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It’s effectively July 2017 in the world of decentralized finance (DeFi), and as in the heady days of the initial coin offering (ICO) boom, the numbers are only trending up.
According to DeFi Pulse, there is $1.9 billion in crypto assets locked in DeFi right now. According to the CoinDesk ICO Tracker, the ICO market started chugging past $1 billion in July 2017, just a few months before token sales started getting talked about on TV.
Debate juxtaposing these numbers if you like, but what no one can question is this: Crypto users are putting more and more value to work in DeFi applications, driven largely by the introduction of a whole new yield-generating pasture, Compound’s COMP governance token.
Governance tokens enable users to vote on the future of decentralized protocols, sure, but they also present fresh ways for DeFi founders to entice assets onto their platforms.
That said, it’s the crypto liquidity providers who are the stars of the present moment. They even have a meme-worthy name: yield farmers.
Where it startedEthereum-based credit market Compound started distributing its governance token, COMP, to the protocol’s users this past June 15. Demand for the token (heightened by the way its automatic distribution was structured) kicked off the present craze and moved Compound into the leading position in DeFi.
The hot new term in crypto is “yield farming,” a shorthand for clever strategies where putting crypto temporarily at the disposal of some startup’s application earns its owner more cryptocurrency.
Another term floating about is “liquidity mining.”
The buzz around these concepts has evolved into a low rumble as more and more people get interested.
The casual crypto observer who only pops into the market when activity heats up might be starting to get faint vibes that something is happening right now. Take our word for it: Yield farming is the source of those vibes.
But if all these terms (“DeFi,” “liquidity mining,” “yield farming”) are so much Greek to you, fear not. We’re here to catch you up. We’ll get into all of them.
We’re going to go from very basic to more advanced, so feel free to skip ahead.
What are tokens?Most CoinDesk readers probably know this, but just in case: Tokens are like the money video-game players earn while fighting monsters, money they can use to buy gear or weapons in the universe of their favorite game.
But with blockchains, tokens aren’t limited to only one massively multiplayer online money game. They can be earned in one and used in lots of others. They usually represent either ownership in something (like a piece of a Uniswap liquidity pool, which we will get into later) or access to some service. For example, in the Brave browser, ads can only be bought using basic attention token (BAT).
If tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance.
Tokens proved to be the big use case for Ethereum, the second-biggest blockchain in the world. The term of art here is “ERC-20 tokens,” which refers to a software standard that allows token creators to write rules for them. Tokens can be used a few ways. Often, they are used as a form of money within a set of applications. So the idea for Kin was to create a token that web users could spend with each other at such tiny amounts that it would almost feel like they weren’t spending anything; that is, money for the internet.
Governance tokens are different. They are not like a token at a video-game arcade, as so many tokens were described in the past. They work more like certificates to serve in an ever-changing legislature in that they give holders the right to vote on changes to a protocol.
So on the platform that proved DeFi could fly, MakerDAO, holders of its governance token, MKR, vote almost every week on small changes to parameters that govern how much it costs to borrow and how much savers earn, and so on.
Read more: Why DeFi’s Billion-Dollar Milestone Matters
One thing all crypto tokens have in common, though, is they are tradable and they have a price. So, if tokens are worth money, then you can bank with them or at least do things that look very much like banking. Thus: decentralized finance.
What is DeFi?Fair question. For folks who tuned out for a bit in 2018, we used to call this “open finance.” That construction seems to have faded, though, and “DeFi” is the new lingo.
In case that doesn’t jog your memory, DeFi is all the things that let you play with money, and the only identification you need is a crypto wallet.
On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name.
I can explain this but nothing really brings it home like trying one of these applications. If you have an Ethereum wallet that has even $20 worth of crypto in it, go do something on one of these products. Pop over to Uniswap and buy yourself some FUN (a token for gambling apps) or WBTC (wrapped bitcoin). Go to MakerDAO and create $5 worth of DAI (a stablecoin that tends to be worth $1) out of the digital ether. Go to Compound and borrow $10 in USDC.
(Notice the very small amounts I’m suggesting. The old crypto saying “don’t put in more than you can afford to lose” goes double for DeFi. This stuff is uber-complex and a lot can go wrong. These may be “savings” products but they’re not for your retirement savings.)
Immature and experimental though it may be, the technology’s implications are staggering. On the normal web, you can’t buy a blender without giving the site owner enough data to learn your whole life history. In DeFi, you can borrow money without anyone even asking for your name.
DeFi applications don’t worry about trusting you because they have the collateral you put up to back your debt (on Compound, for instance, a $10 debt will require around $20 in collateral).
Read more: There Are More DAI on Compound Now Than There Are DAI in the World
If you do take this advice and try something, note that you can swap all these things back as soon as you’ve taken them out. Open the loan and close it 10 minutes later. It’s fine. Fair warning: It might cost you a tiny bit in fees, and the cost of using Ethereum itself right now is much higher than usual, in part due to this fresh new activity. But it’s nothing that should ruin a crypto user.
So what’s the point of borrowing for people who already have the money? Most people do it for some kind of trade. The most obvious example, to short a token (the act of profiting if its price falls). It’s also good for someone who wants to hold onto a token but still play the market.
Doesn’t running a bank take a lot of money up front?It does, and in DeFi that money is largely provided by strangers on the internet. That’s why the startups behind these decentralized banking applications come up with clever ways to attract HODLers with idle assets.
Liquidity is the chief concern of all these different products. That is: How much money do they have locked in their smart contracts?
“In some types of products, the product experience gets much better if you have liquidity. Instead of borrowing from VCs or debt investors, you borrow from your users,” said Electric Capital managing partner Avichal Garg.
Let’s take Uniswap as an example. Uniswap is an “automated market maker,” or AMM (another DeFi term of art). This means Uniswap is a robot on the internet that is always willing to buy and it’s also always willing to sell any cryptocurrency for which it has a market.
On Uniswap, there is at least one market pair for almost any token on Ethereum. Behind the scenes, this means Uniswap can make it look like it is making a direct trade for any two tokens, which makes it easy for users, but it’s all built around pools of two tokens. And all these market pairs work better with bigger pools.
Why do I keep hearing about ‘pools’?To illustrate why more money helps, let’s break down how Uniswap works.
Let’s say there was a market for USDC and DAI. These are two tokens (both stablecoins but with different mechanisms for retaining their value) that are meant to be worth $1 each all the time, and that generally tends to be true for both.
The price Uniswap shows for each token in any pooled market pair is based on the balance of each in the pool. So, simplifying this a lot for illustration’s sake, if someone were to set up a USDC/DAI pool, they should deposit equal amounts of both. In a pool with only 2 USDC and 2 DAI it would offer a price of 1 USDC for 1 DAI. But then imagine that someone put in 1 DAI and took out 1 USDC. Then the pool would have 1 USDC and 3 DAI. The pool would be very out of whack. A savvy investor could make an easy $0.50 profit by putting in 1 USDC and receiving 1.5 DAI. That’s a 50% arbitrage profit, and that’s the problem with limited liquidity.
(Incidentally, this is why Uniswap’s prices tend to be accurate, because traders watch it for small discrepancies from the wider market and trade them away for arbitrage profits very quickly.)
Read more: Uniswap V2 Launches With More Token-Swap Pairs, Oracle Service, Flash Loans
However, if there were 500,000 USDC and 500,000 DAI in the pool, a trade of 1 DAI for 1 USDC would have a negligible impact on the relative price. That’s why liquidity is helpful.
You can stick your assets on Compound and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers.
Similar effects hold across DeFi, so markets want more liquidity. Uniswap solves this by charging a tiny fee on every trade. It does this by shaving off a little bit from each trade and leaving that in the pool (so one DAI would actually trade for 0.997 USDC, after the fee, growing the overall pool by 0.003 USDC). This benefits liquidity providers because when someone puts liquidity in the pool they own a share of the pool. If there has been lots of trading in that pool, it has earned a lot of fees, and the value of each share will grow.
And this brings us back to tokens.
Liquidity added to Uniswap is represented by a token, not an account. So there’s no ledger saying, “Bob owns 0.000000678% of the DAI/USDC pool.” Bob just has a token in his wallet. And Bob doesn’t have to keep that token. He could sell it. Or use it in another product. We’ll circle back to this, but it helps to explain why people like to talk about DeFi products as “money Legos.”
So how much money do people make by putting money into these products?It can be a lot more lucrative than putting money in a traditional bank, and that’s before startups started handing out governance tokens.
Compound is the current darling of this space, so let’s use it as an illustration. As of this writing, a person can put USDC into Compound and earn 2.72% on it. They can put tether (USDT) into it and earn 2.11%. Most U.S. bank accounts earn less than 0.1% these days, which is close enough to nothing.
However, there are some caveats. First, there’s a reason the interest rates are so much juicier: DeFi is a far riskier place to park your money. There’s no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protecting these funds. If there were a run on Compound, users could find themselves unable to withdraw their funds when they wanted.
Plus, the interest is quite variable. You don’t know what you’ll earn over the course of a year. USDC’s rate is high right now. It was low last week. Usually, it hovers somewhere in the 1% range.
Similarly, a user might get tempted by assets with more lucrative yields like USDT, which typically has a much higher interest rate than USDC. (Monday morning, the reverse was true, for unclear reasons; this is crypto, remember.) The trade-off here is USDT’s transparency about the real-world dollars it’s supposed to hold in a real-world bank is not nearly up to par with USDC’s. A difference in interest rates is often the market’s way of telling you the one instrument is viewed as dicier than another.
Users making big bets on these products turn to companies Opyn and Nexus Mutual to insure their positions because there’s no government protections in this nascent space – more on the ample risks later on.
So users can stick their assets in Compound or Uniswap and earn a little yield. But that’s not very creative. Users who look for angles to maximize that yield: those are the yield farmers.
OK, I already knew all of that. What is yield farming?Broadly, yield farming is any effort to put crypto assets to work and generate the most returns possible on those assets.
At the simplest level, a yield farmer might move assets around within Compound, constantly chasing whichever pool is offering the best APY from week to week. This might mean moving into riskier pools from time to time, but a yield farmer can handle risk.
“Farming opens up new price arbs [arbitrage] that can spill over to other protocols whose tokens are in the pool,” said Maya Zehavi, a blockchain consultant.
Because these positions are tokenized, though, they can go further.
This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan. Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender?
In a simple example, a yield farmer might put 100,000 USDT into Compound. They will get a token back for that stake, called cUSDT. Let’s say they get 100,000 cUSDT back (the formula on Compound is crazy so it’s not 1:1 like that but it doesn’t matter for our purposes here).
They can then take that cUSDT and put it into a liquidity pool that takes cUSDT on Balancer, an AMM that allows users to set up self-rebalancing crypto index funds. In normal times, this could earn a small amount more in transaction fees. This is the basic idea of yield farming. The user looks for edge cases in the system to eke out as much yield as they can across as many products as it will work on.
Right now, however, things are not normal, and they probably won’t be for a while.
Why is yield farming so hot right now?Because of liquidity mining. Liquidity mining supercharges yield farming.
Liquidity mining is when a yield farmer gets a new token as well as the usual return (that’s the “mining” part) in exchange for the farmer’s liquidity.
“The idea is that stimulating usage of the platform increases the value of the token, thereby creating a positive usage loop to attract users,” said Richard Ma of smart-contract auditor Quantstamp.
The yield farming examples above are only farming yield off the normal operations of different platforms. Supply liquidity to Compound or Uniswap and get a little cut of the business that runs over the protocols – very vanilla.
But Compound announced earlier this year it wanted to truly decentralize the product and it wanted to give a good amount of ownership to the people who made it popular by using it. That ownership would take the form of the COMP token.
Lest this sound too altruistic, keep in mind that the people who created it (the team and the investors) owned more than half of the equity. By giving away a healthy proportion to users, that was very likely to make it a much more popular place for lending. In turn, that would make everyone’s stake worth much more.
So, Compound announced this four-year period where the protocol would give out COMP tokens to users, a fixed amount every day until it was gone. These COMP tokens control the protocol, just as shareholders ultimately control publicly traded companies.
Every day, the Compound protocol looks at everyone who had lent money to the application and who had borrowed from it and gives them COMP proportional to their share of the day’s total business.
The results were very surprising, even to Compound’s biggest promoters.
COMP’s value will likely go down, and that’s why some investors are rushing to earn as much of it as they can right now.
This was a brand-new kind of yield on a deposit into Compound. In fact, it was a way to earn a yield on a loan, as well, which is very weird: Who has ever heard of a borrower earning a return on a debt from their lender?
COMP’s value has consistently been well over $200 since it started distributing on June 15. We did the math elsewhere but long story short: investors with fairly deep pockets can make a strong gain maximizing their daily returns in COMP. It is, in a way, free money.
It’s possible to lend to Compound, borrow from it, deposit what you borrowed and so on. This can be done multiple times and DeFi startup Instadapp even built a tool to make it as capital-efficient as possible.
“Yield farmers are extremely creative. They find ways to ‘stack’ yields and even earn multiple governance tokens at once,” said Spencer Noon of DTC Capital.
COMP’s value spike is a temporary situation. The COMP distribution will only last four years and then there won’t be any more. Further, most people agree that the high price now is driven by the low float (that is, how much COMP is actually free to trade on the market – it will never be this low again). So the value will probably gradually go down, and that’s why savvy investors are trying to earn as much as they can now.
Appealing to the speculative instincts of diehard crypto traders has proven to be a great way to increase liquidity on Compound. This fattens some pockets but also improves the user experience for all kinds of Compound users, including those who would use it whether they were going to earn COMP or not.
As usual in crypto, when entrepreneurs see something successful, they imitate it. Balancer was the next protocol to start distributing a governance token, BAL, to liquidity providers. Flash loan provider bZx has announced a plan. Ren, Curve and Synthetix also teamed up to promote a liquidity pool on Curve.
It is a fair bet many of the more well-known DeFi projects will announce some kind of coin that can be mined by providing liquidity.
The case to watch here is Uniswap versus Balancer. Balancer can do the same thing Uniswap does, but most users who want to do a quick token trade through their wallet use Uniswap. It will be interesting to see if Balancer’s BAL token convinces Uniswap’s liquidity providers to defect.
So far, though, more liquidity has gone into Uniswap since the BAL announcement, according to its data site. That said, even more has gone into Balancer.
Did liquidity mining start with COMP?No, but it was the most-used protocol with the most carefully designed liquidity mining scheme.
This point is debated but the origins of liquidity mining probably date back to Fcoin, a Chinese exchange that created a token in 2018 that rewarded people for making trades. You won’t believe what happened next! Just kidding, you will: People just started running bots to do pointless trades with themselves to earn the token.
Similarly, EOS is a blockchain where transactions are basically free, but since nothing is really free the absence of friction was an invitation for spam. Some malicious hacker who didn’t like EOS created a token called EIDOS on the network in late 2019. It rewarded people for tons of pointless transactions and somehow got an exchange listing.
These initiatives illustrated how quickly crypto users respond to incentives.
Read more: Compound Changes COMP Distribution Rules Following ‘Yield Farming’ Frenzy
Fcoin aside, liquidity mining as we now know it first showed up on Ethereum when the marketplace for synthetic tokens, Synthetix, announced in July 2019 an award in its SNX token for users who helped add liquidity to the sETH/ETH pool on Uniswap. By October, that was one of Uniswap’s biggest pools.
When Compound Labs, the company that launched the Compound protocol, decided to create COMP, the governance token, the firm took months designing just what kind of behavior it wanted and how to incentivize it. Even still, Compound Labs was surprised by the response. It led to unintended consequences such as crowding into a previously unpopular market (lending and borrowing BAT) in order to mine as much COMP as possible.
Just last week, 115 different COMP wallet addresses – senators in Compound’s ever-changing legislature – voted to change the distribution mechanism in hopes of spreading liquidity out across the markets again.
Is there DeFi for bitcoin?Yes, on Ethereum.
Nothing has beaten bitcoin over time for returns, but there’s one thing bitcoin can’t do on its own: create more bitcoin.
A smart trader can get in and out of bitcoin and dollars in a way that will earn them more bitcoin, but this is tedious and risky. It takes a certain kind of person.
DeFi, however, offers ways to grow one’s bitcoin holdings – though somewhat indirectly.
A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game.
For example, a user can create a simulated bitcoin on Ethereum using BitGo’s WBTC system. They put BTC in and get the same amount back out in freshly minted WBTC. WBTC can be traded back for BTC at any time, so it tends to be worth the same as BTC.
Then the user can take that WBTC, stake it on Compound and earn a few percent each year in yield on their BTC. Odds are, the people who borrow that WBTC are probably doing it to short BTC (that is, they will sell it immediately, buy it back when the price goes down, close the loan and keep the difference).
A long HODLer is happy to gain fresh BTC off their counterparty’s short-term win. That’s the game.
How risky is it?Enough.
“DeFi, with the combination of an assortment of digital funds, automation of key processes, and more complex incentive structures that work across protocols – each with their own rapidly changing tech and governance practices – make for new types of security risks,” said Liz Steininger of Least Authority, a crypto security auditor. “Yet, despite these risks, the high yields are undeniably attractive to draw more users.”
We’ve seen big failures in DeFi products. MakerDAO had one so bad this year it’s called “Black Thursday.” There was also the exploit against flash loan provider bZx. These things do break and when they do money gets taken.
As this sector gets more robust, we could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches.
Right now, the deal is too good for certain funds to resist, so they are moving a lot of money into these protocols to liquidity mine all the new governance tokens they can. But the funds – entities that pool the resources of typically well-to-do crypto investors – are also hedging. Nexus Mutual, a DeFi insurance provider of sorts, told CoinDesk it has maxed out its available coverage on these liquidity applications. Opyn, the trustless derivatives maker, created a way to short COMP, just in case this game comes to naught.
And weird things have arisen. For example, there’s currently more DAI on Compound than have been minted in the world. This makes sense once unpacked but it still feels dicey to everyone.
That said, distributing governance tokens might make things a lot less risky for startups, at least with regard to the money cops.
“Protocols distributing their tokens to the public, meaning that there’s a new secondary listing for SAFT tokens, [gives] plausible deniability from any security accusation,” Zehavi wrote. (The Simple Agreement for Future Tokens was a legal structure favored by many token issuers during the ICO craze.)
Whether a cryptocurrency is adequately decentralized has been a key feature of ICO settlements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
What’s next for yield farming? (A prediction)COMP turned out to be a bit of a surprise to the DeFi world, in technical ways and others. It has inspired a wave of new thinking.
“Other projects are working on similar things,” said Nexus Mutual founder Hugh Karp. In fact, informed sources tell CoinDesk brand-new projects will launch with these models.
We might soon see more prosaic yield farming applications. For example, forms of profit-sharing that reward certain kinds of behavior.
Imagine if COMP holders decided, for example, that the protocol needed more people to put money in and leave it there longer. The community could create a proposal that shaved off a little of each token’s yield and paid that portion out only to the tokens that were older than six months. It probably wouldn’t be much, but an investor with the right time horizon and risk profile might take it into consideration before making a withdrawal.
(There are precedents for this in traditional finance: A 10-year Treasury bond normally yields more than a one-month T-bill even though they’re both backed by the full faith and credit of Uncle Sam, a 12-month certificate of deposit pays higher interest than a checking account at the same bank, and so on.)
As this sector gets more robust, its architects will come up with ever more robust ways to optimize liquidity incentives in increasingly refined ways. We could see token holders greenlighting more ways for investors to profit from DeFi niches.
Questions abound for this nascent industry: What will MakerDAO do to restore its spot as the king of DeFi? Will Uniswap join the liquidity mining trend? Will anyone stick all these governance tokens into a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO)? Or would that be a yield farmers co-op?
Whatever happens, crypto’s yield farmers will keep moving fast. Some fresh fields may open and some may soon bear much less luscious fruit.
But that’s the nice thing about farming in DeFi: It is very easy to switch fields.
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Yield Farming in DeFi — the Evolution outcome of the Crypto Industry
Yield Farming (income farming) is one of the key trends actively developing in DeFi. Thanks to this earnings strategy, the Compound project has recently taken off, ranking first in terms of the number of user funds blocked in the protocol.
The Yield Farming investment strategy, or income pharming, is to generate income from the placement of cryptocurrencies on various DeFi-platforms for crypto-lending. Before Yield Farming, the main trend in DeFi was conventional cryptocurrency deposits, bringing in 4–10% returns. However, Yield Farming can generate up to 100% annualized income.
Yield Farming is the main driver of the DeFi sectorThe number of cryptocurrencies locked in DeFi (Total Value Locked — TVL) is now $2.29 billion. At the same time, over the past month, the capitalization of funds in DeFi has more than doubled, largely due to the popularity of income pharming. At the same time, the top five DeFi protocols attracted $2.1 billion in crypto assets, or 91.7% of the total TVL volume.
• Compound — $690.8 million
• MakerDAO — $644.7 million
• Synthetix — $396 million
• Aave — $192.4 million
• Balancer — $178.2 million
And the total number of users of these projects was about 230,000.
The sharp rise in interest in Yield Farming is associated with one of the new protocols on the market — Compound. Users of this platform can provide loans or take out loans in nine different cryptocurrencies, for which they receive COMP project tokens. With these tokens, Compund users can make decisions about its future development. In other words, conditional “shares” of the Compound project are distributed to those who provide liquidity to the platform, as well as to those who take loans on it. This largely corresponds to the concept of SAFG (“a simple agreement on the possibility of obtaining the right to control in the future”) as a logical development of other principles of distribution of tokens — SAFE and SAFT.
COMP for BATIssued daily at 2880 COMP, which is equivalent to $518,688 at a token price of $180.1. Half goes to liquidity providers, half to borrowers. At the same time, distribution is carried out to each of nine markets (BAT, ETH, USDC, USDT, Dai, REP, 0x and Sai) — to everyone who borrows or takes loans from Compound, in proportion to the interest rate, as well as to their payments for interest or income. The higher the rates for a loan or loan, the more COMP tokens are paid.
At the same time, Compound is constantly updating its token distribution rules. So, according to the latest update from July 2, COMP payments begin to be made based not on interest rates, but on the dollar value of the funds in the transaction. This should eventually lead to more use of stablecoins. For them, borrowing rates can be less than 1%, which is ten times less than for the most volatile asset in DeFi — the BAT token.
It is worth noting that until recently, Compound users received the maximum number of COMP tokens for transactions with BAT. As a result, for the period from June 19 to July 2, the volume of transactions with this asset reached $931 million, which exceeded the total turnover of Ethereum and DAI for the same period. However, another change in the rules sharply increased the volumes of DAI and USDC.
Yield Farming: Borrowing Is Better Than LendingThe changes did not affect the main advantage of Compound — the COMP tokens received by users still cover the cost of borrowing in cryptocurrencies. In other words, Compound users find it more profitable to borrow than borrow (as noted, for example, with the Tether stablecoin). Payments of COMP tokens to borrowers look like a cryptocurrency cashback for participation in the platform — this can be viewed as if, for example, American Express bank shared a small share in the share capital with users for each transaction.
This Compound policy has led to a sharp increase in loans, as well as increased income for those providing liquidity, as they also receive COMP tokens for participating in the platform. Moreover, this cashback is a plus to the interest earned on borrowed cryptocurrencies. Moreover, since borrowers receive payments on loans, liquidity providers can use their own assets to borrow more funds. As a result, their income increases and they again provide liquidity to Compound.
Not only CompoundCompound was not the only one that played an important role in popularizing Yield Farming. So, Aave makes it possible to borrow cryptocurrencies at a fixed rate, and then place them in order to generate income. Aave’s fixed rate is usually higher than Compound’s variable, which means Aave gives more income to those who provide crypto loans. There are also liquidity pools, such as Uniswap, which offer large returns (sometimes at 100% annualized rate), but with higher risks.
While the price of СOMP shows a clear downward trend (research of the Delta Exchange platform claims that this token is five times overvalued), Compound is overgrown with competitors. So, on June 22, the COMP token cost $327.82 (on the day of listing on Coinbase Pro, June 23, at the moment the cost even rose to $427), and on July 12 it was already $180.1. The fall of СOMP is noticeable, but it is worth noting that at the beginning of its emission the token cost only $16. Moreover, about 80% of COMP tokens are distributed among the top 10 addresses in Compound, and the volume of tokens in free circulation is $686 million, which corresponds to a free-float indicator of 38%. It is not high, and this will contribute to the strong volatility of COMP.
Against the background of a decrease in the cost of COMP, the Balancer platform, which provides crypto lending services from a pool of various ERC20 tokens, began distributing 145,000 native BAL tokens to liquidity providers every week. These tokens, like COMP, provide the right to participate in the management of the platform. Of the maximum possible issue of BAL 100 million, 65% will go towards payments.
Risks of Yield FarmingDespite the popularity of Yield Farming among DeFi players, this trend is not without its pitfalls. For example, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin continues to criticize DeFi, stating that “interest rates that are significantly higher than you can get when working in the field of traditional finance are either an opportunity for temporary arbitrage or are obtained at the expense of not publicly disclosed risks.”
Indeed, when using Yield Farming, the following risks should be borne in mind:
• Cryptocurrencies can be stolen from the platform they are hosted on.
• The participant may borrow too much funds in relation to the crypto deposit placed by him (trading with high leverage), as a result of which the collateral may be lost.
• The collapse of cryptocurrency rates. This factor can be realized if, for example, it turns out that some stablecoins in reality do not have the declared 1:1 collateral.
• The Compound platform will no longer reward borrowers and lenders with COMP tokens. According to the statements of the project team, the program will operate over the next four years — during this time 42% of the total token emission will be distributed. However, the site has the right to change the rules.
• Systemic risk, within which even small changes in the core principles of Yield Farming can provoke a very strong transformation of this strategy and affect its popularity.
• Scam tokens. Due to the simple asset listing system on the Uniswap site, assets such as a copy of the Balancer token, fake coins of the Curve Finance project, the DYDX token, which can be confused with dYdX, and the Uniswap Community Token, which is not related to the platform itself, appeared on it. As a result, the site issued a warning about an increase in the number of fake ERC20 tokens.
Yield Farming gives hope for the growth of cryptocurrency quotesBut how does Yield Farming affect the crypto market in general? Over the last week of June and the first ten days of July, an additional 2,430 bitcoins were added to Compound, in addition to the 170 already available at that time. The Balancer platform during the same time saw an influx of bitcoins from 126 to 1787. In total, for the implementation of Yield Farming, DeFi protocols are now more than 12,000 BTC. Potentially, an increase in the inflow of bitcoins into this sector of the cryptocurrency market can play a positive role in relation to the dynamics of the growth of quotations of the first cryptocurrency. After all, the growing popularity of Yield Farming supports interest in BTC, which is especially important given that in July, the turnover of this cryptocurrency trade fell by 31% compared to June.
Since most of the DeFi projects are based on the Ethereum blockchain and use the assets of this ecosystem, ether can potentially get an incentive for strong growth. Although the example of XRP and the development of innovations from Ripple shows that such market success is not guaranteed. It is also symbolic that the total capitalization of ERC20 tokens has reached $33 billion, exceeding the total capitalization of ether ($26.6 billion). Messari analyst Ryan Watkins, commenting on this data, said that ether has shown a very modest growth over the past two months, only 20%.
The continued growth in interest in stablecoins and the increase in trading volume with them is also driven by their popularity at Yield Farming. Along with this, stablecoins, which have long become a “bridge” between the world of classical finance and the cryptosphere, also contribute to the rapid emergence of various CBDCs on the market.
Yield Farming meets institutional investorsYield Farming has become a natural stage in the evolution of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. However, its further destiny, like all DeFi areas, is directly related to ensuring reliable cybersecurity. This is also important from the point of view of investors who invest in infrastructure: it’s a shame, for example, that the dForce platform faced the theft of $24 million in assets, having received $1.5 million in funding from investors a few days earlier.
In this connection, venture funds from Silicon Valley are being invested in the development of infrastructure for Yield Farming. So, ParaFi is investing $4.5 million in Aave, supporting a platform that offers instant cryptocurrency loans without collateral. These are high-risk transactions for the borrower, but it is important that Aave develops further. So, it has service integration with Uniswap. Moreover, Aave became the first DeFi protocol to work with the Tether stablecoin. Plus, the platform now offers a new product — credit delegation, when a depositor can lend their assets to a specific member of the platform in a collateral-free scheme. Both parties enter into a loan agreement, which, thanks to the integration of Aave with OpenLaw, allows such a contract to be securely stored on the blockchain. In fact, this is a real exit for DeFi with Yield Farming to the classic financial market, to work with institutional investors as well.
There is also a trend towards the integration of various platforms into DeFi, which thereby help each other grow. Thus, internal tokens and “synthetic” tokens (cTokens) Compound began to be used in Uniswap. And three projects at once — Synthetix, Curve and Ren — launched a joint pool providing liquidity in the form of tokenized bitcoins.
Also in a short period of time, insurance products targeted at Yield Farming members, such as Nexus Mutual, began to appear on the market. Now the Nexus Mutual team has insured assets in the amount of $8.5 million. Curve Finance is most interested in this opportunity ($1.6 million of assets are insured). Cryptocurrencies for an average of $700,000 are also insured on the Balancer, Compound, Aave and 1inch.exchange platforms.
Yield Farming, along with decentralized insurance products, confirms the opinion of analyst Chris Burniske, who emphasized that DeFi recreates all the elements that are found in classic finance, but on a new, innovative basis. So it cannot be said that Yield Farming is a short-term trend. This segment of the cryptosphere will continue to evolve despite the decline in net margin in it, as seen in the example of Compound.
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The Two Countries Reported 5,23% And 12,01% Of All Bitcoin Received From Illicit Actions, Respectively
CipherTrace, a blockchain analytics company, published a report, stating that Finland and Russia have become hotspots for hiding illicitly acquired cryptocurrencies.
According to the Cryptocurrency Crime and Anti-Money Laundering report by CypherTrace, since the start of 2020 approximately $1,36 billion worth of cryptocurrencies were stolen, or a result of hacking of fraudulent behavior. However, the company noted that the amount is still below 2019’s $4.5 billion total.
„Three years in a row Finland ranks as the #1 place to store criminal BTC. Local cryptocurrency exchange LocalBitcoins, which is one of the largest P2P exchanges to date, accounts for 99 percent of the total illicitly acquired BTC in Finland.”, the report states.
The report found an interesting link between crypto frauds and the recent COVID-19 virus outbreak. According to CipherTrace, the lockdown created an opportunity for large-scale phishing, as criminals lured victims directly in messenger platforms, requesting Bitcoin payments.
One of the mostly-traded crypto resources during the COVID-19 months were COVID-19 phishing sites, the report states.
The second-largest country in popularity, Russia, marked a 5,23% market share of all illicitly-obtained crypto funds. Over 86% of the criminal BTC in Russia came from the Russian Dark Web marketplace, Hydra Market.
Crypto exchanges in the United Kingdom ranked third in the country list. Interestingly, 31,2 percent of all U.K. transactions also came from Hydra Market. However, the numbers are down from 2018, where 57,6 percent of all illicitly-acquired crypto funds in the United Kingdom came from Hydra Market.
Further in the report, CipherTrace recorded 74% of all Bitcoin moved between exchanges is cross-border. The analytics company noted how important it is to have proper AML/CTF standards, like those of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It turns out criminals utilize the differences between regulatory compliance in jurisdictions to place arbitrages.
Yes. You pick a peer and after some setup, create a bitcoin transaction to fund the lightning channel; it’ll then take another transaction to close it and release your funds. You and your peer always hold a bitcoin transaction to get your funds whenever you want: just broadcast to the blockchain like normal. In other words, you and your peer create a shared account, and then use Lightning to securely negotiate who gets how much from that shared account, without waiting for the bitcoin blockchain.
Yes, Lightning is open source. Anyone can review the code (in the same way as the bitcoin code)
Similar to the bitcoin network, no one will ever own or control the Lightning Network. The code is open source and free for anyone to download and review. Anyone can run a node and be part of the network.
No, your bitcoin will never leave the blockchain. Instead your bitcoin will be held in a multi-signature address as long as your channel stays open. When the channel is closed; the final transaction will be added to the blockchain. “Off-chain” is not a perfect term, but it is used due to the fact that the transfer of ownership is no longer reflected on the blockchain until the channel is closed.
Example: A and B have a channel. 1 BTC each. A sends B 0.5 BTC. B sends back 0.25 BTC. Balance should be A = 0.75, B = 1.25. If A gets disconnected, B can publish the first Tx where the balance was A = 0.5 and B = 1.5. If the node B does in fact attempt to cheat by publishing an old state (such as the A=0.5 and B=1.5 state), this cheat can then be detected on-chain and used to steal the cheaters funds, i.e., A can see the closing transaction, notice it's an old one and grab all funds in the channel (A=2, B=0). The time that A has in order to react to the cheating counterparty is given by the CheckLockTimeVerify (CLTV) in the cheating transaction, which is adjustable. So if A foresees that it'll be able to check in about once every 24 hours it'll require that the CLTV is at least that large, if it's once a week then that's fine too. You definitely do not need to be online and watching the chain 24/7, just make sure to check in once in a while before the CLTV expires. Alternatively you can outsource the watch duties, in order to keep the CLTV timeouts low. This can be achieved both with trusted third parties or untrusted ones (watchtowers). In the case of a unilateral close, e.g., you just go offline and never come back, the other endpoint will have to wait for that timeout to expire to get its funds back. So peers might not accept channels with extremely high CLTV timeouts. -- Source
Tiny payments are possible: since fees are proportional to the payment amount, you can pay a fraction of a cent; accounting is even done in thousandths of a satoshi. Payments are settled instantly: the money is sent in the time it takes to cross the network to your destination and back, typically a fraction of a second.
Yes, but not in theory. You could make a poorer lightning network without it, which has higher risks when establishing channels (you might have to wait a month if things go wrong!), has limited channel lifetime, longer minimum payment expiry times on each hop, is less efficient and has less robust outsourcing. The entire spec as written today assumes segregated witness, as it solves all these problems.
No, for now. For the first version of the protocol, if you wanted to send a normal bitcoin transaction using your channel, you have to close it, send the funds, then reopen the channel (3 transactions). In future versions, you and your peer would agree to spend out of your lightning channel funds just like a normal bitcoin payment, allowing you to use your lightning wallet like a normal bitcoin wallet.
Not really. Anyone can set up a node, and so it’s a race to the bottom on fees. In practice, we may see the network use a nominal fee and not change very much, which only provides an incremental incentive to route on a node you’re going to use yourself, and not enough to run one merely for fees. Having clients use criteria other than fees (e.g. randomness, diversity) in route selection will also help this.
Lightning is already being tested on the Mainnet Twitter Link but as for a specific date, Jameson Lopp says it best
Nope, because there is no custody ever involved. It's just like forwarding packets. -- Source
Furthermore, the Lightning Network scales not with the transaction throughput of the underlying blockchain, but with modern data processing and latency limits - payments can be made nearly as quickly as packets can be sent. -- Source
Each exchange will get to decide and need to implement the software into their system, but some ideas have been outlined here: Google Doc - Lightning Exchanges
Note that by virtue of the usual benefits of cost-less, instantaneous transactions, lightning will make arbitrage between exchanges much more efficient and thus lead to consistent pricing across exchange that adopt it. -- Source
According to Rusty's calculations we should be able to store 1 million nodes in about 100 MB, so that should work even for mobile phones. Beyond that we have some proposals ready to lighten the load on endpoints, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. -- Source
No you'd remember the information from the last time you started the app and only sync the differences. This is not yet implemented, but it shouldn't be too hard to get a preliminary protocol working if that turns out to be a problem. -- Source
Lightning is based on participants in the network running lightning node software that enables them to interact with other nodes. This does not require being a full bitcoin node, but you will have to run "lnd", "eclair", or one of the other node softwares listed above.
All lightning wallets have node software integrated into them, because that is necessary to create payment channels and conduct payments on the network, but you can also intentionally run lnd or similar for public benefit - e.g. you can hold open payment channels or channels with higher volume, than you need for your own transactions. You would be compensated in modest fees by those who transact across your node with multi-hop payments. -- Source
Sure, you can help write up educational material. You can learn and read more about the tech at http://dev.lightning.community/resources. You can test the various desktop and mobile apps out there (Lightning Desktop, Zap, Eclair apps). -- Source
No -- Source
lit doesn't depend on having your own full node -- it automatically connects to full nodes on the network. -- Source
LND uses a light client mode, so it doesn't require a full node. The name of the light client it uses is called neutrino
Upon opening a channel, the two endpoints first agree on a reserve value, below which the channel balance may not drop. This is to make sure that both endpoints always have some skin in the game as rustyreddit puts it :-)
For a cheat to become worth it, the opponent has to be absolutely sure that you cannot retaliate against him during the timeout. So he has to make sure you never ever get network connectivity during that time. Having someone else also watching for channel closures and notifying you, or releasing a canned retaliation, makes this even harder for the attacker. This is because if he misjudged you being truly offline you can retaliate by grabbing all of its funds. Spotty connections, DDoS, and similar will not provide the attacker the necessary guarantees to make cheating worthwhile. Any form of uncertainty about your online status acts as a deterrent to the other endpoint. -- Source
You typically want to have more than one channel open at any given time for redundancy's sake. And we imagine open and close will probably be automated for the most part. In fact we already have a feature in LND called autopilot that can automatically open channels for a user.
Frequency will depend whether the funds are needed on-chain or more useful on LN. -- Source
You don't really set up a "node" in the sense that anyone with more than one channel can automatically be a node and route payments. Fees on LN can be set by the node, and can change dynamically on the network. -- Source
Yes but it has to be implemented in the Lightning software being used. -- Source
You won't have to do anything. With autopilot enabled, it'll automatically open and close channels based on the availability of the network. -- Source
This link-packed ebook is intended for people looking for the best-kept secrets on the web for buying bulk Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and other national brand gift cards at the highest discounts—accounting for speed, quality, volume and risk.submitted by levi_d-19 to Redeeem [link] [comments]
Executive SummaryThis article covers some of the many ways to buy discount gift cards. We focus a lot of attention on Amazon gift cards since they are the largest retailer in the world and has the 2nd most gift cards in circulation. We have either purchased or researched in depth most of the sites on this list to come up with some conclusions about the fastest, safest and cheapest places to buy discount gift cards. Please remember, there is no one best place to find gift cards, the goal is to give you options.
The lowest-risk gift cards with the lowest discounts are directly from that brand and at grocery stores and other retail locations (CVS, Safeway, Walgreens, etc). You will also find these 0% offers from 3rd party e-code generators like eGifter and BitPay. You can usually buy instantly and they are guaranteed forever.
Slightly higher risk are the old-school secondhand gift card exchanges like CardCash, CardPool, Raise and others. They offer very small savings up to 5% off the top brands. You can pay with a credit card and they guarantee the card for up to a full year so you can gift them as gifts much easily.
The highest discounted gift cards are on peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplaces with users from many different countries, like Paxful and LocalBitcoins. This also comes with the most risk and the highest amount of work. These platforms have lower regulation and majority of the trades are conducted in non-USD currency.
Finally, there is an emerging category of crypto gift card exchanges that also use bitcoin to offer the same discounts as peer-to-peer marketplaces, but they have more advanced protections in place for buyers and sellers. Sites like Redeeem and Purse.io fall into this category because they can offer larger discounts on gift cards and other products but they use technology to cut out the negotiating. Cards are guaranteed for minutes, hours or days here, so this isn’t the best for gifting.
Your savings (and profit margins) will depend largely on your risk tolerance, length of time you are willing to get paid, country where you are located, capital available, ability to buy alternative forms of currency (like bitcoin), the ability/willingness to ship physical products, overall time commitment, and many other factors.
1. Buy gift cards on marketplacesRedeeem. Save 15% or more on bulk Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy gift cards with auction-style pricing buying with bitcoin. They have great support and great reviews.
CardPool. Save 3-5% on hundreds of brands, including Best Buy, Target, iTunes and Lowe’s. They send the card directly to your email inbox or via USPS in 3-7 days.
CardCash. Gift card marketplace that buys unwanted gift cards for less than their value and resells them at a discount to savvy shoppers across the country. Save 3-5% on hundreds of brands, very similar to CardPool.
Gift Card Granny. This is a nice resource because they link to the sites that have the best deals, unfortunately they don’t index many of the bulk discount sites.
Raise. One of the biggest in terms of volume. Discounted gift cards to hundreds of national brands such as Target, Southwest, Uber, Home Depot, etc. However, discounts are minimal here, ranging from 0-3%.
CardCookie. A great site with great potential—currently offering 5-10% discounts but not very high volume yet. Keep them bookmarked.
2. Buy gift cards with bitcoinRedeeem. Redeeem is a great option for buying Amazon gift cards at 20% discount or higher using bitcoin. Unlike Paxful or LocalBitcoins, they manually validate and guarantee every gift card sold on the platform and have an easier buying experience. But you will have to trade during market hours (they are only open 8 hours a day).
BitPay. Raised over $72 million from investors, they’re the largest bitcoin payment processor. Download the app to buy Amazon e-codes fast at 0% discount.
Paxful. With 300+ currencies to trade, Paxful’s peer-to-peer platform with millions of users in Africa offers likely the best discounts for gift cards, but there are a lot of scammers (and yelling) so be careful. You may find yourself with a lot of stolen/invalid cards and trade disputes with money at risk.
LocalBitcoins. LocalBitcoins lets you buy and sell bitcoin in over 248 countries. Like Paxful, this comes with high risk and high reward. Every trade starts with a listing, similar to Craigslist, and the platform is strictly peer-to-peer.
Purse. Save 10% or more on Amazon when you pay with bitcoin, or dropship products (including gift cards) to people to earn bitcoin.
CardBazaar. An online secondhand gift card marketplace where you can buy and sell unwanted gift cards for cash or bitcoin.
Bidali. A bitcoin payment processor that competes with BitPay and offers full-priced e-codes from Amazon and other retailers.
eGifter. One of the best way to buy eGift cards quickly for friends, family and yourself without hassle. Choose from hundreds of top national brands. You can personalize your gift with an animated greeting card, photo or video greeting.
3. Fill out online surveys for gift cardsSurvey Junkie. offers a massive inventory of paid surveys. Each survey is assigned a point value (most between 100-200 points) and estimated completion time. Once you accrue 1,000 points (around $10) you can cash out with a gift card.
Beer Money on Reddit. This a Reddit group dedicated to making some cash on the side. Don’t know much about it.
PointClub Surveys. You can earn points for completing paid online surveys. When you have enough points, you can redeem them for cash or the gift card of your choice. Gift cards can either be digital or real cards sent to you. It's that easy!
OpinionOutpost. You can earn cash and rewards for the time you spend taking online surveys with points you can redeem for cash or gift vouchers to popular brands.
4. Buy directly with people onlineReddit. Reddit is used by a ton of gift card traders, but you have to be familiar with the platform and have some karma on there before using it seriously. Otherwise, your listings will just get filtered out by their algorithms. If you go in there moving quickly without reading their rules carefully you will likely get banned.
5. Buy directly from people offlineCraigslist. As you probably know, you can get anything on Craigslist. But like Paxful and LocalBitcoins, it requires a lot of negotiating and there are scammers galore. The only deals worth doing are small volume with trusted local partners.
Facebook Marketplace. Although this wouldn’t be my first choice due to the randomness, there are a lot of gift cards on Facebook Marketplace—a growing platform.
eBay. Older than time itself, eBay earns millions of dollars a day in gift card volume. They are fairly warm to buying and selling physical gift cards but they are cracking down on e-codes. The downsides here are shipping costs and eBay/PayPal fees which add up to over 10%. There are also a lot of international buyers on eBay taking advantage of currency exchanges, which inflates prices of gift cards above their face value. It’s an expensive place to find gift cards—but always there.
6. Arbitrage gift cards on AmazonAmazon is unique in a lot of ways. One way in particular is that they let you buy other brands of physical gift cards with your Amazon credit balance—such as Nordstrom, Southwest, Nike, Starbucks, Google Play, iTunes, Best Buy, Lowe’s, Sephora, Hotels.com and dozens more.
This opens the door for people to buy gift cards on Amazon and then sell them to CardCash, CardPool, Raise, Paxful, Reddit, LocalBitcoins, Redeeem, etc. The risk, believe it or not, is that Amazon loves shutting down people’s accounts with gift card balances frozen inside. So don't let your balances get too high and try to mimic normal behavior that doesn’t make you look like a large dropshipping business (e.g. ship to yourself, buy other products too, have a real phone number and billing address on file, etc). There are also hard quantity limits on how many gift cards you can buy for each SKU on Amazon.
Your profit margin will depend on how you get Amazon credits, your ability to keep your Amazon accounts in good health, and the rate at which you sell your cards to gift card marketplaces (some let you choose your own rate, others have fixed rates), and the speed and method you want to get paid (check, ACH, bitcoin, PayPal, etc).
7. Swap other gift cards for AmazonCardCash Amazon Exchange. This is a cool resource that CardCash built alongside Amazon to allow customers to swap out other national brands for Amazon e-codes for a small fee. The rates are comparable to what they have on the main CardCash website and the e-codes are delivered within 24 hours. It’s a cool way to jump from one brand to another if you want Amazon gift cards in particular and have another.
8. Buy gift cards from retail storesRetail Stores. There are hundreds of physical retail store locations where you can buy physical gift cards in person (the link points to Amazon retail locations). You pay full retail price but it’s fast, safe and reliable—and you can earn 3-5% cash back with certain credit cards like Amazon Prime card.
9. Earn gift cards for online workMechanical Turks. Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a crowdsourcing marketplace that makes it easier for individuals and businesses to outsource their processes and jobs. This will require a lot of work, but you can get paid in Amazon gift cards.
Swagbucks. You can redeem a Amazon Gift Cards by using the Swagbucks you earn through playing, searching, discovering, answering, watching or shopping on websites that are trying to sell you things. Not very profitable but can be fun.
10. Daily deals websitesGroupon. Although not as popular as when it first launched in 2009, Groupon is still used by millions of people to get discounts on stores, experiences and even gift cards like Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy. There is also a gift certificate category that has similar offers (sorry, we couldn’t find anything similar on Living Social).
Amazon Daily Deals. Amazon has daily deals on many categories of products as high as 20% discount. On some occasions they will slash prices on gift cards. Amazon Treasure Truck. Amazon has a Treasure Truck that they drive around many of their Whole Foods locations they use to promote Amazon Video shows and offer 10% discount deals on food, clothing and tech.
Gift Cards.me. Simple app, good reviews, worth a try. The discounts aren’t very spectacular, but they claim to have fast gift card delivery.
Nimble Commerce. Not sure how long they’ll be around, but worth a shot.
Bonus KnowledgeOn the back of your gift cards, check all the stores where that brand is accepted. For example, gift cards for Gap also work at Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta and Piper Lime. Walmart gift cards work at Sam’s Club, Amazon gift cards work at Whole Foods, and Albertsons gift cards work at Safeway, Vons and a dozen other grocery store chains in the same family. Make sure you know these sister-company store policies before you buy a brand.
One limitation you may find with many stores like Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy is that they have per-product purchase limits. Obviously you can create new accounts or ask friends and family to buy products for you, but some products have gift cards under many different SKU numbers—like a Christmas and Birthday version. There are also limits set for each of these individual items, not the gift card category as a whole.
Finally, based on the U.S. government regulations, the maximum amount of gift cards that can be purchased in a 24 hour period by a single person $10,000. So please keep this in mind when you are out there shopping.
Good luck, be honest, and happy trading!
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