If like me, you are just waiting for another bullmarket, with your stablecoins roting somewhere, Nexo seems pretty interesting. But is it green or is it greed?
Never forget: there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Let’s break down Nexo, and find out the most important elements needed to decide if our sleeping stablecoins could be of any use.
Nexo’s Summary Table
Kantchev, Shulev, Trenchev
Highest Interest Rate Available
12% (with stablecoins if you hold NEXO token and are paid in NEXO)
Base Interest Rate on USDC or USDT
Base Interest Rate BTC and ETH
1 free per month
BitGo as primary custodian
100m$ on Bitgo
Briefly, the most important points: Nexo, founded in 2018 by Trenchev, Kantchev and Shulev is a subsidiary of the 2007 short term lending company Credissimo. It manages $15B+ in assets with 2M+ users.
Nexo’s Interest Rates
It could seem a bit complicated, but interest rates can be simplified that way: you can choose to receive your interest in the currency you are staking, or for an extra 2% you can opt to receive your payouts in NEXO Tokens. I do not recommend that. The Nexo token has some voting rights, but its price can fluctuate a lot. I prefer to earn stablecoins with my stablecoins, I already have enough altcoins.
In addition, depending on the number of Nexo token that you have, you can receive an extra bonus on your interests (for example, 2% if you have at least 10% of your portfolio’s value in Nexo token). Again, I do not recommend that, unless you can get cheap NEXO token (in whatever way).
Hence, the 12% APY is true, but only for marketing purpose. In reality you can earn 8% on your stablecoins, add 2% is you hold 10% of your portfolio in Nexo, and add another 2% if you accept to receive the interests as Nexo tokens and not as stablecoins anymore.
As you may have understood, I chose to receive 8%, “only”,
In case you are looking for a tracking tool, nexologist tracks a lot of things related to Nexo: price statistics, loan statistics and so forth, while providing interesting calculators.
It is also possible to insure your deposit on Nexo thanks to Nexus mutual, for a 2.6% APY. It is a mutual where members share risk with each other. Have a look at this article if you are interested in it.
Is Investing with Nexo Safe ?
Now the crucial part, the thing that interests you and me the most, and yet the thing that is usually not much discussed elsewhere.
First of all, no investment ever is 100% safe. It’s just a matter of choosing the best return given the amount of risk that you can sleep on.
Nexo is not a DeFi platform, it is CeFi (centralized finance). If you deposit your coins on the platform, you won’t hold your keys anymore. And as the saying goes “not your keys, not your coins”. Nevertheless, Nexo uses BitGo as its custodian, with a $100 million insurance on custodial assets. What does it mean in everyday life ? Well, nothing is clear.
It’s probably the biggest “positive” signal. They have a card connected to MasterCard, a well-known banking company that decided to do business with them. Surely, they must have done some due diligence and have access to data that we as humble peons can’t have access to.
Nexo Revenue Stream
How can Nexo offer from 8 up to 12% interest? Well, let’s be honest, it’s opaque. No official statement on that part.
Surely, they have a high cash flow with the different loans taken on Nexo platform, that are supposed to be overcollateralised between 200-500%. In addition, if you were them, would you explain your business model and risk ruining some of your competitive advantage? Some people are pointing toward the other business of the founders: Credissimo. It offers short-term loans, with high rates (12-14%).
Yet, it’s an important question, to which we barely have any answers for most platforms. Cred’s recent example shows that some company gets into pretty crazy schemes to be able to pay these high interests.
So, “not your keys, not your coins”, but at least there is no lock-in period, and if you feel like shit will hit the fan, you can get out of the platform almost immediately (in theory).
In boomer’s world, real companies must follow some rules. Last time I checked I couldn’t find Nexo’s imprint on their website or their financial statements. Also, in their terms of service, I could not find the country legislation that applies to them, and I also have trouble finding the proof of their “regulated financial institution” status. It’s a bit disturbing to have such issues, but it’s pretty usual in the far west of the crypto world… If you manage to find any of these, please let me know!
I know that some people could also be concerned by the citizenship of the founders and the recruitment being almost entirely in Bulgaria. I will not cast a stone at them. I have seen utter incompetency and scammish behaviors in every part of the world. But I know that some people could be allergic to anything too close to eastern Europe.
Nexo uses BitGo as it’s custodian ($100 million insurance on custodial assets). Nexo also integrated Ledger Vault (as a hotwallet? Nothing clear here). The Vault insures digital assets for up to $150 million through a customized insurance program. It is noteworthy to remind you that Ledger as a company had a data breach a few months ago that released some private information of their customers.
What does it mean in everyday life ? Well, nothing is really clear once again here. And as most insurances, it’s only when you need them that you discover that you are not fully protected. It is for example not clear how their insurances cover your funds if they fold. It’s not clear how their insurances cover their international clients. Also, with 1.5B assets, their insurances might prove to be insufficient. Still, Nexo seems to be the platform that is trying the hardest to appear as secured.
Here is a part I had so much fun with, but also the weakest one while being the one that bothers me the most.
There seems to be a relationship between the massive FUD campaign on Link from Zeus Capital and Nexo. It is pure speculation, with “proofs” found by 4channers aspergers (it reminds me of the “pizzagate”). Also, it does not prove anything, as it could have been intentional residues left by people at Zeus Capital to incriminate Nexo (a false flag operation).
We all know that crypto is a world of smoke and mirrors. Yet, Nexo appears to be more solid than most companies that I have investigated in crypto space.
Nevertheless, it should be treated like leaving your funds in any hotwallet: it’s not 100% safe, don’t put all your funds at the same place. Personally, I have put 20% of my USDC on Nexo, to limit my risks, because I actually trust them, but better safe than sorry. Still, I wish things were more transparent.
In case you are not yet registered on Nexo, and were “convinced” by this overview, please click here to use my referral link (10$ to earn for both of us). If you are already registered on Nexo but enjoyed my take on the platform, or learned interesting things, or want to support me, please feel free to send me a coffee over.