With decentralized finance exploding in popularity in 2020 it only makes sense to look into the projects that are taking advantage of the movement to create income from crypto lending.
One of those projects that has seen massively increased attention and growth in the value of its token is the Celsius Network a wealth management platform based on crypto that allows users to lend and borrow blockchain assets.
The backbone of the system is the CEL token, an ERC-20 token that is used within the platform to generate interest, take out loans, send peer-to-peer payments, and much more. CEL tokens have rocketed nearly 500% over just two months time, giving early adopters massive profits.
Of course the CEL tokens remain far more volatile when compared with more established coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum, but they could become a very valuable part of anyone’s crypto holdings, particularly if you’re interested in using the Celsius platform to generate interest on your crypto holdings. It is note-worthy that users need to hold and stake CEL tokens to get the highest lending and interest rates.
The staking system employed by the Celsius Network is somewhat unique in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. It is a four tiered system similar to the account levels you might find at forex and CFD brokers. The available tiers are bronze, silver, gold, and platinum and the tier each user falls into depends on how much CEL they have staked.
That’s an important distinction, because the rates you’ll see advertised for interest are those paid out to platinum tier users. It requires a stake equal to at least 20% of your portfolio at Celsius to enter the platinum tier. So if you’re holding $10,000 worth of crypto there at least $2,000 of it needs to be in CEL tokens that are staked.
Celsius Network Tiers
As mentioned above, in order to receive interest payments from the Celsius Network you need to stake CEL tokens. The more you stake the higher tier you fall into and the greater the interest rate paid on your staked CEL tokens.
I compared this tiered system to forex and CFD brokers earlier, and Celsius makes this comparison even more valid by calling these tiers a ‘loyalty system’. Just like with the brokers the higher the tier in the loyalty system the greater the benefits to the user. Of course in this case that means higher interest rates paid, and a discount on any loans you receive from Celsius.
Here are the tiers and descriptions:
Bronze Tier – In the bronze tier users are holding 5-10% of their portfolio in CEL tokens. This entitles them to 5% bonus rewards (interest payments) and a 5% discount on loan interest.
Silver Tier – In the silver tier users are holding 10-15% of their portfolio in CEL tokens. This entitles them to 10% bonus rewards (interest payments) and a 10% discount on loan interest.
Gold Tier – In the gold tier users are holding 15-20% of their portfolio in CEL tokens. This entitles them to 20% bonus rewards (interest payments) and a 20% discount on loan interest.
Platinum Tier – In the platinum tier users are holding 20-100% of their portfolio in CEL tokens. This entitles them to 30% bonus rewards (interest payments) and a 20% discount on loan interest.
Celsius Network Team
The very visible founder and CEO of the Celsius Network is Alex Mashinsky. Prior to creating Celsius he was best known as the inventor of the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). That’s a pretty big deal when you consider that it gave us the ability to talk with friends and family using the internet instead of the traditional telephone networks.
Along the way Alex has been granted more than 35 different patents, and has been a founding member of a number of successful companies, including Transit Wireless, which was valued at $1.2 billion at the time of his departure.
Alex is also pretty famous on YouTube, where he hosts weekly AMAs (Ask Mashinsky Anything) every Friday evening. This community engagement has certainly helped him grow the Celsius Network, and he also occasionally interviews notable personalities in his MoIP (Money over IP) series. The most recent interview was with Chainlink co-founder Sergey Nazarov, but that’s just one of many blockchain founders and CEOs that he’s had on MoIP.
Alex is extremely experienced with technology, and given all his accomplishments and successful start-up companies it’s safe to say he has achieved financial freedom himself. Now he is working to ensure that many other people can also achieve financial freedom through the Celsius Network.
There are a number of other notable team members also helping to grow the Celsius Network and dedicating their time to improving the financial standing of hundreds of thousands of Celsius users.
S. Daniel Leon is a co-founder of the Celsius Network and he currently holds the position of COO at the company. His background is also as an entrepreneurial businessman in the technology sector.
Nuke Goldstein is a third co-founder of the Celsius Network. His background is in software development, with a focus on artificial intelligence, internet of things, and blockchains. He serves as the CTO of Celsius.
Harumi Urata-Thompson is the CFO at the Celsius Network. She is also involved on the board of directors for several other companies and speaks frequently on a number of topics including cybersecurity, cryptocurrency and blockchain, artificial intelligence, and more.
Celsius Network Safe?
This is a company that has over 200,000 users and more than $2.2 billion under management. It’s a pretty safe assumption to say that they can be trusted. But, if you don’t want to assume you can also look at the more than $80 million in interest payments already made, and the $8.2 billion in loans disbursed. And of course there are always the loads of positive reviews of the platform all over the web.
The one downside to the platform, and one that will almost certainly make die-hard crypto-enthusiasts cringe, is that Celsius uses a custodial wallet. Yeah, that means they’ve got control of your keys. In these days that isn’t always a deal breaker, but it is definitely worth knowing before you invest.
Based on all the information we’ve been able to dig up we feel like you can trust Celsius not to run off with your coins. We also think they are trustworthy when it comes to disbursing loans and paying the interest owed on held funds.
Financial Considerations at Celsius
One thing anyone will want to know before signing up with Celsius and sending over some coins is how they stack up in interest payments and fees. After all, this is a financial platform and your interest in it is tied to making money or taking a loan.
Celsius beats out most of its competitors in this regard because the platform has no fees. No deposit or withdrawal fees, no origination fees, no default fees, and no early termination fees. There’s not a fee to be found at Celsius.
Earning interest with Celsius
Earning interest through the Celsius Network is just plain simple. Create a wallet, deposit your coins, start earning interest. Immediately. Celsius begins calculating your interest earnings immediately upon receiving your coins, although the actual interest payments are made weekly. And you can withdraw your principal and the interest any time you like.
As mentioned above there are no fees to pay to withdraw your money. You may want to consider staking some CEL however, since the interest rate is so much better when you reach the platinum tier. Of course with the CEL token rising so aggressively the risk is that the price of CEL tokens will drop dramatically. You’ll have to decide if it’s a risk worth taking.
Also keep in mind that interest is deposited right to your wallet, so your deposit and interest payments will compound over time. That’s pretty powerful stuff.
Getting a loan through Celsius Network
Just as earning interest with the Celsius Network is simple, so too is getting a loan, as long as you have sufficient crypto available as collateral for the loan.
Note that you will need to take the loan in CEL tokens if you want the absolute lowest interest rate. That said, the rates on cash loans are so low you might not even care. How low you ask? How about 1% APR for cash loans or 0.7% APR if you take the loan in CEL. I can’t imagine any bank coming even close to those loan rates.
You’re probably aware that most of the crypto lending programs have some sort of credit card or something similar, and are probably wondering at this point what the Celsius Network has to compete. It has CelPay, which is a nifty crypto payment app where you can send crypto to anyone, even someone who doesn’t yet have a wallet.
It also makes the process quite simple. When you send the crypto a link is generated that gives the recipient a CelPay wallet that’s holding the coins that were sent. The link can be shared in any way you like, including via email and SMS. There are no fees for making transfers and creating wallets, and it’s possible for users to get 2% cash back by sending CEL. And if you don’t want to send CEL there’s also support for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and over 30 other cryptocurrencies.
CEL Tokens Explained
The CEL token is an ERC-20 token running on the Ethereum network. It was launched back in June 2018 and raised $50 million in its ICO. At the ICO tokens were valued at $0.30 each, but soon after the ICO the coin price crashed to nearly $0.03 making it look like the project had little chance of profitability for early investors.
By early 2020 things were looking better, although the CEL token was still valued at less than half the ICO price, hovering just below the $0.15 level in the early months of 2020. Holding was going to pay off though. In June 2020 the price spiked and went as high as $0.46 briefly.
There was a pull back for a couple months as things cooled off, but then in September 2020 the price began to rocket higher and as of late November 2020 each CEL token is worth more than $2. Over the last year the CEL token is up more than 4,500%. Patience sometimes is a virtue.
The fact that CEL has moved above $2 is interesting because at the ICO just 50% of the nearly 700 million total supply were issued. Half of those went to the Celsius team, and the remaining 50% was locked in a smart contract that allows release for new loans when CEL is valued at more than $1.50 for 10 days or longer. That milestone has been passed. The rest of the tokens can be released for new loans if CEL is valued above $3 for more than 30 days.
There are several utility cases for CEL, but primarily it is used to stake in the system and receive higher interest payments and discounts on loan payments.
The CEL tokens can be used to:
- Send and receive payments
- Receive interest
- Pay interest on loans (up to 30% less)
- Stake to earn high bands of interest rates (up to 30%)
Based on the massive growth in the value of the CEL token throughout 2020 is seems like the mechanics of the system are working. The platform surpassed $2 billion in assets held under management in November 2020, with over 200,000 users.
According to Celsius roughly 40% of those users choose to take their interest payments in CEL tokens, which helps to explain the strength of the coin. In addition, the Celsius Network also buys CEL tokens each week on the open market in order to make interest payments to users. As of November 2020 over $80 million worth of interest payments have been made.
Of course we are still in the infancy of DeFi and of the Celsius Network, but so far everything is looking pretty darned excellent for the growth of a very large, wealthy, and powerful financial network.
Is Celsius Network safe to use?
There’s just one small problem with using the Celsius Network and we hinted at it before. When you use their service it’s custodial, which means you’re turning your keys over to them. That does open up the possibility of a hacking attempt hitting Celsius and your coins disappearing into some thieves’ wallet. It’s always safest to hold your own private keys and store your coins either in a hardware wallet, or even offline in a cold storage wallet.
If you are going to take advantage of the juicy interest rates offered at Celsius you’ll also have to accept the risk that comes along with depositing your coins with a custodial platform. If you can trust that arrangement you’ll find that there are some upsides.
One of those is that you’re helping to increase adoption of cryptocurrencies. Let’s face it, the vast majority of people are intimidated by all the technical jargon surrounding cryptocurrencies. Go ahead and talk to most people about seed phrases and the difference between private and public keys and just watch their eyes glaze over. Until crypto become approachable people will just continue using their debit and credit cards, or the cash in their wallets.
Platforms like the Celsius Network are the perfect onramp for new cryptocurrency users. When they learn that they can earn 10-20x the interest they would earn from a traditional bank they are quick to jump to the platform. If there’s already a good deal of adoption, and with $2.2 billion in funds under management there is definitely growing adoption, new users won’t think twice about depositing their crypto in a custodial wallet.
And Celsius is trying to make themselves as trustworthy as any other financial institution. In that regard they have received licensing by the U.S. Treasury Department’s FinCEN unit and by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S. And in regards to security you’ll find biometric signatures standard at Celsius, along with storage of assets with third party custodians who provide full insurance on the coins being held. While you can still say “not your keys, not your coins” there is no custodian service that’s going to be any more secure and protected.
Celsius has been an extremely successful blockchain lending platform. It was around before SALT, and it was the first blockchain lending platform to reach $1 billion in funds under management. The strong leadership team very likely has something to do with that, as does the $50 million raised back in 2018 to get the project off the ground.
So far the largest customers of the platform are hedge funds and exchanges that are looking to earn interest on their crypto balance sheets, are performing arbitrage, or are seeking to create new markets. That said, with the DeFi movement in full swing Celsius is also seeing growing adoption from retail users over the past year. That might be a good part of the reason behind the appreciation in the CEL token.
Of course there remain concerns over Celsius being a custodial platform, and there are other concerns regarding a lack of transparency from the platform. In short, it would be good to know who Celsius is lending their customer balances to. There are also some concerns that the CEL token could be defined as a security by regulators in the U.S.
In general though we believe Celsius is a very solid lending platform. The loan interest rates are as low as you’ll find anywhere, and the interest rates for depositors are as high as you’ll find from most blockchain platforms, especially if you’re willing to stake enough CEL to get to platinum tier.
So long as you are aware of the risks that come with using the Celsius Network platform we see no reason not to use your crypto to its best advantage.
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