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Down By 4300%: The Story of ETHLend (LEND)

DISCLAIMER: None of the following is intended to be investment advice. This is only meant to be a description of what has worked well for…

Down By 4300%: The Story of ETHLend (LEND)

DISCLAIMER: None of the following is intended to be investment advice. This is only meant to be a description of what has worked well for me so far, and my own opinions. Also, full disclosure, my links to Coinbase and Binance, etc., include referrals. It actually benefits you to use them because we will both get an extra $10 worth of BTC for free if you deposit at least $100 to Coinbase. Thanks in advance if you follow the links when you make your accounts — and even if you don’t, I hope this guide helps you out!

This article is both a guide and an overview of ETHLend (LEND), an ERC-20 token, which, like many altcoins, has undertaken a meteoric fall since the crypto highs of early 2018. We will discuss what the purpose of LEND is and speculate on what has caused its price to suffer even more than many of its altcoin brothers.

The guide portion of this article will teach you how to buy LEND from square one (i.e., all you have is fiat money, no cryptos). It will also work for most other cryptocurrencies, but as I’m interested in LEND right now, I am going to write a quick foreword about it and then we’ll get right into the meat of the guide.

What is LEND?

There is a massive subset of people who are new to the crypto-space entirely but have only heard of Bitcoin. Then they go online and they search around and figure out there are actually many, many cryptocurrencies out there with many different use cases. With ETHLend, one immediately gets an impression from the name; you might think, “It has to do with lending, right?” Correct!

“ETHLend is a fully decentralized financial marketplace built on top of the Ethereum Network allowing lenders and borrowers from all over the world to create peer to peer lending agreements in a secure and transparent way using Blockchain and Smart Contracts.” — ETHLend’s whitepaper

Various forms of financial marketplaces are not a new idea in cryptocurrency. I’ve written about many such coins and tokens; Populous, for example, is meant to handle invoice financing. SALT and ELIXIR have more to do with lending and are therefore more direct competitors to ETHLend. While both of those tokens — like most altcoins — have eaten tremendous losses since January of 2018, neither have fallen quite as much as LEND. How can this be when all three tokens have the same essential purpose?

“Spend funds without selling your crypto holdings” — ETHLend’s website

Utility tokens are pretty straightforward if you think about it; all you really need is for them to have a meaningful purpose within a successful and popular platform. In a sense, the market for utility coins has less to do with cryptocurrency than it does with building killer apps that happen to need to use the blockchain to perform microtransactions. I always like to bring up BNB as the quintessential example of a successful utility token because it follows this formula. ETHLend, however, uses a token that seems to have failed this test — at least for now.

LEND Token Troubles

The ETHLend platform works basically as described above in the quote from their whitepaper: it’s meant to be a decentralized platform where lenders and borrowers can use Ethereum smart contracts to go about their business. Perhaps the largest mistake of this platform is that it fails to put its LEND token to meaningful use. Where Binance uses BNB to pay for fees, ETHLend only uses LEND to discount the price for using the platform. The whitepaper describes the token as more of a tool to encourage early adopters:

“To provide a functional lending market to such extent, early adopters are required. By purchasing LEND, the early adopters receives (sic) a discounted price for using the decentralized lending platform. Moreover, the second utility use of LEND token is to accelerate user adoption and lending volumes on the platform by purchasing LEND back from the market and rewarding the active lenders and borrowers with LEND by airdrops.” — ETHLend’s whitepaper

This doesn’t seem terribly well thought out to me. The lack of a prominent and useful purpose for the token seems like it virtually guarantees that it becomes near-worthless over time, even if the platform is successful. Sure, you can “borrow” LEND by using other currencies as collateral, but is that really a good idea considering the above?

Another thing that has gone wrong for ETHLend — and perhaps helped to drive down the price of the LEND token — is related to legalities. The legal definition of various coins and tokens is often pretty nebulous; they’ve been described as securities, currencies, commodities, or something else. When a token is deemed to be a security, there is a lot of legal baggage (at least in the United States where the SEC reigns supreme). Fears of this baggage led ETHLend to restrict access to its platforms by users in the United States, as detailed in this exchange from Reddit which occurred in May 2018:

I’m not saying that they made a mistake here. US securities laws are insanely burdensome and draconian, and I don’t blame the ETHLend people at all for wanting to avoid a bad outcome. However, it probably doesn’t bode well for a token’s value when people from the highest GDP-producing country on Earth can’t participate in your platform. However, the good news is that the team has stated that they are working to resolve this issue.

Bottom line: is LEND dead?

The short answer to this question is “no” — at least as far as the developers are concerned. Just a few hours before this article was posted, the ETHLend developers posted this to their Twitter:

They haven’t given up!

Microstaking seems to be their plan to introduce some value back into the LEND token. They admit to some of the flaws I’ve already discussed — for example, directly mentioning that the LEND token doesn’t really have much intrinsic value if it can’t be used to pay the platform fees. I realize this article might seem fairly negative so far, but here’s a positive note: the development team seems to have a good understanding of why their token has plummeted so hard. This sort of understanding is without a doubt the first step towards rectifying the situation.

Price Comparison

I usually end the non-guide section of these articles with a price comparison between the coin or token in question and some other successful coin. For LEND, such a comparison feels unnecessary; we’ve already seen prices that are ludicrously high compared to its current value (roughly $0.43 at its all-time high, and roughly $0.01 at the time of this writing). It remains to be seen whether this new microstaking strategy will have an impact on the price of the token and overall adoption of the ETHLend platform. If it does, perhaps we will see a return to the dazzling highs of January 2018 — or at least, somewhere in that ballpark. 

Now that you understand the basics of ETHLend, let’s learn how to buy some!

Buying LEND: Basic Strategy

To date I’ve had no problems with the following basic strategy:

  1. Create and sign into a Coinbase account. I recommend Coinbase because they are the most straightforward exchange.
  2. Purchase some ETH. At the time of this writing, this currency transfers the fastest and cheapest out of anything Coinbase offers. Litecoin competes here, but will cause hiccups later in the process — more on that later.
  3. Create and sign in to a Binance account. I recommend Binance because they have been reliable and convenient for me and they offer many different lesser-known cryptocurrencies with trading pairs on both ETH and BTC. An added bonus is that you can withdraw up to 2 BTC/day worth of funds with no verification at all.
  4. Move your ETH to Binance. Once it has confirmed, you can now easily use the ETH/LEND trading pair to buy as much or as little ETHLend as you want. More on trading pairs later.
  5. Send your coins from Binance to a safe LEND wallet for long term storage if you intend to hold for awhile. This is not strictly necessary but it is considered a safer option than keeping ANY coin on ANY exchange long term. I personally believe Coinomi to be the safest and most convenient wallet for many cryptocurrencies. Because LEND is an ERC-20 token, this step is a little more complicated than usual — I will give details on this later in the guide. The long story short is that it’s possible, with some effort, to use Coinomi, a Ledger Nano S, or a Trezor to store LEND.

Now, if you’re a power user or someone with some existing familiarity with cryptocurrency, you can probably stop here. The rest of this guide is just going to be a more in-depth description of the preceding steps. If you’re completely new to cryptocurrencies, you might be a little lost — that’s fine! You won’t be by the time you finish this guide. I’ll go step by step:

Starting Out On Coinbase

This is arguably the most trusted exchange currently on the market. You can think of them as the PayPal of the cryptocurrency world, with all the good and bad connotations that come along with that. There are some countries where this is not the case! For example, in Canada, one would probably want to use QuadrigaCX instead. Unfortunately, that’s outside the scope of this guide, but I do have a country-by-country guide which may help you if Coinbase doesn’t work in your area.

All you have to do here is go to Coinbase’s website and create an account. Security is incredibly important here — remember, in cryptocurrencies you are your own bank and so it is absolutely crucial that you follow good security practices. This means your password should be strong — and it should be a password you aren’t using anywhere else (including other exchanges). Google has a pretty good guide with some tips on choosing strong passwords. Keeping security in mind, it would also behoove you to turn on two-factor authentication once your account is created.

Once you are up and running there are a number of options when it comes to actually paying for coins via Coinbase. It is possible to link your bank account to Coinbase but actually transferring coins out of Coinbase will be impossible for a few days while the funds are clearing. This is obviously not ideal if you want to move quickly, as you would now have to wait several days to move your coins to an exchange where you can trade them for LEND (or any other coin).

Instead, I would recommend you link a credit or debit card to Coinbase. This will allow you to purchase some amount of coins immediately, and then immediately send them off wherever you want — your wallet, another exchange, etc. At the time of this writing Coinbase offers three coins: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC).

What to Buy First?

In my opinion if you intend to buy lesser-known coins like LEND, ETH is the best choice to buy here. Why? Well, with regards to LTC, the reason is clear: other exchanges like Binance offer direct trading pairs for BTC and ETH, but not LTC or any other currency. What this means is that you could directly exchange your ETH for LEND, or your BTC for LEND, but you’d have to perform another step if you wanted to trade your LTC for LEND (and that means more fees!). Obviously we don’t want to waste even one cent if we can avoid it, so LTC is out.

With regards to BTC, at the time of this writing there have been a lot of rumblings about high transaction fees, slow transaction times, etc. Exchanges often overpay these fees as well, and that means that you are again risking missing out on more money than you need to.

ETH is therefore currently the best choice for our purposes by default — fastest transaction speed, lowest transaction cost. So, to review: create a Coinbase account, link your credit or debit card, and purchase ETH.

I Bought ETH: What Now?

Now is the time for you to make your Binance account. Follow the link and create an account using a strong password (this should be different than the one you used for Coinbase!). There are other places where you may be able to buy LEND (Changelly, Kraken, EtherDelta, HitBTC, etc.). I cannot directly recommend most of these exchanges as I don’t have much experience with them at this point — however, I can say that I have used HitBTC and KuCoin and they have worked well for me. This guide focuses on Binance because my experience there has been 100% positive — I have transferred coins in and out of their system many times with no problems.

Once your account is made, you should set up two-factor authentication here via Google Authenticator. It’s safer, and you will need it to transfer coins out of Binance anyway. More on this later.

After your Binance account is made, click “Funds” at the top right, then “Deposits Withdrawals” beneath it. Find Ethereum in the list and click the “Deposit” button on the far right. You should end up with something that looks like this:

Depositing To Binance

Unlike the picture, there will be an “ETH Deposit Address” listed in the box at the bottom left. This is a very long series of letters and numbers, and is the fundamental basis of most if not all cryptocurrencies. An “address” is simply the destination for funds — think of it like the account and routing numbers at the bottom of your checks. For many cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin it is possible to have multiple “receiving addresses” which point towards the same wallet.

The address listed here is Binance’s “receiving address” for your Ethereum. To the right of it is a “copy address” button — use it to put the address into your copy/paste buffer. Then, in your Coinbase account, navigate to the Accounts tab and then to your ETH Wallet. Paste in your address. You should double check that the pasted address is the same one you saw on the deposits page in Binance — you can never be too sure when it comes to security! Once you’re sure you’re sending to the right place, input the amount of ETH you’d like to send (if you just want to buy some LEND, you should send all of it) and click “Send.”

Optional Trick: Using GDAX To Save Money On Fees

GDAX, or “The Global Digital Asset Exchange,” is the actual exchange which backs Coinbase. You can use it to save a lot of money on fees if you’re willing to spend a few extra minutes getting verified. Follow this link and click “DEPOSIT.” Click “Coinbase Account” at the top and deposit all your ETH from Coinbase into GDAX.

Once you’ve done this, you can click “WITHDRAW” in GDAX and send your funds from GDAX to Binance. Fees are significantly reduced with this method!

I Sent ETH to Binance — Now What?

Once you click Send, you will need to wait a little while. Without getting too technical about it, exchanges want to be as secure as possible. Thus, when you make a deposit, they wait for multiple “confirmations” from the network before allowing you access to your funds. You can view the progress in your Binance account by clicking Funds and then History. Do not be alarmed if nothing shows up at first! There are many reasons there might be a slight delay. In general you should see the transaction show up within a few minutes, with the current number of “confirmations” next to the number of required “confirmations” next to it. Be patient — your LEND is nearly in hand!

Once you have the required number of confirmations, it’s time to trade your ETH to LEND. This is blessedly simple. In the front page of Binance, click “ETH Markets.” Search for “LEND/ETH” in this list, and click it. Now you are on the trading page. In the bottom left under “Buy LEND”, click “100%” below the “Amount” field.

Time to buy LEND!

This indicates to Binance that you’d like to trade all of your ETH for a commensurate amount of LEND for no more than the price listed above. The price field is automatically listed based on the current market. If you like, you can change it to a different price, but like any market it’s not guaranteed that someone will buy at the price you’d like. Your order will remain open until it’s been fully filled or you cancel it. There are several options here such as Stop-Limit orders, etc., but this is outside the scope of this guide. In this case, you are simply placing a “Limit” order for some LEND.

I Placed My Order! Am I Done?

If you want to be done now, you can be — but there are more steps if you want to be security-conscious. You may want to check under the “Orders” and “Order History” tabs that the order went through — if you placed a Limit order at the default price, it probably did. Once you have your LEND in your Binance account, you can see them under “Funds” → “Deposits Withdrawals.” You can click “Hide 0 Balances” at the top to clean up the screen of coins you don’t own, and you can see an estimate of the overall converted BTC and USD value of your account at the top right.

For maximum security, I wouldn’t leave your coins in the exchange. I like and trust Binance, but ANY site can be hacked or experience downtime — even massively established trusted sites like PayPal. You want to have full control of your coins.

How Do I Move My Coins to a Private Wallet?

In Binance, go into the “Deposits & Withdrawals” tab, then click “Withdrawal” to the far right of the “LEND” row. By now it should be clear what you’re looking at — fields that let you input the address to send the coins to, and how many coins to send. For your convenience, there is a “Max” button to the right of the Amount field. Note that once you click “Submit,” you will need to use your two-factor authentication via Google Authenticator, an Android app. I recommend you do not use your actual day-to-day phone for this purpose. These days you can get an inexpensive Android phone for around 30 dollars — this is an investment worth making for security purposes. You can keep the battery removed from the phone when you’re not using it, and connect it to a network only for cryptocurrency purposes. As a bonus, if you’d like, you can use this phone for the Coinomi wallet.

It is possible to get LEND working in Coinomi right now and the process is fairly straightforward. In my opinion this is the preferred method, especially if you’re willing to buy an Android phone solely for cryptocurrency use. However, if you’d prefer to use a desktop wallet, I have written an easy-to-follow comprehensive guide which walks you through how to use MetaMask and MyEtherWallet to store any ERC-20 token, including LEND.

One more thing about ERC-20 tokens: I understand it is possible to use a hardware wallet like the Ledger Nano S or Trezor to store them. I have not yet tried this myself, but I imagine it’s not that difficult — apparently all you do is plug in your hardware wallet and have it interface with MyEtherWallet in the place of MetaMask. If you’re confused by all this and want to know more, just check out my guide on the subject. Hardware wallets are probably the most secure option available, though they are also a somewhat pricier solution.

Be advised that the information here only scratches the surface on ETHLend and cryptocurrencies in general. I recommend you read as much as possible. Cryptocurrencies are the future, and if you’re reading this guide you are already lightyears ahead of the curve.

Come back soon because more content like this is always coming! If my work helped you or gave you something to think about, share it with others:

Sharing helps more people find my articles, and I’d love to be able to assist as many people as possible with cryptocurrencies. Also, if you have any ideas for future articles or specific questions, I’d love to hear them. Comments section coming soon! One last thing: if you’d like to chat with me in real time, check out my Patreon - I am running a public Discord for the discussion of cryptocurrency, and if you subscribe to my Patreon you can get a special role there!

Best of luck, and happy trading!
Malcolm Rose

Posted: Aug 23, 2018

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