Advanced Applications of DeFi

Learn about the advanced applications of decentralised Finance.

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Advanced applications of decentralized finance
Last updated:
January 29, 2024

tl;dr

  1. Yield Farming and Liquidity Mining: Yield farming, evolving since 2020, involves earning rewards by strategically moving assets across platforms, while liquidity mining focuses on generating tokens for providing liquidity, both offering high returns but with notable risks​​.
  2. Synthetic Assets and Derivatives: DeFi's synthetic assets and derivatives enable trading and risk management strategies by mirroring real-world financial instruments, offering broader market access but requiring an understanding of their complexities​​.
  3. Insurance in DeFi: DeFi insurance protocols provide protection against various risks inherent in DeFi platforms, though they require careful evaluation due to their intricate nature and potential interconnected risks​​.
  4. Aggregators in DeFi: DeFi aggregators streamline the DeFi experience by optimizing returns and minimizing risks across various platforms, simplifying complex systems but still posing inherent platform risks like smart contract vulnerabilities​​.

The world of decentralized finance has expanded beyond the simple use case of peer-to-peer transactions, which were a revolutionary concept when cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin first appeared.

DeFi takes the decentralization of cryptocurrencies a step further, using blockchain technology not just for currency, but for a variety of financial applications. Users can borrow, lend, trade, invest, and more, all without the need for traditional financial intermediaries.

While the DeFi space is broad and ever-evolving, this article will delve into some of its more advanced applications, including yield farming, synthetic assets, decentralized insurance, and the use of aggregators to maximize returns.

These innovations are adding depth to the DeFi ecosystem, providing more complex financial services in a decentralized context and offering high returns, albeit with accompanying risks.

Want to learn more about what DeFi is and why it matters? Check out our DeFi Beginner’s Guide!

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Yield Farming and Liquidity Mining

Yield farming, also known as liquidity mining, is a way to generate rewards with cryptocurrency holdings. In simple terms, it means locking up cryptocurrencies and getting rewards. In some sense, yield farming can be paralleled with staking. However, there's complexity running underneath this simplistic view.

The phenomenon began in 2020, with the launch of the Compound protocol, and rapidly became one of the most talked-about innovations in DeFi. 

Yield farming and liquidity mining are broadly used interchangeably, but there's a subtle difference: yield farming is about maximizing yield by moving assets around, while liquidity mining refers more specifically to generating tokens in exchange for providing liquidity.

Liquidity mining

Liquidity mining is a straightforward process. A person supplies assets to a liquidity pool, and in return, receives fees generated from the underlying DeFi platform, based on the trading fees that are generated from the platform's users. 

These rewards are usually in the form of tokens. This process incentivizes users to fund the liquidity pools necessary for decentralized exchanges (DEXs) and other applications to function smoothly.

Yield farming

Yield farming takes this a step further. Yield farmers will hunt for the best strategies that can maximize their yield and may involve lending or borrowing crypto assets to and from several platforms to engage in complex strategies. 

For instance, a user might lend assets on Platform A to earn rewards, then stake those rewards on Platform B to earn additional rewards there, and so on. This can create a cascade of income (or "yield") that far exceeds what simple interest could generate.

However, liquidity mining and yield farming are not without risks. Smart contract bugs, platform changes, or sudden liquidation can turn profitable strategies sour. 

The returns, while potentially high, come with considerable volatility and risk, requiring constant monitoring of the positions to navigate market conditions successfully.

Synthetic Assets and Derivatives

The world of DeFi continues to push the boundaries of traditional financial markets, offering innovative forms of investment, one of which is the creation and trading of synthetic assets and derivatives. 

These complex instruments allow market participants to speculate on the future value of underlying assets without needing to hold the actual assets themselves, expanding market participation and liquidity.

Synthetic Assets

Synthetic assets mirror the values of cryptocurrencies, stocks, or any financial instruments, extending market access beyond geographical and regulatory limits. 

They are created via over-collateralization, where collateral in cryptocurrency is locked to issue synthetic assets, ensuring they maintain their peg to the underlying assets. 

This mechanism, executed through DeFi smart contracts, broadens trading opportunities and democratizes market access.

Derivatives

In the same vein, DeFi derivatives, including options, futures, and swaps, offer strategies for risk management or speculation based on the anticipated price movements of underlying assets. 

These decentralized contracts replicate traditional financial derivatives but operate with reduced intermediation, offering greater accessibility at lower costs. However, this comes with increased risk due to the market's volatility and the complexity of the contracts.

In essence, synthetic assets and derivatives within DeFi provide a more inclusive financial ecosystem. They allow for sophisticated trading strategies and risk management, traditionally reserved for professional traders, now accessible to a broader user base.

However, the intricate nature of these instruments necessitates a thorough understanding of their mechanisms and associated risks.

Insurance in DeFi: Covering Risks

DeFi platforms, while revolutionizing finance by offering high returns and inclusivity, inherently carry significant risks, including technical glitches, human errors, and systemic vulnerabilities. This is due to blockchain's nascent status and DeFi's minimal regulation.

In response, several DeFi insurance protocols have emerged, offering some protection against unexpected negative events. However, these protections are intricate and require careful consideration.

Users need to scrutinize insurance policies thoroughly, understanding the specific circumstances under which claims are accepted, the risks insured, and the claim procedures. Policies often use complex language, and misinterpretation could lead to false security, as some events, especially unprecedented or complicated ones, may have specific exclusions.

Importantly, DeFi insurance protocols aren't fail-proof and can be subject to the same risks they aim to mitigate. A major failure in a large protocol could trigger instability in the insurance platforms, particularly if they are deeply interconnected or hold substantial amounts of the affected platform’s tokens. This interconnectedness could render the insurance protocol insolvent, leaving users unprotected.

DeFi's automated nature, built on protocols and smart contracts, complicates insurance coverage further. Unlike traditional insurance, which relies on historical data and legal norms, DeFi insurance must operate in a landscape with limited past risk assessment data, ever-evolving threats, and no central governing body.

Hence, users must exercise caution, conducting comprehensive due diligence not only on DeFi platforms but also on insurance providers. This involves evaluating the providers' financial stability, understanding coverage scope, and recognizing policy limitations.

As DeFi insurance matures, we anticipate advancements in product sophistication and regulatory oversight. Currently, users must navigate carefully, weighing the lure of high DeFi returns against potential risks and the actual reliability of existing insurance protocols in this vibrant, evolving space.

Aggregators: Maximizing DeFi Returns

Lastly, the rapid evolution and expansion of DeFi platforms have given birth to a new type of service: DeFi aggregators. 

These platforms or protocols leverage several DeFi applications to optimize token lending, borrowing, yield, and insurance capabilities. They provide users with a way to maximize their returns across different protocols or minimize their risks and fees, all while simplifying the user experience.

DeFi aggregators operate based on the premise that the DeFi space, while lucrative, can be notoriously complicated. With hundreds of platforms, each offering different interest rates, risk profiles, and token requirements, it can be challenging for users to keep track of where the best opportunities are. 

Aggregators navigate this complexity by automatically identifying the best strategies.

For example, yield aggregator platforms will move users' funds between different lending services to ensure they're always getting the best interest rate. 

Insurance aggregators might purchase coverage from different providers to build a comprehensive coverage package with the lowest possible premium.

Platforms like Yearn.finance have become particularly well-known in this space. 

They optimize lending by algorithmically moving user deposits between different DeFi protocols, seeking the highest yield. 

This all happens transparently to the user, who needs only to deposit their funds and watch the aggregator work its magic.

However, while aggregators offer simplified entry points to otherwise complex systems and can be powerful tools for maximizing DeFi returns, users should be aware of platform risks, including smart contract vulnerabilities and the ever-present issue of impermanent loss, particularly when providing liquidity to DEXs.

Accounting and Tax Reporting in DeFi

As DeFi continues to carve out a significant niche in the financial sector, it brings with it not just opportunities but also the mundane realities of traditional finance – accounting and tax reporting. 

These essential aspects are often overlooked in the excitement surrounding DeFi's possibilities, yet they remain crucial for both individual investors and businesses venturing into the decentralized finance space.

The Complexity of DeFi Transactions

One primary reason accounting and tax reporting are particularly challenging in DeFi is the complexity and novelty of the transactions involved. 

Unlike straightforward buy/sell transactions in traditional finance, DeFi platforms enable activities such as yield farming, staking, liquidity provision, and earning dividends from various protocols, each with its unique implications for accounting and tax.

For instance, yield farming often involves receiving new tokens, which might be considered income at their fair market value in many jurisdictions. However, their value can be highly volatile and uncertain. 

There's also the question of "impermanent loss" related to liquidity provision in decentralized exchanges, a concept that doesn't have a direct parallel in traditional finance and hence, no established treatment in existing tax codes.

Crypto Tax Reporting and Portfolio Tracking: How Blockpit Can Help

Navigating the intricate world of DeFi taxes and portfolio management requires a robust system that can handle the complex dynamics of various cryptocurrencies and transactions. 

Blockpit has emerged as a quintessential solution, offering a suite of features tailored to simplify this process for DeFi participants.

One of the fundamental advantages of using Blockpit is its user-friendly approach to portfolio tracking and tax reporting. To start leveraging Blockpit's capabilities, users only need to provide their wallet address or directly connect Blockpit with web wallets like MetaMask. 

Discover all Blockpit Integrations

This simplified onboarding process is a game-changer, eliminating the need for manual input of each transaction. Instead, by linking their wallet, users grant Blockpit access to automatically track all historical and future transactions, ensuring comprehensive portfolio management and accurate tax reporting.

The platform goes beyond traditional asset tracking, equipped to detect a wide variety of tokens, including ERC20 tokens, and NFT standards such as ERC721 and ERC1155. 

This comprehensive detection is vital because of the diversity and sheer number of new digital assets emerging within the DeFi space.

Moreover, Blockpit doesn't just track assets; it understands them. The platform has integrated the logic of hundreds of DeFi protocols from various blockchains, ensuring that it recognizes and accurately reports transactions specific to each protocol, whether they're standard trades, complex yield farming rewards, or liquidity pool exchanges.

In a sphere where asset values can fluctuate wildly, accurate pricing is paramount, especially for tax reporting. Blockpit maintains its pricing accuracy for liquidity pool assets (LPs) by running its own oracles. 

This approach is invaluable for users engaged in yield farming and liquidity mining, ensuring that asset valuations reflect current market conditions and reporting is consistent with real-time values.

Additionally, Blockpit is adept at handling the complexity that comes with DeFi transactions. It can identify and simplify intricate activities, such as those involving multiple swaps across different liquidity pools or various yield farming protocols. 

By dissecting and streamlining this information, Blockpit ensures that users' tax reports are comprehensive, transparent, and compliant with regulatory standards.

The ease and efficiency that Blockpit brings to the DeFi ecosystem underscore its importance for investors. By minimizing the logistical workload and providing peace of mind through accurate, regulator-friendly tax reports, Blockpit allows users to concentrate on optimizing their DeFi investment strategies. 

As the sector continues to evolve, tools like Blockpit will be central to individual and institutional investors, ensuring compliance, transparency, and, ultimately, the sustainable growth of decentralized finance.

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About the author

Peter is deeply engaged with the revolutionary world of decentralized, unconfiscatable blockchain technology. His expertise in on-chain analysis and data engineering empowers him to provide in-depth, data-informed insights into the dynamic realm of cryptocurrency.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general information purposes only. The information was completed to the best of our knowledge and does not claim either correctness or accuracy. For detailed information on crypto regulations, we recommend contacting a certified legal advisor in the respective country.