Dharma state that they’re the ‘world’s first crypto bank’. This isn’t exactly true. There’s been plenty of self-purported ‘crypto banks’, many years before Dharma.
It does, however, have bank-like features that include the ability to send money around the world and earn interest. That’s about it for now though.
As far as the DeFi industry goes, Dharma are probably the easiest to use for earning interest, sending money and on- or off-ramping from fiat.
Their app is so slick. We really like their branding, design and UX. It really couldn’t be much more simple and enjoyable to use.
Dharma Labs launched its first product in April after raising $7 million in February 2019. They had a very different product at the time that wasn’t built on Compound Protocol. It was a product that helped people lend and borrow at fixed rates and durations.
They pivoted approximately 6 months later and launched V2 of their product on the Compound Protocol. This allowed their users to lend at variable rates and durations. It also allowed the team to focus on creating a superior experience to others in the industry.
Dharma investor and Autonomous Partners founder Arianna Simpson said: "Working with Compound allows Dharma to focus on the parts of the business which they do best, which in my view include design, product, and user experience, and instead outsource part of the stack. This is a natural step in the maturation of the industry."
They have recently added US-based on- and off-ramps and non-custodial wallets. They’re still to offer borrowing services, however, it’s said that they’re to come shortly.
The Dharma team
Dharma is led by a small team in San Francisco and funded by some of the top crypto-based VC firms in Silicon Valley including Polychain, YCombinator and Coinbase Ventures. The team are Standford Alumni with mostly technical backgrounds.
Why use Dharma
If it’s DeFi that’s simple to use, then Dharma is your best bet. They offer incredibly easy on-ramps and off-ramps enabling you to convert fiat money into crypto and back again at a tap. Unfortunately, this is restricted to only US accounts for now.
If you want to deposit and withdrawal cryptocurrencies, then that can be used globally.
In addition to simple on- and off-ramps, Dharma offer an incredibly slick interface where you can watch your crypto assets earn interest in real time. They’ve also focused on making sending and receiving money very easy with simple usernames and not your standard Ethereum addresses. Unfortunately they only offer Ethereum and DAI at the moment. Luckily, that covers many in the DeFi space for now, so it’s worth giving it a try.
Is Dharma secure?
The app doesn’t offer two-factor authentication and it’s very new so we don’t recommend putting your life savings in an account with them.
It is a top quality team, backed by top quality investors which makes us trust it more than most, however, with any new technology that is still very much in experimental phase, we don’t recommend storing too much of your assets with them.
Dharma don’t offer built in support in their app. They do, however, offer chat support on their website which was fairly responsive in our tests.
They have a good FAQ section with well-written, detailed answers on quite a lot of topics.
Should they start to scale, they may need to build in better support on their native app.
Ease of use
As mentioned previously, the best thing about Dharma is their design and usability. It’s currently second to none. It’s modern, fresh, fun, simple and very usable. In our opinion, they’ve pushed the DeFi and general finance industry forward with this design.
It’s arguably what made Coinbase stand out and ultimately successful in their early days. We think the same will be true for Dharma. If you want a beautiful, simple DeFi app, this is the one for you.
How to apply for a Dharma account
Go to their website
Download the app
Register on the app
Watch it earn interest in real-time
Compare with Dharma alternatives
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Dharma reminds us a lot of the early days at Coinbase. Coinbase stood out because it was taking an incredibly complicated product and made it accessible to the masses. Dharma is doing a similar thing with DeFi.
That seems to be their mission and if it is, they're doing a wonderful job. If you're looking for a simple DeFi app to help earn interest on ETH or DAI, this is the one for you. If you want higher rates and more cryptocurrency support like Bitcoin, USDC and Litecoin then there are other options.