Nov 6, 2023

DeFi for Lending and Borrowing: A Beginner's Guide

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DeFi (decentralized finance) is transforming lending and borrowing with its transparent, secure, and permissionless architecture. In this beginner's guide, we'll explore DeFi lending and borrowing platforms, how to choose between them, steps for using them, and considerations around risks.

Introduction to DeFi Lending and Borrowing

DeFi refers to financial services built on decentralized, blockchain-based networks with no central authority. DeFi lending/borrowing platforms allow users to lend assets like stablecoins to earn interest or borrow assets using other crypto as collateral.

Unlike traditional finance, DeFi platforms have no intermediary and run via smart contracts. This enables instant, 24/7 global access to lending/borrowing funds with flexibility and privacy.

Types of DeFi Lending and Borrowing Platforms

There are several types of platforms for DeFi lending and borrowing:

Centralized Lending Platforms (CeFi)

CeFi platforms use a centralized architecture but offer DeFi-like services. Pros include beginner-friendly interfaces. Cons include platform risk. Examples are BlockFi, Celsius, and Nexo.

Decentralized Lending Platforms (DeFi)

DeFi platforms offer peer-to-peer, transparent lending/borrowing via smart contracts. Pros include security and flexibility. Cons include complexity. Top examples are Aave, Compound, and MakerDAO.

Peer-to-Peer Lending Platforms

P2P platforms directly connect lenders and borrowers. This can offer personalized terms. However, limited borrower vetting is a downside. Examples are ETHLend and Ripio.

Algorithmic Lending Platforms

Algorithmic platforms automate lending rates using formulas. This enables lenders to earn "passive" interest. Cons include rigid rates. Alchemix and Abracadabra are two algorithmic platforms.

Choosing a DeFi Lending/Borrowing Platform

Key factors when choosing a DeFi lending/borrowing platform include:

  • Security - Audit reports, hack history, smart contract code reviews

  • Interest rates - Compare rates for lenders and borrowers across platforms

  • Liquidity - Asset reserves available to loan and borrow

  • Asset selection - Coins offered beyond just ETH and stablecoins

  • User interface - Streamlined vs complex depending on skill level

Top rated platforms include Aave, Compound, MakerDAO, Uniswap, and SushiSwap based on their transparency, rates, liquidity, assets, and ease-of-use.

Lending and Borrowing Assets on DeFi

Here is a step-by-step guide to lending and borrowing assets on a DeFi platform:

  1. Connect wallet (Metamask, Coinbase Wallet etc.)

  2. Select asset and amount to lend or borrow.

  3. Approve transactions in wallet.

  4. Supply collateral if borrowing.

  5. Review loan details and confirm.

Common mistakes to avoid include:

  • Not supplying enough collateral when borrowing

  • Misunderstanding variable interest rates

  • Transacting on fake scam sites

Risks to Consider with DeFi Lending and Borrowing

While innovation in DeFi offers advantages, users should weigh risks like:

  • Smart contract risks if auditing is insufficient

  • Liquidity risk if asset reserves are too low

  • Volatility risk if collateral token prices drop

  • Regulatory uncertainty and KYC requirements


DeFi lending and borrowing presents compelling benefits like flexibility, privacy, low fees, and global access. By selecting trusted platforms, managing risks carefully, and learning best practices, both lenders and borrowers can thrive in DeFi. This beginner's guide aimed to provide a helpful introduction to get started


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