We demystify the process of crypto loans and offer some insight into the best options for borrowing against your crypto assets.
Still curious? Click here to dive into how crypto loan collateral works.
Still curious? Click here to dive into how crypto loan liquidations work.
Still curious? Click here to dive into how crypto loans affect your credit scores.
Still curious? Click here to dive into more ways to utilize a crypto loan.
Since Satoshi Nakamoto made Bitcoin public in 2008, cryptocurrencies have slowly made their way into most parts of the financial system. As they are touted as the future of finance, there is hardly anything you can do with traditional currencies that you can't do with cryptocurrencies.
For example, you can exchange digital assets with one another as is done in forex, purchase goods and services with crypto, and use crypto cards and even crypto ATMs for cash purposes.
Then, it should not be surprising that cryptocurrencies have also disrupted the traditional loan system. Crypto loans have been getting a lot of attention lately, and many people see them as a good alternative to traditional loans. In fact, crypto lending was the biggest aspect of the DeFi world as of March 2022.
How does it work? What are the intricacies and mechanisms involved? Are there pitfalls? This article will answer those questions and more. We'll talk about crypto lending from the point of view of the borrower and introduce you to some crypto loan terms.
Let's start with a definition.
Crypto loans, or crypto-backed loans, are secured loans that use digital assets as collateral. They offer smart ways to cash in on the value of your crypto holdings without selling them.
Early in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the entire financial world to crash, they started to become more popular. Many sold their crypto holdings, while those who held on to their crypto assets needed to find a way to make these assets work for them.
Cryptocurrency loans easily fill that need. They rewarded crypto enthusiasts for "HODLing." They also provided a way to get quick cash to settle urgent personal expenses without letting go of prized crypto assets.
Now that we have a definition, let's discuss how some crypto loan mechanisms work.
The collateral is the crypto asset you put down as security when taking a crypto loan. It's a common term in the finance world and basically assures the lender that they will get their money's worth even if you default on repaying your loan.
In most cases, crypto loans are overcollateralized. In other words, your collateral is worth more than the amount you borrow. For example, if you want a crypto loan of $10,000, you might have to put down crypto collateral worth $15,000 or more, depending on your LTV ratio (we'll explain this later).
There are also undercollateralized and even non-collateralized crypto loans. Though easier to access, these loans may present more risks for the lender than overcollateralized loans.
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance Coin, and USDT are just some of the cryptocurrencies you can use as collateral for crypto loans. You can also use NFTs and even meme coins as collateral. You're good to go as long as the lending platform supports your asset as collateral.
Remember, however, that the more volatile a cryptocollateral is, the more susceptible it is to liquidations. Therefore, use digital assets with large market caps as much as possible. These coins suffer from fewer severe price fluctuations and have deeper liquidity.
Also, as mentioned earlier, not all crypto loans require collateral. Therefore, you may not be required to put up collateral in some cases.
The LTV ratio of your loan describes the relationship between how much you put down as collateral and how much you get as the loan amount. It is also like a gauge showing how close you are to liquidation.
The starting LTV ratio for most volatile crypto loans is between 20% and 50%, while stablecoin loans can come with an LTV as high as 90%.
So, collateral worth $10,000 will give you a $2,000 loan value with a 20% LTV ratio, while the same collateral will provide you with a $5,000 loan value with a 50% LTV ratio.
Don't let the high figures fool you, though. A high LTV ratio is usually an ominous sign that liquidation is near.
Liquidation is a nightmare for crypto loan borrowers. In essence, it means you've lost your collateral, and you would have been better off selling it to fulfill your needs. No one wants it to happen, but sometimes it has to happen.
So, if you see that your LTV ratio is going up quickly and getting close to the dangerous waters of liquidation, you should take steps to bring it back down.
How can you reduce or avoid altogether the risk of liquidation? The following measures can help:
Use stable cryptocurrencies as collateral to reduce the effect of price fluctuations.
Keep some cash on the ground to add to your collateral if need be.
Keep an eye on the markets, and set alerts so that you can act on time if the market starts declining.
A credit check is when a company or bank checks your previous financial records to determine whether you're eligible for a loan. They then rank your creditworthiness from 300 to 850. In most cases, you need a good-to-excellent credit score (670–850) to secure a loan.
Even though you do not go through a credit check before getting a crypto loan, you still need to be careful how you take and spend crypto loans so as to protect your creditworthiness.
For example, if you take out your loan in cryptocurrencies, you are liable to pay capital gains tax. If you do not pay your taxes on time, your credit score may be negatively impacted.
Tax rules favor the borrower more than the lender in a crypto lending arrangement. How so? If you take a crypto loan for business purposes, the loan interest you pay is tax deductible. Also, if you take your loan proceeds in fiat or stablecoins, you can spend as much as you like without paying a dime in taxes.
In some cases, though, you may have to pay taxes. For example, if your loan is liquidated, you may have to pay a capital gains tax. Your earnings may be taxed if you take a self-repaying loan.
You can get a secured loan instantly from a crypto lending platform. This is a crypto exchange that makes sure the relationship between a lender and a borrower goes as planned.
On these platforms, a central authority takes the loan from lenders and gives it to borrowers. It also collects interest payments from the borrowers and gives the lenders their cuts.
Each platform for lending crypto has its own rates of interest, minimum loan amounts, fees, and so on. It's best to research these terms of service before signing up with them.
Now that you have taken your crypto loan, what happens next? What will you use your loan for? That largely depends on you. After all, you must have had a reason for getting the loan in the first place.
But apart from using your loan to fill some urgent needs, there are other things you can do with it. You could, for example, use it to buy other promising crypto assets, which would make your crypto portfolio more diverse. You can even use it to invest in other assets outside the crypto world, like real estate, stocks, commodities, etc.
Remember that a loan is a debt you will eventually have to pay back. So, consider all your options well before deciding what you'll use the loan for.
So, how does it all go down? Let me take you through the three-step process that usually accompanies crypto borrowing.
To get a crypto loan, you may need to sign up with a crypto lending platform, perform KYC verification if necessary, and be ready with your collateral.
You may not always need these three things. For example, some crypto lending platforms don't require KYC, while others don't require you to bring collateral. Sometimes, you might not even need a crypto lending platform, such as when you borrow directly from another person.
You do not need a credit check to get a crypto loan, nor do you need to come up with a guarantor. You also do not need to be physically present with your lending provider before your loan can be disbursed. Sometimes certain types of crypto loans can be an exception, like a crypto loan for mortgages which require much more capital and have additional risks.
Like a garden, a crypto loan needs tending. You need to keep an eye on your LTV ratio to make sure you are not getting close to going out of business, particularly for flash loans. Most lending platforms have "margin calls" that let users know when they need to make changes.
In some cases, you get a reverse margin call. This occurs when the price of your collateral has increased to the extent that your LTV ratio is now much lower than what you started with. You may then take back some of your collateral or get a bigger loan.
You can close the loan by simply repaying your debt when you're done with your crypto loan arrangement. However, it's not always as simple as it sounds. Sometimes, you have to watch out for prepayment fees. These are fees that crypto lenders charge borrowers if they repay the loan before the loan term expires.
That sounds strange, right? Some lenders do this because repaying a loan early costs them weeks and months of interest that they would have earned if the loan had been allowed to run its full term. So they charge you to cover up for such a 'loss.'
That's why you should read the fine print and know how their crypto lending works before signing up on a crypto lending platform.
You don't have to sell your crypto assets to cater to expenses. Therefore, you don't miss out if your held crypto increases in value.
You don't need excellent credit scores before securing a crypto loan, as there are no credit checks.
There is little or no geographic restriction for crypto loans.
Those who take crypto loans enjoy instant disbursement within minutes sometimes.
Crypto loan borrowers usually pay lower interest rates than traditional loan borrowers.
You can lose your crypto collateral if things don't go your way.
As it is a relatively new type of loan, there are regulatory and safety concerns.
A crypto-backed loan is a smart way to use your crypto assets without disposing of them. However, like many other things in the crypto world, you will do better if you're well-informed. We hope this article has done its part in showing you how crypto loans work, including pitfalls to avoid and how best to benefit from them.