CeFi vs. DeFi – What’s the difference and which one is right for you?

With an ever-expanding asset class known as “cryptocurrency,” there are always new terms popping up and it’s easy to get lost among the crypto jargon. One of the larger points of discussion over the past year has been around platforms for crypto-backed lending — particularly around DeFi and CeFi. What do these terms mean and what’s the difference between them?

CeFi stands for centralized finance. Companies that fall into this category include SALT, Coinbase, and Kraken, whereas DeFi, which stands for decentralized finance, includes protocols like AAVE, Compound, and Anchor. The main difference between these two platform types is the degree of centralization for the decision makers of the financial services platform a user can engage with. CeFi platforms are typically governed by corporate entities that can create their own lending requirements such as  deposit minimums,  the KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements, and how the profits of the platform will be handled subject to rules and regulations where the company is domiciled and may be subject to reporting requirements. With DeFi, the goal is to move toward decentralization where the community will be the body that governs the DAO – creating the rules, which may include decisions around how to pay developers, interest rate methodologies to price loans, fees and rewards for providing liquidity to pools, etc. By holding the governance tokens of the Defi platform, you will typically be granted voting rights, able to propose changes to the protocol, and permitted to participate in making decisions regarding the future growth of the platform (partnership, etc. In theory, eliminating the principal-agent issue in financial services firms should provide a more streamlined offering with optimal resource allocation. 

Having laid out the clear differences between CeFi and DeFi, you can see there are pros and cons to each.  On one end, CeFi helps to onboard the masses, as it is generally more user-friendly and more widely trusted given it tends to mirror the security and look and feel of traditional financial products. Most importantly, CeFi companies are “centralized entities” with officers and board members associated with government registered entities rather than a smokescreen of anonymous individuals that can be anywhere in the world. Additionally, CeFi offers customer support with live agents versus asking a community of individuals that may not be trained or knowledgeable about the product offering.  With SALT for example, if you’re a loan holder who clearly attempted to make a deposit to cure the health of your loan during a market crash and had trouble getting the transaction to go through due to high transaction volume, we try our best to work with you to make it right. With DeFi platforms however, this is not the case, as the platform only functions according to the underlying smart contract and user are required to interact with the protocol using browser wallets that require a certain degree of technical knowledge.  Finally, the security risk embedded in smart contracts creates reluctance among institutional investors; constantly defending against the numerous attack vectors are difficult for the average person to keep up with. 

So how do you choose between DeFi and CeFi? Technically you don’t have to. Are you a tech savvy crypto user who likes security and ease-of-use, but is also willing to take on a bit more risk for greater flexibility? Or maybe you like being in the know about the inner workings of the various companies that make up the crypto industry and want to be well-versed in both platforms? If you answered yes to either of these questions, consider familiarizing yourself with both platform types and experiment (within reason) with what each platform type will allow you to do. If you’re someone who relies on crypto for its reputation of anonymity, the governmental interference in the CeFi world will likely taint your view of CeFi platforms, which means you may be better suited to DeFi. For those who value customer service and get prickly when they think about a company being run by an anonymous community, CeFi is likely the better choice for you.   

 

Whether you tend to side more with DeFi or CeFi, there’s no denying that CeFi is the best and only way to bridge to DeFi in the sense that you’ll likely need to use a CeFi platform to onramp and off ramp into  DeFi .  Perhaps this will change in the future and there will be easier ways to bypass CeFi and jump straight into DeFi or perhaps governments, by having control over CeFi platforms will always maintain some level of control over DeFi platforms, too. This then begs the question: how decentralized is decentralized finance? 

If you want to explore CeFi and are considering getting a loan backed by your bitcoin, ether, or another cryptocurrency, visit saltlending.com or click the button below to create an account.

SALT launches crypto lending-as-a-service; announces Cion Digital as first partner

sports car surrounded by crypto symbols including bitcoin and ether signifying crypto lending-as-a-service for auto dealerships

The partnership will bring point-of-sale crypto lending solutions to 5,000+ auto dealerships

SALT and Cion Digital today announced a strategic partnership to bring SALT’s crypto lending solutions to 5,000+ auto dealerships in the US. The announcement marks the launch of SALT’s Embedded Crypto Lending Service, which will enable financial service providers and fintech platforms to rapidly deploy crypto financing solutions. 

Having launched in 2016, SALT was the first platform to offer crypto-backed loans and has since been focused on optimizing its lending technology and servicing operations. Over the past few years the Company has built a full stack loan management and risk platform that manages complex crypto loans at scale. With the launch of Embedded Crypto Lending, SALT is bringing this technology to other platforms, helping them further their mission to offer new and novel products to their customers.

“We’ve been building our direct-to-consumer lending business with the embedded model in mind from the start,” said SALT’s CEO Justin English. “From crypto native wallets and exchanges to large neobanks and traditional financial institutions, market participants are increasingly intent on digitizing their platforms to accommodate the ever-growing demand for crypto, and we’re excited to help facilitate the transformation.”

By partnering with Cion Digital, who recently announced a collaboration with CarNow and their network of nearly 5,000 dealers, car buyers will be able to use their crypto as collateral for loans at point-of sale at highly competitive rates. Car buyers will also be able to use crypto to make a down payment or pay for a vehicle in full. 

“Cion Digital is excited to partner with SALT to offer our extensive network of dealers the ability to turn on this exciting new point-of-sale financing option, which is often a lower cost loan than traditional financing options,” said Fred Brothers, President and Co-founder of Cion Digital. “With almost half of Millennials now owning crypto, we are working together to increase dealer capabilities for this fast-growing market of buyers who want more financing and payment options at the dealership.”

With Cion Digital becoming its first official partner, SALT is already experiencing an increase in demand for its Embedded Crypto Lending Service and plans to announce additional partners in the near future. 

Visit SALT’s Embedded Crypto Lending page or contact [email protected] to learn more.

Auto Dealers interested in learning more about this new point-of-sale financing option should contact Cion Digital at [email protected].

Official press release can be found here

Infographic: How SALT Stabilization preserves your crypto portfolio

SALT Stabilization not only preserves the current value of your crypto portfolio, but it also preserves the value of your potential future gains (see below for full infographic). 

Take this customer’s loan as an example. Under the previous traditional liquidation model, he would have lost more than 90% of his crypto portfolio. With SALT Stabilization however, he was able to preserve over 80% of his portfolio value during a market crash. 

If you’re someone who’s long on bitcoin and views it as a long-term investment, you’re always thinking about BTC in terms of its ATH– not only relative to what it has been in the past but also to where it could be ($100K anyone?!). No one knows where Bitcoin will be in five years or even one, but what we do know is that SALT Stabilization helps you keep a hold on your investment. 

The key takeaway here is that between the two methods outlined below, if we consider Bitcoin’s potential return to its ATH of nearly $70K, SALT Stabilization’s preservation of your portfolio would make it worth 9X the value of your portfolio under the previous liquidation method (see below). 

data showing the impact of SALT Stabilization versus the previous traditional liquidation method

To learn more about SALT Stabilization and how it works, check out our explainer video. 

Finance Strategists: Interview with CEO of SALT Justin English

image of Justin English, CEO of SALT

Introduction

Success leaves clues.

Finance Strategists sat down with Justin English, CEO of SALT Lending. He shared his thoughts on the past, present, and future of the company, as well as the insight he has gained from running the business.

Who is Justin English?

Q. Who are you and what’s your background?

I’m Justin English. I joined SALT as CEO in May 2020. Prior to my role as CEO, I was first and foremost an early customer and investor in SALT and began consulting for the company and serving on its board in fall of 2019.

Before joining SALT and entering the crypto space, I spent more than 15 years across the private equity, early stage venture capital, consumer products, supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, and consumer services industries.

An entrepreneur at heart, I’ve been personally invested with capital and have spent my career understanding business drivers to influence implementation in the real world, which has aided me in my ability to serve as an advisor to early-stage organizations as well as those that are growing and scaling.

Q. Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?

My college economics professor had a significant impact on my ability to think critically and bring insight into a discussion. Before each class, we were all expected to read The Economist and be prepared to discuss that week’s issue of the magazine. Our entire grade was based on these discussions and the insights we produced throughout them.

The exercise taught me to pay close attention to the nuances of the story or issue being discussed and formulate intelligent, thought-provoking questions as a result. I learned to identify the most common assumptions on which people would base the discussion and then question and poke holes in those assumptions. I’ve leaned on this tactic throughout my career and still use it today, as it always makes people stop and think, resulting in a more insightful discussion overall.

Q. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have given your younger self?

I was extremely stubborn when I was younger and set on learning in my own way, through my own failures. If I could give one piece of advice to my younger self, it would be to use my resources and learn from the achievements and failures of those who came before me rather than repeat their mistakes and failures purely out of stubbornness.

Business

Q. What is SALT Lending?

SALT is a fintech company with a focus on crypto assets. Our mission is to build products that increase access to financial opportunities and give people more control over their ability to generate long-term wealth.

The first to offer crypto-backed lending, we accept crypto assets as collateral for cash loans, enabling crypto holders to get value out of their assets without having to sell or rely on the traditional banking system.

Aside from our lending product, we are excited about the upcoming launch of the SALT Card — a crypto-backed credit card that will allow customers to borrow against their crypto assets and use their crypto for everyday purchases without having to spend any of it, all while earning crypto rewards with every purchase.

Q. What makes SALT Lending different from its competitors?

SALT is different from our competitors in three key areas: the combined experience within our team enables us to continuously improve operational processes and make space for innovation; our management team and our ability to build and invest in value-creating technology (SALT Stabilization, StackWise, our Loan Management System, trading execution platform); and the fact that we’re leaning into transparency and compliance and have been a publicly reporting company since early 2021.

From a customer perspective, we often stand out for our customer service, as SALT customers love knowing that at any point, they can speak to a real person who can walk them through any issues they’re experiencing or answer any questions they may have.

Q. What led you to join SALT Lending?

Having started as an early investor and SALT customer back in 2017, I was among the first to ever hold a crypto-backed loan and explore SALT’s platform. I experienced the benefits and pain points of the product first-hand and later joined the Board of Directors, which enabled me to provide feedback on the technology and product offerings and offer guidance on what improvements could be made.

I continued to be a customer throughout my engagement with SALT and took on the role of CEO in 2020 with the intent to improve our lending product and expand our product suite to provide greater value for our customers.

Since becoming CEO at SALT, my goal has been to create products that incentivize people to develop strong financial habits that will enable them to build generational wealth– the SALT Card is the first manifestation of this goal, as we seek to take the traditional concept of credit and disrupt it.

With this product and future products, we want to change the way people think about debt and credit and empower them to move from building up “bad debt” to generating wealth simply by developing better habits and getting more value out of the assets they already own.

Q. What has the experience of building the business taught you?

While I’ve learned a lot from building the business at SALT, some of the greatest things the journey has taught me are leadership and softer skills, which I’ve come to realize are way more important than I’ve previously given them credit for.

Aside from that, I’ve learned the importance of pragmatism when it comes to making business decisions. I’ve seen so many peers fall into the trap of becoming too emotionally invested in something to the extent that the sunk cost bias clouds their judgment and creates a tunnel vision mindset.

I’ve always been a pragmatic person, but my experience as an entrepreneur and my current role as CEO at SALT have helped hone my ability to compartmentalize and look at things from different angles. I make a conscious effort to take a step back and look at problems from a really plain, simplistic view.

For me sunk cost equates to learning, not failure. In leading a business I’ve learned that when it comes to problem-solving and decision-making, you have to invest time and energy and take note of the process and the journey as you go along.

With this mindset, I’m able to emotionally detach from the investment itself and look at it not as a sunk cost, but as a necessary process that has enabled me to make more informed, objective, and sound decisions.

Q. Where do you see things headed for you and the company in the next five years?

As crypto becomes more widely adopted and emerging businesses continue to challenge the traditional financial system, we want to help consumers achieve financial freedom by shifting the way they think about credit and wealth.

The traditional system does not set consumers up for financial success. In fact, it does the opposite, as it is structured in such a way that encourages the accumulation of “bad debt” and borrowing against future income to enable living outside of one’s means.

Once consumers fall into this trap, it’s extremely hard for them to get out of it and it becomes cyclical. We want to fundamentally change the way people think about their finances by educating them and building products like the SALT Card that incentivize good habits like saving and building generational wealth.

Note: This article was originally published on Finance Strategists.

Cryptocurrency Investments Within Traditional Portfolios

image of portfolio featuring real estate and other traditional investments mixed with cryptocurrency investments

Disclaimer: Buying cryptocurrency comes with risks. This article is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute investment or financial advice.

Bitcoin was introduced in 2009 as a decentralized, peer-to-peer payment system that relied on digital coinage rather than central-bank-backed currency. The anonymity and transparency of the blockchain technology on which Bitcoin operated opened the door for other forms of digital currency — cryptocurrency — as an exchange medium.

As demand for digital monies increased, so did its potential value as an asset. This led speculators to acquire Bitcoin, Ether, and other forms of cryptocurrency for potentially large returns. And, despite its volatility and relative newness, cryptocurrency is quickly gaining acceptance among investors as a diversification mechanism for portfolios.

A glance at the glossary: Traditional and alternative investments

Traditional investments in a typical portfolio consist of stocks, bonds and cash. The values of these assets are pegged to markets and trading platforms, as well as economic fundamentals. Many of these holdings are also regulated by government agencies. For example, stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange are regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  

On the other side of the (asset) coin, alternative investments consist of everything else that can increase or decrease in value. The coin or stamp collection gathering dust in your dresser’s top drawer could be considered an alternative investment as it could increase in value over time. Real estate, intellectual property, and artwork also fall into this category.

Unlike traditional investments, alternative investments are often (not always) “non-correlated,” meaning their appreciation or depreciation isn’t tied directly to the overall market. Rather, their value rises and falls, based on demand and perceived worth by other investors. Your coin collection will appreciate if other coin collectors and investors perceive value in that asset (and are willing to pay you for it). When used correctly and sanely, alternative investments provide great diversification to portfolios.

Currencies: Exchanges and investments

Now, back to cryptocurrency. Bitcoin and others are mediums of exchange, similar to fiat currencies such as yen, dollars and euros. And, investors buy fiat currency as alternative investments through the Foreign Exchange Market or FOREX. Cryptocurrency can also be considered an alternative investment, as it can increase (or decrease) in value. Furthermore, as it is not correlated to markets or the economy, it can offer portfolio diversity.

But, unlike government-backed bills and coins, cryptocurrencies have no FOREX-type exchanges. Cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETFs) do exist in some countries, but the U.S. has yet to authorize this form of trading. The closest is Grayscale Investment Trust’s Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC), which allows investors to trade in shares of the trust, as opposed to actually buying and selling digital coinage. 

Very high-risk hedge cryptocurrency funds are available for investment, but most of these require a large initial investment fee. What this means is that, if you are interested in adding cryptocurrency to your portfolio, you will need to find a cryptocurrency exchange, buy the coins or tokens directly, and secure them in a digital wallet.

Protecting yourself, diversifying your portfolio

Cryptocurrency is a viable alternative investment. To use it as such, you need to take steps to ensure that it brings positive value to your portfolio. Here’s how.

Educate yourself. Take time to thoroughly research and understand your targeted cryptocurrency. Know its track record, value, and potential returns, as well as longevity. You don’t want to find yourself with disappearing tokens or coins if the cryptocurrency you acquired and stored suddenly bites the dust.

Monitor consistently. Unlike traditional investments and certain alternative investments, your cryptocurrency holdings will require ongoing observation and scrutiny. It’s essential that you keep on top of cryptocurrency news and trends, to know when it’s time to buy or sell your holdings.

DYOR. If you hear something about a digital coinage that’s too good to be true, it probably is. Do your own research and look out for red flags like “Ghost” team members. The term refers to those who hide behind anonymous identities or fake profiles, versus live individuals, who are happy to share their experience and credibility in the space. Because crypto is unregulated, it’s on you, the investor, to take the time to carefully investigate the seller and its claims before making a purchase.

Restrain yourself. Keep the percentage of crypto in your portfolio to a level that you’re truly comfortable with; experts suggest that if you’re still feeling it out, dedicating 1% of your portfolio to cryptocurrency will provide enough exposure, without excessive downsides. Another study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, indicates that 4% to 6% of a portfolio should hold Bitcoin, with a minimal investment of 1% of assets in the space.  Of course, it’s all about your risk tolerance and there’s no right answer, which is why the previous DYOR step is so essential.

A balancing act, with care

Even with their volatility and vulnerabilities, cryptocurrencies can be useful when it comes to adding variety, and potentially reducing risk to your traditional investment portfolio. But, investments in Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether, or some of the newer digital coins are not for the faint of heart. If the goal is to add crypto to your holdings, do so carefully, and back your actions with plenty of research. Also it’s important to understand that if your intent is to use crypto investments to diversify your portfolio, be wary of letting yourself get too caught up in price speculation and making a fortune.

SALT introduces StackWise, offers crypto rewards to loan holders

StackWise logo with wallet showing bitcoin rewards

We’re excited to announce StackWise, our latest product for crypto-backed loan holders. With StackWise, you get a portion of your monthly payment back to your wallet in the form of crypto rewards. Rewards are available in Bitcoin, Ether, or USD Coin — you can choose your reward type and can change it any time prior to your next monthly payment. Once you start stacking crypto rewards, there are a couple of ways to use them: 

  1. Leave the crypto rewards in your collateral wallet to reduce your loan-to-value ratio (LTV) and minimize the risk of Stabilization 
  2. Withdraw your crypto rewards and use the funds as you wish

Note: Anyone with a crypto-backed loan that originated in 2022 is eligible for StackWise. If you have a loan that originated prior to 2022, contact [email protected]. Our Lending Team is ready to help you start earning StackWise rewards by refinancing your loan or extending the current loan terms.

Keep reading for more details on StackWise and how it works.

How it works

How do I know how much of my monthly payment I’ll get back?

With the launch of StackWise, all loans are priced at an interest rate of 9.99% with a net rate (the actual rate after crypto rewards are factored in) that depends on your chosen LTV. You can reduce your net rate even further by redeeming SALT Tokens. Once you know your net rate, you can determine your rewards rate. For example, if you take out a loan with a 30% LTV and you do not redeem SALT Tokens, your net rate will be 7.50%, meaning your rewards rate will be 4.49% (9.99% interest rate – 5.50% net rate = 4.49% rate reduction or what we call “rewards rate”). 

chart showing lending rates and rewards rates

Taking this example, if the loan amount is $5,000 with a 9.99% interest rate, you’d expect to pay $499.50 in interest over the life of the loan. 

With StackWise however, your rewards rate is 4.49%, which means you’ll get back 4.49% of the total loan amount over the course of the loan, effectively making your net rate 5.50%. Therefore if the term of your loan is 12 months, you will receive $18.71 back in crypto rewards each month for the duration of your loan. So instead of paying $499.50 in interest, you are getting crypto back each month, meaning your actual interest paid at the end of the loan will be $274.98, resulting in $224.52 saved on the cost of your loan. 

And remember, the lower the LTV you choose, the higher your rewards rate and savings will be. Add SALT Tokens to the mix, and you can save even more on your loan (and no, you can’t buy SALT from us, but if you already hold SALT, you can redeem it for a lower net rate).

UI of StackWise on desktop showing rates, monthly payments and rewards

How do I review my StackWise rewards in my dashboard?

You can review your rewards anytime via the SALT desktop or mobile app. Once you login to your dashboard, you’ll see everything from your rewards rate to rewards schedule, to your next reward amount and your total rewards earned. You’ll also see a section titled “Receive Rewards in,” which allows you to change your selection between BTC, ETH, and USDC. For example, if you set your rewards to BTC for the first 2 months of your loan and then decide to switch to USDC for the remaining months, you’ll see your initial BTC rewards in your Bitcoin wallet and then will begin to see your following rewards in your USDC wallet.

image of UI for StackWise rewards schedule

Don’t have a loan with us yet? We’d love to work with you!

The Evolution of Money

Evolution of money

Entrepreneur Jim Rohn famously mused, “Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” Mr. Rohn may have been more right than he knew because while time has infinite value, money, by itself, has none. Whether you’re holding a dollar, a franc, some yen, a metal coin, or a seashell, it has no value—not until someone wants it. This goes for anything that can be traded, but the reality is far harsher when it comes to the paper people carry in their wallets in the hopes of exchanging it for goods and services. At the same time, money is, in some ways, an important block in the foundation of modern society. Why? Let’s take a closer look at the evolution of money to find the answers.

A brief history of money

Bartering

Before people carried around pieces of paper that symbolized value, they would trade goods and services with each other to make transactions. Each possession had a relative value. This means that what it meant to the holder was not necessarily equal to what it meant to the person to whom they wanted to give it in exchange for something else.

Take, for example, a farmer who grew potatoes but needed tomatoes. The farmer may approach his friend who grew tomatoes and offer him 10 potatoes for 10 tomatoes. The friend may say, “Well, to part with these 10 tomatoes, I’m going to need 15 potatoes.” If the potato farmer agreed and had that many potatoes to barter, he would present them, make the exchange, and both parties would leave the transaction satisfied.

On the other hand, if the potato farmer approached a different farmer with the same proposition, the transaction may not go as planned. If the second farmer already grew potatoes, he may ask for something else. It could be corn, beets, or another type of produce. But the other farmer may also prefer a tool or some form of service from the potato farmer. Each transaction was, therefore, relative. Currencies, although abstractions of value, brought concreteness to previously relative transactions. One of the progenitors of modern currency was salt.

Salt

Salt itself used to be a currency (fun fact: this is how we got our name). Far more than a common seasoning, salt has been at the center of trade and culture for multiple millennia—to the point where the word “salt” is at the root of the word “salary.” Salt, as a flavor additive, has long been a valued commodity. The word “salad” comes from when the early Romans used to add salt to vegetables and leafy greens. 

Before the large mass-production of salt became commonplace, the production of salt was a time-consuming process. And as people figured out different ways of producing it, its production was limited to maintain its value. Therefore, people with a salt surplus had a coveted commodity.

The Egyptians used to use it as part of their religious offerings. This lead to salt becoming the currency of choice while trading with the Phoenicians. The practice continued for many centuries and spread across much of the developed world. Marco Polo, while traveling through China in the 11th century C.E., noted how the Chinese used to boil water to create a salt paste that, when formed into a cake, was worth two pence.

Bronze castings

As time progressed, around 770 B.C.E. the Chinese began developing bronze representations of the things they were trading. For example, if a farmer wanted to trade a hoe for a hammer, he would present a bronze casting of a hoe and give it to a carpenter—or someone else—in exchange for a small bronze hammer. The bronze statue could then be exchanged for the real thing. This solved the problem of having to physically transport large or cumbersome objects to places of trade.

Coins

Soon, it became more practical to use coins instead of little castings of valued objects. This approach maintained the convenience of being able to carry an item in your pocket and added an extra convenience: the ability to easily manufacture them.

The manufacturing of money was first performed in Lydia, which is now in the west of Turkey. This was the first mint. Inside, people manufactured coins that represented value. Around 600 B.C.E., Lydia’s ruler, King Alyattes, made the first official state currency. The coins were manufactured using electrum, which consists of a naturally-occurring combination of silver and gold. Each coin was stamped with a picture, and each picture represented a different value. Thus was born the concept of denominations. This system of minting denominated money helped facilitate a more efficient trading system, propelling Lydia to being a powerful, wealthy empire.

Paper

The Chinese made the switch to paper currency around 700 B.C.E. The distribution and use of the bills were carefully regulated by the emperor. In fact, on the bills, there was an inscription warning people that if they counterfeited the money, they would, literally, lose their heads.

After some time, banks began adopting the use of paper money. Inside the bank would be an amount of gold that corresponded to paper money the bank could issue to individuals with whom they did business. For example, if someone deposited half a pound, or eight ounces, of gold, at the bank today, according to the rates at the time of this writing, it would give them $15,197.60. The person would then be able to use that paper to purchase goods and services.

If the individual went and bought a new horse, perhaps spending $8,000 of his money, the person who sold the horse could take that paper money to the bank. The bank would then give the horse-seller $8,000 worth of gold. This gave birth to the modern concept of money, with gold as the underlying asset of value.

Currency-based conflicts

As more countries adopted the use of currency, some took advantage of the, admittedly arbitrary, value of money. They would do things that would cause the value of another country’s currency to rise. On the surface, this may sound like a good thing. However, when a currency is inflated, the cost of the goods within the country goes up. This inflation is due to the fact that more work has to be performed to produce the goods being traded. If someone were to do the same amount of work they did before the currency was inflated, they wouldn’t get paid enough to cover their bills. With goods that cost too much, a country wouldn’t be able to trade with others that could help them build the weapons and armies they needed to engage in war. Currency battles for the sake of weakening another nation continue to this day.

Credit cards

Similar to how going from bronze castings to coins made transactions easier, going from paper to credit cards made buying and selling more convenient for 20th-century consumers. With a credit card transaction, the money of the individual is still held within a bank, but the credit card is used to make the transfer. This is made possible due to two concepts: fungibility and transferability

When a unit of value is fungible, it has the same value as another unit with the same denomination. For instance, a $10 bill in Boston has the same value as a $10 bill in Los Angeles. And the same goes for an electronic transaction that provides access to $10 stored in a bank. Thanks to fungibility, an individual can put $1,000 into a bank and get a credit card that has a $1,000 spending limit. The transferability of money refers to the fact that money can be moved from one party to another. In a credit card transaction, this happens electronically.

The bank that supports a credit card transaction can also allow the person to spend more than they actually have by lending the individual money. The conditions of the loan agreement are contained within the credit card contract. In many cases, the individual may not have enough money in the bank to cover the transaction. Therefore, they agree to put at least that much, and often a percentage more, into the bank in exchange for the right to spend the money the bank lent them. The use of debit and credit cards and the process behind credit card payments are pivotal factors in the evolution of money. They set the stage for a crucial monetary concept: electronic payments.

Electronic payments

Electronic payments are at the heart of the culmination of the evolution of money. In many ways, electronic payments solve the original problem money sought to tackle more efficiently. When money was first conceived, it’s creators were trying to create an abstraction of value that was fungible, transferable, and easy to spend and accept. With credit and debit card payments, electronic transactions become commonplace while providing a solution for everything money was meant to be.

 However, one problem still remained: the middleman. If you have someone working as a go-between that generates wealth by charging you to spend money electronically, how can you guarantee a transparent, trust-worthy, error-free, corruption-free transaction? 

Enter cryptocurrency. With the onset of bitcoin, cryptocurrency became an efficient way to both provide an electronic, tradable abstraction of value and, once again, provide the world with a one-to-one, two-person transaction, devoid of a middleman. But the crypto movement wasn’t arbitrary. The signs have been there for years.

The historical signposts that pointed to cryptocurrency

Because cryptocurrency is such an innovative idea, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that it was born, not so much out of innovation but out of necessity. The modern monetary system has, in many ways, been broken for quite some time. For many decades, there have been signs pointing to the need for a better solution.

Interest rate manipulation

Perhaps one of the most powerful historic indicators of the need for an alternative to typical fiat currency was revealed in the 1970s. The interest rates, designed to help stabilize the United States economy, ended up doing the exact opposite. When the government manipulated interest rates to help slow the inflation of common goods, it ended up having the opposite effect. Inflation skyrocketed as certain goods saw huge leaps in their prices. While some people could afford to pay the higher costs, others couldn’t and had to go without essential items.

Even though companies selling their goods to other Americans during a period of inflation may benefit, those exporting American-made goods suffer. Because it costs more to produce goods in the United States, companies have to charge buyers from other countries more. Consequently, some goods become unaffordable for international buyers and they look to other countries to get what they need. This impacts the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country suffering from inflation, hurting their overall standard of living. Because the government can choose to print money anytime it wants, regardless of whether or not there’s enough gold to support the printed currency, inflation in the modern system can easily spin out of control. As in the 1970s, it can start with a poorly adjusted interest rate and have global implications.

With cryptocurrency, the supply of each token is either limited or controlled by the currency’s governance team—a group of individuals and token-holders who make decisions using a voting system. This helps control the inflation of each cryptocurrency. Also, because the currency isn’t hindered by national borders, you have one common means of purchasing goods and services, and its value is the same regardless of where you are.

The housing crisis

The financial crisis of 2007 was another bellwether for the global economy because it highlighted the corruption that can occur when you have profit-hungry “middlemen” involved in transactions. When someone wants to buy a home, they often have to get a loan from a bank. The bank decides who they will lend the money to, as well as how much they will make that person pay, in interest, for the right to use that money. In theory, the system makes sense. However, as the world saw in 2007, when the banks, hungry for profits, abuse the system and those involved, it can have far-reaching implications.

If the interest rate at which money is lent isn’t decided by a bank but by mathematical equations that take into account real supply and demand factors, the lenders can only earn more by lending more. Manipulating interest rates for the bank’s bottom line would be a thing of the past. Cryptocurrency also addresses the problem of predatory lending. The economic crash was partially a result of banks lending money they knew couldn’t be repaid—and then selling the problematic loan to another, unsuspecting, bank. When transactions happen between two people instead of three, the middleman, and his potentially greedy ambitions, are removed. Cryptocurrency, therefore, eliminates some of the major causes of the financial crisis of 2007.

SALT Lending: A historical turning point in the evolution of money

Throughout history, the utility, divisibility, verifiability, and fungibility of salt made it a perfect asset to be used as a method of trade and currency around the world. Through the products and services at SALT, the legacy continues. SALT is now bridging the gap between cryptocurrencies and traditional lending. 

Even though cryptocurrencies are, in many ways, a superior monetary solution, they are still not yet widely accepted. With SALT, holders of crypto can get loans using their digital assets as collateral. You can then spend the USD or stablecoin you get any way you’d like. SALT empowers those in the cryptoverse, allowing them to turn the most innovative monetary solution since, well, salt, into liquid assets.

Learn more about SALT loans today!

The stable makeup of stablecoin

stablecoin, man with laptop staring at different fiat symbols

In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper, introducing the concept of a decentralized currency to the public. From that time on, many have turned to cryptocurrency for an alternative to traditional fiat currencies that offers decentralization, transparency of exchange, and ease of use—especially when it comes to international exchanges.

However, along with the plaudits have come disadvantages, notably the volatility of digital assets relative to the US Dollar. The perceived value of a specific cryptocurrency by investors can lead to wide fluctuations in the value of Bitcoin, Ether, and other types of crypto. This, in turn, can make cryptocurrency more difficult to use as a medium of exchange or store of value.

Enter stablecoins, an inherently less volatile option being considered the best of many worlds. They provide a desirable link between the stability of fiat currency and the decentralization and efficiency of cryptocurrency.

What are stablecoins and where did they come from?

Stablecoin is a catch-all phrase for cryptocurrency that is pegged to specific reserves or other asset types. More specifically, stablecoin is divided into four groups:

  • Fiat-collateralized stablecoins: Cryptocurrency assets secured against real-world currencies, such as USD Coin (USDC) and Gemini Dollar (GUSD).
  • Commodity-collateralized stablecoins: Cryptocurrency assets fixed against commodities, such as oil, gold, and silver. One example is Pax Gold (PAXG), which is one of the collateral types available on SALT’s platform.
  • Crypto-collateralized stablecoins: Algorithmic stablecoins that mint dollar equivalents based on the value of the crypto provided to backstop each unit.
  • Non-collateralized stablecoins: Stablecoins that automatically adjust its aggregate supply to maintain a certain price or pegged asset. 

The first stablecoins, BitUSD, and NuBits, came online in 2014 and were collateralized through various other cryptocurrencies. Also released in 2014 was RealCoin (now Tether), the first crypto to be backed by so-called “real” assets. Active dollar-based stablecoins today include Paxos Standard, TrueUSD, USD Coin, Tether USD, and Gemini Dollar.

How to use stablecoin for a crypto-backed loan

Though it might not be a strong addition to an investment portfolio, stablecoins are useful in many ways. For example, at SALT Lending, as a provider of crypto-backed loans, we accept stablecoins for:

  • Making direct payments on crypto-backed loans. Reimbursement via stablecoin is nearly instant, with minimal time lag between payment and acceptance.
  • Maintaining a more stable loan to value ratio on a loan, by boosting stablecoin holdings as part of overall collateral.
  • Depositing stablecoin at any time to protect the cryptocurrency collateral value during a market downturn. Stablecoin payments can be made outside of normal banking hours or holidays, unlike cash or fiat payments, meaning borrowers can manage loans without the need for a bank.

SALT also offers loan payouts via stablecoin or fiat currency. The advantage of a stablecoin payout is that only a stablecoin address is required, no bank account is needed.

The potential of stablecoins

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts see value in stablecoins given their decentralized properties, ability to facilitate better payment rails for global commerce, accessibility in unbanked jurisdictions, and programmability to streamline business operations.

Meanwhile, more traditional institutions are researching stablecoins for their potential in cross-border lending and overseas transactions without conversion into fiat, or sovereign currency. The Bank of Canada mentioned the use of stablecoin in its 2020 vision, focusing on it as a part of emerging payment technologies. Meanwhile, The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency released guidance indicating that national banks are free to hold reserve currencies for stablecoin.

While much of the world continues to rely on fiat currency for financial operations, digital currencies have been quickly disrupting this archaic financial infrastructure. Of those currencies, stablecoins could bridge the divide between cryptocurrency volatility, decentralized ownership, and providing banking solutions in otherwise untouched jurisdictions.

For more information about cryptocurrency loans and stablecoins, contact SALT Lending.

Preserving Your Wealth with SALT Stabilization

man staring at two paths: one leads to liquidation and one leads to stabilization

Ever wonder why we developed SALT Stabilization? Because we wanted our lending product to better align with our mission: to build products that increase access to financial opportunities and give people more control over their ability to generate long-term wealth.

Here’s the back story. 

It all stemmed from the fact that Justin English — SALT’s chief executive officer– was a borrower with a SALT loan long before he became SALT’s CEO. Justin loved our loan product because it offered a way for people like him to get value out of his crypto assets without having to sell them. The only problem? Liquidation. After a single market crash Justin lost nearly 100% of his crypto portfolio. Having a deep understanding of the stress and pain that comes with constantly watching the market, Justin was well equipped and knowledgable when he stepped into the CEO role. He was able to take your feedback, combine it with his own experience and use it to improve our lending product.

While our existing loan product was offering ways for our customers to escape some of the constraints of traditional finance, it wasn’t meeting the second part of our mission (helping people like you build long-term wealth) to the degree we wanted it to. While we know liquidation is a necessary part of crypto-backed lending, we also knew there had to be a better way to manage our clients’ loans during market crashes. We considered all the stress that comes with market volatility, and while we had (and still have) many tools in place to help you track the health of your loan (our Loan-to-Value Ratio monitor, real-time call, text and email notifications, etc.), we also realize that no matter how diligent you are about managing your loan, sometimes the market crashes faster than any of us can handle. Being a diligent borrower himself, Justin understood this pain point on a personal level and wanted to build a better product that could address and help alleviate some of the nail-biting stress that stems from constantly watching the market.

Quote: "Nothing would give me greater peace of mind than going on vacation and waking up the morning after a market crash to know my crypto wealth has been preserved." -- Justin English, SALT CEO

Introducing SALT Stabilization

Enter SALT Stabilization, the product designed to preserve wealth and reduce stress. 

Instead of selling a portion of your crypto assets and using them to pay down your loan to restore it to a 70% LTV, with SALT Stabilization we convert your portfolio into stablecoin (USDC) once your loan-to-value ratio (LTV) hits our stabilization threshold of 90.91%. By doing so, we can offer you more control over how and when you want to restore the health of your loan. Once you cure your LTV back to a healthy level (below 83.33%), you are eligible to convert your portfolio back to the collateral mix of your choice when you’re ready.  

Depending on how you time your conversion, you may even end up with more crypto assets than you had before you were stabilized. With SALT Stabilization, you can preserve the value of your crypto portfolio, and if you time it right, you can even grow it.

SALT Stabilization in Action

Since releasing SALT Stabilization in late 2020, we’ve had some time to see the product in action and learn more about how it preserves wealth for our clients during market volatility. 

One of our customers experienced stabilization twice within a single week and converted the assets back both times. This particular customer converted his assets back fairly immediately following the first stabilization. However, following the second stabilization, he decided to wait, watch the market, and convert his assets back 80 days later. By offering him the option to leave his portfolio in stablecoin until he was ready to convert his assets back on his own terms, SALT Stabilization allowed the customer to preserve 87% of his portfolio. Had this same customer been liquidated twice under our previous model (the current model of other crypto lenders) he would only have 16% of his portfolio remaining following two liquidation events. This is a prime example of SALT Stabilization doing exactly what it was designed to do.

Old Method: Liquidation

Liquidation Method

New Method: SALT Stabilization

SALT Stabilization

By having your portfolio converted to USDC during a market crash, you’re able to preserve the value of your portfolio to a degree that traditional liquidation would not allow. 

Stabilization vs Liquidation

If you’re on the fence about choosing a crypto-backed lender ask yourself: 

“When the market crashes would I rather lose 84% of my portfolio or 13%? 

We’re pretty sure we know the answer. 

How to use a crypto-backed loan

how to use a crypto-backed loan, man writing on note pad 10 ways to use a crypto loan

If you need access to a loan, you’re probably considering the lineup of traditional options like credit cards, personal loans, business loans, and home equity options. They all base your ability to borrow off of your income, credit, and possibly your assets. But one option that isn’t as widely-talked about is a crypto-backed loan. It’s a new way to borrow that doesn’t factor in your credit and income as no personal guarantee is required. Instead, it’s a loan simply secured by your crypto assets. So how can you use a crypto-backed loan from lenders like SALT?

10 ways to use a crypto-backed loan

1. Pay off credit card debt

Credit cards have a place in our economy and can help you rack up rewards, but with interest rates up to 29%, they aren’t typically the best option for carrying balances. Crypto-backed loans, on the other hand, give borrowers a flexible way to access lump sums of cash with interest rates starting as low as 5.95%. 

If you have crypto, you can get a crypto-backed loan and use the proceeds to pay off high-interest credit card balances, consolidating them into one payment and potentially lowering your cumulative interest rate.

pay off credit card debt, image of man holding credit card

2. Make a large purchase

Whether you’ve been planning to make a purchase for a while, or an emergency popped up and took you by surprise, the proceeds of a crypto-backed loan can help you cover it. For example, say you want to take a family vacation to Hawaii. Instead of putting the flight and all the trip expenses on a credit card, you can take out a crypto-backed loan and then pay for everything in cash. This can help you avoid higher interest rates and any negative impact on your credit score.

3. Home renovations and improvement projects

From a burst water pipe to an unexpected HVAC repair, homeownership can be expensive. While it’s advised to have a rainy-day fund just for these occasions, even the best savers may find the final bill just out of reach. You may also feel reluctant to drain your emergency savings account to put your house back in order. A crypto-backed loan can quickly get you the cash you need.

man painting home, complete home renovations and improvement projects

4. Paying off medical debt

If you’re still opening bills every month thanks to that one time you broke your arm ten years ago, you are not alone. About 32% of American workers have medical debt and more than half have defaulted on it. Medical debt can be crippling to an otherwise healthy budget, and with payments lower than with other types of financing, it can take years and years to pay off. 

A crypto-backed loan may be just what you need to get that hospital or clinic to stop calling, and it’s often much cheaper than putting all of that debt on credit cards. Further, if your personal credit is maxed out, a crypto-backed loan can open up a new avenue of borrowing for you. 

pay off medical debt and bills, image of hospital and money

5. Planning a wedding

Even if you don’t want to spend too much on your big day, the average wedding in the US costs just shy of $40,000. From the dress and the venue to the flowers and catering, many expenses add up. Temporarily trading your crypto for cash can help you cover the big day without digging into savings or driving up your credit utilization. Cash payments to vendors can also sometimes get you a discount on services, giving you yet another reason to consider grabbing that crypto-backed loan before saying, “I do.”

plan and pay for a wedding, image fo couple and a wedding cake

6. Buying a house or real estate

Have you considered buying a property outright without the hassle or extra fees of a mortgage? A crypto-backed loan may be just the ticket to closing on that house deal. You’ll also be at an advantage as a cash buyer in an increasingly tight housing market; the seller may be more than happy to give you the deal since there are no additional lender hoops for either party to jump through. Cash obtained from a SALT loan is also free of those “extra” charges, such as loan origination fees.

Buy a home or real estate, new home

7. Starting a business

Even the simplest online businesses have startup costs. A crypto-backed loan can help pay for the costs like forming an LLC, building a website, and getting your first product manufactured. Don’t let another year pass with the excuse that you just don’t have the funds. If you have crypto assets, this can be the year you get your dream business going.

8. Upgrading mining equipment for mining operations or individual miners

Crypto miners have to evolve to survive, and that means investing in the latest, most powerful equipment. Being that you’re already involved in the crypto sphere, crypto-backed loans are a natural choice that can help you stay competitive and get every coin you can. Plus, it’s an investment that can help you not only pay off your loan and get your crypto back but also earn more.

upgrade mining equipment for bitcoin and crypto mining

9. Fund ongoing operational business costs

While new businesses benefit from getting a funding jump-start, existing companies can often use a little extra cash flow too. Whether you want to hire new employees, invest in marketing, expand your product offerings, or something else, business owners of all types are turning to crypto-backed loans to diversify their borrowing and take advantage of low rates through short-term loans.

fund or pay for operational costs

10. Reinvest or trade crypto

Serious crypto investors often need fiat to acquire more crypto. A crypto-backed loan that gives them access to cash can help them do so. With the crypto markets showing promise, and the rates on SALT loans very low, it’s easy to see how smart investors can make the numbers work in their favor to expand their crypto enterprises.

invest in crypto

SALT crypto-backed loans: Flexible funds with no personal guarantee

Whether you only need a few thousand dollars or a large lump sum, SALT loans can give you access to $5,000 or more in USD or Stablecoin. Secure your loan easily, with a single crypto asset, or through a combination of SALT-approved currencies. You’ll always know how your assets are doing, as SALT’s secure system and unparalleled customer support ensure that you can check in on your assets at any time. There’s no credit check needed, either. Once you deposit your collateral assets onto the SALT platform, you’ll be well on your way to getting the cash you need for whatever move you want to make.