7 Crypto Lending Platforms for 2022
Thinking about getting a crypto loan or earning interest? Read more about how crypto lending works and which 7 platforms we're excited about in 2022.
TokenTax content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity.
If managed properly, a crypto loan should not cause any taxable events.
However, there are several loan-related events that would be taxable if they occurred, most notably forced liquidations.
What is a crypto loan?
A crypto loan is a way for traders to receive liquid funds without selling their cryptocurrency. Instead, they use their digital assets as collateral for a cash or stablecoin loan.
Individuals may choose to take out a crypto loan instead of selling because they expect their crypto asset’s value to increase or because they want to hold the asset long enough to avoid short-term capital gains crypto tax rates.
What are the categories of crypto loans?
Custodial crypto (CeFi) loans
Centralized finance (CEFi) loans are custodial; a central entity takes custody of collateral. In this situation, a trader cannot access his or her collateralized assets; the lender controls the assets’ private keys.
The takeaway here is that although custodial crypto loans are still far more accessible and affordable than traditional loans, they still depend on a centralized lending provider to enforce their terms. Around 80 percent of crypto loans are currently custodial, but this ratio is changing quickly.
Non-custodial (DeFI) crypto loans
Decentralized finance (DeFi) loans are non-custodial. Rather than depending on a central organization to enforce the terms of the loan, they depend on smart contracts. If a trader takes out a DeFi crypto loan, the trader retains control of their assets’ keys—unless they default on the loan.
DeFi platforms cannot directly lend fiat currency; traders receive stablecoins that can then be exchanged for cash. DeFi loans tend to have a higher interest rate than custodial loans.
What do I need to take out a crypto loan?
Compared to the process of applying for a traditional loan, applying for a crypto loan requires relatively little. Credit checks are typically not required; rather, the amount of the loan you will be approved for depends upon the amount of collateral you are able to use. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is the ratio between the amount of the loan and the value of the collateral. If you put up $10,000 worth of crypto as collateral and receive a $6,000 loan, your loan’s LTV ratio is 60 percent. Because crypto markets are volatile, LTV ratios on crypto loans are typically low.
What are the risks involved in crypto loans?
Unlike assets held in traditional financial institutions, crypto accounts are not covered by the FDIC. Consequently, there is no federal insurance on any crypto asset in the event an exchange fails. With this in mind, there are three primary types of risk inherent in crypto loans.
As in all cryptocurrency trading, there is a risk that protocols break down because of a technical problem or hacking. This risk is somewhat higher in non-custodial loans, since all DeFi activity is completely algorithmically governed.
The FDIC requires all traditional banks to maintain a certain level of liquidity; crypto loan providers are not subject to this requirement. If the market crashes, an unexpectedly large number of clients default on their loans, or if a platform breaks or is exploited, the crypto lending platform may find itself without the liquidity to return a borrower’s collateral.
Margin calls and forced liquidations
To prevent illiquidity during market downturns, lending platforms will issue margin calls or force liquidations. If a cryptocurrency’s value drops to a point where many borrowers’ LTVs are too high for the platform to maintain, the platform will inform borrowers that they must increase the value of their collateral or risk liquidation.
If the call is not met, the platform may liquidize enough of the collateral to bring an account’s LTV back to the maximum allowed ratio. In this case, a trader will have forfeited that portion of their deposit, will have incurred capital gains or losses, and may be charged transaction and broker fees.
How are crypto loans taxed?
If a crypto loan is managed properly and all parties uphold the terms of the loan, the parties should not incur any taxes. The IRS considers cryptocurrency to be property, and, as in traditional trading, using your property as collateral for a loan is not considered a cryptocurrency trade or sale and therefore is not a crypto taxable event.
However, there are several potential crypto loan scenarios that could affect your taxes.
Crypto loan fees
Providers charge borrowers interest fees on their loans. These fees can range from around 1% APR to over 12% APR. If you use your loan for investment or business purposes, you may be able to write off these interest fees on your taxes.
Contact a tax professional for more guidance about business deductions.
Failure to pay back the loan
If you don’t pay back your crypto loan, the lender may liquidate all or part of your asset to recoup its losses. This could result in capital gains or losses for you, even though the lender retains the proceeds.
As mentioned above, if collateral is liquidized because of an unmet margin call, the borrower will be subject to capital gains tax on any increase in the collateral’s value between the time of its purchase and the time the lender sold the asset.
A user puts up 20,000 DAI of collateral to the Alchemix protocol and receives a 30,000 DAI loan in exchange.
Alchemix deposits the 20,000 DAI into a liquidity pool, which mints 1,000 DAI for the protocol over the tax year..
1,000 DAI is subtracted from the user’s debt to the protocol. This is considered 1,000 DAI of debt cancellation income for the user, which is taxed as ordinary income.
Ready to investigate which crypto loan is right for you? Read our recommendations for the best DeFi and CeFi lending platforms.
Crypto Lending Platforms
Aave is a large DeFi liquidity protocol with a wide range of crypto loan options. In addition to regular crypto loans, Aave offers uncollaterized flash loans (which it pioneered), short-term fixed interest rate loans, an AMM market, and markets on Polygon and Avalanche. It boasts high LTV rates and low borrowing rates.
Lenders to the protocol deposit their funds and receive aTokens in exchange, which accrue interest. Interest rates for stablecoins hover around 5%.
Abracadabra.money is a rapidly growing DeFi project that accepts collateral in the form of interest-bearing tokens. In return, borrowers receive MIM (magic internet money), a USD-pegged and asset-backed stablecoin that is traded on many exchanges. This protocol allows investors to “use” their staked funds while still earning yield.
The project is adding cross-chain support, including Arbitum, Avalanche, BSC, and Fantom. Abracadabra offers LTV rates up to 90%.
Users can also stake LP tokens to farm SPELL (the protocol’s native token).
Alchemix is a DeFi loan platform that uses a new but intriguing method to provide loans that “pay themselves back over time.” In very simple terms, it works like this: users deposit DAI into a smart contract and in exchange receive a token that represents the deposit’s future yield farming potential. This token is called alUSD and can be transmuted 1-1 for DAI on the Alchemix platform or traded on a DeFi exchange like Sushiswap.
The smart contract then transfers the deposited assets into a Yearn vault that mints DAI. As the yield harvests, Alchemix users’ alUSD debt decreases, meaning that ultimately the deposit’s yield harvest automatically “pays back” the loan.
Alchemix users can mint an alUSD coin worth up to half of the asset they deposit. If we translated this ratio into more typical crypto loan terms, Alchemix offers an LTV of 50%. Although it currently only accepts DAI deposits, it expects to accept more stablecoins soon.
Although Gemini doesn’t offer crypto loans, it is an attractive way to earn interest on your assets. Daily compounded interest allows you to make up to 8.05% APY and users have much more flexibility when it comes to moving their funds. Unlike on many yield-generating platforms, on Gemini Earn you can transfer funds out of Earn and into your trading account at any time.
Gemini, a CeFi firm founded by the Winklevoss twins, also has an exceptional commitment to security.
Mango V3 is a project on the Solana chain for low-latency lending, borrowing, swapping, and trading. It stands out for three reasons: first, it allows leveraged trading, meaning you can use borrowed funds for up to 10x leveraged trades on the Serum DEX ecosystem or 20X on Mango’s perpetual futures books. Second, it allows cross-trading. Third, through MangoDAO, Mango V3 has a $70 million deposit insurance fund.
In the past year, Mango has had incredible interest and borrowing rates: up to 74% for interest and as low as .78% for borrowing. However, Mango’s leveraged trading should be approached very cautiously; margin trading is risky, particularly in the volatile crypto market. It is quite possible to end up owing much more than you ever deposited.
Nexo is one of the most popular CeFi lending platforms. It may be a good choice for more conservative investors, because it offers $375 million of insurance on all custodial assets. The platform has $13 B in assets and more than 3 million users. Nexo’s LTV rates are typically slightly higher than average CeFi loan providers. Borrow rates cap out at 13.9%, while on the lending side, you can make up to 17% APR.
Among CeFi lenders, Unchained Capital stands out because it doesn’t rehypothecate (loan out again) funds. Additionally, it has a multisig collaborative custody model, which gives borrowers more transparency into their assets and increases security. In this system, accessing collateralized assets requires three private keys. One is controlled by the borrower, one by Unchained Capital, and one by a third-party key agent.
Unchained Capital only offers bitcoin loans and only lends in the United States. Additionally, to use the platform, borrowers must use a hardware wallet. Its higher security comes with a somewhat higher barrier to borrowing: it has lower LTV rates and higher interest rates than most CeFi providers.
To stay up to date on the latest, follow TokenTax on Twitter @tokentax.