How To Make Money With DeFi in 2024

Josiah Nang-Bayi, MD
10 Min Read

Decentralized finance (DeFi) presents a hugely promising opportunity to generate attractive yields on crypto holdings, up to 15-20% APY in some cases. As adoption grows, the prospects for savvy users to earn income on DeFi continue to expand.

This comprehensive guide will explore the best methods to make money with DeFi in 2024 and beyond. We’ll cover strategies like liquidity mining, staking tokens, lending/borrowing protocols, DEX fees, and more. By understanding the incentive models fueling DeFi, you can create diversified income streams.

Let’s analyze the top proven ways to put your crypto to work and start unlocking DeFi’s income potential.

concept of defi

Top 10 Ways To Make Money With Defi

Liquidity Mining

Liquidity mining allows earning fees and governance tokens by providing funds to liquidity pools.

Decentralized exchanges like Uniswap need user-provided liquidity of token pairs like ETH/USDC to enable trading. Liquidity providers (LPs) are incentivized to supply funds with LP tokens that represent their share of the pool.

LPs earn trading fees from the liquidity pair they provided, plus rewards in the DEX’s native governance token. Top DEX tokens like UNI (Uniswap) and CAKE (PancakeSwap) have valuations in the billions.

For example, supplying $10K worth of ETH/USDC to Uniswap could earn $500+ in monthly income from fees and UNI rewards.

The risks include impermanent loss if the token ratio changes. But overall yields frequently outpace those from simply holding assets.

Staking DeFi Tokens

Staking refers to locking up tokens in a protocol to help validate transactions, secure the network, and earn rewards.

Many DeFi protocols distribute governance tokens to stakers. By staking tokens like AAVE, KCS or KAVA, holders can earn token rewards and sometimes platform fees.

Annual staking yields vary across projects but commonly fall in the 3-15% range. The more value staked in a protocol, the greater token scarcity and demand.

For example, staking the CRO token with Crypto.com generates 10-12% returns with no lockup period. Staking capital that would otherwise sit idle can generate healthy recurring income.

The main risk is the potential loss of staked asset value, so prudent token selection is key.

Lending and Borrowing

DeFi lending platforms like Aave and Compound allow depositing crypto to earn yield while borrowers use deposits as collateral for loans.

Lenders can earn up to 10% APY by providing liquidity pools with stablecoins or tokens like WBTC and ETH. Because loans are overcollateralized, deposits are usually safe outside extreme market crashes.

Borrowers pay interest rates of 2-10% depending on the collateral ratio and asset. The interest paid gets distributed to lenders as yield.

By lending idle holdings, investors can generate yield almost risk-free. However, smart contract risks must be considered.

Yield Farming

Yield farming takes advantage of DeFi composability by locking tokens into multiple protocols to maximize APY.

For example, stablecoins deposited into a lending platform like Compound could then be deposited into Yearn Finance to automatically shift capital for optimal yield. Combining steps compounds returns.

Sophisticated yield farmers chase the highest yields by constantly shifting across opportunities. This requires close monitoring but can optimize income.

Risks include smart contract bugs and heavy gas fees for moving funds. Yield farming is complex but can boost profits.

how to make money with defi

Exchange Staking and Fees

Centralized exchanges like Crypto.com also offer DeFi staking opportunities with high yields by leveraging native exchange tokens.

Platforms distribute a portion of trading fees to holders who stake tokens like CRO, BNB and KCS. Average staking yields range from 10-20% for major exchange tokens.

Additionally, tokens are used for governance rights like voting on listing new assets. Demand for tokens increases as platforms grow.

Staking exchange tokens can diversify income streams by capturing trading volume and fees. Users must trust the platform’s security model however.

Arbitrage Trading

For more active crypto traders, arbitrage strategies leverage price inefficiencies between exchanges to secure fixed profits.

This involves buying assets on one DEX then immediately selling at a higher price on a different DEX after accounting for fees. Repeated small gains compound over time.

Bots are often used to scan markets for arbitrage opportunities and execute trades. The risks include order slippage and cost of capital. But profits are theoretically locked in if executed correctly.

Developer Royalties

Another way to earn is by developing applications and tools adopted by DeFi projects.

Many protocols pay royalties to developers who create beneficial integrations like caching layers, analytics, governance tools and more. For example, 0x pays dev royalties for building on its DEX protocol.

Building tools that solve problems for DeFi projects allows earn income from ideas rather than just capital. This requires blockchain coding skills however.

Airdrops for Active Users

A popular user acquisition tactic is protocols distributing tokens via airdrops to active community members.

Meeting requirements like staking, referrals, governance participation or hitting usage thresholds results in token rewards. Tezos and Uniswap pioneered protocol airdrops.

While not guaranteed, active contributors often receive surprise token windfalls. Participating early in new communities can pay off handsomely.

DeFi Leverage Trading

For extreme risk tolerance, leveraged trading instruments like perpetual swaps allow amplified profits from picking correct market directions.

DEXs like DyDx and GMX allow 5-50x leverage using collateralized positions. This enables big potential gains but equally large losses if markets move adversely.

Leverage is considered high-risk speculation. But for skilled traders in bull markets, major profits are possible with proper risk management.

Risk of Investing in DeFi: Navigating the Uncharted Waters

1. Infrastructure Risks

DeFi protocols rely on the infrastructure provided by DApp platforms like Ethereum, Solana, and Polkadot. If a critical bug or failure occurs in the platform, it could impact all DeFi protocols built on it. While such failures are unlikely, they could disrupt financial services across the DeFi space.

2. Coding Risks

Smart contracts power DeFi protocols, enabling various financial services. However, these contracts are vulnerable to risks. Any coding errors or vulnerabilities could expose DeFi protocols to hacks and exploits. Developers are increasingly opting for smart contract security audits to mitigate these risks.

3. Market Volatility

DeFi tokens can experience extreme price fluctuations. While high yields may be appealing, they come with increased volatility. Investors must brace themselves for rapid price swings.

5. Regulatory Uncertainty

DeFi operates in a regulatory gray area. As governments worldwide grapple with how to classify and regulate these decentralized systems, investors face uncertainty. Regulatory changes could impact DeFi projects significantly.

6. Smart Contract Risks

Smart contracts are powerful tools, but they are only as good as their code. Vulnerabilities can lead to loss of funds. Investors should thoroughly research the protocols they engage with and understand the risks associated with their smart contracts.

7. Impermanent Loss

Liquidity providers in DeFi pools face impermanent loss. When the value of assets in the pool changes, providers may lose out compared to simply holding the assets. Understanding this risk is crucial for yield farmers and liquidity providers.

Remember, while the potential rewards are enticing, the risks are real. Proceed with caution, and may your DeFi journey be both rewarding and well-informed.

Conclusion

These strategies represent just some of the diverse income opportunities in fast-evolving DeFi ecosystems. Composability between protocols continues unlocking new productive utilities for crypto holdings beyond speculation.

The key is balancing yield optimization with prudent portfolio management. DeFi rewards active participation, but reckless speculation can be dangerous without due diligence.

By cautiously employing the right blend of strategies, DeFi can generate sustainable returns from capital otherwise sitting idle. The innovation just keeps expanding in this space as adoption grows.

While some regulation is on the horizon, DeFi appears poised to keep providing attractive income streams for savvy crypto investors. The future looks promising for this new decentralized financial system as it matures.

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Josiah Nang-Bayi, MD is a medical doctor by profession, an author, a financial literacy and digital assets enthusiast, an entrepreneur and a growing philanthropist.
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