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Glossary

APY
Annual Percentage Yield, APY refers to the return on investment from an asset in a year period. For instance, $100 invested at 20% APY would yield $120 after one year, if there is no compounding of any interest earned on that $100 through the year. Assuming a static APY rate, the Monthly ROI would be 1.6%, in this case.
Automated Market Maker
An Automated Market Maker (AMM) is a decentralized asset trading pool that enables market participants to buy or sell cryptocurrencies. AMMs are non-custodial and permissionless in nature. Most AMMs utilize either a constant product, constant mean, or constant sum market-making formula; however, the most common is a constant product market maker, most notably Uniswap.
Aggregator
Decentralized aggregators like Balancer, 1inch Exchange, and Yearn Finance search for the best swap rates when buying tokens as well as the highest yields when farming.
AML
Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations are aimed at preventing criminal enterprise within the cryptocurrency landscape. In practice, AML regulations are what require crypto exchanges to gather your identity documents for verification measures.
ATH
All-Time High is the highest price a cryptocurrency asset, portfolio, or value has reached against another asset. ATHs can occur against BTC, ETH, and fiat pairs but tend to be recognized against USDT pairs on major exchanges like Coinbase and Binance.
Bonding curve
Bonding curves are equations used to create a smooth cause and effect relationship between a cryptocurrency's price and circulating supply. Bonding curves are most often employed in the DeFi space during token launch and distribution — the more users buy the token, the higher the price goes for everyone. However, the opposite is also true.
Bear Market
A period marked by prevailing negative investor sentiment about an asset or class of assets. A bear market can last weeks, months, or years.
Bull market
A period marked by prevailing positive investor sentiment about an asset or class of assets. A bull market can last weeks, months, or years, and can sometimes be marked by what economists call a Bubble, where there may be irrational overenthusiasm about an asset or class of assets, leading to explosive price growth followed by an explosive price crash.
CeFi
Centralized finance, commonly used as a reference to projects that operate like normal centralized organizations within the DeFi space.
CEX
A CEX is a Centralized Exchange, with a physical address and a corporate structure. Like other CeFi businesses, a CEX must follow all applicable laws, rules, money transmitter licenses, and regulations in each country, state, or region in which they operate. There are significant overhead costs in running a CEX including Corporate leaders, labor, rent and electricity, office supplies, significant legal expenses, and expensive money transmitter licenses to be able to operate in chosen countries, states, or regions.
DEX
Short for decentralized exchange. DEXs include Uniswap, Curve, SushiSwap, 1inch Exchange, Synthetix, and Balancer.
Collateral
Assets deposited and used to back a loan.
Collateralization
The borrowing of a deposit asset or assets to seek further business activities such as Yield Farming. Collateralization can amplify gains or losses, and is thus, considered riskier than not borrowing funds.
Compound interest
When you deposit an interest-generating asset in a DeFi platform, protocol, or exchange, rewards are sometimes reinvested into your original stake. This, in turn, increases (or compounds) your yield. Therefore, compound interest allows you to see greater and greater gains by simple reinvestment.
DAO
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations are created by and adhere to a set of smart contract encoded rules that are fair and transparent. The purpose of a DAO is to govern a distributed network effectively without relying on a central chain of command.
Derivatives
Financial products deriving their value from an underlying asset are known as derivatives. Popular derivatives within cryptocurrency trading include Bitcoin perpetuals and Ethereum futures. However, DeFi has created novel derivatives on protocols like Compound, Synthetix, and Aave, such as cUSDT, sUSD, and aBTC.
ERC-20
Ethereum-standard cryptocurrency assets are built and issued using the ERC-20 protocol. Any cryptocurrency token issued on Ethereum is an ERC-20 by design.
Fair Launch
A DeFi project launched without VC, angel, or third party investment of any kind. In a fair launch, all tokens are sold to the community and none are held back for a team or founder allocation. Recently, fair launches have come under fire for not providing enough team incentives, forcing popular fair launch projects like Yearn Finance to mint more tokens.
Flash loan
A flash loan is an instant cryptocurrency loan that doesn't require collateral, KYC checks, or any other form of upfront investment from the borrower. However, what it does require is that the loan is repaid within the same transaction block as the loan itself. In practice, this means the loaned funds can only be used on-chain to trigger smart contract actions. If a flash loan isn't repaid in the time it takes for the initial transaction block to confirm, the transaction is rejected and the issuer retains the funds.
Game theory
An emerging field in the mathematics world is dedicated to the study of game theory, or the way competitors interact and create outcomes using strategies. In DeFi, game theory is especially relevant as market participants each try to capture value to their benefit.
Gas (Ethereum gas fees)
Ethereum gas fees are the transaction fees paid to network miners who validate and confirm transactions in the background. Gas fees accompany every transaction interacting with smart contracts, such as when depositing, withdrawing, or transferring assets between decentralized exchanges, wallets, and DeFi pools. Ethereum gas fees are paid in ETH and become expensive during periods of high network congestion. For this reason, your wallet always needs to contain a bit of ETH for paying gas fees.
Governance & governance tokens
Governance refers to the maintenance, enforcement, and regulation of a decentralized protocol by token holders. Usually, when a DeFi protocol is released, it does so with a native asset such as COMP (for Compound Finance), AAVE (for Aave), and UNI (for Uniswap). Anyone who holds the protocol's native token can participate in governance decision-making and propose governance measures themselves.
Gwei
The currency unit used to denominate Ethereum gas fees. Gwei, or gas, is paid in Ether (ETH).
Impermanent loss
When providing liquidity to DeFi AMMs, impermanent loss refers to the loss of your deposited assets during price swings. Since AMMs like Uniswap don't use order books, prices are maintained by the ratios between assets inside liquidity pools. Therefore, if you deposit two assets and the price of one or both changes, you might withdraw less of your assets than deposited. However, trading fees garnered from the LP often more than make up for impermanent losses.
KYC
Know Your Customer (KYC) is a basic verification check required by centralized finance exchanges, CeFi platforms (such as Celsius), and others. DeFi platforms typically reject KYC measures as they are decentralized protocols.
Liquidity
The amount of circulating supply for a given token paired with trading volume, exchange availability, and other trade factors determine how liquid or illiquid a token is. In practice, the more liquid a token is, the more it can absorb large volume price action.
Liquidity mining
Liquidity mining refers to depositing tokens into a DeFi protocol to provide liquidity while being rewarded for the deposit stake. Rewards are usually paid out in the protocol's native asset. However, some LM events are paid in kind.
Liquidity pool
Decentralized exchanges depend on liquidity pools to provide liquidity between assets and make trades possible. In centralized exchanges, order books handle this task. However, a DEX replaces the order book by effectively crowdsourcing liquidity. To incentivize liquidity providers, DEXs and AMMs provide rewards (shares of LP transaction fees or native token APY).
Liquidity provider
DeFi participants who deposit their tokens into liquidity pools such as those on Uniswap and Curve Finance are known as liquidity providers.
LP token
When a liquidity provider deposits tokens into a liquidity pool, their stake is represented by a minted LP token. The LP token represents the staked asset(s) and can yield farm other DeFi platforms or exchanged back for the original assets.
Metamask
Metamask is an ERC-20 Ethereum-based cryptocurrency wallet required for interacting with most DeFi platforms.
Decentralized Oracle
Decentralized oracles provide both on and off-chain price data to blockchains / DeFi protocols.
ROI
Return on investment is a way to calculate your profits or losses from an investment in a DeFi platform.
Slippage
Slippage refers to the gap in price that exists between what you're willing to pay for an asset and the seller's best price. Slippage typically ranges anywhere between 0.5%-2%, but in extreme cases can go as high as 3% or more for particularly illiquid tokens.
Smart Contract
A blockchain-based, lightweight, programmable structure of code that executes functions as determined by the author. In practice, smart contracts run like autonomous programs that replace intermediaries and guarantee outcomes.
Stablecoin
Tokens with value backed by underlying assets or pegged to the value of another asset. Dollar-pegged stablecoins such as USDT, USDC, and GUSD are endowed 1:1 with real dollar reserves, while other stablecoins use rebasing to arrive at a stable valuation.
Staking
Depositing cryptocurrency assets in a DeFi protocol to generate a yield (measured in APY) is known as staking.
Synthetics (synths)
Synthetics are blockchain-based derivative trading products representative of other assets. Synthetics, or synths, are often backed directly by the underlying asset, but this is not always necessary. Some synths are built by a basket of assets made to resemble and track the original asset. As an example, think of trading a plastic banana in place of a real banana.
Tokenomics
Short for token economics, tokenomics refers to token design and includes factors such as circulating/max token supply, token emission rates, and vesting schedules.
TVL
Total value locked (TVL) refers to the total amount of value deposited (or staked) in a given DeFi platform. Higher TVL means greater liquidity and confidence in a DeFi exchange. Examples of high TVL DeFi protocols include Uniswap, Curve Finance, Aave, and Compound Finance.
Underlying assets
Financial derivatives such as perpetuals, synthetics, and LP tokens (aLINK, wBTC, cUSDT) all derive their value from underlying assets (the original assets they track or represent).
Yield
Yield is the amount earned by depositing, or staking, an asset in a DeFi platform such as Yearn Finance, Compound, Aave, Curve Finance, or Synthetix.
Yield farming
Yield farming is the act of depositing, or staking, tokens, across DeFi platforms offering rewards for liquidity providers. Farming your tokens enables you to generate additional value from your assets by having them work for you.