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Navigating the DeFi Landscape: A Guide to the Top Protocols and Their Unique Features

kokou adzo



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Over the last decade, blockchain technology has disrupted the financial sector as we know it, leading to the introduction of new applications and innovative concepts. Among these innovations are DeFi protocols – which have astoundingly grown in popularity and adoption.

What is DeFi?

DeFi, short for decentralised finance, refers to financial apps created with smart contracts, which are automated, legally binding contracts that can be executed without the assistance of a third party. Anyone with an internet connection can use smart contracts to conduct financial transactions and carry out various other tasks.

DeFi, like cryptocurrencies, is founded on blockchain technology and consists of peer-to-peer protocols and apps created on blockchain networks. It was designed as an alternative solution to help minimise the need for a centralised authority or third party in order to enable accessible financial systems to everyone.

In a conventional financial system, banks and third party providers enable and control the flow of money. DeFi was thus created as a way to allow financial transfers to take place securely without the interference of central authorities or other third parties, along with related expenses, privacy worries, and occasionally longer processing times.

Within the last few years, DeFi has grown into a fully functional ecosystem with useful apps and protocols, benefiting millions of people.

DeFi Protocols Explained

DeFi protocols are autonomous programs that consist of standards, codes, and procedures that govern decentralised financial applications to improve the processes used in traditional finance. A DeFi protocol can also be referred to as a set of smart contracts and decentralised applications (DApps) built on blockchain technology, typically Ethereum.

These protocols provide a variety of financial services, including borrowing and lending of assets, decentralised exchanges (DEXs), stablecoins, yield farming, asset management, insurance, and more. Smart contracts are used by these protocols to carry out transactions, uphold laws, and disperse rewards. They are created to function autonomously. DeFi doesn’t only provide loan options but also provides liquidity between various blockchains and produces on-chain assets like stocks and shares to promote the uptake of cryptocurrencies.

The Top 8 DeFi Protocols in 2023

1. Aave

One of the leading DeFi protocols throughout 2023 is Aave, one of the largest borrowing and lending protocols in Web3. With this protocol, cryptocurrency owners have the option of staking a variety of tokens from various important blockchains in exchange for a passive dividend or for use as collateral for borrowing other digital assets.

For those that have accumulated and held crypto for a long time, Aave offers a service where, in addition to receiving a return, investors can also borrow money to use for daily expenses or to reinvest.

With Aave, all loans are over-collateralised because of the platform’s highly secure borrowing procedure.

2. Uniswap

Users can exchange Ethereum tokens and establish a market for any ERC20 token through Uniswap, a decentralised protocol founded on the Ethereum blockchain. After its introduction in November 2018, Uniswap has developed into one of the most well-known decentralised exchanges in the DeFi market.

Uniswap is one of the oldest Ethereum DEXs and one of the first to challenge financial institutions by introducing and using the automated market maker approach, which allows users to trade coins, earn incentives, and add their own tokens. This approach allows for frictionless trading, and the AMM concept as a whole depends on users contributing tokens to a liquidity pool. In return, these market makers obtain a portion of the protocol fees as compensation for their liquidity provision.

As of September 2020, Uniswap offered 15% of its supply to previous users by introducing the “Universal Basic Income” program, further offering liquidity to certain pools and allowing users to earn UNI, the native token.

3. Saucerswap

SaucerSwap is a decentralised exchange that makes use of the Hedera Smart Contract Service (HSCS)  to integrate Solidity smart contracts with the Hedera Token Service (HTS). The smart contracts are based on the automated market maker protocol.

Participants using this protocol are rewarded for contributing (staking) their tokens to increase the project’s liquidity and earn incentives.

4. Curve

Curve is a blockchain technology that operates an automated market making service with an emphasis on stablecoins.

This protocol is built on Ethereum’s blockchain and works as a trading platform that doesn’t employ a central order book and instead allows cryptocurrency users a method to make fees on their assets while letting traders purchase and sell those assets at possibly better prices.

In contrast to other protocols, Curve stands out since its primary goal is to serve as a market for stablecoins like Maker and USDT, which track the value of US dollars and wBTC and renBTC, which monitor the value of Bitcoin.

5. Optimism (OP)

Optimism is a Layer 2 protocol designed to enable Ethereum users to complete transactions on Ethereum’s network quicker and at lower costs. This is accomplished by Optimism through a mechanism known as “Optimistic Rollups.” In addition, the OP token, which is available for purchase or sale on Coinbase and other exchanges, is utilised for governance.

The key feature of this protocol is that it offers the same level of security as Layer 1 of Ethereum but with the ability to handle a high number of transactions at a minimal cost. OP token holders also have access to a variety of use cases due to the ecosystem having more than 30 existing protocols.

NFT tools, DEXs, cross-chain bridges, and a range of trading tools are examples of dApps found in the Optimism ecosystem. The protocol is marked by experts in digital finance at ( as one of the best DeFi projects available, as it enables users of DeFi to fully utilise their cryptocurrency holdings.

6. Pax Gold (PAXG)

The proof-of-work (PoW) mechanism is used to secure the PAXG protocol, which was wholly built on the Ethereum blockchain. But PAXG is not confined to Ethereum and can also be introduced on other blockchains.

Pax Gold has an ERC-20 token that runs on the Ethereum blockchain, is tradable on a wide range of exchanges and has established itself as a convenient option for traders to begin investing in gold.

The currency and protocol was created to allow investors to buy small amounts of gold through the cryptocurrency, eliminating minimum buy limits for the commodity.

7. 0x Protocol

The peer-to-peer (P2P) trading of Ethereum-based assets is made possible by the 0x protocol. The protocol, created by 0x Labs, is a key DeFi building component and open standard for any developer in need of exchange capability. 0x offers a decentralised worldwide P2P order book (0x Mesh), safe, audited smart contracts, developer tools designed for the 0x ecosystem, and an API that makes it simple to access aggregated liquidity generated from an increasing number of exchange networks.

The protocol itself is not a decentralised exchange, but it facilitates the development of decentralised exchanges that may be applied in a variety of marketplaces, such as gaming and financing, allowing users to trade tokens and assets.

The main goal of 0x Labs is to build the infrastructure needed for the developing cryptocurrency economy and establish markets that were previously impossible to open up.

8. Compound

With Compound, a decentralised blockchain-based protocol, you can lend and borrow cryptocurrencies and participate in the protocol’s governance by purchasing its native COMP token.

The Compound protocol shares some similarities with other decentralised lending protocols that use crypto assets as collateral for borrowing additional crypto assets, but it also has a special feature or function that allows for the tokenisation of assets that are locked in the system using COMP tokens.

In essence, COMP tokens or cTokens are ERC-20 tokens that serve as a user’s representation of funds on the Compound blockchain. The equivalent number of cTokens would be given in exchange for your ETH or any other ERC-20 token, such as USDC. As a result, you would automatically receive interest on the tokens.

DeFi protocols are an incredible tool that has helped decentralised finance as an industry. With DeFi, different financial markets have been established including decentralised lending, asset management, yield farming, and nearly every other aspect of the DeFi market.

As the industry evolves and develops, we are bound to witness financial applications that function in a secure, trustless and decentralised manner take over and compete with traditional finance systems.

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Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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