected to gain value.
Why use crypto loans?
Crypto loans benefit both lenders and borrowers. In the P2P model, lenders generate additional income from the funds they hold but do not use. They make their dormant holdings work and earn a yield that may be much higher than that on fiat bank deposits.
For borrowers, these loans are quicker, more flexible, and more accessible than conventional services. They may get cash for everyday needs without credit checks or selling their crypto. Moreover, keeping ownership of the collateral means that future gains may eclipse the borrowing costs.
Understanding crypto collateral
As the crypto market is still experiencing growing pains, volatility may spike, and miscalculations may bring losses for both parties. To minimize such risks, crypto lenders require collateral — a safeguard adopted from conventional finance.
Typically, unlike a consumer fiat loan, crypto loans are overcollateralized. Hence, an applicant must pledge funds whose value exceeds the amount they want to borrow. This proportion is determined by the LTV (Loan-to-Value) rate — for instance, 50% LTV means one may get an amount equal to half the value of their collateral.
Upon full repayment, the customer gets their collateral back. Failure to pay the debt and/or maintain a certain LTV throughout the life of the loan results in liquidation — passing their collateral to the lender.
Top 6 platforms
Over the past few years, the crypto lending model has solidified, and the sector is growing rapidly. Exchanges and platforms have already issued loans worth millions. The teams running them are confident that crypto lending will only become more popular in the future due to such benefits as the absence of verifications and the opportunity to borrow fiat in a tax-free arrangement.
Many more startups could enter this promising market soon. Here is an overview of six prominent crypto loan platforms in 2023.
YouHodler is a trusted crypto lending platform offering a simple, secure, and transparent way to borrow and earn passive income on digital assets. Based in Switzerland, it offers crypto-backed loans in cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, and fiat. The collateral options include 50 top cryptocurrencies.
On YouHodler, one can apply for loans with a minimum amount of $100 and a repayment period of up to 364 days. The company also offers crypto savings accounts, trading solutions, and web and mobile wallets. As it accepts credit cards, stablecoins, and bank wires, moving funds into and out of their accounts is easy.
The YouHodler wallet app is free and intuitive. At press time, the wallet app supports 8 stablecoins and 52 cryptos. Generally, the fees and exchange rates are comparable with other platforms.
YouHodler’s key advantages are a transparent legal setup, attractive yield rates, LTVs reaching 90%, and highly rated customer service. However, it is not available in the US due to legal restrictions, and the company could be more transparent about its profitability model. Finally, fiat transactions carry higher fees than other methods.
CoinLoan is a pioneering crypto lending platform based in Tallinn, Estonia. A licensed financial institution regulated in the EU, it prides itself on its zero-incident track record. As the name suggests, crypto loans are the company’s main focus, although it also offers interest accounts, an exchange, and a wallet working within its ecosystem.
With enough collateral, borrowers can take out loans in fiat, stablecoins, and crypto. Moreover, fiat-to-crypto loans work both ways: one may choose fiat as the loan or the collateral currency. LTV rates reach 70%, while the duration ranges from one month to three years, with an opportunity to customize it.
On CoinLoan, “everything is just one click away” thanks to an intuitive interface. As of this writing, loans are available in 15 different currencies, including BTC and ETH, leading stablecoins, EUR, and GBP. In addition, the deposit feature (fixed and flexible) supports over 20 assets, both digital and fiat.
CoinLoaners manage their funds in a trusted crypto management environment with multi-layer security, and the company is more open about its yield generation processes than before. Staking the company’s own token (CLT) unlocks the most attractive yield rates, but this requirement may be viewed as a disadvantage.
This prominent platform based in Singapore offers loans with LTV of up to 50% and customizable repayment schedules. Users may also reduce the interest rate by staking Cronos (CRO), the company’s native token. After entering your deposit amount into the online calculator, you can see how much you can borrow, the annual percentage, and the monthly interest in USD.
Crypto.com is a well-established name in the crypto space, with over 70 million users in 90 countries. Aside from borrowing, customers can use an exchange, a DeFi wallet, and the Crypto Earn service bringing interest on 37+ cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. The mobile app supports payments for goods and services, crypto transfers, and more.
On the downside, the lowest interest rates are only available to those who stake CRO. All cash-back rewards and other perks are also denominated in the native token.
One of the most famous decentralized environments, MakerDAO, has a unique lending model. Its internal economics is based on two tokens — MKR and DAI. The latter is a stablecoin, the only loan currency whose value is supported by multiple mechanisms.
Upon launch in 2017, the DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) accepted only one collateral currency — Ether. Since then, it has become more versatile, and users may now pledge different Ethereum-based assets.
One of the advantages of loans in Dai is predictable value — the token has generally remained true to its soft peg to the US dollar. Therefore, wherever the crypto market goes, borrowers have peace of mind knowing that the amount they owe does not see-saw following dramatic bearish or bullish swings.
Ledn is a Canadian crypto lending platform that helps you “experience the real-life benefits of your Bitcoin without having to sell it.” Users can borrow dollars against Bitcoin, earn a yield on a savings account, or grow their Holdings using B2X loans that are available exclusively on Ledl.
B2X loans require BTC collateral worth $1,000 or more and come with an LTV rate of 50% and a maximum term of 12 months. The platform matches the collateral value, providing an amount twice as big. This feature combines a BTC-backed loan with buying an equal amount of BTC.
Once repayment is complete (users can repay earlier without penalty), the borrower gets their collateral and the newly purchased coins. Standard Ledl loans work similarly, but they may be denominated in USD, USDC, or the user’s local currency.
As the platform is incorporated under the federal laws of Canada, its operations and security measures comply with local laws. On the downside, Ledl only supports two cryptocurrencies —Bitcoin and USDC, and the borrowing costs are above average. Combined with a 2% admin fee, the 9.9% annual interest rate brings the total costs to 11.9% APR. In addition, the USDC savings account has a withdrawal fee of 15 USDC.
Coins and tokens are not the only digital assets that can be turned to collateral for loans. Drops, a decentralized protocol focused on supporting the NFT economy, accepts collateral exclusively in non-fungible tokens. Pledged NFTs are accumulated in pools.
The Drops platform works with popular collections of digital art, including Bored Ape Ya and CryptoPunk. Even exotic collectibles are accepted. At press time, the LTV rate reaches 30%. There are no due dates, and users may also refinance existing loans at interest rates close to 0%.
Like other decentralized lenders, Drops operates without a human team, as all procedures are coded in smart contracts. However, it claims to have a “battle-tested foundation.” The bug bounty program encourages the community to contribute to protocol security.
Is it worth a try?
The crypto loan industry is evolving and maturing, and the range of providers is growing daily. Crypto loans give quick access to new funds without credit checks, proof of income, or having to sell coins or tokens that may gain value. Therefore, those interested in innovative ways of passive income should take a closer look at this instrument.
However, keep in mind that cryptocurrencies are still susceptible to market swings. Lenders that are less open about their internal procedures may pursue risky strategies putting customers’ funds at risk. Thus, the availability of specific coins or tokens is one of many considerations.
Borrowers should also weigh up the pros and cons of centralized and decentralized lending. Centralized platforms like CoinLoan comply with fund and data protection laws, while the DeFi landscape is largely unregulated.
Unlike CEXs conducting KYC and AML checks, decentralized finance relies on smart contracts — self-executing agreements with terms written in their code. DeFi interfaces may be confusing for newbies, but they can learn how smart contracts, oracles, and other innovative features work.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.