DeFi: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research July 8, 2023

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  • Decentralized finance (DeFi) is an ecosystem of brand-new financial applications powered by blockchain technology.
  • DeFi provides services like lending, borrowing, trading, and investing without intermediaries like banks.
  • DeFi is based on open finance principles, accessible to anyone with internet connectivity.
  • Many are captivated by DeFi because it is governed by a community of users holding cryptocurrencies that provide a stake in these networks.


Decentralized finance (DeFi) is a growing ecosystem of financial applications and protocols that are built on blockchain technology. These applications and protocols are designed to provide financial services such as lending, borrowing, trading, and investing without the need for banks or other intermediaries. DeFi is a rapidly-growing industry, with billions of dollars' worth of assets locked in various protocols.

DeFi is based on the idea of "open finance," which means that financial services are accessible to anyone with an internet connection, regardless of their location or financial status. DeFi is built on a decentralized infrastructure, which means that there is no central authority controlling the system. Instead, the system is governed by a community of users who hold and use the native cryptocurrency of the protocol.

A Brief History

The roots of DeFi can be traced back to the launch of Bitcoin in 2009. Bitcoin was the first decentralized digital currency, and it introduced the concept of a trustless, person-to-person financial system. Over the years, Bitcoin has inspired the development of many other cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based applications.

The first DeFi application was launched in 2014, with the launch of Counterparty. The Counterparty platform allowed users to create and trade custom cryptocurrencies on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. Since then, the DeFi ecosystem has grown rapidly, with the launch of many new protocols and applications.

What Is DeFi?

DeFi is a new financial system that is built on decentralized, open protocols and runs on a blockchain. It offers a range of financial services that are accessible to anyone with an internet connection, without the need for intermediaries such as banks or financial institutions. DeFi operates on the principle of open finance, where financial services are available to individuals worldwide, regardless of their geographical location or financial standing, as long as they have internet access.

One of the most important features of DeFi is that it is built on a decentralized infrastructure. This means that there is no central authority controlling the system, and all transactions are verified and recorded on a public blockchain. This often makes DeFi more transparent and secure than traditional financial systems.

Financial services offered by DeFi include lending, borrowing, trading, and investing. These services are provided by various protocols and applications that are built on top of the blockchain. For example, a lending protocol might allow users to lend and borrow cryptocurrencies without the need for a bank or financial institution, while a trading protocol might allow users to trade cryptocurrencies without the need for a centralized exchange.

Getting Started

Diving into DeFi requires cryptocurrency knowledge. First, having a basic understanding of blockchain technology and how it works is essential. Also, a cryptocurrency wallet and some crypto to invest in DeFi projects is necessary. Once a user has acquired these things, they can start exploring the many DeFi projects that are currently available.

One popular DeFi project is Uniswap, which is a decentralized exchange (DEX) that allows users to trade cryptocurrencies without the need for intermediaries. Another popular DeFi project is Compound, which is a lending platform that allows users to earn interest on their cryptocurrency holdings. There are also many other DeFi projects that offer various financial services, such as insurance, derivatives, and stablecoins.

To get started with DeFi, it is important to do some research on the various projects that are available. Looking for projects that have a good reputation and a strong community of users is a good start. For example, projects that demonstrate clear roadmaps and solid development teams often prove to be serious efforts.

Unique Aspects

  • One of the unique aspects of DeFi is its decentralized nature. Unlike traditional financial systems, which are controlled by central authorities, DeFi is controlled by its users. This means that there is no central point of control, and transactions are processed by a network of nodes that are spread out across the globe. This makes DeFi resilient to attacks and less vulnerable to censorship.
  • Another unique aspect of DeFi is its transparency. All transactions on the blockchain are publicly visible, which means that anyone can view them at any time. This makes it easy to track the flow of funds and ensures that transactions are conducted in a fair and transparent manner.
  • DeFi is also highly accessible. Anyone with an internet connection can participate in DeFi, regardless of location or financial status. This means DeFi has the potential to bring financial services to people who have been excluded from traditional financial systems.
  • Because DeFi is built on top of blockchain technology, new possibilities have emerged to create complex financial instruments that were previously unattainable. For example, it is now possible to create decentralized insurance policies, which can be used to protect against a wide range of risks.


  • Decentralization . DeFi is completely decentralized, meaning that there is no central authority controlling the system. This makes it more resilient to attacks and censorship.
  • Transparency . All transactions on a DeFi platform are transparent and visible to anyone on the blockchain. This makes it easier to track funds and prevent fraud.
  • Accessibility . Anyone with an internet connection can participate in DeFi, no matter their location or financial status. This has the potential to provide financial services to millions of unbanked individuals around the world.
  • Interoperability . DeFi platforms are built on open standards, which means that they can easily communicate and integrate. This allows for more complex financial products and services to be created.
  • Programmability. DeFi platforms are programmable, allowing developers to create custom financial products and services that can be executed automatically. This reduces the need for intermediaries and can lead to lower fees.


  • Complexity. DeFi is still a relatively new and complex technology. It can be difficult for the average user to understand and navigate.
  • Volatility . Cryptocurrencies, which are used as the underlying assets in many DeFi platforms, are known for volatility. This can make it difficult for users to predict the value of investments.
  • Security . While blockchain technology is inherently secure, DeFi platforms can still be vulnerable to hacks and other security breaches. This is especially true for less established platforms.
  • Regulation . DeFi is largely unregulated. This means that there is a higher risk of fraud and other illegal activities. It could lead to increased regulatory scrutiny in the future.
  • Centralization . While DeFi platforms are designed to be decentralized, there is still a risk of centralization. This can occur if a small group of individuals or organizations control a significant portion of the platform's governance tokens.