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A Quick Primer On Defi: What Is Decentralized Finance
For Beginners

A Quick Primer On Defi: What Is Decentralized Finance

By Oreld Hadilberg
Reviewed by Tony Spilotro

Table of Contents

Decentralized apps (dApps), the bulk of which operate on the Ethereum platform, enable DeFi services. Decentralized finance is gaining traction among blockchain leaders and investors, with both sides fully aware of the tremendous prospects presented by the technology:

"In theory, I'm quite enthused about the possibilities that DeFi presents. The concept that everyone in the globe may have access to and pick their financial exposure is an exciting thing." – Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum blockchain founder.

How Does Defi Work?

Decentralized finance uses the same blockchain technology as cryptocurrencies. A blockchain is a distributed and secure ledger or database. dApps are applications that manage transactions and operate the blockchain.

Transactions are recorded in blocks on the blockchain and subsequently validated by other users. If these verifiers agree on a transaction, the block is closed and encrypted, and a new block containing information about the preceding block is generated.

The blocks are "chained" together by the information in each subsequent block, thus the term blockchain. Because data in prior blocks cannot be modified without impacting subsequent blocks, there is no way to edit a blockchain. This approach and other security procedures contribute to the blockchain's secure nature.

Why Defi Is So Important?

One of the most critical topics in bitcoin and cryptocurrency is decentralized finance or Defi. DeFi's goal is to develop a new financial system independent of the traditional finance (TradFi) industry. This ambition is being funded by billions of dollars and the labor of thousands of developers all around the globe.

The purpose of Defi meaning is to build a trustless and permissionless financial market. Significant work and investment have gone into the evolution of Defi, and financial advisers must grasp this field. Much of the Defi technology builds on and improves on the TradFi system, perhaps resulting in a better outcome for users - you and your customers. As the area evolves and strengthens, it is critical to understand decentralized finance and to be able to deal with and depend on these decentralized applications.

Traditional Finance vs. DeFi

Understanding the difficulties that exist now is one of the most significant ways to appreciate the potential of DeFi.

  • Some persons are denied the ability to open a bank account or utilize financial services.
  • People who do not have access to financial services may find it challenging to get work.
  • Financial services might prevent you from receiving payment.
  • Your data is a hidden cost of financial services.
  • Governments and centralized organizations can shut down markets whenever they choose.
  • Trading hours are often restricted to business hours in a given time zone.
  • Due to internal human procedures, money transfers might take days.
  • Financial services command a premium because intermediate institutions need a share.

Examining The Differences Between Defi And Traditional Financial Systems

DeFi stands in stark contrast to conventional financial systems. This is shown below.

  • Management: DeFi is a decentralized system. It effectively eliminates central management: no one institution or individual controls activities. Smart contracts, however, manage interactions with little to no human participation. Traditional financial systems, on the other hand, have centralized control. The Central Bank is in charge of overseeing the overall economic activity. The organization is hierarchical, with various people having varying levels of ability to meddle in financial transactions.
  • Transparency: DeFi runs on Ethereum and other public blockchains. As a result, it is transparent. All transactions are open to the public. Commerce, however, is pseudonymous. This feature aids in concealing the true identity of the persons involved. Traditional financial systems, on the other hand, are private. You deal with your lender, agent, or broker individually. Furthermore, your genuine identity is revealed.
  • Hosting: DeFi, as a technical innovation, operates on Blockchain. In turn, blockchains are hosted on the internet. As a result, Defi does not need a physical location to function. Traditional financial systems, on the other hand, are brick-and-mortar models. They need physical space to operate.
  • Geographic Range: DeFi transcends geographical boundaries. The services are available everywhere around the globe with an internet connection. People may be at opposite ends of the world and yet trade. Traditional financial systems, on the other hand, are constrained by place and time. Financial institutions are restricted from operating outside of certain countries. Again, the majority of their services are available during business hours.
  • Assets' Characteristics: DeFi transactions are entirely digital. All of the transactions on it make use of cryptocurrency. Traditional financial services are the polar opposite. They utilize fiat money here. Physical notes and coins define exchanges.
  • Gatekeeping: Because DeFi transactions are decentralized, intermediaries are eliminated. In peer-to-peer transactions, peers may engage directly using smart contracts. Traditional financial systems, on the other hand, have several gatekeepers. There are agents and other parties who become involved in trades.
  • Control: You have complete control over your finances under the DeFi system. The only prerequisites are an internet connection and smart contracts. You decide when to transact, with whom, and in what quantities. That is not true in conventional financial systems. Here, you hand up control of your money to several agents. The first is the central bank, which governs the industry. Second, your bank is your money custodian. The third component is the agent/agency that works for you.
  • Flexibility: Users enjoy a flexible experience while using DeFi systems. For example, one may alter the interfaces of their dApps at any time. They may either create them themselves or get them from other sources. This is not the case with conventional financial systems. The user experience is set in stone. The central authority develops customer policy. All consumers get a one-size-fits-all service.
  • Interoperability: DeFi systems enable function interoperability. New goods and services are emerging as the crypto finance industry develops. These may be constructed on top of existing DApps to provide additional functionality. Traditional finance, on the other hand, does not permit interoperability. Each player has a different product. This cannot be built on or altered without the owners' consent.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of DeFi

Benefits of DeFi

1. Farewell, human errors, and poor management

As previously stated, financial crises emerge from central banks (CBs) mismanagement and third-party intermediaries (TPIs). However, due to smart contracts, human error is eliminated from the process daily; unless the contracts themselves were severely drafted.

2. Quick and continuous access

Before DeFi, if you wanted a loan, you had to go to a bank and spend a lot of time. You may receive a loan with DeFi with only one click, even in the middle of the night. As long as you have an internet connection, you may access the market from anywhere and at any time.

3. A More Healthful System

Covid-19 has shown the vulnerability of conventional financial systems (CeFi) to global shocks. This is because centralized economic systems rely on direct communication between people.

The amount of physical touch required to maintain decentralized financial systems (DeFi) might be reduced to zero, and bitcoin values and firms have been rising amid the present health crisis.

4. Operations with No Permission:

Almost every financial action in the conventional banking system requires approval from an intermediary. In the DeFi domain, various services may be anticipated, and not all of them could be discussed in this talk. More DeFi terminology may be found in this other DApp Journey DeFi post.

Are all of these services and platforms, however, risk-free?

Without a doubt, the answer is "No." A DeFi product, like an apple that may contain a worm, has its own set of issues and hazards.

Drawbacks of DeFi

Many of the challenges and hazards confronting a Defi project are due to the technology they are based upon; blockchains. Since over 90% of DeFi projects are based on Ethereum blockchain, we will consider the challenges for Ethereum challenges as Defi challenges:

1. Uncertainty

If the blockchain that hosts a Defi project is unstable, the project will spontaneously inherit the host blockchain's instability. The Ethereum blockchain is still evolving, and mistakes made when transitioning from PoW to the new Eth 2.0 PoS system may introduce unknown risks to DeFi projects.

2. Scalability

Another big problem with Defi projects is the scalability of the host blockchain. The scalability issue causes two significant problems:

a) Long transaction time to confirm

b) Transactions are costly during periods of congestion

At total capacity, Ethereum can process approximately 13 transactions per second, whereas centralized counterparts can process thousands upon thousands of transactions.

3. Smart Contract Issues

Smart contract vulnerability is a significant source of issues for many DeFi projects. The slightest flaw in a smart contract's code can result in a loss of funds.

4. Liquidity is low.

Liquidity is one of the most critical factors for Defi token-based projects and blockchain protocols. By October 2020, the total value locked in Defi will be more than $12.5 billion. This is a drop in the bucket compared to traditional financial systems.

5. Over-collateralization

As previously stated, the crypto loan industry is an appealing service in DeFi. But this business suffers from over-collateralization when the value of the staked crypto asset (by the borrower) is prohibitively high compared to the loan amount itself. Defi cryptocurrency projects have substantial collateralization to compensate for the absence of hurdles such as credit ratings.

6. Interoperability is poor.

There are different blockchains, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and BNB, each with its Defi ecosystem and community. Interoperability allows Defi platforms, tools, DApps, and smart contracts on different blockchains to communicate. Until this becomes simpler, many projects are siloed.

7. Inadequate Insurance

Insurance protects investors in the event of hacks or other fraudulent activities. Insurance is essential in centralized finance but is much less common in Defi.

8. Centralization

Creating decentralized finance is the primary purpose of creating bitcoin and blockchain, but sometimes decentralized finance isn’t as decentralized as it should be. Decentralization dramatically reduces the possibility of scams.

Defi created "Sushiswap." The unknown creator of Sushiswap has withdrawn the project transferring all of his Sushi crypto tokens to ETH on September 5, 2020. After the SUSHI token forked from the Uniswap protocol, its value increased to $10 before dropping to 0.6$ (at the time of writing this article) after the founder converted his tokens. This is an example of how, even within DeFi, a single point of failure is possible.

9. Your Responsibility

Even if DeFi is free of risks and issues, it is not liable for your errors. Defi shifts responsibility away from intermediaries and toward users. If you lose your assets by accident, no one will hold you accountable; hence, developing solutions to avoid human errors and blunders is critical in the Defi area. With independence comes a great deal of responsibility, and many users are not accustomed to looking for themselves in this manner, which may result in losing money or being defrauded.

Defi is a new and experimental technology with some issues and problems, particularly regarding security. Developers and supporters of decentralized finance hope that these issues will be resolved in the future.

Bottom Line

To answer the question, “what is Defi crypto?”. Decentralized finance (Defi) is an emerging financial technology that challenges the centralized banking system. Defi reduces fees charged by banks and other financial institutions for utilizing their services and encourages the use of peer-to-peer, or P2P, transactions.

Those looking to get started in DeFi, beyond the basics of other cryptocurrency trading, should proceed carefully and be sure that they work with a reliable counterparty. Though the returns given by Defi are appealing, don’t allow the possible recovery to blind you to the additional hazards. A downturn in DeFi cryptocurrency markets might swiftly wipe out any tiny profits via yield farming, and blatant frauds or theft could wipe out your crypto fortune much quicker.


What is DeFi in crypto?

Defi is an abbreviation for decentralized finance (pronounced dee-fye). Defi meaning is an umbrella phrase for the crypto universe's efforts to create a new, internet-native financial system by replacing old intermediaries and trust mechanisms with blockchains.

Lending platforms, prediction markets, options, and derivatives are additional examples of DeFi. Essentially, crypto enthusiasts are creating their version of Wall Street, one that is mainly decentralized and only deals in cryptocurrency, with crypto versions of many of the products offered by traditional financial firms, without much of the red tape and regulations that govern the current economic system.

Is Bitcoin a defi?

By far, the most well-known and extensively utilized cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. It has the largest market capitalization and around 62.2% market domination. Bitcoin is still the original Defi, and its lightning network effects are unparalleled due to its extensive global user base.

Is it safe to invest in DeFi?

Without a doubt, sure. Getting associated with DeFi platforms is one of the current trends for putting crypto to use. The phrase DeFi, or Decentralized Finance, is the moniker that defines the current significant movement centered on blockchain technology. It is said to be the development of the well-known FinTechs of the twentieth century. Its goal is to provide a wide range of "conventional" financial offerings and services based on a decentralized architecture that lets users communicate directly with the platform without needing middlemen.