This guide takes a look at the best performing and reputed platforms to earn interest in Bitcoin holdings and other cryptocurrencies.
Blockchain technology has so far been successful in disrupting industries across the board, penetrating into everything from supply chains to traditional finance. Riding on the popularity and effectiveness of blockchain technologies, cryptocurrencies have also seen a more legitimate ecosystem created around them.
Cryptocurrency lending has been one of the fastest-growing segments of the blockchain industry, with even institutional investors showing a significant interest in the service. However, individuals with fewer resources than institutions often find it hard to keep up with the increasingly maturing market and sift through the growing competition.
These companies make money by providing collateral-backed loans to users, where they take the crypto deposits and lend them out to various hedge funds and exchanges. These borrowers have to provide collateral equal to 100 percent of their loan in either crypto or cash while paying interest of 15 percent or more.
Those holding Bitcoin that want to take a portion of the profits made by the loan companies can give their coins to them for a return of anywhere between 3 and 8 percent per year.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular and most promising cryptocurrency lending platforms to help users navigate the growing, complex market.
Cred is a global financial services platform based in the San Francisco Bay Area that services customers in 196 countries. Founded in 2018 by former PayPal executives Dan Schatt and Lu Hua, the lending platform aims to harness the power of blockchain to provide low-cost credit products to everyone.
The company also offers tailored services to fit large borrowers and lenders such as institutions or whales, but anyone with an Uphold account can utilize the company’s services.
The unusually large return comes at a small cost. In order to access the 8 percent APY interest rate, users have to stake 10,000 LBA, or around $110 worth of the platform’s native token, the Lend Borrow Asset (LBA). It’s also important to note that while the platform is available in 196 countries worldwide, only 30 U.S. states can access it.
By far the most popular is the basic Cred Earn package, which offers a standard annual percentage yield (APY) of 4 percent. However, those that want to pledge or lend Bitcoin are able to get a preferential rate of 8 percent if they agree to lock-up their coins for a minimum of 6 months.
Created with a goal to compete with the big names in banking, Celsius has set its sight on improving legacy financial infrastructure. Its founders, Alex Mashinsky and Daniel Leon funded the company through a 2017 ICO that raised $50 million.
Just like Cred, Celsius also has a token native to its platform, called the CEL token. However, unlike Cred, Celsius doesn’t require users to stake their token, but uses it as an incentive—those holding CEL are entitled to receive interest bonuses depending on their loyalty levels if they choose to earn interest in CEL tokens.
Currently, the option to earn interest in CEL tokens is not available in the US.
The platform’s standard interest rate on Bitcoin lending is 4.03 percent, while a preferential rate of 6.2 percent is available to users that are willing to accept their payouts in CEL. There is no minimum lockup time, plus the platform offers bonus interest payouts of up to 35 percent to users willing to keep up to 15 percent of their holdings in CEL.
In addition to that, users who have more than 15 percent of their holdings on Celsius in CEL as platinum members can unlock an effective annual interest rate as high as 8.37 (6.2 + 35 percent) percent on Bitcoin lending.
Celsius is available in all U.S. states, excluding Washington and New York, but the preferential rates paid out in CEL aren’t available anywhere in the U.S.
Founded in 2017 with a mission to become the most trusted financial services provider in crypto, BlockFi is the lending platform that raised the most capital in its ICO. It is also the institution with the largest number of large institutional backers, which some potential users might find reassuring and trustworthy.
The company’s ICO raised an estimated $108 million in 2017, thanks to investments from ConsenSys, Winklevoss Capital, Arrington XRP Capital, Castle Island Ventures, Three Arrows Capital, Susquehanna, SoFi, and Valar.
The fact that it has lower rates than its two previously mentioned competitors is balanced out by its availability—BlockFi is the only cryptocurrency lending service available in all U.S. states. However, only crypto pairs are available in many states.
BlockFi’s annual percentage yield (APY) on Bitcoin is 3.2 percent. The platform’s preferential rate of 6 percent is available for the first five BTC a user holds on the service. There is no minimum required lockup time for lending.
BlockFi also offers an 8.6 percent interest rate on USDC and Gemini dollars.
One of the oldest platforms that enables crypto lending, Crypto.com has been around since 2016, when Bobby Bao, Gary Or, Kris Marszalek, and Rafael Melo founded the company that enables users to earn, trade, borrow, and pay in crypto.
The all-encompassing range of financial services the company wanted to provide attracted investments from various accredited and non-accredited investors, enabling it to raise $26.7 million in its 2017 ICO. The Hong Kong-based company quickly began making strides in the crypto industry by offering a prepaid crypto Visa card.
Crypto.com users can access fairly good interest rates through the platform’s mobile app—the company’s Earn program offers a 4.58 percent APY on Bitcoin. Those that hold the platform’s native cryptocurrency, the MCO token, are eligible for a preferential rate of 6.66 percent.
Aside from the regular Earn program, the company also offers Crypto.com Private, where high-net investors can earn an additional 2 percent bonus interest, which effectively means they can access an annual interest rate of 8.77 percent on Bitcoin.
The higher interest rates, however, do require a three-month lockup, while lower interest rates are available without any lockup terms.
There is also the issue of limited access, as users that want to earn the higher interest rates have to buy and stake 500 MCO, worth around $2,700 at press time. But, staking also unlocks the ability to have a crypto debit card with a 3 percent cashback on all purchases. The larger the user’s MCO stake is, the larger the more cash it can get back on the debit card.
Crypto.com also offers an attractive interest rate of 12 percent for stable coins like TrueUSD or Paxos Standard to users staking 500 MCO.
The service is available in select European countries, Singapore, and all U.S. states, excluding New York.
Created in 2017 as a subsidiary of Credissimo, an online lending pioneer that has been serving millions of users in Europe, Nexo was the first company to power instant crypto-backed loans. The company’s 2018 ICO raised $52 million, allowing it to introduce various new services and features such as the Nexo MasterCard debit card.
Nexo is certainly geared more towards borrowers than lenders—the company enables users to use 24 different crypto assets as collateral and get loans both in fiat and in cryptocurrencies. The platform’s interest rate starts from 5.9 percent per year, but requires no minimum prepayment. The minimal amount for a loan is set at $500.
Those that want to earn interest on their holdings can deposit fiat currencies such as the USD, EUR, or GBP, or stablecoins such as USDT, TUSD, USDC, PAX, and DAI. The company provides an 8 percent annual return of 8 percent on both fiat and stablecoins.
Like Crypto.com, Nexo also offers its users the ability to access a prepaid MasterCard debit card. The card can be used with more than 40 million merchants across the globe and comes without transaction fees or currency exchange fees.