Celsius VS BlockFi

James HeadshotAuthor: James Page
Last Updated: October 2020

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In recent years, the fintech industry has produced a great many innovative solutions that aim to reconstruct outdated and centralized financial services so they can act in the best interest of their customers.

One of the services quickly gaining traction is earning interest on crypto holdings, typically offered by peer-to-peer lending platforms. Now, crypto investors have the chance to yield high returns and passive income while these platforms lend their cryptos as capital to reputable industry giants.

Today, this comprehensive and detailed guide compares two leading US-based crypto interest and lending platforms – Celsius Network and BlockFi.

We’ll start with the background story of these startups and their fintech vision and philosophy before we dive into their interest and lending services. We’ll discuss supported cryptocurrencies, deposit and withdrawal fees and limits, security features, and possible caveats to help you make an informed decision.

Let’s begin!

About the Providers

Celsius Network

Celsius Network is a popular Ethereum-based cryptocurrency lending startup launched in New York City in 2018 by Alex Mashinsky and S. Daniel Leon. The launch took place after a promising and successful ICO in which the company managed to raise $50 million.

Celsius’s current CEO, Mashinsky, is best known as a pioneer in the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), and throughout his career has founded numerous US tech companies including Arbinet and VoiceSmart.

His newest fintech project allows crypto investors to buy crypto, earn passive income on their crypto holdings, and borrow funds. The platform’s native CEL token brings even higher returns. The Celcius Network is currently used by more than 181k users from over 100 different countries worldwide.

This DeFi platform aims to “unbank” people, i.e. provide them a better alternative than today’s outdated banking system utilizing blockchain technology. Celsius’ main goal and business model revolves around the idea of replacing the traditional banking model with a more customer-centric model in which transparent financial services will be accessible to everyone and fair rates, secure loans, and profitable investments will be the norm.

BlockFi

BlockFi is one of the most attractive interest income and lending platforms on the market. It was founded in 2017 in New York City, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Poland, and Argentina.

It was co-founded by two experts with previous experience in the lending industry – Zac Prince, the current CEO, and Flori Marquez, the platform’s SVP of Operations. Together with Rene Van Kesteren, BlockFi Chief Risk Officer, they’re doing their best to promote the use of cryptocurrency by making traditional banking features a reality for the crypto market.

BlockFi was the first US-based platform to offer loans to crypto investors who can use their digital assets and stablecoins as collateral. Another widely used service is their Crypto Interest Account with attractive interest rates. Recently, BlockFi has also added the option for crypto to crypto trades.

The company’s primary custodian is the Gemini Trust Company, founded by the Winklevoss twins and regulated by the NYSDFS. Moreover, from the moment it was launched, BlockFi has won the support of world-leading institutional investors such as Valar Ventures, Morgan Creek, ConsenSys Ventures, Galaxy Digital, Fidelity, Akuna Capital, SoFi, and Coinbase Ventures.

Thanks to their financial support, BlockFi raised a number of funding rounds. The last one took place in August 2020, when the company raised $50 million in a round led by Morgan Creek Digital.

BlockFi vs Celsius: The Comparison

Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Stablecoins, and Altcoins

Celsius Network supports a great variety of cryptocurrencies:

Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ripple (XRP), Ethereum Classic (ETH), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Celsius Token (CEL), Synthetix Network Token (SNX), Matic Network (MATIC), Tether (USDT), Binance USD (BUSD), Saga (SGA), True CAD (TCAD), True HKD (THKD), True GBP (TGBP), True AUD (TAUD), True USD (TUSD), Gemini Dollar (GUSD), Paxos Standard (PAX), Paxos Gold (PAXG), USD Coin (USDC), DAI, DASH, Chainlink (LINK), Bitcoin SV (BSV), Tether Gold (XAUT), 0x (ZRG), EOS, OmiseGO (OMG), Stellar (XLM), and Kyber Network (KNC).

In comparison, BlockFi supports fewer cryptos: Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, Paxos, PAX Gold, USD Coin, Gemini Dollar, and Tether (only available to non-US users).

BlockFi doesn’t allow buying cryptos with fiat currencies. Instead, users can trade one digital asset for another. The closest to a crypto-to-fiat trade is trading against stablecoins because they’re pegged to an existing fiat currency (e.g. Gemini Dollar is pegged at a 1:1 ratio to the US Dollar).

To trade digital assets, first, you need to deposit them to the platform’s digital wallets.

Fees and Limits

Neither Celsius nor BlockFi charge any deposit fees for crypto trading. There are also no minimum or maximum account balance limits. This means that both retail traders and millionaires can make some income from their investments, regardless of the amount they stored.

Celsius has partnered with Simplex, Coinify, and Wyre, reliable payment services that let users purchase cryptocurrency with a credit card or via bank transfer at highly affordable rates. Simplex incurs a 3.5% fee or minimum $10 per transaction, Coinify charges 0.5%, while Wyre adds a 0.1% fee.

Another good thing about Celsius is that it doesn’t charge any withdrawal fees. BlockFi gives users one free withdrawal per month but otherwise incurs the following fees:

  • 0.0025 BTC for Bitcoin withdrawals with a maximum limit of 100 BTC per week.
  • 0.0015 ETH for Ethereum withdrawals with a limit of 5,000 ETH per week.
  • 0.0025 LTC for Litecoin withdrawals with a limit of 10,000 LTC per week.
  • $0.25 USD for stablecoin withdrawals with a limit of 1,000,000 stablecoins per week.
  • 0.0025 PAXG for Paxos Gold withdrawals with a limit of 500 PAXG per week.

Celsius and BlockFi Interest Accounts

Celsius and BlockFi are primarily crypto interest platforms that allow customers to store their crypto assets and let them accumulate interest over time. Instead of holding onto your coins and waiting for the most profitable moment to buy/sell, now you can sit back and let your holdings do the work for you.

“You don’t need a bank to make bank,” says Celsius’ motto. The platform calculates your crypto interest from Friday 05:00 UTC to Friday 04:59 UTC. The interest is paid weekly, i.e. every Monday. BlockFi, on the other hand, distributes the interest payments at the beginning of each month. On top of the initial interest, your coins also earn interest on their interest! This is called compound interest.

Interest Rates

Celsius is frequently praised for attractive interest rates. You can find all of them on the official website as they differ based on the cryptocurrency you’re holding. We’ll only include the rates for the most prominent coins:

Coin Name CEL Reward Rate (APY) Regular APY
BTC 6.20% 4.51%
ETH 9.65% 7.06%
LTC 6.88% 5.05%
CEL / 5.12%
Stablecoins 15.89% 11.55%

As you can see, by staking CEL tokens and accumulating your interest in the platform’s native token, you can get higher rates on earnings and lower rates on borrowing. Important: earning CEL is not an option for US customers.

But Celsius isn’t the only platform with competitive crypto interest rates. When the market crashed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BlockFi not only kept its rates but managed to raise them as well. This was a proof of the company’s willingness to help their customers when in need.

The current interest rates are as follows:

BTC (Tier 1) 0 – 2.5 6%
BTC (Tier 2) > 2.5 3.2%
ETH > 0 4.5%
LTC > 0 5.0%
USDC > 0 8.6%
GUSD > 0 8.6%
PAX > 0 8.6%
PAXG > 0 4%
USDT > 0 7%

In the past, investors used to be charged a withdrawal fee if they wanted to withdraw any assets from their Crypto Interest Account prior to the last day of the month. BlockFi charged “an early withdrawal penalty equal to the amount of interest accrued during that month on the assets withdrawn”.

Luckily, customer complaints about this termination penalty have recently convinced the company to remove them.

Crypto Loans

Why sell your cryptocurrency and miss out on potential price surges, when you can borrow USD and lend cryptos as collateral to institutional investors instead? Not the mention that you’ll have to pay a capital gains tax on crypto profits.

On the Celsius Network, you can borrow as little as $1,000 in exchange for any of the 25 supported cryptocurrencies. You can take up a loan for six months minimum with an interest rate that gets as low as 1% APR.

On BlockFi you can borrow USD in exchange for BTC, ETH, LTC, and PAXG. On the Blockfi.com website, you can enter the USD loan amount you want to borrow from the crypto lending platform and calculate the collateral. BlockFi offers LTV up to 50%.

Because the price of crypto undergoes frequent changes, if the price of the collateral falls up to 50% from the time you made the loan, you’ll have to either pay down the loan or offer more for the collateral.

Security

As far as the security of these platforms is concerned, you’ll be happy to learn that both Celsius and BlockFi have been designed with the most sophisticated security measures.

These platforms outsource customer funds to third-parties. Celsius Network relies on BitGo, Fireblocks, and Prime Trust to provide insurance over the crypto assets and keep them safe, while BlockFi has Gemini as its custodian. These are highly-esteemed security firms in the crypto industry.

For example, Gemini is regulated by the NYDFS and in 2019 became the first crypto exchange to complete the SOC 2 Type 1 examination.

To protect their customers, both platforms perform KYC checks on new users to verify their identity before they’re granted access to their services. The users need to provide their first and last name, home address, citizenship country, a picture of a government-issued document such as ID, passport, or driving license, and a TaxID (i.e. SSN, mandatory for US customers only).

Clients are advised to activate two-factor authentication for any account activity.

Unfortunately, crypto platforms are frequent hacking targets and only recently, in May 2020, BlockFi fell victim to one such attack. Using a SIM swapping technique, an individual was able to gain access to the company’s internal systems via an employee mobile phone. To the relief of BlockFi’s users, no funds, passwords, social security numbers, bank account information, and other sensitive data has been stolen.

Ease-of-Use

It’s true that you need some background knowledge of how interest and compound interest work to make the most out of either one of these platforms’ features. You also need to research the safest borrowing and lending strategy if you don’t want to be at a loss.

However, the learning process is quite straight-forward. If you’re a first-timer, we recommend opting for BlockFi because there are no timeframes you need to stick to for your crypto collateral. On the other hand, if you want to be flexible with your crypto interest withdrawals, Celsius has fewer regulations and penalties.

Both Celsius and BlockFi have easily-navigable web-based interfaces which means you’re able to use their services via any operating system without downloading the whole software.

Whenever you want to check your balance and lendings, you can download their mobile app on your smartphone device instead.

Customer Support

Celsius and BlockFi offer extensive FAQ sections on their websites with all sorts of information. If you visit the Celsius Network Help Center, you’ll see the dashboard divided into different sections: Deposits, Withdrawals, Interest Payments, Loans, Account Details, etc. The same goes for BlockFi’s Resource Center.

You can also send a support ticket via email for your most urgent queries. According to reviews on popular Internet forums like Reddit, users seem to be satisfied with the responsiveness of their customer support teams.

The BlockFi team in particular is known for its transparency and social media presence.

Pros and Cons

Celsius Pros

  • Offers fund insurance from leading custodians.
  • Provides higher interest rates on crypto holdings.
  • Offers compound interest.
  • Supports up to 25 different crypto assets.
  • Offers flexible interest payments and higher returns for CEL stakers.
  • Has no deposit and withdrawal fees.
  • Pays interest weekly.

BlockFi Pros

  • Offers flexible lending terms and no minimum or maximum deposit limits on interest accounts.
  • Relies on Gemini, one of the safest crypto exchanges, for storage and fund insurance.
  • Raises frequent funding rounds from leading institutional investors.
  • Allows users to choose the cryptocurrency they want to earn interest in.
  • It’s led by a transparent and dedicated team of experts.
  • Offers highly competitive interest rates and supports compounding interest.
  • Has a fully-fledged mobile app.
  • Incurs no deposit fees.

Celsius Cons

  • Has withdrawal limits on orders over $20,000.
  • Provides higher interest rates to CEL holders only.

BlockFi Cons

  • Includes only one free withdrawal per month.
  • Has slightly lower interest rates than Celsius.
  • Offers a limited number of crypto assets for purchase and storage.
  • Distributes the interest payments monthly instead of weekly.

Final Thoughts

By the end of this guide, we hope that you have at least some basic knowledge of the features Celsius and BlockFi have to offer. The final decision is up to you and it should be based on detailed research and a carefully laid-out strategy.

These two are not the only interest income platforms, so make sure you check additional ones too (e.g. Nexo or Crypto.com).

However, Celsius and BlockFi have by far the most competitive interest rates on crypto holdings and a great choice of digital assets to choose from. They’re operated by knowledgeable teams of fintech experts which is why the best US institutional investors have already offered their trust and support.

While BlockFi’s strongest asset lies in its flexibility and the company’s transparency, Celsius has a stronger and stricter ecosystem that revolves around its native token CEL and a wider range of the sought-for stablecoins.

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About The Author

James Page

James Headshot

James is the main editor. With a passion for finance and anything blockchain, cryptocurrency is right up his alley. He's responsible for most of the content on the site, trying his best to keep everything up to date and as informative as possible.

Disclaimer: Digital currencies and cryptocurrencies are volatile and can involve a lot of risk. Their prices and performance is very unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consult a financial advisor or obtain your own advice independent of this site before relying and acting on the information provided.