The decentralized finance space is growing as more people (and institutions) see the benefits of carrying out financial activities on chain, and as interest increases, the best DeFi projects have risen to fill the demand.
Now the question is, what are these projects? If you’re going to invest money into a project, it needs to be legit, profitable, and secure.
We explore the best DeFi crypto projects on the market right now. We highlight what these DeFi protocols do, why they are good investment decisions and the most prominent risk inherent in investing in them.
1. Chancer (CHANCER) – Best Decentralzed Gambling Platform
2. Metacade (MCADE) – Highest Staking Return
3 GMX (GMX) – Best Perpetual Trading Platform
4. Gains Network (GNS) – Best Derivative Trading
5. Aave (AAVE) – Best Lending Platform
6. Camelot (GRAIL) – Most Composable Dex
7. Curve (CRV) – Best Stablecoin Dex
8. Uniswap (UNI) – Best Decentralized Exchange
9. Synapse (SYN) – Best Cross-Chain Bridge
10. Lido (LDO) – Best Liquid Staking Platform
11. Rocket Pool (RPL) – Growing Liquid Staking Protocol
12. Radiant (RDNT) – Best Cross-Chain Lending Platform
13. Pendle (PENDLE) – Best Yield Management Platform
Where to Buy
Gains Network (GNS)
Rocket Pool (RPL)
Radiant Finance (RNDT)
Pendle Finance (PENDLE)
Chancer is a betting platform that allows users to create prediction markets and place bets on real world events that have a trackable outcome. The extra kick with Chancer is that it is fully decentralized, immutable, and automatic.
Chancer is changing the way online betting is done. The protocol consists of a network of nodes that run the platform in a completely decentralized manner, an interface that allows users to create bets, and the infrastructure to abstract most of the underlying smart contract functions.
This DeFi platforms structure makes it possible for anyone to create a prediction market based on virtually any event and open it to people in the crypto industry, all over the world. Users can structure bets however they wish and instate various reward tiers.
Because the system runs on a decentralized open network, users can see the details of the bet and decide whether they wish to participate. When the outcome is decided, the system automatically pays the winner based on the preset conditions.
Chancer is largely untested, so there’s no way to know for sure that their tokenomics models, internal economics, or even its betting system work as intended. While there is no evidence that proves it doesn’t, the uncertainty adds to the risk.
This system is powered by the CHANCER token which will be required use the DeFi services to set and create bets. It is currently in the presale phase and can be purchased on the Chancer website.
Metacade is a platform that houses a Web3 gaming community, develops great games, fosters engagement, and rewards various members of the crypto gaming space.
While it is not primarily a DeFi platform, it has integrated some DeFi protocols and activities that make it attractive as a DeFi investment.
Metacade currently offers one of the highest staking rewards we’ve seen in a while. Staking MCADE, the native token, nets a yearly return of 40%, provided the tokens are locked for at least 6 months.
Furthermore, the platform provides GameFi strategies that users can deploy across various play-to-earn games to maximize their earnings.
Judging by historical yield trends, Metacade’s yield may be time sensitive and unsustainable in the long term. Naturally, as more people stake, the yield decreases. MCADE is also a new token in the crypto space that can experience volatile price swings that may eat into the overall profit generated from the yields.
Nonetheless, Metacade is a platform worth exploring for its DeFi protocol capabilities. You can buy MCADE on their website.
GMX is a decentralized perpetual exchange that enables users and crypto traders long and short crypto derivatives with leverage. The platform rose to popularity after the fall of FTX when trust for centralized exchanges took a hit.
It is currently one of the most used and trusted platforms with a total trading volume of $112 billion across 261,000 total users. It earns roughly $9 million in fees per month and is one of the new types of DeFi protocols that earns real yield for its users, paid in either ETH or a stablecoin, not the app’s inflationary token.
As of writing, 79% of all GMX tokens are staked to earn rewards, the highest in the industry as this DeFi crypto project’s revenue is shared among stakers.
The trading interface is easy to use. It has a regular swap function, however, the token list is limited to nine major coins like BTC, ETH, LINK, USDT, DAI, and a few others. The perpetual function provides leverage of up to 50x as well as limit and trigger orders.
There are only four contracts being offered as of writing, they include BTC, ETH, LINK, and UNI, and are all paired with USD. Other perpetual platforms offer more contracts and may eat into GMX’s market share.
You can buy GMX on exchanges like Coinbase.
Gains Network is a perpetual trading platform similar to GMX. The major difference between them is that Gains has expanded beyond much of GMX s limitations in terms of scale and contracts offered.
While GMX still has a larger market capitalization and houses more foreign assets deposited as collateral, Gains is quickly expanding to include traditional securities, giving crypto-natives exposure to traditional markets through asset tokenization.
Gains Network has traded a total volume of over $27 billion, so while it is not yet at GMX’s level, it still pulls impressive numbers. This also means that it has room to grow in the DeFi market.
The trading platform features DeFi services of both long and short contracts with up to 150x leverage for 45 cryptocurrencies, 17 forex pairs, and 2 commodities (Gold and Silver). The real-world assets are tokenized versions of the real-world securities made possible by decentralized Oracles.
We like Gains because it has a mobile app that can be used on the go and a wider selection of assets to trade in the DeFi ecosystem.
Gains Network is heavily reliant on oracles to get price feeds for real world securities. As such, there is an inherent risk of the oracles malfunctioning and throwing off price feeds which could cause liquidations.
The trading network is powered by the GNS token. You can buy it on exchanges like Coinbase.
Aave is the leading lending platform with a total liquidity of $7 billion across five different blockchain networks. It is the largest and possibly the most popular decentralized finance lending platform with a market capitalization of $734 million.
Decentralized finance lending is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it is expected to grow as blockchain technology adoption progresses, and Aave is a leader in the space.
With Aave, you can obtain DeFi loans on the Ethereum, Arbitrum, Optimism, Polygon, Avalanche, Harmony, and Metis networks using collateral like BTC, ETH, MATIC, DAI, and even AAVE, depending on the chain you use. For the best set of DeFi protocols options, we suggest you use the Polygon blockchain as ETH and BTC are the only acceptable forms of collateral on other networks.
Ensure that your collateral is always 130% more than the funds you borrow to avoid liquidation. You can track the safety of your position using the health factor (HF) indicator. Positions with HF less than or equal to one are in danger of being liquidated. The ideal is to keep your HF above 2.
Aave’s most pertinent risk is that its token only functions as a tool for governance. Hence, there isn’t much reward from holding it aside from the right to vote on proposals, a use case that is not as appealing to the average DeFi crypto investor.
To learn more about the lending platform, read our Aave review. Alternatively, you can buy AAVE on exchanges like eToro.
Camelot is a composable decentralized exchange on the Arbitrum network that supports instant swaps between tokens. It also features liquidity pools for investors to earn profit from providing liquidity on the DeFi platform.
Camelot stands out from other DeFi crypto projects with its swap function. The DeFi protocols allow anyone to swap between virtually any two tokens on the Arbitrum network in one transaction, thanks to integrations with Odos.
Usually, DeFi platforms are limited to the tokens within a liquidity pool, so swap transactions whose pairs that are not in a pool will be routed through several pools. Some platforms bundle the trade into one, but transaction costs for DeFi services are usually higher.
With Camelot, swapping between exotic cryptos that are not within the same liquidity pool is possible in a single transaction as the system routes your trades through various pools and calculates the fees upfront.
The received token is sometimes slightly more or less than expected depending on the constitutions of the pools routed through. However, this is a minor effect and the deviation is not usually up to 0.50% of the total transaction value.
Ultimately, Camelot is powering cheap and fast transactions on the Arbitrum blockchain.
Camelot’s token is tied to its platform’s fees, which in turn is tied to the volume of trades it processes. Hence, Camelot will need to remain a major decentralized financial system on Arbitrum blockchain technology to receive high trade volumes and retain investors with attractive yields.
You can buy GRAIL on exchanges like Coinbase.
Curve is a popular automated market maker (AMM) known for its low slippage and large liquidity pools. It is well integrated into the DeFi crypto space that it is used by institutions, whales, and other DeFi protocols to house their liquidity pools and swap large volumes.
AMMs are a combination of liquidity pools and an algorithm that automates swaps between tokens in various pools. A liquidity pool can contain various tokens, but most contain two.
These pools are prone to slippage which is a phenomenon where the price at which a trade is executed deviates from what a trader specified which is usually caused by high volatility or low volumes.
Curve’s unique algorithm reduces slippage as much as possible, allowing users to execute trades of DeFi investments at their desired prices during market trades. Because of this, investors are willing to use the platform which in turn attracts liquidity providers.
Now, liquidity pools on Curve can be as large as $800 billion in TVL, like the stETH pool which contains ETH and stETH.
Curve‘s DAO structure allows holders to vote which pools get the most rewards. As such, situations could arise where various players accumulate CRV to get the power to determine which pools get the most rewards. This could lead to centralization in governance.
You can buy CRV on exchanges like eToro.
Uniswap is a decentralized exchange and AMM that ushered in a new age of decentralized exchanges. In addition to being one of the first dexes in the DeFi space, it is still one of the leading DeFi apps as it continues to expand its uses and the blockchain technology networks it operates on.
So far, it has logged a total trade volume of $1.4 trillion, from more than 150 million traders. Its native token, UNI, is one of the best DeFi tokens and has a market capitalization of $4.39 billion.
Uniswap is the fourth largest Defi application with a combined foreign asset worth $3.85 billion from the six chains it operates on i.e., Ethereum, Polygon, Arbitrum, Optimism, Celo, and BSC.
It is still the go to DeFi crypto exchange for swapping between various cryptocurrencies and the sought after Dex for new major DeFi projects looking to launch. Uniswap lists more than 200 tokens and digital assets from the six chains it operates on the crypto market.
Uniswap is only available on seven blockchain networks (Ethereum, Arbitrum, Polygon, BSC, Celo, Avalanche, and Optimism), unlike Dexes like Sushi which is available on 26 networks.
Dexes like Sushi can implement cross-chain swaps for digital assets, while Uniswap is still limited to the chains it operates on.
You can buy Uniswap on exchanges like eToro
Synapse is a cross-chain communication protocol that allows various blockchains to communicate and send assets between one another. It is one of the best DeFi solutions that exists to solve the interoperability issue and allow people to easily move crypto assets between chains.
Synapse is one of the more popular and trusted protocols for sending tokens between blockchains. As of writing, it mostly works between EVM networks, ie., networks that run the Ethereum Virtual Machine.
Synapse is one of the preferred cross-chain solutions that is cheap and quick. Cross-chain bridges are still an essential infrastructure for decentralized finance, and all the more now as interoperability moves to the center of the industry.
The DeFi protocol also offers incentives for users to deposit tokens to help facilitate interchain bridging. Synapse’s liquidity pools offer returns as high as 15% for some pools.
Cross-chain bridges are generally viewed as a way station on the journey to interoperability. Chainless, interchain, and omnichain protocols are being developed to facilitate more native swaps and communication between top DeFi projects and their networks. The Synapse protocol is powered by the SYN token.
You can buy SYN on exchanges like Binance.
Lido is a liquid staking platform that allows investors to stake certain cryptos for yields in exchange for derivative tokens that represent their stake. The derivatives, called LSDs, can be used for various DeFi activities.
The point of LSDs and the platforms that issue them is to allow people to contribute to the security of their preferred proof-of-stake network without causing a significant drop in liquidity from locking tokens.
Lido is a leader in the LSD space. The platform is home to over 7.7 million staked ETH worth roughly $14.9 billion. Its staking derivatives are the most recognized and accepted among decentralized applications.
Users can receive rewards for contributing to the security of either Ethereum, Polygon, or Solana networks while also retaining the liquidity of their tokens.
Lido, being the largest LSD, is in the sights of hackers who target DeFi applications as a verifiable $14 billion worth of ETH is locked in its smart contracts. Also, Lido is facing competition from rising protocols like RocketPool that offer higher rewards.
You can buy LDO on an exchange like Binance.
Rocket Pool is a fast-growing liquid staking platform that offers a way to earn more yields from staking Ethereum. Like Lido, the platform issues derivatives that can be used across DeFi applications.
Rocket Pool is a great alternative to Lido when it comes to decentralized applications. It isn’t as large as its industry peers so it still has a lot of room for growth, and seeing as Ethereum staking is at an all-time high, a platform that offers the possibility for higher yields is appealing.
Not only does Rocket Pool decentralize the whole concept of Ethereum liquid staking, it has also structured its platform to promote that decentralization. Users who stake their DeFi coin with Rocket Pool also have the option to run a node with the platform and earn yields around 7% per year.
The barrier to running a Rocket Pool node is much lower than that of the Ethereum mainnet as would-be node operators have to put up only 16 ETH compared to the 32 ETH required to operate a node directly on the mainnet.
As of writing, 731,000 ETH is staked with Rocket Pool through over 2,800 nodes run by various people around the world. Node operators earn a higher APR than stakers, one of the more popular DeFi projects.
Rocket Pool still runs a smart contract risk as an attack could mean the loss of funds that the platform may not be able to replace.
Rocket Pool’s network is powered by the RPL token which is used to reward node operators and to participate in the Oracle DAO.
You can buy RPL on exchanges like Binance.
Radiant Capital is a cross-chain money market protocol that allows crypto enthusiasts to borrow and lend crypto assets across various blockchain networks thanks to the underlying asset technology that powers it.
Users can bridge tokens natively from other blockchains and use them as collateral for loans or supply them as capital to earn interest for a yearly return, called supply APY.
Radiant has implemented features that improve its token utility. Users who lock any amount of RDNT tokens that is higher than 5% of their total deposit get higher rewards on supply APY as well as a share of platform fees.
Radiant is not the only lending platform that runs on interoperable technology and as the industry moves closer towards achieving interoperability, the platform will face stiff competition for the best DeFi project.
You can buy RDNT on exchanges like Binance.
Pendle is a yield management platform that allows investors to split yield-bearing tokens into their yield and interest, represented by two different tokens. These DeFi tokens can then be used in various DeFi strategies.
While Pendle can be slightly complicated for the layman, it essentially creates a decentralized crypto version of the Interest Rate Derivatives market, an $18.3 trillion market, and offers access to everyone everywhere in the DeFi landscape.
To the amateur user, Pendle is a way to buy crypto assets like ETH and USDT at a discount to their current market price by stripping away the interest characteristics of the token. Advanced users can use it to benefit from interest rate increases and create strategies around interest rates, just like in traditional finance.
Users who do not understand the intricacies of the interest rate derivatives market can incur losses when using Pendle.
The platform features a native token called PENDLE which is used for governance and LP rewards.
You can buy PENDLE on exchanges like Binance.
A DeFi project is any protocol, platform, or dapp that runs on a blockchain and allows people to carry out either DeFi loans, borrowing, liquidity provision, staking, or yield farming activities. The key differentiator between DeFi and regular finance projects is that all transactions in DeFi are carried out on a blockchain.
The main goal of DeFi projects is to provide a cheaper, faster, and more accessible way to carry out financial activities. Most DeFi projects are available to people across the world, do not require traditional bank accounts, and have low barriers to entries, thereby upholding the ethos of decentralization.
Many DeFi projects are only as safe as their smart contracts are secure, their tokenomics are solid, and their internal economics are sound. Meaning that a lot of the factors that pour into safety depend on how well developers build the protocols.
Well laid out projects have sound internal economics and mechanics where all participants give and receive value. Some projects go further to capture much of that value using their tokens for crypto investors, while some do not.
The future of DeFi remains largely unpredictable, however, there is a growing interest in crypto as a whole and this may spill into DeFi. While it is easy to speculate and be bullish, an interest in crypto may not translate into an interest in DeFi in its current form.
Major financial system institutions may like Bitcoin, but DeFi is a different ball game as it bypasses much of their services. DeFi grants retail users the power to be their own banks and asset management firms, which is not necessarily a great thing for banks.
As such, we’ve seen banks like JP Morgan develop blockchain-based systems for payment settlement on private permissioned blockchain networks. This trend may spill into the finance space where activities are carried out on bank-owned blockchain networks which will reduce costs and improve liquidity but will remain largely a central authority.
This does not mean that completely decentralized finance projects will become obsolete. The future may very well see the coexistence of both DeFi and a version of blockchain-powered CeFi.
You can buy the best DeFi projects on cryptocurrency exchanges. Our top pick is eToro, but you can use any that is secure and convenient. To get started:
Go to the eToro website and create an account by clicking on the Start investing icon. You can download the mobile app from the Play Store/App Store and click on Sign up. Fill out the form with your full name, email address, and password.
Verify your account by setting up your profile and submitting KYC documents like a valid government ID and proof of residence documents like a utility bill.
Once your account has been verified, click on Deposit funds on the left pane of the page. Available payment options will be displayed. Choose a convenient method and set the amount you’d like to deposit.
Once your account is funded, search for any of the cryptos mentioned in the Discover tab. An interface like the one below should load. You can then set your parameters and buy.
To get your hands on new cryptos from promising DeFi projects like Chancer, you may need to go directly to the crypto’s official website. You’ll need a crypto wallet like MetaMask. We created a guide to walk you through this process.
Download MetaMask as an app on your phone or as a browser extension on your laptop and create a new wallet. Ensure you keep your seed phrase safe and offline.
You’ll need BNB to buy new Chancer tokens. Buy some on an exchange like eToro and transfer to your wallet, or use a fiat onramp on the MetaMask web interface to buy with a credit card.
Navigate to Chancer’s website and connect your wallet to join the presale. Buy CHANCER tokens using BNB. Ensure you have enough to pay for gas fees.
You’ll need to wait until the presale is over to claim your tokens.
We explored the best-decentralized finance projects and chose Chancer as the best option because of its growth potential within the DeFi ecosystem, its ability to disrupt a growing market in innovative ways, and the staking mechanism that rewards community members.
Nonetheless, all projects on our list are viable, although some more than others. For example, Radiant has a higher growth potential than Aave because it is newer, has better token utility, and possesses cross-chain capabilities while the latter’s token is mainly used for governance.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of cryptocurrency investments, read our how to invest in cryptocurrency page to get a handle on it.
The DeFi crypto projects covered in this guide were chosen through rigorous research. We paid attention to reputation, price, market capitalization, and growth potential.
The tokens listed are the best we found for a crypto investment in the various categories we listed them.
Check out our why trust us and how we test pages for more information on our testing process.