DeFi That Isn't DeFi

Stumbling through the void, I ran across nexo and articles describing it as DeFi. However, the description doesn't really fit since everything is centralized on the nexo platform. I wish the crypto media would be a bit more intentional with its language to avoid creating ambiguity or misunderstanding in the market.

I know almost next to nothing about nexo. While it looks quite legitimate, I tend to get a bit skeptical. Promises of big rewards in a centralized application that bestows benefits is you also hold their own token.

Nexo has an interesting take on their Mastercard - you appear to be taking credit against your crypto/fiat balance. This will, in theory (if I understand what it is doing), create a loan that that will start generating interest you will have to pay off. The interest will start immediately (no grace period). If I understand it correctly, if you have not staked their own token (subject to the minimum staking requirements), you'll pay ~11.9% interest on your purchases but you get 2% cash back. If you do have staked Nexo tokens (at or above the minimum required), you'll pay 5.9% (with 2% cash back on the transaction).

So there appears to be some interest rate arbitrage going on between what you lend and what you borrow. You might be getting 10% on your deposited funds but any loans will offset that return unless you have the appropriate number of nexo tokens. If you're both depositing and borrowing, your overall rate will be much lower than advertised.

Then there's the token. You don't buy through Nexo (unless you are making large purchases through their OTC). You have to buy nexo through an exchange. I don't mind the idea of using an exchange if Nexo isn't holding the bag. So you can't buy nexo on nexo but you need it for borrowing discounts and dividends.  If you dont' want those, and just your interest rate, then you can keep your money locked up.

I think people ultimately understand most businesses - you produce a product, you add markup, you sell it.  This product isn't seemingly too complex. However, it is one you will need to pay attention to closely to understand the nuances between lending and borrowing and to get the most out of, requires you lock up your money for a while.