Decentralized Finance - What is DeFi in Cryptocurrency?

Last Updated March 17th 2023
15 Min Read

Decentralized finance can be defined in terms of transforming the conventional and centralized system of finance to a shared peered to peered system supported by decentralized blockchain technology such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.

Also known as DeFi, decentralized finance practically performs functions and lending platforms to crypto coins. Decentralized finance is an incorporated arrangement of conventions and monetary instruments that support cryptocurrency's financial needs in general.

The importance of DeFi can be understood with the fact that the total value locked in DeFi according to DefiPulse is over $25.15 billion. Blockchain technology is the active brain behind decentralized finance. Over time, thousands of new blockchains paved the way for the decentralized industry.

The conventional finance and banking system is based on centralized frameworks under the direct control of centralized managerial grids, centralized financial institutions, intermediaries, and the government. In contrast, the DeFi or decentralized finance infrastructure is knit on blockchains, special programs executed by the decentralized platforms to form a network that can opt-in and opt-out to follow any and all government rules. Sounds rogue? Well, it did to the regulators as well when the industry began.

What is DeFi


The very infrastructure of a blockchain allows the users to govern their respective blockchain through the verification protocols. The master control to allow any major changes or even to hack the blockchain requires control of at least 30% of the nodes. Nodes are the basic pillars that support the blockchain. 

DeFi developed financial systems and protocols employing smart private contracts using the blockchain. The financial protocols of DeFi are programmed to run based on developed code that enables it to be available for anyone making peer-to-peer networking possible. DeFi or decentralized finance was formerly known as "open finance."

What Exactly Is DeFi?

DeFi refers to Decentralized finance, a completely decentralized financial system that uses blockchain technology and blockchains like Ethereum as the underlying technology. DeFi consists of different assets ranging from DeFi protocols, digital assets, decentralized applications (dApps), and smart contracts. 

DeFi in crypto

DeFi aims to create a permissionless, open-source, and decentralized financial ecosystem that operates without any influence from any third-party or central authority and is available to everyone while also allowing users to maintain complete control of their assets.

The DeFi ecosystem now comprises an array of financial instruments and protocols. With $71 billion of value locked in DeFi and Ethereum smart contracts, DeFi has become the most significant player in the blockchain industry. 

DeFi is inclusive, allowing easy access to financial services. This is especially beneficial to unbanked individuals or those individuals that have limited access to the current financial system. 

What Are The Advantages Of Decentralized Financial DeFi? 

DeFi utilizes and leverages blockchain technology to unlock liquidity and growth opportunities, and It also brings transparency and security to the financial system. Some of the critical advantages of decentralized financial (DeFi) are 

DeFi does not rely on traditional financial institutions

The current financial system relies heavily on conventional financial institutions such as banks to act as intermediaries during transactions. On the other hand, decentralized finance does not require any third party to act as an intermediary. The code and users who resolve all disputes are always in control of their assets. 

DeFi cannot be tampered with

DeFi uses blockchain technology, making it immutable. Once the data is stored on the blockchain, it cannot be altered or deleted. 


Smart contracts are highly programmable, allowing users to customize them easily. Smart contracts can be programmed to execute automatically, and the flexibility enables users to create new assets and financial instruments. 


DeFi runs on the Ethereum blockchain, utilizing its protocols. This makes DeFi interoperable since the architecture is similar. Developers can also build new features on existing DeFi applications. 


DeFi uses blockchain technology to function; one of the defining characteristics of blockchain technology is transparency. Every transaction on the blockchain is verified by users giving an unprecedented level of transparency, ensuring that all transactions are visible to any user who chooses to verify them. 


DeFi is accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a cryptocurrency wallet. This is because DeFi is permissionless, and anyone can access it. 

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Crypto asset investing is highly volatile and unregulated in some EU countries. No consumer protection. Tax on profits may apply.

Use Cases Of Decentralized Finance 

DeFi is building a parallel financial ecosystem that is transparent, resilient, and more accessible to the masses. DeFi has several use cases, some of which are 

1. Asset Management

DeFi gives control of the assets back to the user, with users utilizing cryptocurrency wallets to interact with dApps. The wallets that users use allow them to buy, sell, and transfer crypto while enabling them to control their assets. User data like passwords and seed phrases are stored locally, meaning only the user can access them. 

2. Lending Protocols

Decentralized borrowing and lending protocols are hugely popular in DeFi and have significant advantages over the traditional financial system.

Users can collateralize their digital assets and avail of instant settlement services. DeFi also does not require any background checks or credit history. The use of blockchain technology ensures verification through cryptographic means, reducing the level of risk involved and making borrowing/lending cheaper and accessible to all. 

3. Banking Services

Banking services are an important and prominent use case for DeFi. The advent of Stablecoins, a digital asset that is pegged to a real-world asset that has the ability to be transferred quickly, has contributed to additional focus on adopting them for everyday transactions, pushing their use as digital cash. DeFi also uses smart contracts to issue loans and mortgages, cutting out any intermediaries involved. 

4. Decentralized Marketplaces

One of the most crucial use cases of DeFi is Decentralized Exchanges.

Decentralized exchanges allow users to trade with each other without needing a third party to hold their funds. The trades are carried out directly between users through smart contracts.

Decentralized exchanges have far fewer trading fees as compared to centralized exchanges. Decentralized exchanges also provide projects with liquidity without charging any listing fee. 

5. Gaming

DeFi has also found use cases in the gaming industry thanks to Ethereum based games and their in-built economies. Users can utilize in-game cryptocurrencies that are represented on the blockchain beyond just using them as in-game assets. 

6. Prediction markets

Prediction markets utilize DeFi to predict events. Platforms like Augur offer predictions of events ranging from politics to sports. 

7. Staking

Since Ethereum is moving towards Ethereum 2.0, users will be able to stake ETH and earn rewards. They can stake their ETH as validators or staking providers and start earning rewards for validating transactions on Ethereum. 

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Crypto asset investing is highly volatile and unregulated in some EU countries. No consumer protection. Tax on profits may apply.

What Is The Role Of Smart Contracts In DeFi? 

DeFi is heavily reliant on smart contracts, with most applications utilizing smart contracts.

Smart contracts specify the terms of a partnership or a relationship between two entities, allowing the contracts to be easily enforced. In addition, since they are written in code, the contracts can be executed automatically, cutting out the requirement to oversee the contracts manually. 

Smart contracts make DeFi risk-free for all parties involved. However, there are some risks associated with smart contracts. This is because code is vulnerable to bugs which introduce some amount of risk in using smart contracts.

Read More: Will Ethereum Price Double Due To The Future Of DeFi?

What Are The Challenges Faced By Decentralized Finance DeFi?

Even though DeFi is changing the financial landscape for the better, it has its fair share of issues. Some of the pressing problems faced by DeFi are 

User error 

DeFi cuts out intermediaries from transactions and transfers responsibility to the users.

While this may have a positive impact as it cuts out the middleman, it also brings in a negative aspect as user error could become a significant factor. If a user makes an error during transactions, it is almost impossible to reverse it.

Developers should create products that consider high user error, but until that happens, this will be a significant issue for DeFi. 

User experience

Since the technology behind DeFi is new, users have to strive to use DeFi applications and figure out how it works. DeFi needs to offer incentives and benefits to attract more users and convince existing users to stay. 

Performance issues

DeFi is built using blockchain technology that is slower than traditional financial systems, highly centralized. Even though users can utilize private blockchains and alleviate the problem of slow speeds to a certain extent, developers need to optimize their applications to address the performance issues of DeFi. 

An ecosystem that is cluttered

The DeFi ecosystem consists of several apps that carry out a single task, making it highly confusing for users to find the application that best suits their requirements. 

Problematic smart contracts

Sometimes, smart contracts have incorrect or buggy code because developers do not properly check and test the codes. This results in buggy smart contracts that are also vulnerable to attacks. 

Scalability issues

DeFi has a scalability problem because current blockchains are not adequately scalable. This hinders DeFi from reaching mainstream audiences. The lack of scalability also means that DeFi networks and platforms perform poorly when many users are on the network. 


volatility is an issue that plagues all crypto assets. Crypto assets by nature are volatile, making DeFi an extremely volatile ecosystem. 

The Difference Between Decentralized Finance And Centralized Finance 

With DeFi emerging as an alternative for traditional financial systems, the debate around DeFi vs. CeFi is hotting up. Therefore, it is essential to understand the critical differences between the two. 

How Is Centralized Finance Better? 

Centralized exchanges and financial institutions keep user information and user funds in centralized systems. This makes the funds and data vulnerable as centralized finance has a single point of failure, making it susceptible to security breaches. However, Centralized finance does bring a degree of flexibility when it comes to functions such as margin trading, lending, and borrowing. 

Another aspect of Centralized finance is the flexibility that working with fiat currencies offers. The centralized agency is responsible for managing fiat, giving control to customers to ensure fiat conversions. Centralized finance also offers cross-chain services and support for trading cryptocurrencies. As a result, users do not have to depend on different blockchain technologies to convert their assets. 

How Is Decentralized Finance Better than Centralized Finance? 

DeFi does not require users to furnish personal information to access its financial services. DeFi is accessible to all who wish to utilize it.

DeFi does not rely on users’ personal information; instead, it provides users with identification numbers to leverage their services. Decentralized finance also keeps the user in complete control of their funds and data, ensuring the total safety of user assets. 

  • Permissionless system: DeFi is permissionless in nature, meaning users do not have to go through mandatory KYC processes to start using DeFi services. Users can connect their wallets and directly start trading. 
  • DeFi is Innovative: The DeFi space is constantly innovating and improving thanks to new financial services that transform the existing financial market. Innovation in Centralized Finance has hindered, thanks to its centralized nature significantly. 

Benefits of DeFi in Cryptocurrency

Decentralized finance has many advantages that make it better than conventional and centralized financing systems. The main objective use of DeFi in cryptocurrency is no doubt to increase privacy and security in financial systems. 

Using the blockchain principles, DeFi is creating customizations to provide transparency in the system so that the liquidity is increased and the growth opportunities are stabilized. The aim of using DeFi in cryptocurrency is to establish a balanced economic system that is more accessible and support-friendly. Other than these, the key benefits of decentralized finance and DeFi in cryptocurrency can be as follows:

1. Effective Programming

Defi in cryptocurrency will prove more programmability. The execution of financial gadgets is way more automated, employing smart contracts. The programmable codes help in the creation of new digital assets.    

2. Security

Decentralized finance will create a system that is somewhat more immune to fraud and theft. The more private integrations provided by DeFi in the framework of blockchain will provide secure transactions and other financing applications that are more auditable.

3. Convenient Exchange of Information

DeFi in cryptocurrency makes the exchange of information more convenient. The synchronization of interfaces and applications with DeFi enable developers to create more flexibility and interoperability. DeFi is also known as "money legos" for its composable software.  

4. Transparency rates

The high rates of transparency provided by DeFi finances provide a broadcast that shares the transaction activities with other users on the interface. In this manner, DeFi protocols provide built-in codes that are available to everyone. A very keen analysis can be created utilizing transparencies provided by these platforms.

5. Open Access

DeFi finance does not require permissions. Whereas conventional centralized financial systems need permissions, DeFi in cryptocurrency is free of these allegations. Anyone around the world with a crypto wallet and an internet resource can have access to DeFi platforms based on blockchain technology.

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Decentralized Applications - Ethereum Applications

Most of the decentralized applications dubbed the DeFi Apps are actually running on the Ethereum protocol. Ethereum has positioned itself as the second biggest cryptocurrency and decentralized app (DApp) market shareholder. Ethereum stands out differently from Bitcoin because the interference Ethereum provides is easier development of a decentralized form of application other than performing simpler transactions. The most contrasting feature of Ethereum is the integration of smart contracts.

Smart Contracts and DeFi

The smart contract provides an automatically executed transaction for customized needs, thus creating a more flexible platform. Blockchain enables flawless record-keeping and security to create and employ smart contracts with greater privacy than ever experienced in the conventional financial world.

Smart Contracts and DeFi


Smart contracts are the basis of a large number of DeFi applications that provide all the anticipated features of the financial needs of decentralized systems. Ethereum being the largest DeFi app market affects the overall market movement. With the upgrade of Ethereum 2.0, the DeFi based applications can be upgraded as well. It is predicted that Ethereum 2.0 will boost DeFi applications by eliminating the scalability issues regarding Ethereum.

Popular DeFi Applications

The key attributes of DeFi in cryptocurrency can be credited to the blockchain technology itself, the brains behind Decentralized Finance or DeFi. DeFi application includes the following polar names.

Decentralized Exchanges or DEXs

Decentralized Exchanges or DEX are the DeFi counterpart of conventional exchanges. DEXs are the online applications specialized for the change of cryptocurrencies to exchange any type of currency. 

Decentralized exchanges are such types of platforms with more premium features. DEXs enables its users to connect directly with each other and trade crypto coins and assets without intermediaries' involvement. The elimination of intermediaries makes the exchanges more private, secure, and trustworthy, eradicating fraud and theft as well.


A stablecoin can be described as a cryptocurrency that is backed by a conventional currency as collateral. Technically not a cryptocurrency; the value is gauged based on the backing fiat currency, for instance, Euro or Dollar. Cryptocurrency volatility led to the inception of stable coins in an attempt to provide stable options in the DeFi world using the pros of both the conventional market and the blockchain protocols.

Lending platforms

Lending platforms are developed in such a manner that with the employment of smart contacts, they can be a replacement for the intermediaries. For instance, banks are no longer needed with the evolution of such lending platforms.

Wrapped Bitcoin or WTBC

A very beneficial application of DeFi can be wrapped bitcoins. Wrapped bitcoins are a method of using Bitcoin in the Ethereum application so that it can be deployed directly in the Defi system of Ethereum. WBTC can provide users with the benefits of earning interest in bitcoins.

Prediction markets

Prediction markets are practical platforms for bidding. They are prediction networks to interpret possible outcomes of evident real-world events as elections and use the information to make informed investing decisions. Integrated DeFi in these prediction markets aims to eliminate the intermediaries while offering the same functions.

Check Out: Top 9 Cryptocurrencies To Buy Now With a Huge Potential Return

Uses of Decentralized Finance (DeFi) in Cryptocurrency:

1. Management of assets

DeFi in cryptocurrency makes you the manager of your cryptocurrencies instead of the state bank of your country. Crypto wallets like MetaMask, Gnosis Safe, and Argent assist you effectively and safely with decentralized applications to do everything from purchasing, selling, and moving crypto to procure interest on your computerized resources. 

In the DeFi space, you own your information: MetaMask, for instance, stores your passwords and private keys in encrypted forms locally on your gadget, so just you approach your records and information.

2. DAOs

DAO stands for decentralized autonomous organization. It is a network that collaborates as indicated by guidelines encoded on the blockchain, wiping out the requirement for a concentrated, regulatory element. A few mainstream conventions in the DeFi space, such as Maker and Compound, have dispatched DAOs to gather pledges, oversee monetary activities, and decentralized administration to the local area.

3. Data analysis

As a result of their phenomenal transparency rates of transaction information and organization action, DeFi offers special focal points for information disclosure, examination, and problem-solving. The development of new DeFi applications has prodded the improvement of various applications and dashboards, for example, DeFi Pulse and Codefi Data, that help clients track the assets in DeFi conventions, calculate risks, and an overview of the yield and liquidity.

4. Development and coding tools

One of the objectives of DeFi protocols includes composability, which means various segments of a framework can undoubtedly associate and interoperate. As seen from the wide assortment of coordinated DeFi applications, composable code has made a ground-breaking network impact in which the local area keeps on expanding upon what others have assembled. Many compare the cycle of DeFi improvement to working with legos — subsequently, the inexorably well known as "money legos." From Truffle's brilliant agreement libraries to Infura's API suite to Diligence's security apparatuses, most of the popular blockchain designers including Ethereum are currently ready to fabricate and dispatch DeFi applications with full-stack tooling and security combinations.

5. Gaming

The composability of DeFi has created chances for developers to construct DeFi protocols integrated with multiple dimensions. Blockchain-based games have become a mainstream use case for decentralized finance because of their functional economies and creative models.

For instance, Pool Together is a no-misfortune inspected investment funds lottery that empowers clients to buy advance tickets by storing the DAI stablecoin, which is then pooled together and loaned to the Compound currency market convention to procure revenues. 

6. Identity 

DeFi finance can diminish the collateralization prerequisites for individuals who don't have additional assets and help evaluate clients' reliability. Anyone with a web connection can approach DeFi applications while keeping up custody and control of their information and resources.

7. Tokenization

Tokenization is one of the foundations of decentralized finance and a benefit of blockchain technology, the brains behind DeFi. Tokens fuel the organization as well as open an assortment of monetary prospects. Essentially talking, a token is a computerized resource that is made, given, and oversaw on a blockchain. Tokens are intended to be secure and immediately adaptable, and they can be customized with a code. Blockchain-based tokens are considered a safe and advanced option for clients across the world to access, exchange, and store cryptocurrency. 

8. Crypto Markets

DeFi applications are supporting a variety of online commercial centres that permit clients to trade items and administrations universally. Everything from independent coding gigs to advanced collectibles and from certifiable gems and attire is sold in these markets.

Read Also: Is Cryptocurrency A Good Investment And Should You Start Investing In

Earning and Investments in DeFi

Utilizing blockchain-based loaning applications, as referenced above, clients can produce "automated revenue" by advancing out their cash and creating revenue from the advances. For example, yield farming has the potential for considerably large-scale returns on investments, however, with higher rates of risk. It considers clients to use the loaning part of DeFi to give their crypto resources something to do, creating the ideal returns.

However, as DeFi has expanded in action and fame through 2020, numerous DeFi applications, for example, YAM coin, have failed spectacularly, sending the market capitalization from $60 million to $0 shortly. Other DeFi projects, including Hotdog and Pizza, confronted a similar destiny, and numerous speculators lost a great deal of cash.

Future of DeFi

While an ever-increasing number of individuals are being attracted to these DeFi applications, it's difficult to state what is the possible future of these networks. The future of DeFi is dependent upon people who find them valuable and why. Many believe different DeFi protocols could attract masses of new clients by making monetary applications more comprehensive and open to the individuals who don't customarily approach such stages. 

This monetary innovation is new, exploratory, and convenient, particularly concerning security or adaptability. Ethereum 2.0 could handle versatility concerns through an idea known as sharding, a method of parting the hidden data set into more modest pieces that are more reasonable for singular clients to work with.

Summary - DeFi In Crypto

DeFi is working on introducing a financial system that is open and inclusive and one that prevents censorship. Although decentralization is beneficial in most cases, there are also several examples where it does more harm than good. Therefore, finding proper use cases and building upon them is vital to create financial products that will help take DeFi mainstream. 

DeFi hopes to control and responsibility of their assets and information back to the users, creating a community that is open and creating a financial system that will one day replace the traditional financial system. 

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