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 sector
The 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 BAT
Issued 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 Lending
The 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 Compound
Compound 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 Farming
Despite 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 quotes
But 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 investors
Yield 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.