Celsius Review

July 31st, 2021
8 minutes read
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Celsius is a crypto lending platform that allows you to earn interest in your savings account

FAST FACTS

Launch Date2017
Total Investment Volume$8.2 billion
Average annual interest2-14%
Minimum InvestmentNone
Investment FeesNone
Who's eligible to investMost countries but unspecified
Investment TypeBank-like interest earning
FrequencyWeekly interest
Crypto ModelCentralized Lending (CeFi)
Investor Protection50% collateral and 2 other options
Currencies13 Stablecoins and 26 Cryptos
Website LanguageEnglish

PROS & CONS

Pros 

  • Automated liquidity pool style investing
  • No Fees for Deposits or withdrawals
  • Easy to lend in 39 currencies
  • Overcollateralized loans as high as 50% LTV
  • Flexible terms and trading offered
  • Earn interest only in cryptocurrencies
  • They have their own coin Celsius (CEL)
  • CelPay features

Cons 

  • No options of individual loan selection
  • Lower interest rates without Celsius Token
  • Loyalty tiers only unlocked with Celsius Token
  • The loyalty tiers required to earn loan discounts
  • Fiat interest payments are not available
  • Lack of transparency and public statistics

Pros Explained

  • Celsius provides liquidity pool style investing so your funds go into the pool and they are loaned out to others. You get a fixed interest rate. This is like what banks do with pooling their deposits and loaning them out so this is something most will understand from its similarity to what banks do.
  • No fees for deposits or withdrawals, however, Celsius works with lots of other providers integrated into their system to allow purchases of crypto. Wyre, who is one of these companies, for example, will charge you a commission to convert your Euros to BTC.
  • You can lend in many stablecoins like USDC and USDT. You can also lend other less-used stablecoins that maintain price stability against other non-USD currencies like GBP, HKD, and CAD. There are 13 stablecoins in total that you can choose from. The cryptocurrency options include the biggest names like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, and 23 others from large coins like Chainlink (LINK) to smaller coins like the Basic Attention Token (BAT).
  • The loans you invest in are overcollateralized at 2 to 1 (50%), 3 to 1 (33%), or 4 to 1 (25%) LTV.
  • Flexible terms. You can swap out between cryptos at any time to earn more interest or put that towards your trading account. Interest compounds immediately. Celsius uses Wyre or Coinify for you to buy, sell, and exchange crypto right from the same site where you are lending or borrowing. You can use SWIFT, SEPA, wire transfer, or any services that either Coinify or Wyre allows as these services are integrated into Celsius. Or even your VISA or Mastercard to buy.
  • All the interest you earn is in the cryptocurrency that you deposit with Celsius.
  • If you are interested in crypto for more than just lending, you can increase your returns by up to 2% by staking Celsius’s coin (Celsius). Staking is a different type of investment than lending and you should understand those differences before you do it.
  • With CelPay, you can send money or crypto to another Celsius user easily and for free.

Cons Explained

  • Unlike with p2p platforms, you have no option of choosing individual borrowers, loans, potential interest rates, or anything else. You are stuck with earning the fixed interest ONLY. The only choice you have is which crypto you want to lend and its corresponding interest rate.
  • Celsius earns good income from their token so they encourage you to use their coin CEL. The interest rates you earn are lower if you do not stake it. Staking crypto is not for everyone and poses different risks than lending.
  • For you to move up the 4 reward tiers where you can earn more interest, you have to hold their CEL coin.
  • As a borrower, if you want a lower interest rate you also have to hold the CEL token.
  • No fiat interest payments are available so you have to accept crypto payments even if you want to convert to EUR or USD later.
  • They don’t have a Statistics page or tell us very much about how the company is run. For example, there’s no information on if a margin call has ever led to Interest Accounts losing money.

Who is Celsius best for?

Celsius offers the tradeoff of convenience for you in return for centralization. The bank-like savings account is something investors understand. Stablecoin interest rates for DAI or USDT can earn up to 8.88% per year, respectively while maintaining price stability. Some people feel more comfortable investing with a regulated entity and most cryptocurrency platforms are not. Celsius is regulated by the SEC in the US. They custody their Bitcoin, and yours, with an insured custodian, using industry leader Fireblocks. Celsius is a CeFi business. To contrast with DeFi platforms, they are in control. If you want a more decentralized lending option or a DeFi platform, this is NOT the platform for you. But centralization can have benefits to it like convenience and expertise.

What does Celsius offer?

Celsius offers loans and deposits in 13 stablecoins (DAI, USDT, USDC, TUSD, PAXG, and more), and 26 cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Chainlink, Monero, and others).  

  • Rates differ based on which one you deposit into the platform (see rates below). The integrated services let you easily move money into Celsius, buy, and then lend. Unlike some of the other platforms we’ve looked at, Celsius is not a place for trading since their partner services do that. They are only a lender.
  • Borrowers can be from almost anywhere and put up 2x the amount they want to borrow in cryptocurrency or more. So they put up $10,000 to borrow up to $5,000. This would qualify them for a 50% LTV loan but they can borrow as low as 25% LTV ($2500 instead of $5000) which would be 4x protection for investors against the borrower’s collateral. Borrowers can lower their interest rates by paying the loan off in CEL.
Stablecoins available for crypto lending at Celsius

Loans are available with flexible payments. Their loan calculator lets you see what your monthly payments will look like and what price level of BTC, ETH, or other cryptos would trigger a margin call. Celsius has an algorithm they use to manage this for you and will liquidate a borrower’s collateral to pay you if necessary.

Who is behind Celsius?

The team behind Celsius is based in New Jersey, Atlanta, Tel Aviv, London, and Cyprus with a team of 200 employees. There is little public information about them available. This is different than what most p2p investors in Euro or USD platforms get from platforms like Mintos or Prosper. However, it is in line with what other CeFi platforms like BlockFi, Coinloan, or Nexo, are willing to reveal to the public.

How does Celsius make money?

Celsius does not charge deposit fees to lenders, although banks or crypto networks like the Ethereum blockchain or the Bitcoin blockchain might charge you to transfer crypto or fiat in or out. Their partner services charge fees as well. Celsius makes money by: 

  1. Issuing and managing their CEL token
  2. They have an Institutional program for traders and investment funds as well as an OTC desk
  3. They will invest some of their liquidity pool (at times) in perpetual swaps or futures contracts. Some of you will be ok with this and others won’t be so you should know about it before lending here.
  4. A small spread between the interest rate charged to borrowers and what they pay you in your Interest Account.

The spread between what they pay you and what they charge borrowers (#4) is called Net Interest Margin. This is usually how banks make money. 

Details of borrowing with Celsius

How much can you earn?

Interest rates vary based on if you receive your interest payments in one of the stablecoins or one of the cryptocurrencies. Rates start at 2.02% with some cryptos and go up to 13.99% for SNX, stablecoins currently pay 8.88%. These rates have a 2% difference based on whether you stake CEL or not.

How to invest on Celsius?

You can get your funds to Celsius in one of two ways, either: 

  1. Deposit your existing crypto if it’s one of the accepted cryptocurrencies or stablecoins into your Celsius Account OR
  2. Use one of the integrated services to wire your fiat and then buy crypto, which you can then earn interest from in your Account.

Summary

For those that just want to earn interest on their money, Celsius offers deposit accounts, somewhat like the experience of savings accounts you would be used to at a bank, but within the crypto economy. As it is not a peer-to-peer lender where you select individual loans, you may like the simplicity of depositing and earning right away or you may dislike having fewer choices. Celsius started in 2017, so it’s not brand new, and it was around before the new DeFi era we are in now, took hold. Unlike with DeFi, you just deposit and start earning interest, yet instead of transferring Euros or USD you have to deposit crypto. Celsius is a good savings vehicle whether you want to earn with crypto or just diversify from what you earn in your home currency. Celsius is a CeFi platform (a centralized lending business). Celsius has raised funds from both venture capital and through their coin offering (ICO) of CEL. What you get for making a choice of a CeFi platform like Celsius instead of a DeFi platform is convenience and protection. You won’t need to worry about digital wallet management or liquidating a borrower’s collateral to get paid. Celsius does that for you. For those wanting to explore the crypto markets but not do so alone and without support, a platform like Celsius might be a good place to begin.

Methodology

At P2PMarketData we are dedicated to providing unbiased reviews of peer-to-peer lending, real estate crowdfunding and crypto lending platforms. Among other, in our mission to bring more transparency to the market we closely monitor and track over 70 platforms funding volumes.

When reviewing an alternative investment platform, we consider a variety of factors such as:

  • Number of investors
  • Minimum investment requirement
  • Historical annual returns
  • Diversification opportunities
  • Reinvestment opportunities
  • Educational and informational offerings
  • Platform fees
  • Total capital invested
  • Features (such as secondary market and automatic investing)
  • General transparency (the difficulty of finding who the owners are, how they make money on the platform (fees), terms & conditions and more)
  • Management team

We also look into the company’s online reputation (for example customer reviews, news, complaints, average monthly searches and social media).