BlockFi and Celsius Network are cryptocurrency lending and borrowing platforms that also allow investors to earn interest on their crypto holdings. The two tend to be the most popular platforms for cryptocurrency lending and borrowing and are often compared with each other in terms of their product offerings.
There are several key factors to consider when making this kind of comparison, such as safety and security features, interest rates, ease of use, and the unique features of each platform. These are considerations you’d want to make whether you’re a new cryptocurrency investor or an experienced one. This guide will compare and contrast between BlockFi and Celsius Network features so that hopefully you’ll be able to make a more informed decision as a crypto investor.
BlockFi was founded in 2017 by Zac Prince and Flori Marquez with the goal to provide credit services to markets that have limited access to basic banking services such as a savings account. This objective is a common theme and the basic idea behind the concept of decentralized finance (DeFi), which is to bypass traditional financial institutions and “sticking it up” to the big banks. BlockFi however, is a centralized company (CeFi) that uses decentralized assets. The company is valued at over $3 billion and is backed by reputable investors such as Bain Capital, Morgan Creek, and Coinbase Ventures.
There are four key areas where BlockFi’s products are used: interest accounts, loans, trading, and credit cards. Interest rates and loan flexibility are perhaps the main considerations for many crypto investors who are evaluating the use of the company’s products. BlockFi offers flexible crypto lending terms without locking up users in fixed contracts. Users will also enjoy receiving interest payments in the form of a wide array of digital currencies. The credit card feature is the latest addition to the company’s product offering. It allows users to earn an unlimited 1.5% back in bitcoin on every purchase with the card, without any annual fees or foreign transaction fees.
The BlockFi Interest Account is one of the more competitive cryptocurrency interest accounts in the market right now, with earnings up to 8.6% APY. Users can earn compound interest on cryptocurrencies such as BTC, ETH, LTC, LINK, and UNI. Users can also earn compound interest on stablecoins such as USDC, USDT, GUSD, and BUSD. BlockFi takes custody of users’ cryptocurrency holdings and its holdings are held by BitGo and the Gemini Trust Company, a company regulated by the New York Department of Financial Services.
Celsius Network Overview
Celsius Network was also founded in 2017 by Alex Mashinsky and Daniel Leon, on the premise of providing fair and transparent services that, in their own words, have been “abandoned by banks”. The company is headquartered in London and is widely regarded as a pioneering platform in cryptocurrency lending and borrowing. In 2018, Celsius successfully completed an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) on its proprietary token, CEL, making it available worldwide. Much like BlockFi, it is a centralized company that aims to bring the transparency of decentralized finance to a central company.
Products that are offered by Celsius are in the areas of cryptocurrency interest accounts, loans, crypto payment, the CEL token, and credit cards. Similar to BlockFi, Celsius also offers near-instant loans with cryptocurrencies used as collateral. The company’s native CEL token is akin to a rewards program that allows the token holders to earn higher rewards and get a discount in loan repayments. Celsius also enables users to make and receive payment in cryptocurrency through CelPay, available through the Celsius app.
Celsius offers earnings up to 17% APY on your cryptocurrency holdings, paid out on a weekly basis. Compound interest can be earned on supported cryptocurrencies such as BTC, ETH, MATIC, DOT, AAVE, and UNI as well as stablecoins such as GUSD, USDC, USDT, and BUSD. Like BlockFi, Celsius takes custody of its users’ cryptocurrency holdings. Several companies take charge of Celsius’ custodial holdings such as BitGo, Prime Trust, Fireblocks, Kingdom Trust, and On Chain.
BlockFi vs Celsius Comparison
Let’s start our comparison with what most cryptocurrency investors mainly care about, the annual percentage yield (APY) for the interest account on both platforms. Similar to putting fiat money in a bank savings account, storing your cryptocurrency funds in an interest account earns you interest on your crypto holdings. There’s a difference, however, as a crypto interest account comes with its own set of risks.
It’s also important to note that these interest rates are subject to revision by the companies and the rates may fluctuate according to market forces. The USD equivalent value of earned interest will also vary depending on the conversion rate between USD and the selected cryptocurrency. The rates displayed below are accurate as of the time this guide is written.
So how much can you actually earn from your crypto holdings with BlockFi and Celsius? We’ll compare the interest rates for both platforms that can be earned on popular cryptocurrencies and stablecoins.
The BlockFi Interest Account (BIA) breaks down interest payments into 3 tiers. Users will earn up to 4% APY for depositing 0 – 0.25 BTC (Tier 1), 1.5% APY for 0.25 – 5 BTC (Tier 2), and 0.25% APY for anything more than 5 BTC (Tier 3).
Celsius similarly breaks down interest payments into 2 tiers for BTC. The company offers up to 6.2% up to 1 BTC and 3.51% for depositing anything more than 1 BTC. For international depositors outside of the U.S., interest account users have the option to earn APY paid out in Celsius’ native token CEL. This results in up to 25% higher weekly rewards on some cryptocurrency holdings. Users will earn up to 4.40% for any amount of BTC deposited if they opt for earning APY in CEL.
BlockFi Interest Account users will earn 4% on depositing 0 – 5 ETH (Tier 1), 1.5% on 5 – 50 ETH (Tier 2), and 0.25% on anything more than 50 ETH.
You can earn up to 5.35% for deposits of up to 100 ETH on Celsius, and the rate is revised to 5.05% for anything more than 100 ETH. If you opt for APY to be paid out in CEL, the interest rate for depositing ETH is higher at 6.35%.
Stablecoins (USDT, USDC, GUSD, BUSD)
For stablecoins such as Tether (USDT), USD Coin (USDC), Gemini Dollar (GUSD), and Binance USD (BUSD), BlockFi pays up to 7.5% APY for deposits of 0 – 50,000 of these stablecoins (Tier 1) and 5% APY for anything over 50,000 stablecoins.
Celsius on the other hand offers 8.88% APY on any amount of USDT, USDC, GUSD, or BUSD deposits. Opting for interest rates to be paid out in CEL will earn you an APY of 11.21% on these stablecoins. It is worth noting that Celsius only supports USDT on the ERC20 network.
Payouts and Withdrawals
The frequency of interest payouts for each platform differs widely, with BlockFi paying out on a monthly basis while Celsius pays out interest earnings on a weekly basis.
And on the withdrawal side, it’s obvious which company is the winner. BlockFi only allows one free crypto withdrawal and one free stablecoin withdrawal per calendar month. Anything beyond that will subject users to a withdrawal fee.
Celsius on the other hand has unlimited withdrawal for cryptocurrencies or stablecoins and will incur zero fees. That means no minimum balance fees, no origination fees, and no transfer fees.
Both BlockFi and Celsius offer support for a wide variety of cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. That means if you have any of the following holdings listed below, you can start earning interest, use it as collateral to borrow a loan, or earn interest on lending out on BlockFi or Celsius. Here’s the most recent list of supported cryptocurrencies and stablecoins on each platform:
Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Chainlink (LINK), Uniswap (UNI), Dai (DAI), Basic Attention Token (BAT), USD Coin (USDC), Gemini Dollar (GUSD), Tether (USDT), Binance USD (BUSD), Pax (PAX), Pax Gold (PAXG)
Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Celsius (CEL), Synthetix (SNX), Polygon (MATIC), Polkadot (DOT), Aave (AAVE), Bancor Network Token (BNT), Dash (DASH), Compound (COMP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Universal Market Access (UMA), EOS token (EOS), Litecoin (LTC), 0x (ZRX), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar (XLM), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Chainlink (LINK), Kyber Network (KNC), Ripple (XRP), Uniswap (UNI), Bitcoin SV (BSC), Zcash (ZEC), OmiseGo (OMG), Decentraland (MANA), Pax Gold (PAXG), TrueUSD (TUSD), Gemini Dollar (GUSD), Pax (PAX), USD Coin (USDC), Multi-Collateral DAI (MCDAI), Tether (USDT ERC 20), TrueGBP (TGBP), TrueAUD (TAUD), TrueHKD (THKD), TrueCAD (TCAD), Binance USD (BUSD), Zytara USD (ZUSD)
From the list above, it is obvious that Celsius has a wider array of supported cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. The list will most likely continue to expand for both platforms as time goes on.
Security and Safety
Seeing as both BlockFi and Celsius take custody and outsource their holdings to 3rd parties, are your cryptocurrency holdings safe in their hands? Both companies take similar security measures to protect holdings and are exposed to the same type of risks associated with any other crypto holding company. The good news is that no hacks from either company have been reported or known so far.
BlockFi uses Gemini and BitGo as its main custodians. BlockFi keeps a proportionate amount of cryptocurrency available for withdrawal with these 3rd parties, which is how they pay users monthly interest while enabling quick fund withdrawals. They also buy SEC-regulated equities and predominantly CFTC-regulated futures as principal. The company also applies risk management practices to their lending activities.
Celsius also uses BitGo’s multi-signature wallets to secure user funds. BitGo has a $100 million insurance policy spread to all its clients. Both Gemini and BitGo have private insurance on their deposits, but that doesn’t mean that the deposits are fully covered. BlockFi for example has revealed that it has over 265,000 retail clients, and a $100 million in insurance would mean that each account is covered up to around $377. In addition, neither BlockFi nor Celsius are covered by FDIC insurance. Celsius however has hinted at launching private insurance for its users, which would give it an edge over BlockFi if it happens.
Aside from that, you can expect the usual security features such as two-factor authentication, address whitelisting, and PIN verification from both companies.
Cryptocurrency Backed Loans
Crypto-backed loans allow investors to borrow fiat currencies or other cryptocurrencies with the investor’s crypto holdings as collateral. Both BlockFi and Celsius offer this product.
At BlockFi, you can borrow for rates as low as 4.5% annual percentage rate (APR). You can borrow up to 50% of the value of your crypto holdings (loan-to-value ratio or LTV) and receive your funds on the same day. The application process takes less than 2 minutes and investors can expect to receive funds in USD, GUSD, or USDC directly into their bank accounts or wallets in about 90 minutes. You can pay off a portion or the entirety of your balance as early as you wish, and there are no prepayment penalties or fees.
Similarly, Celsius makes crypto backed loans easy to apply and have near instant approval. It has one of the industry’s lowest APR of 1% at 25% LTV ratio. The APR increases to 6.95% and 8.95% for LTV ratio of 33% and 50% respectively. Servicing the interest on a Celsius loan with its native token CEL results in an even lower APR, starting at 0.75%, 5.21% and 6.71% for 25%, 33% and 50% LTV ratios respectively. There are no credit checks, and no fees associated with the loan.
Ease of Use
Both companies are relatively user friendly and appeal to both experienced and new cryptocurrency investors, but there are some slight differences in the user experience and usability. BlockFi and Celsius both have a mobile app that is easy to use and all the products can be accessed via their respective app.
The only significant difference here is that BlockFi is also available via desktop, which means that Celsius is mobile only. If you’re an investor that prefers doing transactions on a big screen, BlockFi could be your choice.
Celsius’ native token, CEL, is a standout feature for the company. The token enables holders to earn rates up to 25% more in weekly rewards, and makes borrowing cheaper with up to 25% discount on crypto-backed loans. CEL holders are also rewarded with a proportional share of 80% of the company’s profits which are paid out to holders on a weekly basis. The only catch is that CEL is not available to users in the U.S., which means that only international users will have access to the utility of the token and get the best interest rates out of the Celsius platform.
Celsius also has a service called CelPay that allows its users to send, receive, pay and get paid in crypto. Users send money via a secure link or text, or from a list of other Celsius users. A CelPay user who is also holding the native token CEL receives 2% cash back on all CEL transactions when using CelPay.
BlockFi on the other hand has the BlockFi Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card that allows card holders to earn an unlimited 1.5% back in bitcoin on every purchase with the card. For purchases that are over $50,000, the rate increases to 2.0% back in bitcoin. The company is also currently offering 3.5% back on bitcoin for the first 90 days of card ownership. There are no annual fees nor foreign transaction fees associated with the credit card. However, fees may still be incurred if you are late on a payment on top of the interest added to your balance. Fair play. At the moment however, you’ll have to join a waiting list if you’re trying to sign up for the card. BlockFi has also stated that the card will start shipping in Q2 of 2021 to US residents in qualified states, so it won’t be available to international users outside of the U.S.
Ultimately, the final decision comes down to you as an investor. If you’re on the hunt for better earnings on interest rates for your crypto holdings or lower APR on your loans, Celsius is definitely offering better rates than BlockFi. While both companies are accessible both in and outside of the U.S. your geography also becomes a factor given that some of the unique features offered by both companies are constrained by which part of the U.S. or the world you are in. In terms of cryptocurrency offerings, Celsius has a much wider option of supported cryptocurrencies, but BlockFi is slowly expanding its ecosystem and range of products with the bitcoin back credit card.
Timothy is a news broadcast producer with a keen eye for television and a pair of tuned ears for the dulcet sounds of radio. Besides exploring new ways and mediums to tell a good story, he is also a passionate writer and musician who could play a sleazy guitar riff on the fretboard at any given moment.