What is Aave?
Aave is a decentralized lending protocol that lets people lend, borrow and earn interest on crypto assets, without any middlemen. It runs on the Ethereum blockchain. So instead of relying on banks for these services, you rely on transparent, smart contracts that run on the blockchain. Aave allows anyone to take out loans without a credit approval.
Founded in 2017 by Stani Kulechov, Aave was originally called ETHLend. They started as a peer-to-peer protocol that matched lenders to borrowers. They later pivoted to a system where people borrow from liquidity pools and rebranded to Aave, which is Finnish for ghost.
For lenders: Anyone can deposit their crypto assets into a liquidity pool and earn interest on it.
For borrowers: Anyone can borrow crypto assets from a liquidity pool and pay interest on it.
The rates are calculated algorithmically based on liquidity. Users can only borrow up to the value of the collateral they post.
To facilitate lending & borrowing, Aave issues two types of tokens:
There are two types of loans one can get from AAVE. A regular loan where users deposit collateral and borrow from the liquidity pool, and a flash loan where users borrow without any collateral (we'll explain). The latter is Aave's key feature.
Borrowers need to deposit collateral in the form of any accepted asset in the liquidity pool before they can borrow. For example, you can put in $DAI as collateral and borrow $ETH from Aave. If the price of $ETH was crashing, the loan is in danger of being liquidated.
Flash loans allow anyone to borrow assets instantly without having to put up any collateral. But there is a catch. The flash loan must be issued and paid back with any interest and fees within a single block on the blockchain. The flash loan is an automated loan that is effectively reversed if it’s not repaid (with interest) within one Ethereum transaction. Flash loans are mostly used by traders who practice 'arbitrage'. Arbitrage is an investment strategy in which an investor simultaneously buys and sells an asset in different markets to take advantage of a price difference to generate a profit.
We can categorize this into three main components: liquidity pools, permissionless, and non-custodial.
Liquidity pools removes the need to wait for a bank to match a borrower to a lender who's willing to lend at a fixed price, and then pay the bank fees for that service. Instead of trusting a centralized entity with your funds, it's in a secure liquidity pool.
It’s permissionless. There are no gatekeepers or barriers to entry. Anybody anywhere in the world now has access to acquiring low-interest loans without any barriers like credit scores, KYCs, employment status, etc. There are no more barriers set by banks and high-interest rates.
It’s non-custodial. For the first time, a non-person entity, like Aave's lending smart contracts, is able to hold and manage real money. When you deposit assets on Aave, nobody has control over your assets but you. This is not the case in traditional finance. Users only need to trust that its code will execute as written, rather than an institution or individual managing their funds.
If you want to learn more about Aave in-depth, check out their FAQs doc.